Your commerce website is delivering, and yet you wonder, “is this really the best it can be?” Plenty of brands with average website experiences are leaving money, engagement, and customer satisfaction on the table.
Your commerce website is delivering, and yet you wonder, “is this really the best it can be?”
Plenty of businesses with average digital experiences and generic brand identities are leaving money, engagement, and customer satisfaction on the table. For many companies, the culprit is not having a digital brand strategy.
What Is a Digital Brand Strategy?
Brand strategy is all about developing a unique identity that distinguishes your business from competitors, using brand positioning and awareness to build customer loyalty.
Digital strategy is all about the assets, tools, budgets, etc. that it takes to make this happen. It focuses primarily on digital marketing to drive growth via lead generation, conversions, and sales.
Combine these two and you have a very comprehensive digital brand strategy.
Digital brand strategy examines consumers’ digital and “real world” behaviors, particularly their brand interactions and shopping habits. It then marries this information with a variety of tools, technology, and strategies in order to achieve the desired results.
Ultimately, a digital brand strategy allows your brand to successfully navigate the digital landscape and be perceived by customers and potential customers precisely as you’d like to be.
Core Elements of Digital Brand Strategy
A strategy without goals is like a like a beautifully wrapped gift with nothing in it. Maybe you want to define your sales objectives or increase year-over-year sales. Maybe you’re trying to shift behavior to get customers to use a new feature or adapt to a new business model. Each and every goal you define should drive every subsequent brand decision and tactic employed.
Get ‘SMART’ with your goals to really make them work for your brand. Make sure they are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. These are different than your company’s’ goals and values. They’re purely digital. Consider setting a goal in each of these categories to get started:
Educating the Customer
So many of these overlap within your overall digital presence, but take the time to specify what you want for each category. A goal to add 1,000 customers to your loyalty program in 6 months and a goal to educate your customers about your newest service or product can complement each other, but still need to be defined separately in order to plan your strategy.
If possible assign key players to specific areas. Try to eliminate gaps and overlaps so everyone has a clear area of focus.
It seems obvious, but it’s critical to clearly define your brand before you try to create a digital brand strategy.
A well-defined brand will have identified:
Brand voice and style
A unique identity to help differentiate your business from others
Truly intentional brand strategies are also developed around specific goals, such as increasing brand awareness or strengthening customer loyalty.
Once you have a solid handle on your brand, it’s time to identify the key players involved in executive your digital brand strategy.
Document who the players are and agree upon key aspects of your partnership, including:
Player contributions (subject matter experts)
Process (decisions, escalations, etc)
Players should also establish a rhythm by setting a timeframe to meet regularly and evolve the digital brand strategy.
Until you define your target audience, you’re not really communicating with any customer or segment. So instead of guessing, name your current customer clearly. Know their needs relative to your brand identity, and explore their lifestyles.
Then, put a plan in place to serve their needs transparently. Do this exercise for current customers and any customers you want to serve in the future.
Segment them as necessary into primary and secondary groups. Detail when, where, and how they buy from you as well as from your competitors. But don’t stop there. Give them a persona. Give them a name. Give them a personality and lifestyle you can draw from when making decisions on your brand’s digital strategy.
Understand your customer’s buying decision process. What are the stages they go through to discover, understand, research, consider, and ultimately decide to buy (or abandon) the journey altogether.
A smart digital brand strategy considers what assets a brand already possesses. Take stock of everything in which your brand has already invested. This can include (but certainly isn’t limited to):
Inventory what you have, identify what you need and talk about what’s no longer needed. Have someone really take the time to look at everything that’s inventoried and understand where and how it’s being used. So many times, brands create 50 or more assets with an overlapping theme (like free-shipping) but the message isn’t consistent. For example “Free shipping!" versus “Shipping is on us”. This can confuse customers. Base your decisions objectively on your target audiences’ need for it. If you need to break ties, A/B test the assets to see objectively which assets perform best. Once the inventory is complete, if anything doesn’t serve a customer or group defined in your strategy, let it go. Then focus on editing what you need and creating any missing assets.
Mapping Product and Marketing Tactics to Audience and Goals
A good strategy maps every feature, service and piece of content back to a customer or segment need and makes the solution to the need available at the right time and place in the customer’s journey in a way that feels serendipitous to the customer, despite being choreographed by the brand.
Where a customer is in their journey to your brand often maps to marketing tactics. For example if you believe know your customers spend time on Pinterest, you are likely making investments in content marketing on that social platform.
It’s important therefore to take the time making sure your customers’ journey is valid. Note the assets and information they interact with most. Invest in understanding how customers value (or don’t value) the current experience and available content or information. Conduct research if you you’re unsure. And leverage and data available to you already. Data can tell you a lot about your audience, their digital behaviors and even preferences.
Winning digital strategy always considers the right scale of investment in IT infrastructure, architecture and products. It’s very hard to keep up with the pace of innovation unless you have a flexible IT infrastructure and one that can plug and play easily with a host of third-party products and services. Business product teams should have a good relationship with Enterprise Architecture and third-parties and make concerted efforts to stay in sync strategically. Draft your website architecture including third-parties. Mind overlaps between vendors and aim for contracts with flexibility.
Throughout the execution of your digital brand strategy, take the time to analyze if your efforts are working.
Is your customers’ journey is truly optimized? Note the assets, information, digital platforms, and content marketing that they interact with the most. Invest not only in digital branding services, but in understanding how customers value (or don’t value) the current user experience and available content or information, and use this to tweak your digital brand strategy.
Connect the Dots
If you need help with a digital strategy, aligning with peers on a north star and building programs to achieve your goals, reach out to Object Edge. We can be your guide.
About the Author
VP, Experience Design
Digital pioneer with 20+ years of experience bringing innovative digital products and services to market successfully for many industries and within a variety of challenging environments ranging from start-up to Fortune 100 companies. Effective in gaining organizational alignment on strategy and delivering creative solutions that solve real business problems.