What are the secrets to a great digital strategy? We have entered a new era of marketing, yet digital strategy is still too often sidelined as the poor cousin of traditional planning. The next generation of customer experience requires a totally different approach.
Even when digital is not overlooked, it still seems that many brands play the game not knowing why they are actually creating a strategy in the first place. This lack of analysis exposes them to (avoidable) mistakes that might kill their marketing efforts.
If you search on Google, you find out tons of discussions about the best practices to shape an amazing digital strategy. In this time of constant technological (and social) changes, it is surely easier to specify what you should do, rather than point out what are the most critical digital strategy mistakes.
While there is no magic recipe to fix all your customer experience troubles, analysts still prefer to focus on the virtuous practices that brands need to adopt to face the challenge of digital disruption. Talking about what's wrong exposes to a big task: critically analyze ourselves, our work and the results we have achieved to date.
And that is exactly what we will do in this article: we have traced the 'worst practices', in other words the top 10 don'ts for developing a digital marketing strategy. Mistakes -small or big - that could cost you more than you think, doing harm more than good and reducing the power of your digital customer experience.
Before going on with the list, we need to outline the scenario we all - brands and customers - live in. A world defined by few major changes:
- The convergence between the analog and digital worlds (what analysts call the digital transformation).
- The emergence of disruptive connected devices (the smartphone, wearable technology, the Internet of Things).
- The fragmentation of our daily life into a sequence of Micro Moments, inspired by specific needs and desires.
- The passage from traditional consumers to empowered customers and the dawn of the new generation of digital customers.
- The transformation of the traditional customer journey into a new, complex map across different devices and touch points.
We are facing a revolution driven by mobile technology, where traditional marketing patterns and methodologies are not effective anymore. Old and static strategies won't help your company to adapt and grow in a dynamic scenario shaped by smartphones, smartwatches, wearables, iBeacons, and virtual reality.
A new era is always full of opportunities, but also threats. What decides whether you succeed or not is your ability to catch the rainbow and avoid the pitfalls.
That is the reason why you should carefully take note of the 10 digital strategy mistakes. They will help you create an amazing digital customer experience.
YOU BECOME SPAM
Do you know who is your digital customer? The inbound methodology is all about attracting rather than pushing communications. When you send out emails, post on social media or create any other kind of company content, you need to target the right customers at the right moment (specific buyer personas). In the mobile era, talking to everybody equals talking to nobody, and that the 'spammer' label is easily taken.
YOU JUST WASTE MONEY
The creation of buyer personas and the mapping of the customer journey should not be intended as a mere speculative analysis. Too many companies focus their efforts on ineffective actions or technologies not suited to their specific industry. When you don't know your customers, and ignore the evolution of social dynamics, you only pave the way to bad customer experience.
YOU FORGET CUSTOMERS
We are submerged in an ecosystem where the digital customer is the key to deliver amazing experiences. All your efforts should start from - and be dedicated to - that customer. Your brand is valued not just for what you produce or sell but even more for the experience you create and the story you narrate. Underestimate customer behavior and the door to their heart and mind will be out of reach.
YOU DON'T TAKE RISKS
New strategies, new actions, new approaches. Whatever makes you different from competitors could be your winning point. Marketers should benever afraid of embracing the change. You can't rely on the 'no change is good change' philosophy anymore. Mobile disruption opens huge opportunities, you just need to pick what is best for you (just think about innovations like the Apple Watch, mobile payments or the HealthKit).
YOU DON'T OPTIMIZE CONTENT
The best way to drive away the customers' attention is to create a 'one-fits-all' content, regardless the audience and the channel you are using. Content marketing in the social era is a science you can't improvise. The ideal content tailored for empowered customers should answer to two priorities: right-time personalization and content customized with context (geofencing, location-based, iBeacons).
YOU ARE NOT MOBILE-FRIENDLY
There is no digital strategy without a mobile presence. Be it just a responsive site or a complete omni-channel approach (with proper mobile app development), you need to become a mobile-friendly brand. Customers live connected 24/7, using the smartphone to search and buy. With the recent change in Google's search engine algorithm, if you don't optimize your presence for mobile it's like you don't exist at all.
YOU UNDERESTIMATE SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vimeo. You can't build a proper content marketing if you ignore the power of social networks. The rules to reach social success are very simple: be real (but not too much); follow the stream; engage (using visual to stay epic); connect with your followers. Doing social media the right way is the best insurance to win their trust and fix a defective customer experience.
YOU DON'T TEST & LEARN
Digital marketing is a matter of test and try, starting from the solid grounds of predictive analytics and customer behavior analysis. Constant testing helps you choose between two (or more) options when it comes to actions aimed to engagement and lead generation. A common mistake is to think that testing is something you do just once in a while. Never take the result as carved in stone. Loyalty evolves with technology, and your strategy should evolve accordingly.
YOU DON'T USE DATA
With the spread of smart object, customer live in constant connection. This eventually leads to a huge amount of information about customer habits and purchase behaviors, in addition to data about markets and competitors. Having data in your hands has no utility in itself. In the era of Big Data, you only succeed when you can dive through this vague quantity of numbers and statistics and convert them into reliable marketing actions.
YOU DON'T MEASURE
Once you have your marketing machine set up, don't think that the job is done. Actually, that is just the beginning. How could you know if everything is going as planned? Measuring your efforts, of course. The Internet gives you a wide range of technologies and tools when things work and what you need to change. To adapt budget and KPIs. Pick up one (i.e. analytics dashboard) and learn from your mistakes.
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy with the latest trends and advancements of digital marketing and mobile technology.