What is a digital strategy?
Let’s start with a definition: according to Wikipedia a strategy is:
- “In the fields of strategic management, marketing strategy and business strategy, digital strategy is the process of specifying an organization’s vision, goals, opportunities and related activities in order to maximize the business benefits of digital initiatives to the organization.
- A digital strategy is a high level plan that details how digital media and platforms can be used to achieve an organization’s goals.
“We shape our tools and then our tools shape us” a quote that most perfectly explains the current business reality. Companies realize that the modern age is a time of almost no attention and too much connectivity; where smartphones are our primary access and point to everything; where money and everything is digital; where the interface layer is where the profit is; where physical assets and employees are liabilities; etc.
Technology should not be the oil that lubricates; it should be oxygen to grow ideas and change business. Modern businesses need to change themselves at the very core: Banks need to reevaluate their roles in the modern world. Gyms need to use technology to become health partners. Car makers need to become transportation solution companies. Why didn’t a telco invent Skype? Or GM start Uber or Kodak create Instagram? Or Blockbuster, Netflix?
Someone may say: “We have a business strategy, do we need a digital strategy?” Well, usually you do, because the business strategy doesn’t contain enough detail and direction for digital success.
Digital goes beyond. Digital also deals with internal communications, customer service, product and operations. Thinking holistically about digital will lead to a much more effective organisation.
Take Uber, for example. Its digital strategy goes way beyond using digital marketing channels to promote its taxi services. Uber’s whole business – its whole product – is fundamentally digital, from the technology that shows you exactly where your cab is on your phone, to the algorithm that adjusts pricing in real time based on local demand.
Trinity + 1
Digital brings together your marketing, your products and your services. These three are hard to separate, and you shouldn’t try. Because digital is a cross functional discipline, it
impacts on most areas of any organization. That is why the right formula should be: Marketing + product + it + sales
Properties of a good strategy (don´t be a one-trick pony)
- A strategy isn’t a goal. A strategy helps you achieve a goal. It’s not the goal itself.
- A strategy helps determine repeatable tactics. Things you can do again and again to help achieve your goal
- A strategy links factors to goals using metrics. A great marketing strategy provides a closed loop between your business goals and the properties of ‘successful’ tactics. It measures effectiveness of factors using metrics.
- A digital strategy affects the core of a business. A true marketing strategy has far-reaching impact on the primary goal of a business.
- A digital strategy has a specific goal or goals. The strategy should aim for a measurable end.
- A strategy withstands change. Pretend that, three months into your strategic plan, a new channel, technique or tool appears on the scene. Everyone wants you to try it. That may require a change in tactics, but not a change in strategy.
- A strategy transcends channels. A strategy is not a one-channel plan. Or at least, a good strategy isn’t. Putting all your strategic eggs in a single basket is a fundamentally flawed strategy.
There are numerous approaches to conducting digital strategy, but at their core, all go through the following four steps:
- identifying the opportunities and/or challenges in a business where online assets can provide a solution;
- identifying the unmet needs and goals of the external stakeholders that most closely align with those key business opportunities and/or challenges;
- developing a vision around how the online assets will fulfill those business and external stakeholder needs, goals, opportunities and challenges, and
- prioritizing a set of online initiatives which can deliver on this vision.
We can segment the digital strategy process into three main phases. But, because the process should be both top-down and bottom-up, don’t be surprised or frustrated if you have to move back and forth between these phases.
- Understanding the customer
- Defining the vision
- Where are we now?
- How is our market and environment changing?
- Goals / hypotheses
- Evaluation and feasibility
A strategy helps you to identify and formalize who your customers are, what you want to say to them (and, more importantly, what they want to hear from you), how you intend to do it, how you are going to measure the effectiveness of your marketing, and where you go next.
Without a digital strategy you have no direction – and you run the risk of spending your budget without the means of showing any return on your investment.
Still not sure if your Company needs a digital strategy?
Call us or send us an email – We’d love to discuss your project or world-beating idea with you.