by Allison Wood

August 12, 2020

While creating a digital communications strategy in an ever-changing technological world may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. The first step is acknowledging that you need one and if you are reading this, you are already there. Congrats!

Now, let’s take it to the next level by addressing the four key steps to building a well thought out digital communications strategy.

1. Identify your business goals. 

The start of a digital communications strategy begins by determining what you want to achieve for your business. Some example business goals you might consider are:

2. Gain insight into your target audience(s).

Once you are comfortable with your business goal, determine who you want to reach. Align your target audience with what you hope to accomplish by asking a few key questions:

3. Determine the best suited digital tactics.

Now that you have your target audience, and you know what action you want them to take, it’s time to determine where to best place your content. While investing in a mix of tactics is recommended, other tactics to consider include:

  • Paid:
    • Paid Search: helps to drive traffic to your site from search engines and ensures that this traffic is relevant.
    • Paid Social Media: increases your brand’s reach and awareness to targeted audiences.

Discover how your paid advertising stacks up against competitors here.

  • Owned:
    • Organic Social Media: improves your online presence and reputation.
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Content Creation: not only increases your website’s position on sites such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, but it improves the user experience usability of your site.
    • Email Marketing: builds relationships with prospects, leads, current customers and even past customers.

4. Measurement & Analytics

The final step in any great strategy is putting KPIs in place before you implement your tactics. When reviewing KPIs for a digital strategy, be sure to distinguish between vanity and value metrics. Vanity metrics are useful when measuring the success of a marketing activity, but ultimately do not provide data on the ideal end result. Value metrics apply to the ultimate business goal, not just surface level web analytics data. Examples of both include:

  • Vanity
    • Website traffic
    • Time on site
    • Keyword rankings
    • Bounce rate
    • Social media followers
    • Impressions
    • Page views
  • Value
    • eBook downloads
    • Conversion rates
    • Sales-qualified leads
    • Customer acquisition costs
    • Customer lifetime value

Once you’ve collected this information, it’s time to develop your digital communications strategy.

Use your goals, audience, tactics and KPIs to customize your strategy. For example, let’s say you run a marketing and communications group for a manufacturing organization. How would you use the 4-step process to determine the best digital strategy?

  • First, you confirm that your business goal is to win new customers by creating awareness of your innovative new products, services and superior delivery.
  • Your business is launching a new, innovative product, but isn’t currently viewed as “innovative” due to old school communication tactics.
  • Your target audience (buyers) are entry-level and early-career engineers. They prefer to search for information online primarily using search engines, manufacturer websites, forums, associations and trade media websites. They largely desire technical information and case studies.
  • From there, you conclude that your digital communications strategy should build audience awareness and engagement around the new product by using online tactics to communicate to your target audience and ultimately drive leads and sales. What exactly does this mean? You identify several digital tactics that could bring the strategy to life:
    • Content Creation: You create an online resource center of product information that educates audiences and helps them solve their business challenges. Content on the resource center includes:
      • Educational videos
      • Research papers with technical data and specifications
      • Case studies that appeal to specific use-cases
    • SEO: In order to help prospects find the resource center and information they need, you invest time and resources into optimizing the site and content so it’s indexed in search for high priority keywords and queries.
    • Paid & owned tactics: You promote your content online through appropriate channels such as paid search, SEO, association websites, and organic and paid posts on LinkedIn.
    • Measurement & Analytics: You set up a monthly reporting cadence to review performance across channels and optimize your campaign based on the results. These metrics include request a quote form fills, clicks to site from social media and search, resource center visits and page views and target keyword rankings in organic and paid search.

As you work to develop your digital communications strategy, keep your business goals in mind, concentrate on your target audience, determine your tactics and measure KPIs throughout the campaign. Stay focused on these tenets to ensure your strategy is on target and will deliver the results you’re seeking. Want to discuss your digital strategy? Drop me a line.