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Bringing Sophistication to Your Digital Strategy

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
#Digital Strategy
Published on March 7, 2016

Maybe it’s time to let your digital strategy mature and grow into the useful tool it was always meant to be. But where do you start?

It’s a new year, and Spring is on the way (we are told), but the odds are that you may be dealing with some of the same old digital problems. If you haven’t gotten serious about your digital strategy and business intelligence, you’re likely still struggling with problems from data silos, lack of efficiency in your sales processes, and missed engagement opportunities on your owned digital properties. Maybe it’s time to let your digital strategy mature and grow into the useful tool it was always meant to be. But where do you start? Well, what have you been feeding it?

Your digital strategy doesn’t start at zero. Odds are you are already making some efforts to gather digital business intelligence. This usually starts with an implementation of Google Analytics or some other basic tool. As awesome and powerful as a standard GA implementation can be, most organizations don’t really lean on it in the ways that they really could. It’s the digital equivalent of a toddler eating pureed baby foods.

Baby foods are a great way to get started out with solid foods - they are safe, bland, and easy to stomach. Business intelligence can be similar. Organizations start off conservatively, careful to learn just enough, but not too much to rock the boat. They get a good sense of comings and goings on their digital properties; this user goes here, they come from there. They get the “what” but not the “why.”

To grow up, you need to be serious about gathering the “why” in order to be able to let that digital strategy grow into the useful tool it was always meant to be. You need to be able to let the data you gather inform strategic actions you take. Your digital strategy needs some solid foods to grow on.

Mature intelligence gathering and digital strategy must grow from your garden variety Google Analytics implementation to taking full advantage of the business intelligence gained from all unified systems, in order to personalize and contextualize the experience of your digital communities. That’s a mouthful, we know, but your digital strategy needs the solid food of business intelligence to help build the bones and muscles of those strong strategic decisions.

Step One to Mature Growth - Solid Foods (Unify Your Systems)

We’ve talked a lot about the value of gathering anonymous visitor data. We’ve also talked at length in the past about the perils and pitfalls of siloed data that can emerge when you don’t approach data collection and sharing strategically. There are a host of reasons organizations find themselves with silos in their data - systems that don’t connect to give the “bigger picture” needed.

For example, in today’s changing technological landscape, there are a multitude of powerful SaaS-based services available to help companies with their digital strategy, covering aspects as varied as marketing, CRM, website visitor data, and publishing content across multiple channels. Signing up for these services and implementing them is easier and faster than ever, but the problem with this is that different departments within a company may be making the decisions on what services to use without considering how the data from each service will be tied back to the company’s goals and KPIs.

This can lead to silos faster than you can imagine. When we work with clients, we help them go over the menu of data they are using and collecting. We ask them tough questions about where that data comes from and where it is going. Often, in the process of helping organizations collapse their data silos, we uncover silos of data they didn’t even know they had - and boy are they grateful!

For your digital strategy to grow, it needs the same things a young person needs to build strong bones and muscles. Collapsing your data silos and increasing connectivity in your business intelligence helps get your digital strategy the building blocks it needs to make good choices.

Step Two - Use Those Building Blocks to Take Action

Data shows that users rarely move into a buying process on a first visit to a website. Often those users have visited your site and others to gather information in order to make their decision. Knowing more about those movements can help you make good strategic decisions about what to show users and when.

The end goal of eliminating data silos is to be able to have an net positive impact on the outcomes of business happening around your digital properties. In short, you want all that “solid food” business intelligence to provide the nutrients your strategy needs to make good choices. Those good choices involve using that data to be able to personalize each user’s experience.

Users want to be talked to and not at. The more you can use the data you collect to create experiences that will be relevant to your users, the more successful your content will be in accomplishing your goals. But personalization is more than just placing a user’s first name in a bit of content, and if not done carefully, some personalization efforts can actually drive users away. Demonstrating to users that you are aware of how they are engaging with your content can be done in a way that doesn’t feel spooky for the user, however. The best way to do that is to surface content that is both relevant and compelling.

Are you using qualitative business intelligence to better inform your sales team on which leads they should be talking to first? Are you able to locate your own internal data silos and missed conversion opportunities? Do you know which systems will help you collapse your data silos and mature your digital strategy?

These are things we help clients with every day. We know there is no shortage of tools out there and we love helping clients sort through them. For example, take a look at the below webinar we’re running very soon that helps clients navigate some of the changes around migrating from one set of tools to another. Are you ready to let us help you mature your digital strategy? Give us a call; we’d be glad to help.