I’ve always been a big fan of the quote:
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
The same goes for digital.
I see far more businesses without digital strategies than with. In fact, I’d imagine they outnumber them 10-1.
This for me is a HUGE problem! The world of digital is vast.
Your team could spend all day every day tinkering with your website, posting on social media, creating adverts, sending out emails… the list goes on.
Where on earth do you start? How do you decide where to invest your time and money?
So I’ve put together a few pointers to help you create your first digital strategy.
1 – Define your objectives
Every organisation has different goals. Some may be looking to build their brand, others will be looking to increase sales or enquiries. The choices you make here will impact your choice of digital tactics.
If you’re looking to build your brand authority then content marketing may be your most important tactic. If you’re looking for quick wins, then paid advertising and email is probably where you need to go.
Unless you have objectives, how can you rule in or out certain tactics?
2 – Put together a benchmark and KPI report
At the very least, I would suggest monitoring:
- Site Traffic – gives you an overall idea of how you’re doing, but remember you’d rather have less traffic of a higher quality, than sky-high numbers which translate to no outcome.
- Bounce Rates – you’re looking to lower your bounce rates (i.e. how quickly people leave your site).
- Pages per Visit and Time on Site – good quality content will help increase the stickiness of your site.
- Conversions – this is the real key: define your conversions, then track them. This could include anything from forms filled out, products bought, certain pages visited to phone numbers dialed.
- Sales – If you can track this then you’ll have closed the loop but it requires on and offline systems to speak so most companies don’t do this – if you can, you’ll be in the top 5%.
- Search Engines Rankings for important key phrases – these fluctuate a huge amount, so don’t put too much store by them, but they can be useful to know.
Now you have these statistics set up as benchmarks, they should form part of a working document. Save it to Google Docs or something similar. Update it with your figures at least once a month, if not more often.
3 – Spend time auditing
If you don’t know where the organisation is now, it’s hard to plan where you want it to go in the future.
You need to invest some time scrutinising how you are performing online, across all areas.
There’s a plethora of great analysis tools out there, and this is where they come into their own. Some are free, some are paid for. If you’re going to audit properly, I say it’s worth investing in this area.
Once your organisation has gained access to these tools, it can re-run them at any point to assess performance.
Here are a few to look at (none of these are affiliated links or anything – I just rate them!):
- Search Metrics – gives a glimpse of your overall search engine visibility. You can also map yourself against competitors and see which key phrases you are performing well for.
- Moz – site audits, keyword research, back link audits, and more.
- SEM Rush – all-round tool for everything from auditing to ongoing monitoring across paid, social and search.
- PageSpeed – how quick your website loads is a ranking factor, so should be taken seriously. Google’s tool will measure speed and point out ways of improving it.
- Mobile-Friendly test – we are moving quickly towards a mobile dominated world, so it’s important to know how your website performs.
- Mobile-First Indexing – Check out our video on mobile-first indexing, which came into effect in July 2018
- Screaming Frog – for those who want a deeper understanding of the technical elements, this program crawls your website to take a fine-toothed comb to your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
- Majestic SEO – the world’s largest link index database, and therefore the ultimate backlink audit tool.
- Authority Labs – an easy way to track your keywords and their rankings.
By now you should know where you’re performing well, and where you’re not getting results. Bear in mind that this could be for any number of reasons. If something isn’t working, don’t just blame the tactic and immediately ditch it.
For example, if Facebook isn’t driving traffic to your site, you could try using it in a different way, or ask specialists for advice.
4 – Define your audience
Take some time to create customer personas (fictional representations of your ideal customers) to help you create relevant touch-points throughout the buyer life-cycle. I wrote about persona’s over on my personal blog recently.
5 – Make a plan
Depending on how fast your industry, service and products move, you’ll probably want to make at least a 12 month plan. A simple spreadsheet should suffice. Months of the year along the top, tactics down the side and fill in the blanks for the impact you want to see, all against the backdrop of your budgets and resource.
I’m not going to delve too deep into individual tactics, but here are a few to think about:
- Website – think about everything from your domain name to your CMS.
- Search – improve your Google listing with valuable content and invest in SEO.
- Paid – split test your ad copy and put some decent budget in.
- Email – post-GDPR, everyone on your list should want to be there, so consider how you can offer value to that audience.
- Social media – engage with others to build strategic relationships.
- Outreach – create content for others, not just yourself.
- Influencers – if harnessed correctly, these people (or pets, or avatars) with large social media followings or busy websites can be a ticket to major traffic.
- Conversions – if you’re not optimising them, you’re missing opportunities, especially if you sell online.
6 – Consider your whole business
Digital applies to everything you do, not just marketing.
Which areas of your business could be enhanced by utilising digital technologies and platforms? Could you make something more efficient with an app, or keep your customers around by providing something they only have access to through working with you?
Optix Solutions investigates all of these areas – and more – when creating digital strategies for our clients. Find out more about how we work process here, or dial 01392 66 77 66 and have a chat with one of our team!