What is a digital strategy?
A short definition of the digital strategy
The very concept of digital strategy may seem blurry at first glance. This term is actually part of a very large global plan that takes place through many digital tools. A company's digital strategy therefore encompasses several things. On the one hand, it is about objectives and actions on the one hand, but also about performance indicators set up by a company on all the digital platforms on which it is located on the other hand.
To go further
This definition is not sufficient to understand the issues at stake and the concrete approach to the subject. Indeed, a company's digital strategy starts with the definition of the objectives to be achieved. It may be to gather a community on a specific site, to gain notoriety, to promote a product, to get closer to consumers, to announce something, or even simply to maintain its good reputation.
Controlling your online identity
In reality, a company without a digital strategy simply does not exist online. It is obvious that no one today knowingly avoids digital tools. These are embedded in everyone's everyday use today, and doing without them seems impossible. In fact, not having a digital strategy means not existing online, and ultimately, not existing at all.
A work of every moment
This work then involves carrying out short, medium and long-term actions to either embark on the adventure or improve or maintain its online brand image. It is a precise work, since a digital strategy is maintained day after day and must be adapted to the general context. This work has a very changing character. It requires constant attention at all times in order not to fall behind the competition. Committing a communication blunder could also have serious repercussions.
Finally, it is necessary to evaluate the return on investment of the company in its strategy. Are the means and time committed producing the expected results? If so, this is excellent news and proves that it is relevant to continue along this path. If not, the approach, the stakeholders and perhaps even the budget should be reviewed for better results.
Why implement a digital communication strategy?
It might be tempting to avoid the subject for lack of time, means or even envy. After all, not all of us are adept at digital, social networking and online content sharing platforms. Nevertheless, the significant increase in the number of users on these platforms tends to show that they are becoming more than just service sites, but meeting and sharing places for the majority of us.
Historically, some major brands have quickly taken up residence on these different platforms, wanting to be ahead of the game so as not to lag behind the competition. Today, a brand that is not present on the Internet would miss the opportunity to be as close as possible to its users and to build a precious bond of trust with them.
Keeping control of your digital strategy
Building a digital strategy means first and foremost mastering your image online, on computers and tablets, but also in the users' pocket, on their phone. There are so many brands and platforms that a company that doesn't try to create its online space will inevitably be cut off by a competitor sooner or later. The quicker the subject is addressed, the more likely the brand is to perform online.
The challenge of the digital strategy is not necessarily financial. Companies such as Microsoft, Netflix or Apple are not only looking to make money but also, and above all, to gain influence, which gives them the power to convince and hold the truth in their community. All digital strategies today are about gaining influence in one way or another. Being visible, having a large community of active users, promoting a product, all this cannot be done without influence, and the early fans will not stay within the community without this minimal necessary influence that will make them adhere to the brand's personality.
Capturing the user's attention
Influence is also about the attention trade. A user has very little free time today. Between various and varied compulsory tasks, work or courses, users are monopolized by many subjects. These ultimately leave them with very little brain time available, which is what all brands are constantly fighting for. The greater your influence, the more attention you capture from your users. Ultimately, this gained attention will allow you to offer your products and services, which will ultimately allow you to make money.
How to define your digital strategy?
Any digital strategy must be planned well in advance by carefully studying various unavoidable points. If some of them seem difficult for you to deal with, there are many free online sites with resources that are there to help you. You can also opt for a specialized agency that will help you build the best possible digital strategy.
The audit of the existing system, an essential stage
Questions to ask during your audit
Before launching headlong into the creation of a digital strategy, it is imperative that you carry out an audit of the existing situation. Your company may already have an online presence. If so, several questions arise:
- On which platforms is the company already present?
- What are the objectives to be achieved on each platform?
- Are these objectives being met?
- What is the company doing positively online?
- What could the company do better online?
- How is the company performing against the competition?
- What do your competitors do differently from you?
Drawing the right conclusions
By analyzing these different points, you will discover that not everything is black or white. There are certainly some things you're already doing very well, and others that deserve a little more attention.
You have no online presence at the moment? That's not a problem, since you have all the latitude you need to start this project on a good footing. Seize this opportunity.
