Breaking down the barriers to digital: Part 1 – The importance of digital strategy

BY Clare Bennett

The first in our ‘Breaking down the barriers to digital’ series.

The term digital strategy is commonly confused with a mish-mash of social media tactics or technology infrastructure. Digital Strategy is developed for the business as a whole – not just for marketing and not just for IT. We prefer to call it digital business strategy – because it is the business strategy that’s important and we view the business challenges through a digital lens.  Digital business strategy is also the starting point for Digital Business Transformation.

Digital business strategy is a process of diagnosing and eliminating near term challenges using technology, in order to progress a business towards its stated vision.

What is a business without a digital business strategy?

It’s like a road trip without a map or GPS. You drive for days on end. Your petrol and lodging bills are piling up. Cheap accommodation, bad coffee and lack of sleep are getting to you. All this just to find out that you have been driving in the completely wrong direction and now have to backtrack, costing you double the time and money.

Most likely, your digital and business objectives are out of alignment – you need a digital strategy. This most likely happens because of one or some of the following:

  • You didn’t establish clear, measurable digital objectives and a road map that perfectly aligns with your business model—in other words, your website poorly reflects what you actually do.
  • You don’t understand your business and digital competition and have no resources to do this type of marketing research.
  • You hope people stumble upon your website. It’s not going to happen. With billions of websites out there, your only visitors will be spammers and bots.
  • You don’t have time to stay on top of digital trends. What was popular yesterday, isn’t anymore.
  • You spend too much time experimenting, hoping something will eventually stick.
  • Your website is focused on your organisational structure instead of your users’ needs.
  • Your website is desperately lagging behind because the technology you use requires expensive upgrades and administrative overheads that you cannot afford.

This produces a poor return on investment and results in serious waste and inefficiency. As the first step, you need a business plan, and it must be on paper. You can call it a plan, a strategy, a business charter, or anything you like. It doesn’t have to be a fifty-page document. Most business models can fit on one or two pages. This document should cover such sections as mission, vision, objectives, core values, value proposition, and short- and long-term goals. It can be in bullet form. You should also do a detailed SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). The process of putting this on paper may bring unexpected clarity and help you stay focused. You should be prepared to share this document with the world because trust and transparency are key motivation drivers in our digital age.

Developing your digital strategy?

Once you have this information, we can help you work through your problems and develop a digital strategy. For all of our projects, we do the following:

  • Review your business plan and spend time getting to know your business model and objectives. We work closely with you, since you know your business best.
  • Conduct detailed market research and analyse your business and digital competition. Our goal is to help you understand your markets and refine your unique value proposition and competitive edge. Our business intelligence is difficult for your competition to replicate.
  • Analyse your digital presence (website, social media, content, SEO) and identify gaps and set goals.
  • Help define  your audiences and understand needs, motivations and interactions with your company.
  • Write a detailed report identifying and explaining the gaps to you and recommending solutions. At the end of the day, it is up to you which ones you want to adopt.
  • Help you rebuild your digital presence based on our recommendations.
  • Help you develop and implement a digital strategy so you stay on track and make the necessary adjustments in the rapidly changing digital environment.

Very often, the most obvious problems and solutions can be more easily spotted by an outsider, even without expensive research. We can scale the work to fit your needs and budget, but we won’t cut corners. We firmly believe that it’s impossible to build an effective website without getting to know your business and the playing field.

In conclusion, when you have a moment, answer these questions:

Did you take the time to understand your business and competitive environment, and does your website reflect that?

Have you done a 360 SEO analysis to understand your digital competition?

Does your digital presence have a solid relationship with your business objectives? Or, have you ever established succinct, measurable business objectives?

Interested in finding out how we can help you?
Please contact our Business Development Manager, Mitchell Kirkham-Cooper on mitchell@gather.london