Once you have support for the digital strategy and vision, it is time to document it and find the right suppliers to support implementing the component parts of the strategy.
Create & deliver your strategy
Capture the strategy in a document, but be mindful that this is likely to change. Business requirements can change quickly and the digital strategy needs to be able to respond, so plans cannot be set in stone, they may have to adapt throughout the year.
Outline the goals of the strategy and the approach that will be taken. Then get formal signoff as needed, from the various areas of the business who are key to delivering the strategy and whose support will be required to implement, fund and approve the milestones throughout.
Communicating the strategy to the business is an important step, so the business knows what the digital goals are and how they’re going to be delivered. This is also a good time to re-enforce those stakeholder relationships you’ve been working hard to create.
Having worked in digital for 15 years, in a number of different roles and within some large and complex organisations, I recently gave a talk about achieving a successful integrated digital strategy, which contained a lot of tips based on these experiences. Breaking down the content of the talk into a series of articles, I hope that readers will be able to use some of these tips.
When planning your digital strategy, it is important to remember:
It can be a complicated time, the business you work in might be complex, and the digital strategy itself can require an understanding of technical capabilities (or limitations) Add to that the fact that the landscape is constantly moving, and it can be a difficult challenge to define what you want to achieve using digital.
The strategy is not a static item. It is something that needs to be defined and documented, but it is likely to change and may sometimes have to adapt quickly to the business that might be changing around it. Strategic digital marketers need to be prepared for this.
Digital marketers need to understand how digital fits within their organisation, the various stakeholders and touchpoints, in order to shape a digital strategy that truly supports the business and its goals.
Align digital objectives with business objectives
It is important to understand what the business aims to achieve overall and how digital can support these objectives.
An important part of getting any digital strategy implemented is ensuring that the right support is available – this means getting the right people to support the ambitions and securing enough budget to implement the strategic plan.
Understand your business in a local/global context
Look at your competitors and other businesses to see what they’re doing in areas you want to focus on, such as email marketing, social media, website. Understanding the existing activity in a particular area of digital marketing can provide some insights into what is engaging the audiences of businesses in your industry.
Compare your own activities and identify where you need to improve. This can be done through formal audits and benchmarks, or informally. Even if done at a very basic level, capturing this information creates a baseline to measure against in future. Being able to identify where your competitors excel in the digital space, may also help get buy-in from senior stakeholders.
When implementing the digital strategy, it is now time to look at tools, processes and the impact that the digital strategy may have on the organisation.
When choosing which tools to use for implementing your strategy, ensure that the tools are measured for their ability to deliver on the business objectives – consider the strengths of each type of tool and how well they will support the strategy.
Make sure to define the business requirements before looking at tools, as there’s a risk of getting caught up comparing tools and potentially missing a key requirement.
While there are lots of tools that can do multiple things, such as email marketing tools that also manage social media marketing campaigns and include detailed analytics capabilities, these tools might be over-complicated or more expensive than what you really need.
Be clear on what you can afford to compromise on without losing any capability that is strategically important.