Keeping on top of your digital strategy

I’ll start off easy. For many of you who don’t study anything business or marketing related, you may look at the words ‘Digital Strategy’ and freak out. More haunting words that sound like you’re travelling down the wrong path, but once you come to grips with it you can turn your business into an overnight success. Okay, maybe not overnight, but you get what I mean!

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Having a clear understanding of what Digital Strategy is, allows you to start working on building your reputation and stacking up the dollars on a digital scale. ‘Digital strategy’ can be summarised in seven words – “achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies” (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2012). Analysing a straightforward definition like that makes it feel like we’re reading ‘Digital Strategy for Dummies’ and that it could all be so simple, but we still need to consider our hyper-competitive marketplaces to allow us to take control.

So how powerful is a Digital Strategy?

In a recent study ‘Managing Digital Marketing’ by Smart Insights it concluded 46% of brands don’t have a defined digital strategy. Shocking. We’re now in 2018 and almost half of business leaders don’t realise this is how you let your business grow? You need to start making a plan! And fast.

Thankfully we have progressed since the release of the first website and the digital world continues to get more interesting. Your business can now take to the stage in more than just the newspaper, it can feature on social media sites I’m certain you’re familiar with (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), e-mail marketing, classified ads and the easiest way of-mobile marketing. All inside that device you throw into your back pocket-well that’s if you’ve progressed from the Nokia 3310, also known as ‘The Indestructible’.

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Depending on the aspect you want your business to take and the marketing strategy you have in place, ensuring you’re going to reach the target audience you want, your knowledge of the route you want to lead needs to be concise and creative in order for it to work. Websites that are easy to use are key, keeping up with market trends, your performance as a business-how quickly you respond and the manner that you respond in, also promotional messages. Simple actions will have loyal customers rolling in, forming that purchase and re-purchase behaviour. For example-Domino’s daily texts and e-mails with discount codes and saying that they missed me encourages me to scoff those carbs down with no regret. They don’t shy away from the innovative marketing tactics and neither should you. (Which reminds me my Sizzler should be here by now, brb.)

Snapchat recently have integrated a ‘Website link’ feature which allows brands to attach their website in their snaps and direct consumers straight to their website address and browse it without having to close the app. An innovative way to up sell products, especially for smaller businesses who have just started up, increasing their digital presence and opportunity. Hurts my bank balance though.

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Do I need one?

Y-E-S! Having no direction within a business can be an absolute nightmare. And a strategic plan that is not too complicated will allow for the digital objectives that you want to pursue to be achieved. This will allow for a stronger connection with existing customers whilst developing new relationships as a result of adopting use of those digital tools. The start of your plan should be based on a detailed situational analysis. Summarising this as the process by which the company develops a clear understanding of each individual market and then evaluates its significance for the company and for other markets in which the business operates.

Google Analytics is an easily accessible tool can help to monitor these aspects, giving a stronger indication of how your success can measured. They proliferate your awareness of your target audience, improve engagement and interpret the data you need to continue to create this effective digital strategy.

Following PR Smith’s model; SOSTAC allows for a balanced strategic plan and can be used no matter if your business is big or small. Once you have analysed the situation, your objectives come into practice and you want to start engaging with your customers and ensuring their needs are satisfied. The strategy now in this modern technological world would involve getting your advertisements out on social media sites, making yourselves known, zoning in on the areas you want to target and who. With your focused and efficient tactics, the model will allow you to monitor and control, so if problems arise, they can be easily construed and stopped in their tracks before anything too crazy happens.

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What makes it so effective?

Brand identity. Is your presence known? If it’s not then you won’t be remembered in a hurry! You want to make yourself aware on and off the internet bringing brand promise, this needs to be consistent. Kapferer created a brand identity prism that is a good framework for helping you source the answers to questions like; ‘What makes a brand distinguished?’, ‘What is brand equity?’ Kapferer’s (1997) argument that this new model adheres to, is that brand identity is a richer concept to understand and build brands, than just focusing on positioning. Allowing you to determine possible limits for brand development and variation. Then, you’re on the path to success.

See, it’s simpler than you think. Although I do advise that you always plan for the worst as you cannot control every situation or employee that crosses your path. Feedback from customers can be a heart-breaking or a ‘made my day’ experience, reels in opportunities to boost your business, being inspired to improve. As Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon says; “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Reputation makes customers.

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Fionnuala Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @fionnualaheg,  LinkedIn –Fionnuala Hegarty, and Instagram – fionnualahegarty