Integrate with the existing communication strategy
If your company does not yet have a digital strategy, it has certainly already put a communication plan in place. It is imperative that this is integrated into your digital marketing strategy. Indeed, in addition to working together, the teams will be able to create synergies between their different actions to increase the results obtained. One person's experience will benefit the other in a relationship of positive reciprocity for everyone.
Have your approach supported by management
This is only possible with the support of the management team, which must see this approach as a long-term work that must be valued by the teams. Without this essential support, and without constant support in making important decisions, the means implemented may not produce the expected results due to a lack of overall vision and team alignment.
Have clear objectives
It may seem perfectly obvious, but a clear and concrete objective makes all the difference in the proper implementation of a digital communication plan. Your digital marketing strategy isn't necessarily complicated to implement, but of all the steps to consider, that of the objectives is such a challenge that you should pay even more attention to it.
To get a clearer picture, proceed methodically. Setting your objectives can be done using SMART indicators. They must be like this:
- Acceptable / Ambitious
- Temporally defined
Understanding SMART indicators
Specific, because you will need to adopt a strategy for your product in the situation you are in. Make your objective as simple as possible to understand to avoid wasting information and make it easier to evaluate.
Measurable, to know if it has indeed been reached. You will need to rely on factual information to determine the completion or progress of an objective with pragmatism and objectivity.
Acceptable, to remain stimulating and give a sense of accomplishment to the teams. Moreover, the achievement of one objective should never be achieved by taking precedence over another.
Realistic, since unattainable goals only generate stress, frustration and confusion. An objective that is too difficult to achieve risks not winning the support of the teams and being abandoned along the way. In addition, your employees may question their own abilities and be less effective overall.
Temporarily defined, to evaluate its feasibility in relation to your company's context. No matter whether you opt for a B2B or B2C digital strategy, via a website or on social networks, it is important to limit your objectives to give meaning to the results obtained. Deadlines can also give your teams more motivation to reach an objective, provided it is achievable.
Carry out targeting
Who's your target? Who are you addressing?
It's time to work on the profile of your customers to understand who they are, what they want and of course, the best way to reach them. Your communications department may already have information about this. You can therefore rely on their expertise to learn more.
If no data is available on the subject, you can proceed in one of two ways, either on the basis of your experience and knowledge of your consumers, or by carrying out a more complete and exhaustive market study.
A case-by-case targeting
In the first case, the results depend on your knowledge of the sector and your customers. Total analysis doesn't necessarily make sense if you know exactly where you're going with your potential customers.
Otherwise, if you feel you don't have enough elements to develop a sound strategy, it seems appropriate to take a rational approach to the subject by doing a comprehensive study. In this case, you will have to collect data, establish people and go through the market tools that will be able to support your own positioning strategy.
All this will then be used to build your digital marketing plan. All you have to do is rely on the actual data.
Make consistent platform choices
When talking about information technology, some names come to mind more quickly than others. However, the most popular digital marketing tools may not be the ones your business really needs. Get advice if necessary from specialized agencies and don't get lost among all the available technologies.
What platforms are available?
Among the platforms to know, you will mainly find the following ones:
- Social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are among the main ones.
- Content sharing platforms: YouTube and Twitch are the best representatives of this. Here, users produce content for their community.
- Websites and blogs: specialized or not, they can help you complete your web strategy.
- Video games: some games such as Fortnite make it possible to organize events around cultural products. The cost is high but the results are simply extraordinary.
How do I choose the right platform for my project?
The right platform is first of all the one on which your customers are located. A good digital communication strategy is of no use if it doesn't reach its target: that's where your prior analysis and personas come into play.
We could also have mentioned the search engines that can participate in your promotion. If the answer to the question of platforms does not seem immediate, consider doing your own research on the subject.
What is the job of a digital marketer?
The digital marketer (in French, chargé de communication digitale) occupies a key position as he is responsible for implementing the established strategy. His/her job therefore consists of implementing the plan defined upstream by mobilising his/her knowledge and skills.
His job is above all to enhance the company's image online. In this way, he not only contributes to the company's good reputation, but also shows his openness to digital tools.
