15 Jul 2015

Digital strategy could be the missing piece

Will Morris – Managing Partner at Alchemy Digital

Running a successful business – or starting one without a business strategy – is a risky move. Most businesses start with a strategy; many are very simple, for instance: “Providing a service, or a product to somebody who needs it”.

So far, so good! Until you have a competitor who wants to sell a similar product or service to the same group of people.

Most businesses will then adapt their strategy and their business. Typically speaking, your business might change, but your strategy should only adjust. Ultimately your strategy is a list of your objectives, and how you think best to achieve them. Easy.

Easy, unless your service or your product is complex. Or expensive. Or in a very competitive market. Or you’re operating in a recession.

Your business strategy should grow to become more sophisticated as your business grows or experiences market changes. Digital strategy is just one part of your business strategy, and it should be totally aligned.

Most business will now have a website, and will dream of a million hits a month. Some will have an app, a Facebook page or even Google Adwords.

Sadly, most businesses also acknowledge that their online presence has shortfalls. Some have an old website, that doesn’t work well on mobile devices. Some aren’t getting enough traffic. Some are getting lots of traffic, but not converting that into trade. Your business will always experience problems online unless you have a strategy to safeguard and improve your performance.

So what is digital strategy?

It’s an understanding of your objectives online, and a route to achieving them; clear, concise and achievable. No witchcraft, geeks, or expensive consultants. You can write a digital strategy so long as you understand the problem situation you are attempting to resolve (or the performance metric you are attempting to improve).

Implementing a digital strategy will require you to be honest about your budget. Sure, you want a new website, with 100% conversion rate, huge dwell time, no bounce rate and of course, thousands of hits per hour. Perhaps more pertinent is what is achievable.

Given a smart strategy and endless resources, prepare yourself for world domination. Most of us need to pull back that expectation a little, and think about the real world. We all have a diary to manage, teams to pay, and customers to please. So thinking about digital strategy is often left until last.

A common misconception is that the digital landscape changes quickly. Or rather that it changes more quickly than business can keep up with. Actually, that’s just not true.

Digital companies change only as fast as you do. The new services they offer, and products they sell are developed by the same humans that work in your business. They make mistakes. They need to be reactive. They have a strategy, teams to pay, and customers to please. Just as you do.

A digital strategy will need to include knowledge of the digital landscape, but it’s more important to truly understand how your customers behave online; what they read, how they buy and who they are. That’s not a geek trick, or witchcraft. It’s a real world business solution that should make your company perform better.

Simply put, it could be the missing piece in your company’s overall strategy.