by D&E Staff

January 23, 2017

It’s hard to imagine any marketing initiative that doesn’t have digital woven into the very fabric of the effort. We’re working daily to optimize our websites, email, social and media channels. We don’t lack options – just the opposite. Sometimes we’re overwhelmed with the choices, as well as with software salespeople promising breakthrough transformation. The tools and the tactics are so prevalent they’ve become table stakes.

So, what can differentiate companies and brands now? Strategy. Linking communications strategy to overall business strategy. Aligning tactics to the targets. Now that everything’s digital, smarter application of its power separates mastery from mediocrity. Here are six reasons you need digital intelligence more than ever:

1. Your competition is implementing new tactics and you can’t rest

It’s possible they’re not as thoughtful as they could be, trying lots of new approaches. But they’re making progress and no doubt making contact with your customers and stakeholders. You don’t necessarily need to reach your audience more frequently, just more effectively.

2. Your stakeholders expect it

Remember, every person you’re trying to reach is interacting with lots of companies, and some of those are setting the bar high. B2C and B2B customers alike are reading less copy, watching more video, using social media and expecting ultra-rapid response. They may not be getting cutting-edge delivery of information from your industry, but they’re getting it. And if you can do a better job connecting with them when they want and how they want, you improve your chance to win.

3. Your options are increasing for unique ways to reach your target markets

Once you have a strategy, know your stakeholders’ profiles and understand the way they want to communicate, your options of possible approaches for contact will expand every day. Again, the answer is not the volume of communication, but in discovering the way in which all the channels work together in concert to influence perceptions and drive behavior.

4. Your ROI is everything

Your spend on all communications is not just a line on a spreadsheet. It’s a budget with a purpose – with a desired and expected outcome. What are you trying to accomplish? So much effort goes into putting some tactics in place that they may begin to seem like ends in themselves. But they’re a means to an end. You deserve a return on your digital investment. You’re more likely to get it by putting in more time up front. The ultimate solution might mean doing more … but may involve doing less in some areas.

5. Your results are measurable so you can try, learn, adapt and improve

Digital intelligence is not just selecting the right approach, it’s being attuned enough to change approaches to optimize performance during campaigns and programs. So much of what we do in digital can be monitored and compared. The latest tools bring the power of analytics to our desktops for real-time decision making. Changing direction is not a sign of failure, but success. That’s the new reality.

6. Your future depends on the quality of your digital dialogue with stakeholders

Going forward, we all need to resist the temptation to clutter inboxes, but rather strive for smarter conversations and helpful engagement. If that means creating a podcast instead of another PDF or inventing an app, then we need to do it. There really is no turning back and that’s a good thing. Opportunity is right in front of us … if we have the mindset and vision to reach for it.

For communications in 2017, digital is a given. Digital intelligence is not. There’s still room for better strategy, better selection of tactics, better measurement … and better results.

One final factor weighs very heavily in those results. There is no shortage of individuals who can implement digital marketing programs. People can code, schedule, design and deploy. But, when those involved truly understand the company and genuinely know what drives stakeholder behavior, then you have a killer combination. You have business acumen coupled with digital know-how. That’s digital intelligence.

We’ll have more about this subject in the coming months. In the meantime, let’s talk about it. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think can make digital communications smarter in 2017.