Digital Strategy

The most important phase in the design and build of a digital eco-system or any of its components is a the creation of a clear brief, goals, and success metrics. It seems obvious, but client's goals are often not defined and will certainly shift, and as strategists we must advise our clients on the most appropriate data, content, and platforms that will lead to success for their enterprise. The success metrics will define how the short and mid term success will be defined. In an agile environment, it's critical to  have the ability to look at digital marketing, content consumption, and digitally driven revenue on a weekly and monthly basis and optimize where needed.  These goals apply to B2C, B2B, and even B2E;  providing enhanced digital tools will lead to  increased engagement, acquisition, and retention, for consumer, partners, and employees. Even simple task such as on-boarding for enterprises requires the same fundamental customer centric approach.

Once you engage with a client to prioritize and focus their goals, then collaborate to define the most effective digital strategy to transform their customer or business processes. Clients may be looking for greater brand awareness, and in that case social media and branded content for their web and social platforms will drive towards the success metrics. If you need to alter or improve brand perceptions, then a  more granular approach such as a community or content platform would be appropriate to drive prospects to learn more about the brand and engage with it. Convincing a client to start with a major initiative is rarely the right solution for an enterprise where digital is not a regular component of their marketing vernacular. They need to see digital ROI and buy into what they still consider a new platform, so a new content channel, re-skin, or best an agile MVP based plan will prove to the value.

Of course, the tools and content on the underlying web platform(s) must have an innovative and responsive interface, and deliver personalized content and experiences. The questions that clients need to be asked are:
  • Are we leveraging customer (consumer, partner, or employee) data, how do we analyze it and what value do we get as a result?
  • Can we leverage customer data across all platforms holistically (Content, Search, SEO, SEM, Display, Social)?
  • Can we use this data to personalize the experience, tools, and content served to the customer?
  • Do we thoroughly track and analyze or business processes and how digital can make them more efficient?
  • How do we create content for our customers and employees, is this the right mix of brand, LOB and geographic specific content and can the content and assets be shared internally?
  • Is there the appropriate mix of openness and entrepreneurial spirit vs. control in the digital workplace?
  • What is the strategy to sunset legacy systems while still keeping business processes moving according to the plan?
  • Do we have the right technologies and process to enable faster release cycles for internal and customer facing applications?

Digital Platforms

 It doesn't matter if you are a Fortune 500 global firm, or a regional player, an integrated digital eco-system is required to manage and optimize platforms that will attract prospects, retain current customers, and increase current customer's engagement. Equally, employees must be provided with a consumer grade digital platform without the burden of many independent logins to legacy systems. The digital strategy must enumerate a holistic approach to web, mobile, legacy integration, and social . According to many in the media, very few firms have a long term digital strategy which is well thought out and this remains a issues which requires focus by COOs, CIOs, and CMOs. Brands need to align on the importance of technology, valuable technologies and platforms that will allow CIOs, CMOs and innovators to deliver insights and ROI for their digital spend. The gap between brands and digital has to disappear, and marketers need to only discern how they need to leverage technology, not if. "Digital is dead" according to Seth Farbman CMO of The Gap, because you cannot think about the two independently.
A classic example of technology without strategy is the dilemma faced by many financial service and technology firms. For years I have been telling clients and co-workers that although they are "cool" Mobile Wallets, such as ApplePay, have no intrisic value for consumers, and adoption is very low. What are marketers offering consumers to use the mobile wallet rather than a credit card, certainly with chipped cards I feel more secure. A recent article in Ad Age also chides marketers for demanding that their IT groups build a slew of apps, who wants their phones crowded with apps, give me one from your brand.

Of course, social platforms have become a critical element, and for some brands, a profitable platform. But they need to be leveraged for the appropriate strategies and having a Facebook brand page is not going to magically drive sales and Google Plus's level of engagement is  debatable. It can engage users who can then be driven to your mobile or web platform to complete the interaction or sale. And like all digital platforms, content must be updated and optimized. Many brands that complain about the lack of ROI on social platforms don't spend the require time and resources to update content, and users quickly become weary and move onto to other content. The use of social, video and non traditional digital platforms is evident in the gap between measured and non measured media spend, as AdAge reports.

Mobile must be included in the platform mix for all strategies but as responsive platforms are a must, mobile is no longer an isolated or indepdent consideration. Consumers are now using tablets to purchase substantial goods and services, and a very high majority of C suite executives are using tablets in B2B research. Smartphones are a source of location based shopping and research, but consumers are still hesitant to purchase on these devices though recent trends in mobile pay and wallets show an upward trend. The growth is substantial each year though, so the momentum is building for true mobile commerce that directly affects ROI. Using hybrid technologies, such as Phone Gap, IONIC, Mobile Angular, or PhoneGap/Cordova  can help lower development costs leveraging a single responsive codebase with a wrapped native app that can leverage many nativs Android and iOS functions.