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So, you've been tasked with evaluating why your digital strategy is failing. If you’re unable to increase leads, prospects or business revenue, then something’s not right. Take a strategic approach to your assessment, to gain a clear picture of what’s going wrong. 

A solid, impenetrable, “bulletproof” digital strategy doesn’t come boxed and ready to order. Any digital strategy needs to have a clear, unified goal. For example, a digital marketing strategy will almost always aim to deliver a high quality, unified customer experience across channels. 

Mismanagement of your strategy may lead you to lose sight of that ultimate goal. Straying from the unified path is a common pitfall and can cause digital strategies to fail. 

The successful implementation of a digital strategy begins with a clear understanding of what digital means for your organisation. Ask yourself: 

  • Why do we need a digital strategy? 
  • Will a clear strategy help the business to achieve its goals and objectives? 
  • What resources will we need to make this strategy a success?
  • Can we afford not to?

If any of your customers are active online, then you need to reach them in a way that suits their lifestyle. Your customers likely use digital devices for shopping, banking, socialising and doing business. You need to connect and engage with your customers online, in a targeted and strategic way.

 

Where to start with digital strategy

From experience, we’ve learnt that even award-winning digital marketing campaigns can fail to achieve business goals. When things do go wrong, there are significant consequences to the business and brand reputation. So it’s important to know exactly why your efforts did not result in success. 

Understanding the problem is the starting point in your strategic assessment. Many businesses fail to see the true value of digital strategy. These businesses consider their digital presence as an afterthought or just a marketing technique. In this day and age, digital affects every part of the business and should be driven from the top. 

It’s important to begin digital transformation at the core of the company. Start by defining the strengths of your business and exposing the weaknesses. Once you recognise what you need to improve, it’s easier to seek new digital opportunities to achieve your goals. 

 

Define the problem

Once you have a broad understanding of business strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, it’s time to align your digital strategy to specific goals. 

Kick off your digital strategy with a clear definition of a particular problem:

  • The business is struggling to attract new customers and to generate new leads. 
  • The business is struggling to increase awareness of all new products and services and not making more revenue from existing customers. 
  • The business is simply struggling to raise brand awareness. 

For each of these problems or weaknesses, your digital strategy must provide a solution.

 

Be realistic about timelines

When auditing your digital strategy, or defining it for the first time, remember to consider how long transformation will take. Underestimating timescales for success can lead to frustration, additional costs, and loss of faith in your end goal. 

When it comes to reaping the rewards of a methodically planned (and generously invested) digital strategy, success doesn’t happen overnight. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t expect your strategy to achieve a profitable return overnight. Delivering a digital strategy is an integrated process and transformation takes place over time. 

 

Evaluate your tactics

To reiterate, the key to a successful digital strategy is to understand why your tactics have failed thus far. By “failed” we mean, why did your campaigns and activities not achieve its goals. 

Often the reason why digital strategies fail is simply a case of fuzzy definitions or unclear goals from the outset. Rather than questioning the channel or devaluing tools that “don’t work”, we must evaluate our own tactics. Perhaps the issue lies in the effectiveness of our own customer communications. 

At this stage of your digital strategy audit, ask yourself:

  • Do we understand our customers well enough?
  • Can we translate this understanding into clear, targeted communications with our target audiences?

Then there’s the million dollar question: 

  • Have you allocated sufficient budget for digital marketing? 

How you allocate your budget depends entirely on your short-term and long-term goals. By structuring your goals and potential opportunities into a clear roadmap, you will be able to allocate budget more efficiently.

 

Digital Strategy Audit

By now, you’ve identified your business objectives and opportunities, and defined how a digital strategy will help to achieve your business goals. It’s time to audit the underlying foundations of any strong digital strategy. 

A digital health check is a checklist of items that you ought to consider when planning your digital marketing strategy. The overall “health” of your plan will depend on the inclusion of a range of factors. This digital audit will help to ensure that you’re not heading for failure:

1. Undertake competitor analysis.

Research your competitors and the notable new digital entrants in your industry. How are they interrupting your industry? How might the scale of the disruption affect your business? 

Take time to understand the economy of digital disruption and to recognise just how fast the digital sphere is impacting companies. 

2. Audit your planning documents.

Understand that ‘fuzzy’ digital strategies lead to confusion, failure and wasted time. Similarly, high-level overviews have little value when it comes to implementing a strategy. Instead of trying to view “the plan” overall, produce incremental planning documents. 

If you need support, consider appointing a digital agency that can help you to formulate, implement and measure your strategy. 

3. Examine and define your resource pool.

Focus time and resources on high-reward campaigns instead of spreading focus thinly across multiple projects. Be flexible with resources and set realistic short and long-term goals.

4. Revisit your knowledge of your audience.

Ask yourself: do you know your audience and their device preferences? Are you targeting audience segments in the most relevant way?

Remember: if you’re not considering mobile users then you’re destined to fail. In 2020, the number of smartphone users in the world is 3.5 billion (45% of the entire global population). That’s a huge population to overlook! To understand your audience, undertake research - both online and in person - to develop clear target personas.

5. Review your digital assets.

Remember: site performance and engagement are major factors in any digital strategy. Make sure you review and recognise any potential weak points in your existing digital estate.

If your company website does not have a blog, then you might want to investigate the value of promoting blog content. If you are seeing a high bounce rate, consider why users are struggling to find what they’re looking for. Remember: if your site is too slow to load, visitors will leave before you’ve had a chance to communicate.

6. Map out any missed opportunities within the customer conversion funnel.

Consider any areas of your business that your digital strategy doesn’t address. Is the problem that you are only focusing on acquisition and not retention?

By recognising gaps in your strategy, you will highlight new opportunities for engaging with customers. Are you optimising for search engines (SEO)? Are you using and managing lead validation, call-to-actions and personalisation techniques? 

7. Create a detailed digital roadmap.

Is your digital roadmap just a timeline towards an end goal? A strategic roadmap should include realistic milestones, and document how you will achieve your objectives. 

Supplement your overarching digital strategy with a specific plan for the creation of digital assets. Include clearly defined resources and a breakdown of specific tactics you will employ. It’s important to acknowledge the tools that will allow you to achieve your goals.

8. Audit your team’s skill set

Ensure that you have the right people to implement your strategy. Have you employed the right skill sets? Are there any gaps in your team’s knowledge? 

When it comes to digital marketing hires, the most desirable skills in 2020 are: data analysis, marketing automation and user experience design. If your digital strategy incorporates any of these skills, then it’s time to upskill or expand your team!

 

By asking yourself these important questions, you can start to identify why your digital strategy may have failed so far. More importantly, this digital strategy audit should help you to craft a stronger strategy for the future.

If you’ve completed the health check but you’re still uncertain, get in touch with our strategy experts. We can help to define your strategy, and guide you on how best to implement your business model for success. If in doubt, don’t wait for your digital strategy to fail. Partner with a digital agency to help you achieve digital transformation in 2020.



About the author

Nicoll Birley
Nicoll Birley
Nicoll has many years experience in digital marketing, producing digital strategies, delivering digital projects and analysing the digital landscape. She’s mostly worked for SMEs in the following industries: Retail, Manufacturing, Legal and ICT Sector. Her knowledge and experience of managing digital projects has helped clients improve their data configuration and analysis, rediscover ways to improve user journeys and conversion rate optimisation.

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