Mar 2, 2017

The Essential Guide to Creating a Successful Digital Strategy

by Digital Marketing Institute

In a fast-paced digital world that is ever-evolving, understanding the fundamentals of digital strategy and keeping on top of emerging trends have never been more important.

Today's consumer is tech-savvy, demanding, and constantly on the go. In fact, 80% of internet users now use a smartphone. What does this mean? In short, it means that in the digital era, there are a seemingly endless number of channels you can use to market your company's services or products to potential customers.

But, without direction, any effort you make will fall by the wayside. To succeed in the modern world, you need a plan an effective digital strategy to ensure your efforts make maximum impact.

So, to help you on your path to digital enlightenment, we've put together an essential guide to creating a successful digital strategy.

Define your Golden Circle

What's the Golden Circle, you say? The foundation of any solid digital strategy, the Golden Circle is a way of looking at why your company exists.

When presented with this question, the majority of people will think about what they offer, when really, you should start with why.

Dig deep and consider why your organisation began in the first place. What was the motivation; what was the dream? By addressing this point, you'll be able to tell a brand story that strikes a chord with your audience.

To tell an effective brand story using the Golden Circle methodology, you should address these points in the following order:

  • Why: as mentioned, why does the business exist?
  • How: how will this help your audience, and how will you achieve your goals?
  • What: what are you actually offering to your target audience?

Once you’ve answered all of the above and crafted your brand message, you'll be able to think about exactly who you want to share it with.

Create buyer personas

According to research, the use of buyer personas has made websites two - five times more effective and easier to use by targeted users.

If you don't know who you're marketing to, you'll never be able to grow and expand your business - and buyer personas will help you do just that.

Buyer personas are profiles on that represent your ideal customers. By creating your own buyer personas, you'll be able to tailor your marketing efforts to engage with your target audience and meet the needs of your customers.

The first step to creating a successful buyer persona is market research. By surveying and interviewing an audience of general target customers, you'll be able to gain a better understanding of who you're talking to. Then you can get creative.

Using your market research data, build your buyer personas based on these attributes (which you can also use for conducting your market research in the first instance):

  • Name: giving your persona a name will help to humanise them.
  • Goals: provide your persona with a goal based on the product or service you're offering, and of course, the findings from your research or survey.
  • Challenges: decide what challenges your persona faces to identify how you can help them.
  • Hobbies and interests: this information will help you gain a better insight into your customer base and what makes them tick.
  • Priorities: find out what's important to your persona in relation to your business.

Map out your customer journey

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around. - Steve Jobs

Now you understand the needs of your target audience, you'll need to plan a journey map to gain a better understanding of how people are currently interacting with your business. To do so, you should consider the following questions:

  1. Where does a user first encounter your business online?
  2. What touch or contact points are the most important when a user makes a decision about your services?
  3. What do you do that makes your potential customers leave and what makes them come back?

By collaborating with people in your company with access to useful customer data and web analytics, then requesting accurate reports to use alongside your personal research, you will be able to map out a clear customer journey and decide which areas your strategy needs to address to help drive more engagement, awareness, and ultimately, revenue.

Create a content strategy

A strategy within a strategy? Yes, by creating content that engages your potential customers and promoting it through the most effective digital channels available to your business, you’ll be able to get the results you deserve.

In fact, content marketing leaders reap the rewards of 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders.

As you've taken the time to understand your target audience, as well as their dreams, goals, challenges, and interests, you'll be able to tap into their heads and craft insightful blog posts that they will be compelled to consume and share.

Sit down with your colleagues and using your Golden Circle, your buyer personas, and journey map, brainstorm a list of content ideas for your company blog, as well as editorial campaigns, social content, emails, and any other angle you can think of. Consider key dates or events taking place throughout the year and how you might be able to tie in compelling content around them to engage with new prospects.

Once you've conjured up and refined an epic list of content ideas and identified the best channels (Facebook, Twitter, email, blog, Snapchat, etc.), you should organise them by creating a content calendar which you can share with everyone involved with your strategy.

This collaborative approach will give you the ability to develop, change, and update your ideas, as well as your campaigns on a regular basis and keep them flowing.

Look at your resources

Now you've built the foundations of your digital strategy, planned your content, and decided when and how you're going to share it with your target audience, you'll need to determine who is going to help you roll everything out.

Take a serious look at the people in your organization, those who will be best suited to delivering certain goals within your strategy - and delegate accordingly. By looking at your available resources and deciding where to place people's talents in relation to your goals and milestones, you will ensure a greater level of success for yourself and your company.

Measure your results

Last but certainly not least: measure your results. In today's digital world, there’s no shortage of data, so make sure you use it.

Much like you did when creating your buyer personas and customer journey, pull data from resources like Google Analytics and Webmaster tools, and request reports from key departments to understand what is working and what's not.

By measuring your results, you'll be able to figure out how to build upon content or campaigns that have driven traffic and encouraged engagement, and learn from your mistakes so you can make your digital strategy smarter, stronger, and more successful.

Remember, creating a successful digital strategy is a step-by-step process that takes time, perseverance, and a robust skill set. The ability to plan and deliver a successful digital strategy can seriously enhance your career prospects, download our free ebook to find out how you can develop your digital competitive advantage.

Develop a robust strategy, that will stand up to the rigor and scrutiny of board-level decision making. Become a Certified Digital Marketing Specialist in Strategy and Planning.


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