In my two years of experience as a digital marketer, I’ve worked with brands across North America (NAR) & Asia-Pacific market (APAC), and have had the privilege of working on digital strategies with a few of them. When I was engaged as a consultant with a start-up in Australia which provided training & coaching services for psychology students, they had just started venturing out into digital as a medium and were exploring their options. Whereas in Singapore, the brands I work with are digitally mature and are strategically planning long-term investments.
After observing dozens of companies, a pattern has started to emerge. Companies either understand the power of digital strategy, and leverage it, or they don’t. Over the last decade, the growth of companies has been fuelled by the Internet and this exponential growth has seeded the fourth revolution.
We are in the era of ‘connect’ where consumers are looking for a seamless and synchronized online & offline experience and expect brands to not only keep up with them but strive to be a step ahead. Keeping on top of digital trends and current affairs plays an impeccable role in today’s time. Your brand may have been the market leader a decade ago, but today, if it’s not on top of these trends, and isn’t able to reach out to its target market, there’s a high chance it’s investing in marketing without the right digital strategy or tools available for it.
Digital strategy is a plan for maximizing the business benefits of data assets and technology-focused initiatives. A successful digital strategy requires a cross-functional team with executive leadership, marketing, and an information technology team to succeed. These talents can either be nurtured in-house or outsourced. The process involves breaking down the silo between information technology leaders and customer-facing departments to deliver consistent digital customer experience. Many companies underestimate the power of investing time and resources in developing the appropriate digital strategy and find themselves out of the game in no time. Unsure of what this means? Here’s an example: Let’s take two hypothetical consumer brands based out of Singapore- ‘Alpha’ & ‘Solo’.
Both brands are retailers based out of Singapore and sell technological products such as phones, laptops, speakers and much more. Both are targeting the same audience i.e. technology driven millennials but they choose to deliver an entirely different consumer experience from each other. Here’s how: Alpha sets its goal to strategically position itself as the go-to brand for all products related to technology and chooses to focus on convenience. Solo sets the same goal but chooses to focus on price.
Solo hires a creative partner and invests its resources in driving down costs and starts executing tactical marketing campaigns with promotional offers to attract its consumers whereas Alpha decides to partner with a digital strategy consultancy to create a one-year roadmap with short-term quick wins and long-term goals.
Over the period of one calendar year, Solo drove down its prices, executed few tactical campaigns to attract consumers, but in the process, habituated its consumers to promotions. It did achieve its sales targets, but now, the consumers engage with the brand only when it activates promotional campaigns. Alpha, on the contrary, with the assistance of digital strategy consultants, invested in setting up tools such as Hubspot for Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Google Analytics 360 for tracking & data analysis, end-to-end attribution, and mapped & optimized its offline to online consumer journey. It also invested time in understanding its target audience and their behavior before executing tactical and strategic marketing campaigns to position itself as the most convenient retailer for all things related to technology.
In summary, both brands achieved their sales targets, created brand value and eventually achieved their goals but let’s understand where digital strategy added value. Solo did not audit its assets, therefore spent minimal time optimizing them. It also did not foresee the need for database management therefore manually maintained and continues to manage its database. It invested in marketing campaigns but without planning for attribution, it could not determine the real impact. With no real tracking in place, it couldn’t understand its consumer's behavior and interests. Overall, after a year of marketing investments, in a mobile-first market, it lacked sufficient data to devise and support the strategy for the future.
Alpha, on the other hand, in the first quarter chose to audit its assets, mapped out its consumer journey and created a roadmap with quick wins such as optimizing its website, content, and its social media assets. For the second quarter, the consultants recommended as a part of the long-term strategy, to implement user tracking, install a customer management application and develop a mobile app which was projected to be launched in the third quarter of the year. After two quarters, the brand launched its app and spent the third quarter in its optimization and collecting user data. The last quarter was spent in understanding its user behavior and drawing consumer insights. At the end of the first year, Alpha’s assets were optimized. It was also able to automate CRM and started successfully tracking and collecting data, and thereby had a good understanding of its consumer base. It was in a good position to create a strategy for the future which is, of course, supported by data. This is precisely where digital strategy reflects its impact.
In today’s era, there are numerous brands which represent the story of Alpha and Solo in the market. Only a few brands invest time and resources in auditing, planning and devising a roadmap and creating a digital strategy. Numerous brands fail to comprehend the importance of such a strategy that can assist them in making crucial decisions. If companies are not collecting and analyzing their data for strategy building, it can be disastrous. If you’re driving the marketing efforts in a brand and can relate the story to Solo, have you defined the four Ws before jumping to How?