Digital engagement is not a game of luck, it’s a game of strategy, and your brand is the key to staying in the game. Brand-led organisations consistently outperform their competition online, by up to 82%, because they attack their digital media systematically and strategically. Think Patagonia and Airbnb – these organisations have many followers and fans, and are known for their successful viral content and high digital engagement (not just what products and services they offer).
To attain that kind of success, a solid digital engagement strategy is the first place to start.
Start with a ‘big picture’ digital strategy
By creating a digital strategy framework, your organisation can begin to identify opportunities to create value. From there, you can implement the processes and technologies to meet your audience at the right place and time.
Here are a few strategies to consider when creating this framework.
Define your brand purpose, vision, mission and values
A strong engagement strategy is rooted in a strong brand strategy. Take the time to establish your brand purpose (why you exist), and create a structure to support it. Consider asking:
- What am I setting out to achieve?
- How will I achieve it?
- How will my organisation and team behave in order to fulfil our purpose?
Mapping out this information can help to provide a much needed strategic direction for all of your digital activities.
Perform a digital audit
A SWOT analysis of your current digital landscape will give you a good indication of where you’re at. This will involve tackling questions such as:
- What channels are your audiences using?
- What channels are converting?
- What’s effective and what’s a waste of time?
By looking at your strengths and opportunities, you can make informed decisions about what digital engagement techniques might provide the most value for your brand.
Take a look at the competition
Your competitors are perfect for setting a benchmark and defining what trends seem to be effective. What technologies are they using to be transformative online? A thorough competitor analysis can provide insight, ideas and direction for your own engagement strategy.
Determine the most effective channels
Your target market personas are key to understanding where your audience can be reached. Thankfully, you don’t need to be active on every digital channel to build the most effective engagement strategy. Work out what will be effective by researching where your target audience is likely to be and develop a strong, multi-channel approach from there.
While email marketing may help you nurture clients and build relationships, focusing on search engine optimisation and marketing (SEO and SEM) may help you build brand credibility and set you apart from competitors. By contrast, social media can be seen as a sales driver, used to meet key business objectives strategically.
User experience beyond your website
An effective digital engagement strategy is just one element of attracting and retaining a loyal following. Leading customers from your website to another channel is where brand-centric organisations set themselves apart even further.
A key way to engage audiences is to align all elements of your brand with the brand purpose, so that your audience is immersed across all channels. Every customer interaction – whether it’s through your website, online forms, social media posts or customer service centre calls – should have effective user experience built in. This means consistent branding and messaging, intuitive technologies that meet user needs, and an internal culture that seeps into every brand element.
Internal culture can be an impediment to digital transformation, so it’s essential to keep your core company beliefs and purpose embedded in day-to-day operations. Design customer-focused business processes that remind employees of their purpose, so they in turn will create products and experiences designed for the user.
ASOS: A digital strategy case study
Online-only retailer ASOS reached an annual revenue of $4.37 billion (AUD) last year, experiencing 27% growth internationally. With 15% more active customers last year than previous, it’s safe to say they’re doing something very ‘right’ with their digital engagement strategy.
ASOS is able to capitalise on visual social platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest to build its audience. The brand’s web design puts content at the heart of the site, and innovative social campaigns continue to keep customers engaged online.
Plus, new technologies are constantly being added to online platforms to boost customer experience. In fact, last year saw 2,900 new releases to the brand experience, including new features and online shopping changes. Shoppers can view videos of a product being worn (on a real person) before making their purchase, and can use an innovative visual search tool to search ASOS’ database based on an image.
The success of the brand comes down to an effective digital strategy founded on core user needs. An engaging online strategy is paired with an exceptional user experience across the board, including fast shipping and simple returns.
How to ensure your strategy continues to create value
Digital strategies are rarely set-and-forget. With the online environment constantly shifting and evolving, consider regularly monitoring your engagement strategy and adjust it based on data and customer interactions. There are a few things you can do to keep on top of this:
Report on your digital performance regularly
Implement changes as necessary. For example, as Instagram algorithms change, you may consider adjusting your approach by using different hashtags or targeting certain demographics in sponsored ads.
Get customer feedback
Surveys and direct feedback are a great way to stay in touch with your customers. The best place to learn about what people want is to ask them.
Keep an eye on trends and competitor innovations
Stay on top of emerging technologies, so you can better engage your audiences. At Plural Agency, we design change. If you need guidance on strategic planning, auditing and reporting, or a branded campaign to help drive your engagement strategy, get in touch.