6 Core Elements of a Solid Digital Strategy

Death By Terminology

In a previous life I worked at an organization where terminology became a sticking point.

I was asked over and over again, “What is our digital strategy?” And after a few attempts at documenting the things we were doing in the digital space, I realized the problem: The person asking (demanding) the answers assumed that this would be a standalone document – a manifesto of sorts for our department.

When I tried to explain my position, they didn’t want to hear it. Instead they continued down the same path – frustrated that we didn’t have a digital strategy

The Sticking Point

My position on the concept of a digital strategy is this:

"An organization must have a solid communication strategy above all else. This document explains how we talk and communicate about the brand and the vision of the organization. It includes brand guidelines, the mission and value statements, and somewhere in there is a section where you call out the various tools and platforms you will use in the digital space. Call it, “digital tools,” “digital platforms” or the “digital strategy” for all I care. But at the end of the day it’s a section in the overall communication strategy for the organization."

See the difference? The digital strategy is NOT a standalone document. Instead, it is a document that lives under the umbrella of the communication strategy.

Because this organization hadn't thought through their official communication strategy, they were unable to accept my explanation as to what a digital strategy should be.

6 Core Elements of a Solid Digital Strategy

That said, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

If you already have a strong communication strategy, these 6 elements will likely be in there somewhere as your digital strategy:

  1. A “Corporate” Website. Your website is the foundation for everything else you do online. Everything should point back to the website and all major calls-to-action should be obvious and accessible here. It should be simple, easy to read, easy to navigate and MUST be responsive so visitors can access it on the mobile, tablet and desktop. Use blog functionality to update the site with news, stories, product releases and other important information. For those selling products online you will most likely have an eCommerce website – capable of displaying your products or services well, and making sales easy for the visitor. Another element that is important to eCommerce businesses as a solid CRM (Customer Relations Management) tool to manage interactions with buyers and potential buyers.
  2. Social Media. Be where the people are. Create corporate/business accounts on all major social media platforms and add content regularly. Posts should entice the visitor to click back to your website to read full articles, see important pages, etc.
  3. Search & Social Ad Campaigns. This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to throw a few dollars at advertising, you can ensure your brand is getting seen by the people you want to see it. Google Ads, Facebook/Instagram Ads and paid Yelp accounts (among others) can go a long way in being found by the people around you.
  4. Media Distribution. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but using media (mainly audio and video) can be a HUGE asset to your brand/business. Things like audio/video podcasts, YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud and others allow you to create content related to your brand and easily use it (by embedding) on your website, in blog posts and on social media.
  5. Email Marketing. Nobody likes to get spammed with daily emails. But people will sign up to receive your newsletter if you send less frequent, helpful emails. These emails can be informational (stories, articles, links to good content) or they can be promotional, offering 30% off a product for example. Having a regular email marketing campaign is a simple piece of the larger marketing puzzle.
  6. Measure, Tweak & Improve. You don’t know what you don’t know. But you can start knowing by installing analytics software like Google Analytics, visitor engagement software like HotJar, and a host of other things like A/B testing software. Once you are in the know, you will be better equipped to make good decisions, tweak your digital strategy and eventually improve your digital footprint.

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