Key elements of Digital Strategy Plan

 

Digital Strategy Planning
Key elements of Digital Strategy Plan

The ongoing migration of organisations and individuals to a web enabled society is relentless and inevitable.The wider Digital economy in Ireland is currently (2014) estimated to be worth €12.9BN per annum with projections that it will, grow to over €20BN by 2020. The opportunities that this offers Irish SME’s are truly mind blowing but to exploit the opportunity requires planning,structure and foresight.

Todays changing customer behaviour has already dramatically altered the way businesses need to approach Digital strategy and measurement.What are the major trends that are driving change for every business – both big and small alike.

  • The internet has made the worlds information and media available to everyone at the click of a button.
  • Mobile devices have helped connected nearly everyone around the world 24 hours a day,7 days a week.
  • Cloud computing has provided us with infinite computing power and its cheap.

Because of the first two trends the consumer journey is forever changed.People are empowered with more information than ever before i.e product reviews,recommendations from friends or experts,store inventory and competitive pricing.all of these are now instantly available at the click of a button.

At the same time cloud computing has empowered more organisations to analyse more business data than ever before.

Digital marketing planning is no different to any other marketing plan, in fact it’s increasingly strange to have separate plans for ‘digital’ and ‘offline’ since that’s not how your customers perceive your business. However, we’re often required to separate plans for “digital” only based on the way resources and reporting is structured and to help the transition to digital –before it becomes “business as usual”.

There are a number of different approaches to developing a Digital strategy but the core components of all plans are as follows:

  • Identifying the opportunities and/or challenges in a business where online assets can provide a solution.
  • Identifying the unmet needs and goals of the customers that most closely align with those key business opportunities and/or challenges.
  • Developing a vision around how the online assets will full fill those business and customer needs, goals, opportunities and challenges.
  • Prioritising a set of online initiatives/tactics which can deliver on this vision

In relation to the SOSTAC strategy method the elements of the plan are as follows:

  • S stands for Situation Analysis – which means where are we now?
  • O stands for Objectives which means where do we want to go?
  • S stands for Strategy which summarises how we are going to get there.
  • T stands for Tactics which are the details of strategy.
  • A is for Action or implementation – putting the plan to work.
  • C is for Control which means measurement, monitoring, reviewing, updating and modifying.

In addition to the above elements there are a number of other “variables “ which must be considered.These are essentially resources that must be factored into the planning process to ensure that the organisation has the ability to deliver on the Strategy objectives and targets.

In all cases these resource issues revolve around :

  • Money ie Do we have the financial resources to support the plan?
  • People i.e Have we the skills available to deliver on the tactics/strategies required?
  • Time i.e Can we achieve our objectives within a realistic time frame?

The move from traditional outbound marketing to web enabled inbound marketingis causing massive disruption across many industries. However the market opportunity has never been greater and organisations that embrace the opportunities of Digital/Inbound marketing are outperforming their peers across all industry sectors.

 

Inbound Marketing Overview

Here is an overview of  Inbound Marketing methodology. It is a copy of a slidedeck I used when giving a lecture on the Sureskills diploma in Digital Marketing. It covers the main areas of Digital Disruption,Content creation and sharing and an overview of the four keys steps in any Inbound Marketing campaign.

 

Exporting Through Inbound Marketing

Exporting Through Inbound Marketing

Exporting Through Inbound Marketing

[dropcap]E[/dropcap] xporting Through Inbound Marketing is a topic that is very close to my heart. When you live in an island nation like Ireland with a domestic market of  four and a half million then for many businesses the only way to scale and grow their sales is through finding customers in other countries. For many years I was involved in growing exports on behalf of Irish companies and I know how difficult and expensive it can be. This is why I am really excited about the way Inbound Marketing can help companies to expand on a Global basis without having to be on a plane a hundred  times per year.

A key starting point for any company Exporting through Inbound Marketing is to make sure that your website is optimised  to really target the customers in the countries you are focusing on. This is called Search Engine Optimisation or SEO and here are some useful tips to consider when starting.

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  • Are you targeting the correct search engines? Although Google is definitely the market leader on a global basis this is not always the case in some key markets.For example in China  Baidu is the most important search engine while in Russia Yandex is the market leader.
  • Another important point to remember is that unless a user has personalised  browser settings most search engines will default to  the users local browser settings.This means that if you are in France then Google will default to Google.fr .This is important because it means that keyword research and web site ranking should be done on a local level
  • Where possible try to establish Country- Code-Top -Level -Domains.This  sends a strong signal to the search engines that your site is focused on a specific country and will help your site rankings.
  • Keyword Focus is critical for success in International SEO. It is essential that you are using keywords that customers in your target markets are looking for.In this regard it is important to do your keyword research and ranking on  a local level to get a full grasp of which search terms are most relevant in each market.
  • Where possible try to use your target language consistenty throughout rather than mixing with English.Once again this will help to send a clear signal to the search engines that you really focusing on a single market.
  • Building links to your webs site is really important for successful SEO. Try to establish diversity in your links and make sure the quality is good from quality sites.If you can get links from bloggers or new sites in local countries you are targeting then it is a big advantage.
  • Customers in other countries rightly expect content to be delivered in their local language.Automatic tools like Google translate are not really suitable to deliver the correct customer experience. As a result you may find it difficult to get customers to give you their contact details for lead generation purposes. Ideally try to use a native speaker to generate your localised content.

