So many internet users today, having a thought out digital communication strategy is critical to your success.
It's no secret that we live in a digital world that's ever-evolving, growing bigger, faster, and more powerful every day. Technology has made it possible for us to do things that our ancestors could never imagine. Things like communicating with people across borders, not limited by time and space. In fact, most communications, as well as interactions, are done through digital channels such as email and social media. A fact that all businesses need to be aware of.
Why is digital communication important?
Why should businesses prioritize digital communication? There's only one reason to do so - because that's where your customers are, both the existing and the potential. If you want to make sure that your customer communication efforts are effective (i.e. reaching your target audience), then you have to go where the people are. According to the Global Digital Report 2019 by We Are Social, there are 4.388 billion internet users, 9.1% higher than it was the year before. The world's population is estimated to be 7.676 billion. That's more than half the world going online. In addition, there are 3.484 billion active social media users around the world.
Aside from the fact that you're able to reach more people, both locally and globally, digital communication allows you to do that at a much lower cost compared to traditional means (i.e. TV and print ads). Moreover, it enables you to distribute content that has the potential to go viral which has the potential to expand your reach organically with no added cost. More importantly, digital communication allows you to personalize your content based on the customer's demographics and interests. In short, if you want to grow your business, you can’t afford to ignore digital communication.
When do you need a digital communication strategy?
Now that we're agreed on the importance of digital communication, the next question is, when do you need it? The simplest answer to this one is as soon as possible. To grow your business, you need to be able to reach your target audience in order to acquire new customers and retain old ones. And as we’ve already mentioned, you have to go where they are - in the digital world. So, if you can, it's best to start right now.
Of course, that's easier said than done. For this reason, it's important for companies to analyze their current situation before jumping into the development stage. What is the team already doing? What’s working and what’s not? What resources do we have available? And the most important of all, what are our marketing goals?
To help determine what your marketing goals are, here are some sample questions you may want to ask:
Are you in need of new investors for your business?
Do you need to communicate with your customers as you manage through a crisis?
Are you losing market share to a competitor?
Do you need to keep your brand "top of mind" due to new competitors in your market?
By correctly understanding the current state of affairs, you're more knowledgeable about when you need the digital strategy created and implemented.
How to develop a successful digital communication strategy
So, how do we create a successful digital communication strategy? Developing one can feel a bit overwhelming at the start, especially when you have little to no idea where you should begin. Fortunately, it's not as hard as most people think. The following steps should help you map out your digital strategy as well as enable you to integrate it into your current marketing plan.
1. Define your audience
This is, by far, the most important feature of your digital communication strategy. Who are your audiences? Who are the people you want to communicate with?
There are a number of ways you can define the different audiences you need to reach. You can utilize surveys, focus groups, and customer interviews to collect data. You can also use social listening tools that enable you to learn how people are reacting and interacting with your brand as well as with your competitors. You can also use previously acquired demographics and behavioral data from your current customers.
Once you have gathered enough information, you can then develop personas. Personas are fictional characters that represent your ideal customers or a key segment of your target audience. This allows you to get a more in-depth understanding of your different target audiences, their motivations, interests, etc.
Why is this the most important step? Well, when you place your customers at the center of your digital communication strategy, you're more able to create focused, relevant, and highly engaging content for them that will lead to brand loyalty and help generate revenue.
2. Choose the right digital communications channels
Once you have a clear understanding of who your targets are, you're now able to choose which channels will be more effective in reaching them. Instead of blasting your messages through all the various digital channels available, you can focus on those that they spend most of their time in. Not only is this cost-efficient, but it also saves you a lot of time and effort. Below are some examples of digital communication channels you might want to consider:
Your website is a great resource for customers to learn more about your products and/or services as well as your brand. However, in the World Wide Web, you're competing for your customers' attention with millions of other websites. If you want people to engage with your brand, you're going to need a website blog. One that provides high-quality content that provides value to your customers, both potential and existing ones. Aside from the content, you can utilize a number of tools and tips in order to drive traffic to your websites such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click ads. Employing effective website management such as using headlines and language that attracts readers and using designs and pictures that are optimized for mobile viewing can also help you create a more engaging customer experience.
Provide your customers with updates once a month using an eNewsletter. You can use this to discuss a new product or service your company is offering. You can also use it to provide information on topics that are related to your product/service. You can even provide them with some company news.
Just like with your website blog, your social media content should always be highly relevant to your target audience. And it should not always be about a product or service you're currently offering. You need to make sure to include messages that are interesting or fun, socially important, educational or even news related to your industry or market. Make sure to interact with the community by asking questions or answering their comments. You can even involve your staff, influencers, and thought leaders in helping you promote your message in social media. Of course, before you can do all that, you need to determine which social media platform works best with your target audiences - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Customer Relationship Management
You can utilize a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to help you deliver highly targeted, personalized content at the right time to the right customers. A CRM system shows you in-depth data on your customers and potential buyers including where they currently are in your sales funnel. It also enables you to store data on previous interactions/conversations you've had with them as well as their past behaviors. Because of this, you're able to tailor their customer experience and create more personal relationships with them.
3. Reach your audience - with the right message and approach
Now that you know who your audiences are and where you will be communicating with them, it's time to construct the right message. What do you want to communicate with them? Does your message reflect your brand's story and tone of voice? Remember, it's important that your message caters to your customer's needs. But it should also reflect your brand's online identity in a way that helps you stand out (positively!) and build brand loyalty.
How to monitoring progress and evaluating results
Of course, in order for you to learn how effective your digital communication strategy is, you'll need to create benchmarks and measure the results of your activities. When creating goals, make sure that they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Having a clear set of achievable, realistic goals will enable you to define your KPIs that you will use to measure the success of your strategy. Once you have your metrics, determine how you will monitor and evaluate your results. What tools are you going to use? Then, after analyzing your results, tweak or revise your digital communication strategy to adapt to the new information you’ve gathered.