Digital Best Practice:
What is it? How do you achieve it?
What do we mean by digital?
Depending on who you ask, digital could be described as something to do with technology; about how you engage with customers; or about ways of doing business. All of these definitions are correct and in fact "digital" can be seen as a way of combining all three aspects to enhance customer experience, business efficiency and business revenue.
Fundamentally, your approach to digital has to take into consideration that your average customer is always online, always consuming digital media, and always expecting YOU to understand how they want to interact with companies digitally.
To understand digital means taking into account the entire digital ecosystem, or at least the parts that are relevant to your organisation - from the digital assets you own, such as your company website, to the platforms and digital experiences outside of your direct control: the conversations on social media about your brand, the appeals for help on message boards, the things people are searching for in Google; the advertising people see when they browse the internet.
What is digital best practice?
"Digital" is not just expensive technology. Nor is it a magical combination of marketing techniques that's out of reach for all but the biggest companies. Digital incorporates a range of skills, techniques, processes and technology that combine to deliver better customer experience, engagement, conversion and retention. "Best practice" for a large company might be to use the very best technology to target specific customers with relevant advertising while they browse the internet. Or, it might mean investing in a team of specialist digital professionals.
However, best practice for any company, is to start with the customer and data - to understand through research and analysis what digital mix is most relevant and meaningful for customers and potential customers, then to optimise and continuously improve all that's relevant within that mix.
It's not "one size fits all"
Digital best practice needs to be tailor-made for your business. Sure, there are specific digital techniques out there that represent what you could call good practice - even best practice. But no single digital solution can be prescribed to every company.
We've seen some companies spend a disproportionate amount of time on Facebook content and campaigns, when it turns out very few of their customers and prospects would even think to use this channel - at least in a business context. Conversely, we've seen other companies ignore social media entirely, while all the time their biggest detractors are having the most negative impact on their brand.
At a basic level, we might consider factors such as your industry, your company size and your internal capability. On a more detailed level, we need to take into account things like your customers and potential customers: how they like to interact with brands, what their main drivers are and how they behave. Only then can we start to identify the best digital mix for your company.
How do you achieve it?
To truly embrace digital, a company must accept digital as part of its culture. It's no good, for example, having a smoking-hot company website if the customer journey is poor when a customer speaks to a sales adviser. Or a customer service representative. Or if they try to manage their account and the website or App is sub standard. Adopting digital best practice demands consideration end-to-end.
Of course, while it's important to have a digital vision in mind, we have to start somewhere. No-one is suggesting that end-to-end digital best practice can be achieved overnight. If you've read this far, you're already further along the journey than a large number of your peers and competitors.
If you're questioning how you can possibly achieve this, you may need to bring in some specialist help. At Optimise Digital we'd be delighted to carry out an initial assessment of your website and/or digital presence - free of charge. We would then discuss with you how we can assist further.
Do you need expensive technology to go digital?
No. Companies too often spend money on technology without truly understanding what it is they were trying to achieve in the first place. Shiny technology is really no substitute for adopting a solid digital approach and ensuring digital becomes key to your business culture.
It's useful to firstly define what it is you want to achieve (and why), then identify the available resources and budget to deliver it. It may turn out that expensive technology is the best enabler. But it's surprising how many cost effective ways you can find to deliver your digital goals - and how much can be achieved by getting the basics right.
Every company is different. For some, when taking into account certain constraints such as budget and resources, "digital best practice" could be an engaging website that ranks well in Google, plus really slick internal process offering great customer service. For others, a good website is a minimum standard; best practice entails personalised and dynamic content, a well-funded Pay Per Click program delivering great ROI, targeted digital advertising and market-leading Social Media campaigns.
The most successful digital transformation journeys take into account:
1. Market data
2. Customer insight
3. Digital vision/plan based on numbers 1 and 2
4. Budget and budget required/available to deliver number 3
What can I get out of digital best practice?
More website visitors: if you know what you're doing with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you'll find your company competing well on Google for the most relevant search terms. This has a direct, positive impact on the number of people finding your website.
More leads and sales through your website: when you optimise your website, you'll discover this is a cost-effective means of ensuring more visitors do more when they get to your site. They find what they're looking for. They stay on your site longer. They read your articles. They purchase more simply and more regularly. They come back.
More loyal customers: people who have a high opinion of your brand through your marketing (digital or otherwise) are more likely to stay loyal. Customers who have a great digital experience with you - whether that's in a research journey, or when purchasing, or when getting help and support - are likely to stick with you too.
More efficient processes: if you're open to the opportunities provided by digital, you'll see potential everywhere to break from dated processes, to introduce digital techniques to your staff, and to provide a simpler, more modern experience to your customers.
1. Use data, research and customer insight to identify the biggest strengths and weaknesses of your business, as well as the biggest opportunities for creating a quality digital experience.
2. Have a good idea of budget in mind - this allows you to explore or rule out technology enablers, additional, specialist resources etc.
3) Identify the most relevant channels: website, SEO, email marketing, customer relationship program - these are all probably a given. But what about digital advertising, PPC, social media, content marketing?
4) Create a clear, realistic plan for each channel.
5) Find the right resource to deliver successfully. Who in your team has experience of this type of activity? Can any of them step up or undertake some training? Do you need to hire in some external help?
6) Measure: always try to understand the impact your changes have had. This is important so you can see when things haven't worked, just as much as so you can celebrate success and do more of the same.
7) Test and learn. No digital experience is as good as it can ever be. The most successful businesses see digital as a great opportunity to experiment - to test what works, learn what doesn't, and continuously optimise the experience to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Everything we mention here is what we do every day. If you'd like to talk to us about how we can assist with anything digital, please get in touch and we'd be happy to discuss your requirements.