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These are just some of the factors to consider when embarking on International expansion and when Exporting through Inbound Marketing.Think of your website site like a fishing line that is always baited and ready to catch the attention of a prospective customer no matter where they are located.
Once you are attracting customers to your website your next task is to focus on converting these visitors into leads.
We will focus on this in a later blog

 

Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Strategy

A well planned and executed Digital Marketing Strategy is essential in today web enabled society. In this regard there are number of key issues which must be assessed before committing resources to ensure maximum return.

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  • In the first instance you have to completely review your own business. Is it ready to implement an effective Inbound or Digital Marketing Strategy. Do you have the skill set internally or do you have to outsource some of the activities. Another key issue is the budget or the costs involved.Will a Digital or on line marketing strategy fit in to your overall plan and how will you coordinate it with more traditional off line activities.
  • Do you know everything about your competition.What are they doing on line at present and what is the best practice in the industry. Can you learn anything by spending some time looking at their online presence and Digital Marketing. Maybe they are servicing a customer segment or market that you are not active in and is it worth considering when you get your new strategy up and running.
  • It goes without saying that for any Digital Marketing Strategy (Linkedin, Facebook etc) to work you have to really know your existing and indeed potential customer base in intimate detail.What are their buying preferences and where are they located on line and how do you get to them.What is your customers sweet spot and do you have a unique selling proposition that will appeal to them.
  • I always suggest that a detailed SWOT analysis also will help to define the strategy in detail and allow you to consider the interaction between the company and the wider marketing environment that your business is operating in.
  • Finally you have to agree what to measure, analyse and run different scenario analysis to see how best, worst and mid case performance will impact on the bottom line.

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This is not as daunting as it may seem and it is best to work through a check list of all these issues when drafting your plan.

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Grow your assets through Inbound marketing

Grow your assets through Inbound Marketing

Grow your assets through Inbound Marketing

 

The opportunity to  grow your assets through Inbound marketing is something that many businesses should start to consider. Historically the majority of money spend on marketing or advertising was a one off hit with very little residual or ongoing effect.It was treated as a expense or cost on the profit and loss account and it was hard to quantity the benefits. Click to Tweet

Inbound marketing changes all that. By investing in your Inbound Marketing activities you can grow your marketing assets so that they have real sustainable tangible value and become a credit on your company balance sheet.Through time if you invest in optimising your companies web presence  it will have a real value and smart investors or savy buyers will know this

Think about it like this.

Unique web users is the new equivalent  of footfall in a shopping mall and having a good ranking on Google or other search engines is like having your store located on the busiest thoroughfare in the city.The beauty about Inbound Marketing and optimising your web presence is that the effects are cumulative over time.

Would you prefer buy a company that has a steady growing number of unique users to its website that is continually creating leads into the sales pipeline.Especially if this can be verified by analytic’ s and the Return on Investment measured.

 

What is Inbound Marketing

What is Inbound Marketing

What is Inbound Marketing

What is Inbound Marketing – Inbound Marketing is something you are going to hear a lot more about in the future. There are a number of different definitions but essentially it is about attracting customers to your website  by optimising your web activities,producing great content and sharing it!

There are no quick fixes and you have to put in the groundwork and lay a solid foundation  to have your Inbound Marketing efforts pay dividends.But the rewards are big and if you do it right it Inbound Marketing will provide a steady flow of new suspects to your website which you can then turn into leads that hopefully one day will become customers.

Technology is driving many of these changes and the world today of the under 35’s is radically different to older generations. Many younger people are what could be termed “Digital Natives” and in this regard they are not consumers of traditional forms of print and media.As Brian Halligan of Hubspot says “the elephants have left the jungle are now at the waterhole”. I think I know what he means and business has to adapt to take account of this changing landscape.

Don’t take my word for it .Look at the sales and valuations of traditional media companies.Compare this with the meteoric rise in companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn  and hundreds more.

Smart companies are embracing Inbound Marketing in a big way and really transforming their futures as a result of it.!

Don’t get left behind. Check it out for your self.

 

Optimized Web Presence for Small Business

Optimized Web Presence for Small Business

Optimized Web Presence for Small Business

Optimized Web Presence for Small Business – It is hard to overstate the  importance of  websites like Google ,Facebook, LinkedIn in a modern Business environment. The relentless migration of all types of businesses to the web is offering incredible opportunities for small business to effectively compete with the big boys by having an effective strategy to optimize their web presence.

