You can’t escape it, deny it or ignore it. The impact of modern digital technology and practices has undoubtedly changed the way that businesses work. New business models are emerging. Industry sectors are shifting. Digital Disruption is everywhere.
Many enlightened companies are experimenting with innovative digital approaches are taking advantage of this ubiquitous digital disruption to enhance customer engagement and experiences, yet only roughly half of those report having an attempt at producing a strategy to match the progress they expect.
Indeed, in Smart Insight’s Managing Digital Marketing in 2016 research a staggering 46% of businesses they studied had no clearly defined digital marketing strategy, despite carrying out online marketing in all its assorted forms. The truth is, digital technology has the potential to improve profitability more than any other change that is likely to happen in the coming decade.
So just what is a digital strategy?
A digital business strategy helps to focus and identify who your existing successful customers are. It defines and clarifies how you should communicate with them tailored to their preference and, importantly it informs you of their expectations of you in the future. This knowledge then arms you with the ability to understand your prospective customers with equal accuracy and set out an approach to reach out to them with the same success.
When in the mind-set of looking at things differently and embracing the digital marketing technologies that are available, disruptive thinking often occurs. It is this disruptive thinking and ability to transform which drives the success of your digital strategy.
Thinking outside the box and taking an alternative approach to digital marketing makes your business unique and memorable and more likely to achieve distinctively successful results and growth.
Who should be responsible for digital strategy and planning?
It cannot be assumed that the responsibility for creating and defining the digital strategy lies solely in the hands of your marketing or IT department. This is simply unwise. Digital disruption impacts every sector of your business and its outcome weaves its way to create new connectivity between people, departments and objectives.
If your digital marketing strategy is fragmented and incoherent, with each department communicating different messages to the public, your customers will receive mixed signals and your strategy will be perceived as weak, ineffective and ultimately useless.
No matter what the trade, industry or size of your company is, and how successful your organisation is at the disruptive and transformative thinking element, a digital marketing strategy will only thrive if every one of your departments – from finance and admin to HR and marketing – and every employee is on board, no matter how junior or senior. Implementing a digital strategy into daily company policies and practices is everyone’s responsibility.
One thing is certain however. Digital success will not be garnered from the bottom upwards; the lead has to come from the top down. Without a suitable champion on the board and a wide-ranging, if not detailed, perception of digital transformation present in the minds of its leaders, a company is likely to fall short of its potential. Failing fast and often is fine, but only if the gains outweigh it.
The key to success is personalisation.
Technology now demands that we are treated as individuals. Any sense of automation in the process of prospective customer engagement and the ensuing customer journey can quickly be seen through. We expect, no we demand, that we are communicated with on an individual basis and that our needs and wants are catered for. If not, we will simply take our business elsewhere.
To manage this goal we need to have a very clear understanding of our multiple customer journeys. What touch points do customers have with us at all stages in our communication? Do we offer the right level of information at the early stages of the enquiry and do we make the negotiation of a sale an easy process to convert? Certainly the greatest percentage of us now demand that our Internet experience combines personalisation at those points where it matters most.
Evidence would suggest that digital transformation initiatives will double by the year 2020 but on what basis will those initiatives develop?
We are all aware of the rapid rise in the amount of data being produced around all business activities, but in truth only well-prepared and forward-thinking companies will understand and benefit from the value of that data growth. ‘Big Data’ is a term on many pundits’ lips but how many Board of Directors are building strategies for the future growth of their business by analysing that data carefully? Is your board considering Big Data Analysis to match? I bet not.
Hereby hangs one the first challenges that holds back the direction of progress. How do we interpret vast amounts of data with little or no knowledge of its direction? How do we tie this data into customer intelligence? How do we compare data with industry norms and competitor intelligence? Are the agendas aligned between sales, marketing, IT and for all other company departments for that matter?
I see and witness every day many disjointed strategies in attempt to join the digital dots. Exceptional efforts in some directions are wasted by missing links in the digital chain. Failure to think disruptively and transformatively and a lack of a unique, clearly defined digital marketing strategy that all employees can implement is often a business’ biggest downfall.