Do you really have a digital strategy?

OPINION / 31st March 2017

Many businesses claim to have a digital strategy, but when we dig a little deeper, we realise they haven’t. A digital strategy isn’t simply about implementing new tech, it’s more complex than that. A digital strategy is a macro plan, that aligns with the goals of the business, and sets the blueprint for the process of digital transformation. It is made up of a multitude of interconnecting elements that include brand, customer experience, data, operational change and of course, technology.

A digital strategy marries the business needs with digital and technical processes. It aligns with the business’ current and future objectives, and sets out ways in which digital and tech will help to achieve those goals. The strategy seeks to find out who the business’ audience is, and what their needs are, and what the competitors are doing. It also defines key performance indicators (KPIs) with which to measure success.

A digital strategy should include the following five strands:

1. Brand:

We help clients to identify their position in the market, their points of difference to their competitors, and how their brand perception differs according to the audience they’re reaching, and the channel they’re on.

Every digital strategy should look to redefine the brand, and the language it uses online. It should redress dated brand guidelines, which all too often fail to reflect the nuances of a brand’s visual identity across digital channels. It should set out a new governance that makes the brand’s tone of voice and visual identity consistent, seamless and compelling across all the physical and digital destinations.

A digital strategy will aim for brand consistency across all digital touch points, which ultimately leads to better digital experiences for their customers.

2. Customer experience:

Customers are no longer part of a mass market; they are not passive recipients of marketing messages, and due to technology, their path to purchase has dramatically changed. The majority of today’s customers are part of a social and dynamic network; and they are interconnected via mobile.

A digital strategy will map out and reflect the new needs of the digital consumer. It will identify the omnichannel journeys they are on, and take into account both the physical and digital touchpoints along the way.

We work with our clients’ to identify who their customers are, validate their existing assumptions of who their customers are, and find out where they are engaging with our clients’ products and services. We map out our clients’ customer journeys, and what they sell to their target audiences, to identify the gaps in their digital provisions, and to recommend opportunities where digital can improve the customer experience.

3. Data:

The finding, understanding and utilising of data underpins every digital strategy. Businesses have always used data to track customers, markets, and employees; and it has played huge part in operations. But now data is playing a new role; it is a strategic asset, and it is a new source of value creation. A digital strategy will look at new ways of collecting, handling and working with data, as data gives insight and drives the decision making.

We work with our clients to maximise their existing data assets; this can simply mean tagging and rewiring their web analytics and digital touchpoints or something more complex, such as taking data from departmental silos or divisions of the business (such as transactional data, conversions, behavioural), and bringing them together to create a more holistic view.  We appreciate that there’s now so much data out there, that even starting with basics, such as getting all the analytics from digital touch-points correct, can make a massive difference to a business.

4. Operations:

Digital strategies tackle operational change; which may require teams to restructure and businesses to create new Target Operating Models. This operational change needs to come from the top, and requires a new mindset, free from the ‘this-is-how-we’ve-always-done-it’ approach.

We understand this is a sensitive issue, which is why we work closely with our clients to identify, formulate and implement new ways of working and utilising digital technology to their advantage. For some clients, we’ll develop a digital centre of excellence – an internal team to oversee every digital touchpoint within the business. For others, we will work closely in-house with them to retrain their staff, to reskill or upskill existing talent to meet the new needs of the business.

5. Technology:

Underpinning every digital strategy is technology. A digital strategy sets out to identify and unify multiple technology stacks and platforms which typically include: an experience platform/web content management system, marketing automation, CRM and ecommerce systems. These tech functions often work in silos.

We work with clients to integrate and connect their technology, platforms and data to enable it all to talk to each other. The ultimate dream for clients is to use data-driven insights, to create very personalised and targeted marketing, down to the level of an individual, the single customer view, or ‘the holy grail of customer service’.

ORM’s digital strategy blueprint:

Our digital strategies set out to create a three to five year strategy for our clients. They outline a clear path of how they will achieve their business objectives using digital processes and technology. Come and talk to us if you think you have any gaps in your strategy.

Peter Gough Peter Gough Managing Partner & Founder Peter Gough