I like to use the analogy of a sandwich man to explain in more detail.Walk down any busy city shopping street and the chances are you will meet a sandwich man or woman trying to attract your attention to their shop and their offer.Think of Search Engine Optimization of being similar but on a bigger scale.What are the chances of any potential customer finding you among the millions of web site on the web unless you are able to catch their attention. It really doesn’t matter if your business is selling directly to the end consumer or to other businesses the concept remains the same. The only difference is the focus you put on the individual elements of search marketing  relevant to where your potential customers are located.

Optimized Web Presence for Small Business
An organic Google search is the most obvious example. About 70% of visitors never go past the first page of Google and on average 30% of visitors click on the first organic search. So if you are a business that needs to attract new customers through the seatch engines  it goes without saying that you should have an Optimized Web Presence.

I have attached a video below which explains in more detail the relevance of Optimized Web Presence and how it can Impact on your business.

Social Media Building Connections in Person

Social Media Building Connections in Person

Social Media Building Connections in Person

Social Media Building Connections in Person

Social media can be applied to all kinds of activities, including staying in touch with relatives, getting advice, and playing games. One type of application that is growing is the development of in-person relationships resulting from connections originally built exclusively on social media platforms. Building connections in person is incredibly important despite the rise of social media.

Keller and Fay’s research uncovered that in the United States, 75% of conversations occur in person, with less than 10% occurring via social media. Their data also showed that, on average, in-person conversations are thought to be more credible, and often skew more positive than those conducted using social media.

Of course, it’s not always easy to manage the transition of a social media acquaintance into an in-person friendship. Here are a few tools that can help make that happen.

1. Lanyrd

Lanyrd, a social conference directory, is a great way of finding out where your social media connections will be so that you can arrange to meet up. The site allows you to sign in with Twitter and then see Lanyrd’s list of suggested events you may be interested in. To help you build connections with your Twitter friends, there’s a “from contacts” tab that lets you see all of the events your contacts have said they’ll attend. A glance at this list will show you which events will be more conducive to making more in-person connections.

Next to each conference or event, Lanyrd offers two main buttons: “Attend,” to signify you’ll be in attendance, and “track,” to bookmark an event and keep tabs on it.

2. LinkedIn

While it’s not too uncommon for a Twitter user to follow thousands of other users, social media practitioners tend to be more selective on LinkedIn and Facebook. Inviting a Twitter acquaintance to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook is often seen as a move towards a more formal relationship.

“I often ask fellow #LikeableChat participants to [join me on LinkedIn] after we chat. It solidifies the connection,” says Valerie Pritchard, a research coordinator and writer at social media marketing firm, Likeable.

For many, LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool for building and maintaining professional relationships, providing access to plenty of information about someone, such as shared alma maters, mutual connections, and similarities in work histories, leading to opportunities for bonding.

3. Banjo

Banjo is one of the fastest growing mobile platforms used to maintain and develop in-person connections. In April, the service announced it had slightly more than 500,000 monthly active users, with total membership hitting 900,000.

Banjo can find your connections across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and it alerts you when your contacts are within a geographic interval of your choosing. This makes it incredibly easy to arrange spur-of-the-moment meetings with online acquaintances.

Banjo is also great if you’re planning a visit to a place where you don’t have many friends. You simply tell Banjo where you plan to be, and it will load a map indicating where your online friends (and other Banjo users) are in the vicinity.

4. Sonar

Similar to Banjo, Sonar is a mobile app that lets you check in to physical locations and know when your social media contacts are at the same venue or nearby. One key feature of Sonar is letting you know when your friends’ friends are nearby as well, revealing connections you might not have otherwise made. With Sonar, it’s not uncommon to check in to a busy venue such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and find someone with four Facebook friends, two LinkedIn connections, and dozens of Twitter followers in common.

Sonar usage is particularly heavy in fields such as digital marketing and among communities such as parenting bloggers, in which people usually form strong connections online before ever meeting in real life. During conferences where these communities come together in person, Sonar is very useful in making sure users don’t miss the people they really want to meet.

5. Meetup

Of course, going to a meetup is a great way to meet some of your online friends in real life. You can do this by setting up an account on Meetup.com, and linking it to your Facebook account so you can see where your friends will be. You can flesh out your profile with specific interests, which lets Meetup improve the meetups that it suggests to you, or you can simply search by keyword. Meetups are organized for all sorts of interests from politics to botany.

Of course, Meetup.com isn’t the only way to strengthen relationships made online. Google Groups is a very useful choice when it comes to organizing a tight-knit community and planning in-person meetings.

What’s your favorite way to turn your social media connections into actual in-person friends? Have your say in the comments below.