In order for the impact on customers online to be fruitful, it is necessary to develop a company’s digital strategy. How to do it, what are the stages of digital-strategy and what are the benefits for the company?
When the Internet is present in almost all spheres of life, then more and more often it becomes relevant for business to develop a company’s digital-strategy. But perhaps this is just following fashion?
If you look at the World Wide Web from another angle, then everything does not look so tempting. The cost of advertising on it is growing. Moreover, the Internet is already leading among other available media channels in terms of the amount of investment by advertisers, which means that there is too much advertising in the online environment. As a consequence, it reduces the attention of users to the advertised offers and not all tools give unambiguous effectiveness in attracting consumers. All this leads to the disappointment of businesses that make timid attempts at online promotion, and suffer inexperience failure when the budget is spent, and sales are zero.
Perhaps for the first time in marketing practice – Internet made companies think about the promotion of the market as a comprehensive system, which together used solutions “warms up” the client and gradually leads him to buy. And that’s why online marketing campaigns can’t be implemented sporadically and/or with one type of tool. In order for the online impact on customers to bear fruit, a company’s digital strategy must be developed. What is it? What does it look like? Why do you need a digital strategy? What does it solve for the company? Let’s consider all this in this article.
What is a digital strategy?
It should be noted right away that digital strategy is part of the communication strategy. But because the online environment is one of those media channels that provide a wide range of contacts with the target audience of different properties, it is often isolated by companies in its own right and worked out in more detail separately.
If a marketing communication strategy is a comprehensive plan of product promotion, aimed at achieving long-term targets, taking into account the existing opportunities and threats in the market, as well as resource limitations and other risks of the company, then the digital strategy of the whole variety of communication tools is based solely on ways of promotion from the arsenal of Internet marketing.
Putting aside excessive academicism, let us also formulate the same in simple words. Digital-strategy is how, with the help of information technology, a business should effectively solve the problems of promotion to the market in order to achieve its goals.
How is a digital strategy developed?
As with any other, the development of a company’s digital strategy should result in fixing all of its points on paper. It is not only about the formality of the approach. Any type of strategy relies on facts, economic data, research and analysis, based on which goals, approaches to solutions and a calendar plan with a budget are formulated.
But the peculiarity of the digital environment is that it also provides additional opportunities both in segmenting the target audience and in tracking the behavioral patterns that are most likely to lead to a purchase. All of this additional useful knowledge should also be used in developing a company’s digital strategy.
As noted above, the digital strategy is part of the communication strategy, so there is no need to do a reanalysis of the external and internal environment. We can say even more, it is likely that the urgency to pay more attention to digital in communications came to the company as a result of this preliminary analytical work. Therefore, keeping this in mind, below we will list the stages of the already direct development of the company’s digital strategy.
- Formulation of the goals of digital promotion taking into account the general targets of the company’s communication strategy.
- Definition of the subsegments of the target audience and the events which will be considered as target-conversion for them.
- Analysis of existing or available technical solutions and tools for the company. These include the website, its mobile version, the lendings, the application, accounts in social networks, e-mail services, CRM-system, etc.
- Creation of customer journey maps (CJM) for each segment of the target audience.
- Determining the priority online channels to use and the goals and objectives for each of them.
- Formation of a content strategy, including the content, style and tone of interaction with the target audience.
- Planning of interaction with consumers by time periods, intensity and the conditions which users should execute for the next contact to happen.
- Budgeting for all activity in the digital environment.
- Definition of key performance indicators for plan execution and how to evaluate and compare to targets.
Types of digital strategy.
In terms of the tasks to be solved and the approach to the choice of tools used on the Internet, the following main types of digital strategies can be distinguished:
- Branding – aimed at maximum coverage of the target audience with communications from the company to increase recognition, positioning or denoting the value of the proposal.
- Performance – aimed at generating target traffic to the company’s Internet sites, warming up the audience to the state of maximum readiness to buy and bringing them to order placement and repeat purchase. Equally important element of this strategy is to optimize the cost of attracting each customer.
- Performance branding – is a mix of the two types of strategies listed above, i.e. within one strategic approach the tasks of promoting the company and ensuring sales are solved.
