What is a digital communications strategy?
A digital communications strategy is a blueprint for what you want to achieve across all your digital communications channels. That might be something like doubling the number visitors to your website or increasing online orders by 50%, or it could be more specific, like achieving 500 downloads of a specific publication or e-Book you’ve created.
Whatever it is, by formalising your goals for your digital communications, it’s easier to then move on to the second stage of your strategy. This is where you define your audience, so you know who you’re targeting, and then identifying the best way of communicating with them - Facebook, blog, e-shots, Twitter, LinkedIn, new web copy, App? There might also be a subsequent discussion about the best ways to amplify your communications through social sharing, comments and discussion platforms, like Disqus.
Businesses and other organisations often think about different digital mediums in isolation – like email, website, social media, e-newsletters. They end up spreading information across the different channels haphazardly, without any real consideration for what they want to communicate, why they want to communicate it, or how best to get the target audience to engage with the key messages behind it. A digital communications strategy gives you a roadmap to follow to avoid this happening.
It shouldn’t be guesswork, though. No ‘finger-in-the-air’ assumptions about what should work and what might not. A good digital strategy needs to be based on high quality, evidence-based research, including competitor and peer research. You might have an incredibly detailed, coherent digital communications strategy, but if it’s not based on solid research, it might as well be guesswork. And that’s no basis on which to build a business.
Why do we need a digital communications strategy?
This is often one of the first questions we get asked, particularly from smaller businesses that may only have one or two people managing all their communications, never mind their digital communications.
But no matter how big (or small!) your business is, a digital communications strategy is a valuable tool. It helps to keep you focused on your overall business objectives and it helps you to prioritise objectives and avoid potentially costly mistakes. Remember, the only purpose of digital communications – like any form of marketing - is to help you achieve your business objectives. Having a strategy to follow and to refer to means you never lose sight of this crucial fact, and ensures that all your digital efforts take you one step closer to your business goals. A good strategy will set clear and measurable objectives that can be regularly reviewed against key performance indicators (KPIs) and help build continuous improvements. It’s about planning what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it, and then sticking to the plan.
If you don’t stay focused on the specific purpose of each piece of digital communication, you risk wasting time, effort and money on doing stuff that has no business purpose. A solid strategy allows you to benchmark and monitor your return on investment from digital communications.
Let’s take a common example – Facebook. Has your business got a Facebook page? Chances are, it has. Or at least, everyone keeps telling you it should have. But we come across so many businesses that have set up a Facebook page because they thought they should, but then have no idea of what to do with it. Or even if they do, they don’t have the resources to actually do it because people are busy doing other things.
It’s the same with Twitter and blogs, virtually any form of digital communications. Another common scenario is when the person who was the driving force behind that particular channel, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or anything else, leaves the company or moves to a new role. Somebody new takes over and, with no written digital communications strategy to refer to, isn’t sure what to do or why, or starts doing things in a totally different way – updating Facebook with random posts, ignoring Twitter or firing off customer emails that never get read.
None of this would happen if there was an effective digital communications strategy that everyone could refer to, that explained exactly what digital communications you should be doing and why.
How Blueprint can help with your digital communications strategy
Blueprint - the clue is in our name. We live and breathe strategy and planning. It’s why we set up the company and it’s why many of our clients come to us in the first place.
We’re masters at data analytics. Where some people just see numbers and symbols, we see stories, pictures, trends. Phil Gilligan, our operations director, previously held a senior role at IBM as data warehouse and business intelligence analyst, handling major projects for global corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell and RBS.
We take an evidence-based, data-led approach to online communications, marketing and systems design. We don’t build things because they look good or because we think they will help you achieve your objectives. We do the research. We look at the evidence. We analyse the data and we test the options.
Only when we’ve done that, when we’ve got the research to prove what will work and what won’t, do we move on to the next stage. This research-led approach leads to results that can be continually measured, reviewed and optimised, giving you a solid body of evidence on which to base your digital communications strategy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given our history of working with UK universities, we have a very strong research capability. From helping local businesses with search engine optimisation, to running workshops with major PLCs, our research underpins and gives perspective to our technical implementations.