Digital Strategy - 5 Steps to Win in a Changing World.

Today we will make an introduction to Gigantic's framework that allows us to work on digital strategy in an ever-changing world. We will talk about the basics of a good digital strategy and the main steps to implement it.

We do live in a special context, where the digital world is always evolving and made of rapid changes. Often, and I think all of us who work in marketing have felt this at some point, it seems hard to keep up. 

New channels like Tik Tok or BeReal are constantly popping up, technological revolutions like Artificial Intelligence are coming through, even old Google is constantly updating its algorithms.

For marketers these constant changes can seem overwhelming and it is normal to wonder: how is it possible to define a medium/long term digital strategy when the world and the rules of the game are always changing? It is fundamentally this question that I try to answer in this article and in the lines below.

Step 1: Know the role of each medium in our digital strategy:

No matter how many new media are released each year or technologies emerge, these changes always fit within a pre-existing system. 

The scheme below is a simplification of how Gigantic understands the digital marketing system. A system that essentially allows you to talk to audiences that are at completely different stages of the buying journey for the same product or service, and in which each medium allows you to communicate at a certain stage of the journey. 

Depending on the objectives of the brand, the market, the complexity of the product/service, the audience profile, we can work on one or more phases of the purchase journey, but realizing that each medium has a different function and has different effectiveness rates depending on the type of objectives we have defined in the digital strategy.

digital-strategy framework
Digital Strategy - 5 Steps to Win in a Changing World. 

It is also important to realize that within each of these stages (need, demand, consideration, purchase) there are groups of different distances until the actual purchase. For simplification we define the first stage as need, but the reality is more complex. 

Taking the example of buying houses in Lisbon or Porto, we know that there is a high probability of families from 35 to 45 years old changing their homes. Either because it is the age when people are at the peak of their career, or because they have recently had children, or because they have finally decided to buy a house after the first few rentals.

Imagining that I chose to communicate in social networks and that my segmentation criteria was only the age and the location Lisbon and Porto, I would start communicating with the group of 35 to 45 years old. Within this group they would be together:

  • people who dream of moving one day (but have no capacity)
  • people who would like to move house but don't have a pressing need.
  • families that because of the birth of a child really need to move but are not looking yet. 

In this sense, those who invest in social media advertising should realize that social media allow you to reach a large number of people at a very low cost, but inevitably some of the investment will be lost on people who will never be customers, at least in the short term.

On the other hand, if I want to get conversions quickly, the best channel will undoubtedly be the search channel where people are already looking for my product or service.

2nd Trust the data. 

One of the advantages of digital over the physical world is the amount of data we can collect about our performance, about competitors, and about audience behavior. Many will not know, but there are several platforms that allow us to collect internal and market data. 

Screenshot 2023 06 07 at 09.20.13
Ex: Similarweb enterprise

Any successful digital strategy has to start from a clear analysis of our market position and answer simple questions:

what is my competitors' traffic strategy? What are the most important digital marketing channels (direct, referrals, seo, paid search, paid social, display/programmatic)?

What is the investment that the competition makes in each channel? What are the keywords? Which are the campaigns? What are the arguments they use? What are the referrals/influencers? Which pages convert more in sales? What is the journey?

Starting from this analysis it becomes much easier to define a digital strategy and what we have to do to grow, and above all what bet should be made on each medium and each technique. All our past practices and choices must be questioned, in the light of numbers and logic, without fear (perhaps the most difficult part). 

At Gigantic we use the following platforms for the analysis: Similarweb, Semrush, Google Analytics 4 and Google Search Console. 

3º Define an efficient and realistic digital strategy. 

The first step in developing a good digital strategy is to define concrete and measurable goals that allow us to evaluate the success of our actions. 

If we work only on awareness or engagement we can talk about impressions or page views, if we work for sales, we can define acquisition cost per sale (ARC), sales value, average ticket.

The complexity of a digital strategy depends primarily on the difficulty of a goal in a given market, the higher the goal the more complex the strategy. 

This difficulty is determined by different variables. The first variable is the size of the demand that exists for a given product/service. Is there already demand? With what volume? Is it sufficient to meet our objectives?

The second variable, is the importance of brands/positioning in that particular market. If I am working in the fashion sector, brands are ultra important because consumer choices are related to the identity they want to project, if I am in the paper napkin market the brand is much less important. 

The third variable, is price positioning/perception. Does my product/service have a balanced price compared to its competitors, is it consistent with the perceived quality of my product? Do we have a price advantage or disadvantage? 

The fourth variable will be the degree of consumer loyalty to the products/services of the market where we are. If we imagine, for example, TV/internet services, the degree of loyalty is enormous and is usually protected by contracts. This means that to convert someone into a loyal customer we will have to build and nurture a relationship over months or years and wait for the right moment.

The answer to all these questions will determine the digital strategy but also the greater or lesser need to have support from other disciplines such as offline advertising, design or public relations.

4º Define a communication plan

I'll start by saying that not every business needs a communication plan, but everyone will benefit if they have one. There are many reasons to have a communication plan but I highlight two reasons that have a huge impact on the business and the bottom line:

The first reason is synergies.

It's a rule that I've learned over 20 years of working in the communications industry and that I see little of in books, which is the huge synergies that exist between different media. In digital this is even more true at different levels, in that the algorithms of all media are programmed to value external links and references to the same topic/content coming from different sources.

To be able to take advantage of these synergies we need time to create different contents, involve partners and media. Without time to do this our actions are just blanks and don't reach a tenth of their potential.

The second reason is called seasonality. In virtually every business there are huge effects of seasonality. Without a plan and acting only when someone remembers or has a good idea, you run the risk of communicating the right product at the wrong time or vice versa.

A plan helps us to think in a structured way about what makes sense to communicate at what time of year, choosing the most appropriate times to communicate a product/service to a certain audience. In digital, seasonality has huge impacts on the acquisition cost.

In this sense our communication plan must contain all the months of the year, the products/services that we are going to promote in each month, the publics to whom we are going to communicate, and the means we are going to use to do so.

5º Digital Performance Management

We have goals, we have a digital strategy, we have a communication plan, it remains for us to implement the strategy and monitor results.

It is often said that no plan survives the first battle, and this is true sometimes in digital, all the more so because after a few days you can immediately see whether or not your strategy/plan is working.

That's one of the things I like about digital. There is no bullshit. It either works or it doesn't. There are no impressions or perceptions. There are results and rates.

At Gigantic we usually say, the work on digital never ends and even after campaigns launched or optimizations made, it is important to have a permanent monitoring of traffic performance and conversion always comparing the results with international benchmarks of results. 

This approach is crucial to be able to analyze the success of the digital strategy. At Gigantic we do all this monitoring, and even when the metrics are not at desirable levels, the performance management team produces actionable insights for the various project teams to intervene in the various assets, whether they are the website, campaigns, email marketing or others.

One last note of thanks to Diogo Azevedo who helped me in writing this article.

A hug to you all. João Félix da Costa

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