The ROI of a Digital Strategy

It can be tempting to consider digital strategy as a sideline to major marketing and communications initiatives. After all, you already have a website. You’ve set up some social media channels. When you send out the next email newsletter, you’ll also set up a landing page to capture lead information. And, you might even promote it on LinkedIn and Facebook, too. That’s plenty of digital, isn’t it?

Truth is, you’re activating program tactics. But if they aren’t part of a larger digital strategy, you’re probably limiting opportunities to achieve major objectives.

Sample Goal #1: “Increase sales by eight percent”

It’s an ambitious goal, but you know what to do: You announce the goal to your sales team. You make sure that they’re up to date on all of your latest product offerings. You arm them with a powerful new presentation and engaging support materials. You update your website. Maybe you offer incentives to further encourage your sales reps as they work to further distribute your company’s amazing products.

Those tactics may well generate some results. But they ignore critical elements of the changing patterns of how customers acquire goods and services. In other words, even if your typical sales process is handled person-to-person, you might be leaving money on the table if you don’t have an e-commerce component.

Forrester statistic

Depending on what you are selling, you could engage in an e-commerce partnership (Amazon and Google may be the most common, although for certain niches and circumstances, ebay, and even may also offer appropriate alternatives). However, if you’re also seeking to improve brand recognition and affinity (see Goal #2 below), it is best to develop and offer your own, custom e-commerce solution.

Beyond the channel, you’ll also want to continually measure, monitor and hone search terms and meta-data to improve and generate new sales. After all, part of any purchase decision is the act of finding it – and the search often takes place online.

Do your homework – or enlist a knowledgeable expert to help you ask and answer the right questions about your current and desired customers. Who are your customers and who else should be your customers? How do they identify and purchase what they need? Do they shop online? Do they research online? Who are your online competitors? Be careful not to rely on outdated assumptions about the answers to these questions. Often, people who eschewed online buying and research as recently as three to five years ago are embracing these more convenient channels now.

Sample Goal #2: “Raise brand awareness/affinity”

You initiate a brand audit, re-examining how well your logo, messaging and overall look/feel reflect your corporate identity – as well as how closely the identity you want to have matches audience perceptions. You identify key changes and/or enhancements. You update your website, presentations, print materials and brand identity guidelines. You train team members on how they can best express and reflect the brand in their daily interactions. And you launch communications activities designed to correct misperceptions and instill more favorable perceptions among your key audiences.

Once again, these are smart, strategic marketing tactics. But by not including your digital brand in both the audit and your response, you could be inadvertently undercutting your efforts.

online shopping statistic

Consider your digital brand: How does your company come across on your own website, on other websites (if relevant) and on social media? When you update your website, think about how to best curate content on an ongoing basis to reinforce the right components of your brand. When you explore advertising, include the role that online ads should play in the mix, including identification of sites where your audience is already spending time. Develop a calendar and roadmap for blog and social media posts, designed to reflect and draw attention to your brand.

Once again, ask and answer the right questions about your key audiences – including customers, potential customers, partners, vendors, the media and even your competitors. Who needs to know about you, what do they need to know and where/how are they getting their current perceptions?

The Upshot: Digital Matters and You Can Make it Work Harder For You

These examples are far from a comprehensive examination of how a digital strategy should be integrated into your overall strategic objectives, but the point is clear. Your digital landscape is bigger, broader and deeper than it may appear to be on the surface. And you can cultivate and influence how it can best work for your business.