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Creating Your Digital Strategy and Channel Plan

24th July 2020 | Nigel Fisher

This week we're diving into the part of creating a digital strategy that my clients find the most enjoyable: planning the channels and working through targeted tactics.

If you went through the steps outlined in last week's guide How To Build Your Brand's Digital Strategy, then you should have a framework in place and be ready to flesh it out with actions.

Here's what you need to get started:

Missing something? Head back to last week's blog here, where I covered:

Now, let's get to the pointy end of creating your digital strategy. By the end of this blog, you will have almost everything you need to map out a strategy, including a better understanding of the channels and tactics available, how to measure success, and several industry insights to help along the way. Creating a digital strategy to reach your audience

The best digital strategies reach the intended audience at the right place and time, with the right message, at the right stage in their decision-making process. What follows is a guide to using the RACE framework to narrow your digital strategy from all-encompassing to a lean, targeted and (maybe most importantly) cost-effective marketing tool.

I like to remind my clients that the idea of a lean digital strategy is to cut through the market with a competitive edge, rather than simply adding to the noise. Your brand's strategy will look different from your competitor's because your offering is unique. That's why we always spend time on SWOT and audience analysis, to ensure the strategy hits its mark.

A quick recap on RACE

RACE provides a simple scaffolding for digital marketing plans and multichannel campaigns. You can use the framework in 4 stages to prompt online interaction, ultimately driving sales and cultivating a loyal following.

RACE is practical, action-oriented, comprehensive and easy for any marketing professional to integrate into their toolkit. Because it focusses on the customer - not what the brand thinks is best - there is more likelihood of successfully cultivating and converting your desired audience.

Stage 1: Reach

When an early-stage customer is exploring their options, you want to reach them and draw them into your digital content hub. Reach means building awareness and visibility, increasing online traffic, confirming your spot in the consideration set - so these tactics won't bring in revenue, but they will cultivate a following.

Channels and tactics

Most, if not all, can be classified as inbound marketing because you are drawing customers to your product offering with content that adds value or solves a problem. Reach tactics are sometimes called ToFu (Top of Funnel) tactics because they result in new customers entering the marketing funnel. How to measure success

I encourage my clients to use a mix of channels - but not all the above - based on their customer avatars and KPIs. In a later guide, I will go through each channel in more detail, to unpack their importance in your digital strategy.

Stage 2: Act

Act, or Interact, is the stage where a potential customer goes from window shopping to trying on items. If you're familiar with lead generation in any form, then you already know a little bit about the value of interactions.

Channels and tactics

Prompting interactions is harder than it sounds.

In today's bustling digital landscape, convincing a potential customer to interact with your brand can be considered a top-level funnel goal, almost like an intermediate goal on their journey to the pointy end of the funnel.

How to measure success

Interactions don't always need to be the classic email list sign-ups or completed exit module forms. You can also aim for account registrations, eBook PDF downloads, longer website sessions, or even items added to a shopping basket.

Check-in: how do these success measures stack up against KPIs and campaign objectives? Are you working towards those quantifiable measures we discussed in the last blog?

Stage 3: Convert

Here's where your first payoff becomes possible, when interested browsers convert into customers. In its simplest form, a conversion is a transaction. Sometimes the journey from Act to Convert is short and simple, and sometimes it is both circuitous and complex.

Channels and tactics

While most brands will be looking for a sale of some kind, it's entirely possible that a conversion is non-monetary. For example, you might be launching a new app or hosting a free community event. There is no money changing hands, but your digital strategy is yielding a return if your audience is committing to your product.

How to measure success

At this stage, you can start to weigh up the cost against returns to understand your ROI (return on investment). Go back to your campaign KPIs and SMART goals to see whether your strategy is working as expected.

Stage 4: Engage

For most brands, the marketing funnel continues post-purchase to engage existing customers and make them brand advocates. Ideally, the tactics you use in this phase will breed long-term customer loyalty. Boosting a customer's lifetime value is a cost-effective way to increase profit, but you're also looking for word-of-mouth marketing (which is unspeakably valuable).

Channels and tactics

Does your local coffee shop have loyalty cards? Have you ever received an email offering 10% off as a returning customer? Do you follow certain brands online whose content you are evangelical about sharing? All of these are hallmarks of an engaged customer base.

How to measure success

This is where the non-linear nature of the marketing funnel is most obvious, because a successfully engaged customer will probably double back to the Act or Convert stage. Not only are returning customers less expensive to re-engage, but they are also likely to convert their sphere of influence on your behalf.

And that alone is worth the effort of creating a digital strategy.

The golden rule of digital strategies Marketing strategies are not linear.

It sounds simple, but if you understand the cyclical nature of digital marketing campaigns then you can save yourself a lot of time (and money) by targeting tactics to where they are most impactful.

Customers dip in and out of the funnel all the time. They may be searching with a shortlist in mind (at the Act phase) then get cold feet right before hitting the "Pay Now" button (Conversion). When they re-enter the funnel later, it might be back at the Reach phase.

This is where automation strategies, customer database management and re-targeting become incredibly important.

But those are all topics for another article; for now, focus on filling out your RACE framework with the most engaging, targeted, and inspiring tactics your audience is asking for.

Ready to build a winning digital strategy with industry-leading insight and award-winning tactics? Get in touch at hello@fisherdigital.com.au and let's talk tactics.

Nigel is the Director and Founder of Fisher Digital.

Nigel brings extensive digital planning and channel integration experience with a history of success within the Australian corporate realm. He has driven digital transformation across several blue-chip clients and has been recognised and awarded numerous times for the work. Nigel is also a passionate communicator and digital advocate. He believes in bringing clients "on the journey" to achieve maximum engagement and growth.

Nigel is an expert in the technical, conceptual and strategic development of marcomms-driving collateral, with a proven ability to achieve record-high marketing campaign response rates and execute successful product launches through creative content development and remarketing efforts.

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