Failure to plan is planning to fail. Never underestimate the power of a great strategy. Take for instance Sun Tzu, infamous for his behemoth strategy The Art of War – much like us this chap knew a thing or two about planning and strategy and it worked in his favour. However he knew very little about websites and thankfully never asked us to build him one.
When a customer employs us to create and develop their digital strategy, we like to take a peek at their commercial strategy too. We then build a bespoke digital strategy around it – bolstered by the other online services we offer like SEO & PPC.
Why Is Strategy So Important?
Without a strategy, there is no focus. Developing a strong digital strategy is key to achieving your online business goals. Your digital strategy is the linchpin of your online presence. It allows you to organise your marketing activities and ad campaigns to achieve the desired results. If you’re looking to increase your website traffic – you can build an SEO strategy focused on obtaining more visitors. Without a strategy in place, things can get a bit messy and it makes it considerably harder to measure your efforts – what’s working and what isn’t. It provides clarity and provides you with valuable insights into how your campaigns are performing.
How To Develop A Strong Online Strategy
Whether it’s a marketing strategy or an SEO strategy – the foundations are the same. Every aspect of your online presence can be strategized – it isn’t restricted to your marketing and ad efforts.
We like to think of your strategy as the overall game plan for your business. We take quite a few elements into consideration such as your objectives, the target audience, the channels you want to explore and the resources available. We combine all of these aspects to build a bespoke business strategy to help you succeed.
The strategy framework encompasses the entirety of your brand and your objectives. Once we understand how you work and where you want to be – we can use these key bits of information to develop your online strategy.
Before we begin working on your online strategy, we need to know who your target audience is. The more defined the better – if you’re not sure on who you should be targeting we can work with you to analyse and quantify exactly who they are.
Knowing your target audience enables us to create the right content for them, we can even curate your website to provide an engaging customer experience for these specific visitors. A business’s target audience needs to be specific, it cannot encompass everyone unfortunately. Unless of course you’re Ebay or Amazon, but let’s be honest they’ve earned the right to target absolutely everybody.
What is a target audience?
A target audience is whoever you expect to buy your product or service – it’s not necessarily the end user. Take for instance dog food, the product itself is aimed at dogs but they aren’t the ones making the purchase. And as such the marketing efforts should be directed at the target audience, which is comprised of dog owners who will be buying the food. Unless of course they have super smart dogs with opposable thumbs and a knack for remembering card details.
You can also include a subset of your target market; these are a particular focus group of people you would like to reach for a specific promotion. Not every promotion or campaign you launch will span the entirety of your target market, by breaking them down into subsets you can target them with separate campaigns. If we revert back to the dog food example, if the dog food supplier also sells cat food, they will be defining their audience based on what they buy – no point selling cat food to a dog owner.
By defining your target audience you can tailor your marketing content to appeal to the emotions and interests of that specific group by using specific language or positioning the messaging in a way that connects with their problems, desires and motivations. By positioning yourself as relatable to this audience you encourage people to buy into your brand, you also form personal connections and establish trust. Once this audience is defined you’re more likely to see a better ROI than if you were to blindly send out marketing emails to every Tom, Dick and Harry.
The technical term for grouping your target audience is audience segmentation. These segments include a number of subgroups of your general audience. They can be grouped depending on their needs and wants and other key metrics. Most marketers segment their audience using the following methods:
This involves grouping customers based on factors like age, gender, marital status, income, occupation and religion. Most companies use this information to segment their audience because it’s the easiest and quickest data to collect and analyse.
This method groups your target audience using their geographic location such as country, county or city – it can even go as far as segmenting your audience by postcode. However, it doesn’t simply focus on the location of your customer, it considers data factors such as the climate, culture and language of your target audience. All of these factors can have an interesting impact on your marketing strategy.
One of our favourite tools for audience segmentation is this method. This allows you to divide your audience based off of their previous interactions with your business online. Using real data instead of presumed data gives you an advantage when it comes to optimising your customers’ experience.
This form of segmentation delves a little deeper into your target audience’s psyche. It focuses on interesting factors such as personality traits, values, lifestyle choices, interests, opinions and more. Typically this data is collected via surveys, interviews, case studies and focus groups. Using this process to segment your audience gives you a considerably better understanding of the different needs and wants of each sub-group, applying this knowledge to your online strategy is essential for achieving higher conversion rates.
Once you are equipped with a deeper understanding of your target audience, you can form ideas and set objectives based on your audience. Ultimately creating highly personalised campaigns to secure the maximum impact.
The Customer Journey
The customer journey isn’t a simple path that every visitor takes to arrive at the same destination. Think of it like a mountain, there are many ways up – not everyone reaches the top and some get bored halfway through and wait for a St Bernard to rescue them.
There are many different paths your customers will take before and if they reach the desired stage. We often break this down into a five-stage experience that your customer embarks on:
This is the very first stage for your customer. Perhaps they have never heard of your company or the products/ services you offer. Typically this is when the customer starts to do their research, they may look online and type various search terms into a search engine in order to find a product or service. Our responsibility is to ensure your website has helpful and relevant content that ranks highly for your specific keywords and phrases that a customer might be searching for – SEO.
Once the customers are aware of your products / services as an option – they will probably do more research and compare prices and suitability. At this stage the customer will be looking for reviews, case studies and helpful content to help them make an informed decision. We can add these features to your website to improve your positioning as the leader in your field – Website Build & Development.
Your customer is almost ready to buy, they’re at the decision stage. They have probably whittled their options down to a handful of businesses, this is when they will examine all of their research and decide which option is the best. This is where FAQs, reviews and even a cheeky discount code can help you – to tip the odds in your favour – Website Build & Development.
Now the prospect has purchased from you and become a customer – you will need to think long and hard about how you can keep them coming back and repeating the process. After all, retaining a customer costs a lot less than acquiring a new one. This is where you focus on strengthening your relationship by sending out thank you emails, or asking for feedback – Marketing Automation.
This is when your now loyal customers actively advocate for your business, product or service. They will promote your brand to their family and friends, people trust people. One of the most powerful forms of marketing is word of mouth. We can encourage your customers to do this by sending out super personalised communications, discount codes and other incentives – Marketing Automation.
Objectives & Goals
The best place to start when developing your online strategy? Your goals and objectives as a business. Without setting these firmly in place, how will you know if your online strategy is working? We use a variety of methods to ascertain what these mean to you.
The goals and objectives for your online strategy should be ambitious but achievable.
A popular framework that we use to decipher your goals and objectives is the SMART method, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
What do you want to achieve? – More sales, Increased traffic, Better leads?
How will this be measured? – Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly? What frequency works for you?
How can this be achieved? Marketing, SEO, PPC?
Is this goal relevant to your business? Will more traffic increase sales?
When’s the deadline? How long are you giving us to show you we’re the best?
By forming your strategy around these questions we can then develop the structure and begin to curate something entirely bespoke to your businesses individual goals and objectives. Every online strategy is completely unique, but the overall function of any strong strategy is to work out the steps we need to take to help you succeed.