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05/12/2010 How to Develop a Digital Strategy: Part 2


Last week I talked about the need to start your strategy from a business foundation. You can read that post here.

Now that you know (or think you know) what you want to accomplish for your organization, you have to develop strategies to help you achieve your objectives. Remember, though, that since this is about creating a digital strategy, you need to keep that two-way focus in mind.

Just because it's a digital strategy doesn't mean you only have to limit yourself to the technical. A good digital strategy will have offline implications and integration points. I like thinking of digital strategy as the best way to create hybrid marketing. In my experience, starting from the digital point of view results in more connected marketing solutions.

Of course, if you're going to develop successful strategies, you have to know whom you're trying to communicate with.

The Customer (i.e. the person on the other side of that device)
If you're trying to build two-way communications, you have to know as much as possible about the people you're trying to connect with. Two way implies that you get something back, besides attention or awareness. You want them to do something. Actually the boon, or bane, of digital, depending on how you see it, is that we can measure most actions. What behavior do you want to encourage?

In Part 1, we talked about the need to do customer interviews and to dig into the digital habits of people. You have to do this to make sure you have relevant recommendations. It's no use developing a strategy heavy on mobile if your customers only use their cell phones for talking, or if they don't use them at all!

In your strategy, you want to describe different opportunities to engage people digitally. Aside from your primary research, some data you can use include:
  • Groundswell Consumer Profile Tool - While this is general, it gives you a starting place for social media action and engagement.  I've found this to be a thought and conversation starter. If you find that your demographic is heavily inactive, it will probably change how you approach them. It can also help you to figure out where to focus your efforts especially if you have more than one demographic (like most organizations do).
  • Pew Internet - This is a great source of trending data. More than once, it's helped me encourage organizations to focus on digital opportunities, especially in rural areas. While it's not always specific to the organization you're working with, it helps answer some of the critics. I find I use this more and more.
  • Online Trend, Trust and Usage Research - There's a wealth of online research out there. You can usually find recent studies that connect with your target. Some of my favorites include the more quantitative, like Nielsen Research, and the more qualitative, like Trendwatching.
With your own research and outside data, you should be able to build a compelling picture of the needs and desires of your customer and how they use digital technology. That's what you should focus on:
What do they want and need (what do they value)?
How can we deliver that to them digitally (and non-digitally)?

Building Your Strategies
I don't think you need a grand, overall, singular strategy as your approach. If you have one, that's great. Usually, though, you have to make so many compromises to it in real life that it can lose its value pretty quickly.

Instead, build multiple strategies that you can test, measure and adapt quickly. Remember, we're not building dogmas; we're creating ideas to help people and organizations.

Your strategies should solve the problem:
How are you going to reach your objectives by communicating with the people you want to reach?

Let's look at some of the objectives from the previous post and some real life examples.

Objective: Increase the response time of customer service reps.
This was actually an issue faced by Best Buy as they were trying to increase response time and decrease cost. They also found that their customers were both online and engaged with social media. Their strategy?

Strategy: Develop customer service outreach through social media.

This strategy turned into the program Twelpforce. Best Buy trained its customer service and on-floor staff to use social media, and especially Twitter, to listen to customer complaints and respond to them. They now have a better idea of what people are saying about them, a higher "solve" rate, engaged employees and more satisfied customers, according to the Twelpforce team.

Screen shot 2010-05-11 at 3.54.53 PM
Objective: Improve percentage of satisfied customers.

Fiskars was looking to do other things as well, such as increase awareness. But through their own research, they realized that scrapbookers were a dedicated and online group. Their strategy?

Strategy: Create an online community and brand ambassadors.

This strategy turned into the program Fiskateers, a site dedicated to stories, information and training. Fiskateers has recruited ambassadors from the online program and sent them out to train others. They've used the forum to get product feedback and grow sales. Most importantly, though, is the enthusiasm and dedication members feel toward Fiskars. They feel appreciated, needed and satisfied.

Fiskateers
Objective: Increase awareness of new radio station.

Several years ago, I was helping an NPR station launch a new channel. It was a big shift from the previous 30 years of broadcasting and a major initiative for the station. While we developed an overall "brand message" the digital strategy couldn't have been simpler:

Strategy: Allow people to experience the new station when they're online.


It was a sampling strategy, really. One of the things we then did was to develop rich media banners for the New York Times (where we knew our target visited). Then we streamed the live radio broadcast of the new channel right through banner. According to Pointroll, this was the first time this had ever been done. We had an interaction rate of 8%; people spent an average of one minute, 10 seconds listening to the banner, then 1.1% of them clicked through. It was a pretty simple strategy, with some great tactics.

VPR2
A good strategy should help you reach your objective, be flexible enough to allow a range of tactics and ideas, and provide a lens through which you can evaluate how you bring it to life.

When you build your strategies, you should also start mapping out how to bring them to life.  That's really where more of the "digital" will come into play. You also want to make sure that the digital strategies have offline components as well. In the Fiskateers example, the digital strategy provided an excellent training ground for in-person demonstrators. When you think of hybrid solutions for your strategies and tactics, you'll provide the best value for your clients.

There's one more part though: Creating new internal structures for digital and social media strategies. Stay tuned.

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