Over time, he will be brought to work on the strategy put in place to adapt it to the situation or to the new objectives of the company. His objective being to give more visibility to your business, he will have to rely on SEO techniques, social networks, promotional e-mail campaigns and more.
The production of high value-added content is also important. This content will help to convey the company's values, but also its online know-how. They will appear on the company's website or in publications on other sites if such campaigns are implemented. Videos and visuals on the networks are also within its remit. He must therefore be creative and demonstrate a certain technical know-how in order to produce media.
Analysing results and monitoring
Audience analysis and monitoring are also part of its role. Once the performance indicators have been defined, he must establish what works and what doesn't, and make the necessary adjustments to guide the strategy in place in the right direction. If necessary, he proposes a relevant action plan if he detects a need. Monitoring consists first and foremost of keeping abreast of trends and current events so as not to fall behind the competition.
How to build an effective digital strategy?
Working on inbound marketing
Inbound marketing can be divided into three main activities:
- Proposing media to visitors to entice them to come to your site, blog or social networks.
- Turning visitors into prospects. Gather information from them by offering them something in return.
- Turn prospects into customers. After analyzing everyone's behavior, you need to be able to make the right proposal at the right time. You will enter a slightly different phase of marketing at this stage.
This involves being able to promote your products or services in a way that increases your visibility among your prospects. To do this, you will need to have worked on your editorial charter.
Define your editorial charter
How will you interact with your target? This is the question the editorial charter is supposed to answer.
Your customers have expectations about how you will interact with them. Will they prefer to be treated like friends or acquainted? Should image, video or text be favoured in your communications? Which language register should you adopt? What tone will best suit your target audience and reflect your company's values?
What is the purpose of an editorial charter?
Your editorial charter is a guide that covers all these points. The way you write and speak, the words you use or don't use, all these aspects have an impact on how your customers perceive you. This is all the more true on the web, where you will have to work on your natural referencing to appear at the top of certain search results. This is an opportunity to transcribe your values and your mission in the form of a charter that everyone will have to respect.
Everyone will express themselves in the same way when it comes to your company, and this unity will help to reassure the consumer and put him in confidence.
Mobilizing available resources
When all the theory, research and analysis is complete, you should have a plan and strategy in mind. It will be time to mobilize everything you can to achieve your goals.
We're talking about money, of course, but also human resources, time and skills to carry your vision forward. As we saw earlier, it is not enough to create a Facebook account to become a digital communications officer. In fact, you will need to rely on people with the skills and talent to get your message across.
It's going to take time and significant financial investment. Make sure you keep your budget tight so you don't have any unpleasant surprises.
Choosing the right indicators
Would you like to be visible or improve your reputation with your existing customers? Do you work with a view to interacting with your community or do you prefer one-sided communication?
There are many indicators, but not all of them will be relevant to your project. It is therefore advisable to adapt the performance indicators to your needs in terms of quantity, quality, content and interactions. All this also depends on your products and services.
Where can I find the indicators I need?
Social networks offer integrated analytics platforms that will give you all the information you are looking for. For a website on the other hand, you'll need to go through third party tools such as Google Analytics.
Last but not least, the follow-up. Constant support is necessary for all the actions you decide to implement. If you are building a community, it may ask you questions on certain subjects and you will have to answer them.
All this follow-up work is essential and must be done on a daily basis. The news will not wait for you, and neither will your community. In the digital world, immediacy is something everyone wants to be able to claim. The more responsive you are, the more effective your strategy will be.
How to set up a digital strategy?
In short, to proceed on the long road of creating and implementing a digital strategy, you will first have to go through a phase of analysis, data collection and reflection on your approach to customers and their expectations.
Have clear objectives
It will then be time to establish a strategy with clear objectives using the SMART system. You and your team will carry this project forward in unison with the support of the management members. This support will ensure that you never lose sight of what is important to your company.
Implementing your strategy
Finally, the implementation stage involves drawing on a variety of skills. Assigning a digital marketer can save you the trouble of doing this work yourself. He or she will be able to ensure your good online reputation while producing content on a regular basis. With the help of specialized tools, he will present you with performance reviews and actions to be implemented.
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