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Creating a digital strategy
Your business's digital strategy will include your business goals, your digital action plan, and how your digital activities integrate with your overall business plan.
Outline your business goals
Summarise your reasons for improving your digital innovation. For example, do you want to:
- increase your market share or customer base?
- find efficiencies and cost savings?
- become an innovative business or industry leader?
- attract quality staff?
- improve communication with customers and suppliers?
Develop a digital action plan
Based on the results of your digital audit, make a list of activities for each of the 9 components of a digital strategy that you need to complete.
For example, if you currently show information on your website but do not take orders or encourage customers to pay online, you might consider the following steps:
- Speak with your web developer about adding an e-commerce solution to your website.
- Research companies in your industry or related industries that are selling online effectively.
- Form a sales and logistics strategy for your new sales channel.
- Define the marketing strategy for the launch as well as ongoing promotion of this channel.
- Launch your new sales channel.
Include your digital activities in your business plan
Your digital strategy should not be separate from your business plan – rather, you should include digital actions throughout every part of your business plan. For example, your marketing plan should include digital marketing activities such as search engine optimisation, social media marketing and website development.
Here are some of the ways you can fit digital initiatives into your everyday operations.
- Move to cloud-based accounting and reporting.
- Use an online ordering and payment system, including mobile payments.
- Implement a bring your own device (BYOD) policy to ensure data is secure and not mishandled offsite by staff using their personal devices on external unsecure networks.
- Use mobile devices such as iPads or iPhones to empower staff to be more productive in their jobs (e.g. by taking orders or replacing duplicate/triplicate paper-based processes).
- Use cloud-based tools for project management, reporting and time management.
- Use digital technology and applications to improve staff member connectedness (e.g. sharing knowledge via a wiki site), and establish corporate social networks (e.g. Yammer).
- Make use of digital recruitment.
- Create and implement a social media strategy.
- Use email for marketing (including automated marketing such as e-newsletters).
- Integrate your marketing with your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Segment your email marketing database and promote products and services to specific groups of people based on their past enquiry history or purchasing patterns.
- Ensure your website is user-friendly and follows current web best practice. Consult a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist to ensure your website ranks well in Google searches. Measure your website success using tools such as Google Analytics.
- Use online advertising, including Google local and content advertising.
- Use cloud-based document management and file management systems. Use a reliable backup process, in a secure, off-site location. Consider enabling automatic backing up of data.
- Create secure socket layer (SSL) certificates to ensure the security of your online assets.
- Move to a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution rather than investing in fixed software packages that need to be installed on individual computers.
- Customise software to fit the needs of your business (e.g. you could use software to connect 2 platforms together to reduce double entry of data).
- Digitise your processes and move to an automated solution where parts or products are automatically reordered when stock reaches a specific level.
- Build your own mobile application (app) so customers can easily connect with your business or get access to product information in real time.
- Encourage your customers to buy online and transact via your website instead of faxing, calling or emailing their orders.
- Include a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section on your website, or a support forum where customers can answer their own questions.
- Promote live web chat so customers can interact with your staff via your website in real time.
- Use your social media channels to engage in 2-way discussions with your customers.
- Ensure that your website has several calls to action encouraging your customers to either sign up for more information, buy from you, give post-purchase feedback, make suggestions about products or services, or connect with you on your social media pages.
Commit to constant innovation
Your digital strategy should, over time, adapt and change with the market and with emerging technologies – the same way your business plan does. Once developed, you should regularly review and update your plan to keep up with your business's performance and achievement of goals.
Digital solutions are no longer 'set and forget' activities. For example, once you've invested in a new website, you must continue to update it by adding new content, creating new features, and looking at how it can be more efficient in terms of generating enquiries, leads and sales.
You should revisit your action plan and digital strategy frequently and challenge your staff to keep thinking of ways to innovate.