Technology is constantly evolving, and it’s radically changed the way that people behave, communicate, interact and engage with their environment. The world has become digitally connected 24/7, resulting an ecosystem without clear boundaries, structures or geographies where people and companies are called upon to continuously adapt the way they live, work, consume, travel and more.
Because of this, it’s now mandatory for businesses to formulate, design and execute on a digital strategy if they want to stay relevant. In fact, a business without a digital strategy is like an aeroplane without any instruments. Would you want to fly in it?
This brings us on to another problem, which is the widespread confusion amongst senior executives when it comes to what digital strategy actually is. Too many people mistake digital strategy for upgraded IT, fancy digital tools and in most cases focus on digital marketing or use the two terms synonymously.
A true digital strategy should be all encompassing and holistic, by which we mean that it should form the foundation of everything that you do and every tool that you use. This covers everything from internal communication tools to social media outlets and more. It’s never one thing. It’s not the channel, the technique or the budget. It’s the ability to be in a position to see the big picture and seamlessly select the right tools to meet the target.
Many people are yet to realise this, and we see no shortage of people still struggling to make sense of the hype and the buzzwords that seem to accompany any conversation about digital strategy. With that in mind, it’s time to clear things up. It’s time to dispel the three biggest myths about digital strategy.
Digital strategy is a strategy which applies to the whole of your business, while digital marketing is exclusively about using digital tools to promote products and services. A true digital strategy should cover everything from your supply chain to your internal communications and staff development, encompassing sales, customer service, HR, finance, admin and more. Every department should be touched by it, as opposed to a digital marketing strategy which only touches the marketing department.
The biggest difference between the two is that your digital strategy serves your company’s overall business objectives, while digital marketing is designed to meet your sales and communication objectives. As you can probably imagine, this means that your overall digital strategy needs to be much more comprehensive and that it should be communicated to every single employee at your company.
There’s no shortage of self-proclaimed “experts” who talk about there being one single framework or one digital strategy to rule them all. They’ll promise that their generic solution will help your business to grow or to improve its customer service. The problem is that every company is different, and as we’ve already discussed, your digital strategy affects your company as a whole.
Your strategy is also directly linked to your company’s business objectives, and these differ wildly between different companies in different industries and different regions. Sure, you could go with a pre-made solution, but it’s going to be nowhere near as effective as it would be to create a unique, tailor-made digital strategy that’s perfect for you and your company. In fact, a pre-made, one-size-fits-all digital strategy could actually do more harm than good.
One of the biggest mistakes that we see is when companies try to overhaul their entire digital strategy overnight. This is usually down to impatient senior executives who are trying to catch up with the rapid evolution of technology by mapping out a digital strategy and expecting the entire company to change the way it does business overnight.
It’s certainly true that there’s plenty of competition in today’s business world and that by being able to iterate and execute more quickly than your competition, you can gain an edge over them. The problem is that a true digital strategy covers every area of your company, and it can quickly become overwhelming if you try to do too much too soon.
Remember that digital tools are usually fully measurable, which means that you can monitor whether they’re working as intended. That’s why the best approach is usually an iterative approach in which new tools are tried, tested and replaced if and when they fail to push you towards achieving your business’s overall objectives. Remember, though, that each of these tools should be used as part of an overall digital strategy. You can’t just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.
For it to work as effectively as it could do, your digital strategy should be directly aligned with your company’s business objectives and touch every level of the company. Having a strategy means that you know your destination, and it leaves you free to try different tactics to get you there.
At Base Element, digital strategy and execution is our business. We’ve noticed that most of our competitors sell themselves with deliverables. They’ll offer to manage your Facebook page or to set up an internal file repository, but they won’t be able to handle the underlying strategy that brings it all together. We’re a little different because we understand digital strategy and we cover the whole process, helping you to transform into a truly digital organisation.
The only thing worse than not having a digital strategy is thinking that you do and finding out that you’re wrong. Take some time to revisit your digital strategy and to make sure that it’s not just a list of different tools with no integrated strategy bringing them all together. And if you’re ever in doubt, call for backup from a professional. Good luck.