Examples of digital strategy
To make it clearer, here are examples of digital strategies that illustrate how certain choices are translated into specific actions in the use of digital tools.
1. Branding strategy.
Let’s take the example of a cosmetics company that offers its products to an audience of young business women who don’t want to spend a lot of time on makeup, but want to look attractive at the same time. Based on the knowledge of its target audience, the company can create interesting content in social networks that will favorably influence the brand.
Thus, a company should publish short, real-life videos with practical tips. For example, how to put on makeup in 5 minutes, what products you should have on hand if the subscriber has a busy day with work in the office, business negotiations, and an evening outing to a party, and so on.
Such content in combination with targeted advertising promotion will create a circle of subscribers, and if the content hits the heart, the brand is sure to have its loyal fans and loyal consumers. Subsequently, fans of the brand can be attracted to its promotion. To do this, new products should be sent to the most loyal consumers so that on their social media accounts they can share their experiences and impressions.
And it doesn’t hurt that such user-generated content won’t be flawless. Let it feature real people in real-life settings, with animals, children, girlfriends and friends in the frame, and the action itself taking place in a cab, transport on the way to work, in a public restroom, etc. As a result, such a thought-out digital strategy will be original, attractive to the chosen target audience and ultimately successful in branding products.
2. Performance strategy.
Let’s take an abstract online store as an example, which always has the task not only of attracting new customers, but also of increasing conversion rates, increasing the average check and making repeat purchases. How can perfomance-strategy be useful in achieving this goal?
As a rule, an online store uses a variety of tools to attract traffic to its resource. These include contextual advertising by keywords, remarketing, SEO, advertising in social networks, etc. Such costs can be significant, but provide a low return on investment, or worse, fail to justify the investment.
In this case, the company’s digital strategy should be aimed at improving its performance and reducing promotion costs while maintaining, or even improving sales volume. To do this, the company needs to set up an end-to-end analytics system on existing solutions to understand which of its costs are working ineffectively.
In this way, a number of problems can be discovered. For example, a number of popular keywords, which are not cheap, get traffic to the marketplace, but do not convert into sales. Or users get to the page description of the product they need, but for some reason do not make a purchase. There may also be a low share of repeat purchases among consumers.
The solution to the above mentioned problems may be optimization of the keywords and keyword rates used, content analysis of pages with low conversion rates and their correction, creation of mailing lists with reminders on the repeat purchase cycle and additional segmentation of the existing user base by consumer patterns in order to personalize offers from the online store.
3. Performance branding strategy.
An example of such a strategy can be seen in travel applications that offer booking services for hotels and rental accommodation, entertainment, restaurants, etc. In order to solve two areas at once – branding and performance, such a company should organize the publication of user-generated content with reviews and suggestions of what tourists should visit in a particular location.
On the one hand, this creates motivation for local business owners from the hospitality and entertainment sectors to publish as much interesting content as possible in order to make visiting their location more interesting and attractive for the target audience of tourists. On the other hand, users, by exploring content, get additional value when interacting with the company’s app, i.e., the branding task is solved. At the same time, studying potential routes, at the same time they make reservations for hotels, restaurants, entertainment services, which works on another task – sales.
Why do you need a digital strategy for a company?
Can companies do without a digital strategy? In short, of course they can. Then the question arises: why do we need a digital strategy? Why should we spend time on its development?
The peculiarity of any strategy, including digital, is that it is not just a beautiful document, which can be effectively presented to the management. Its presence and regular use in practice gives business the following advantages:
- A clear understanding of the necessary actions to achieve the goals set, eliminating tossing and turning in different directions and arguments within the company;
- Increase in sales, including metrics such as average check and repeat purchases;
- Increased efficiency of investment in promotion in the online environment;
- Rational use of budget and higher return rates, especially when integrated with the company’s overall communication strategy;
- Improved customer experience along with the development of added value to the company’s offerings, leading to an increase in the number of loyal customers.
- Diversification of sales channels through the development of opportunities for consumers to buy the company’s offerings online, which ultimately reduces its dependence on traditional offline outlets.