26 Jul 2023
9 min read

What makes a good digital strategy?



Marketing Manager

“Digital strategy” can sometimes feel like quite a big, abstract concept. And it can mean different things to different people.

To borrow one definition:

“A digital strategy defines an organisation’s priority initiatives for future investment in digital technology to make a business more competitive by digitalisation of its processes and review of its business model.”

Let’s put it a little more simply. Your digital strategy sets out how you will use digital tools and technology – websites, apps, platforms, software, and devices – to achieve your business goals and help you stand out from your competitors.

Having a strategic approach to digital is vital in keeping your business moving forward. New ways for you to differentiate and streamline using technology are constantly emerging. Standing still means letting others in the market – aka your competitors – move ahead.

There are many facets of a digital strategy that touch all areas of your business. From HR to marketing, there’ll be digital tools driving your processes. A good digital strategy blends customer-facing and internal tools to drive towards aspirational goals.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the key considerations for a successful strategy around websites and digital products, and how this can help you achieve your goals.

Digital strategy and the customer journey

90% of customers expect a seamless experience across digital channels. You simply can’t afford to ignore how digital drives the customer journey. Think about what people can achieve with a few clicks or taps. How will it reflect on your business and your brand if interacting with you isn’t easy?

A good digital strategy considers the customer journey and where and how digital fits in. Where does your customer experience fall down currently? Where could digital be used more effectively to enhance or improve the experience? Which systems or tools need to speak to each other to make this happen? What do your competitors do (or not do) with digital that you can capitalise on?

Where we find a lot of organisations tend to fall down is that they consider their digital experiences from an internal perspective, and not from the customer’s perspective. During strategic planning, it’s vital to not just consider the customer perspective but to engage the customer directly where you can to understand how they interact with you currently, and where problems or opportunities for improvement are. We’ve covered this in more detail in this blog post.

Creating a vision of what’s possible

When creating a digital strategy, it’s important to think about what could be possible with the right tools. You should avoid limiting yourself to what’s possible with what you have now.

To illustrate this in practice, McKinsey give an example of a bank that reduced the number of fields on its new account online application form from 45 to 35 and reported this as a successful optimisation of the customer journey. In reality, they could’ve reduced the number of fields to 15 and actually pre-populated 10 of those fields from external sources, with the right integrations.

Just like considering the customer journey, often this “within the box” thinking comes from having a very internalised view. You know what you can achieve with the tools and technologies you currently have at your disposal. Adaptable regularly partner with organistions to broaden their horizons by applying our expertise of the latest technologies and how they can be applied.

The role of your website

Your website is just one of many digital touchpoints your customers may hit. But it’s likely that your website will be one of, if not the first, digital experiences a person has with your organisation. So it’s vital to set your stall out early in terms of what kind of experience they can expect from you.

Meeting expectations around your website

Your website is usually the focal point of how users interact with you digitally. As a result, they’ll have some expectations about how it performs. Delivering a world-class user experience should be top priority. This means considering elements like performance (load speeds, load efficiency), responsiveness (mobile-first design, browser and device compatibility) and accessibility. All of these are key factors in meeting expectations and ensuring users don’t get frustrated and explore alternative options.

The objectives of your website

Websites are sometimes seen as “brochure-ware” – i.e. essentially a bit about your company and its history, and your services. But they can be so much more than that, depending on your objectives.

For example, you might want to increase awareness of your brand in your market and position your brand as thought-leaders. For that, you’ll need a solid content strategy, and your website will need the capability to support different types of content (blogs, whitepapers, webinars) and make these visible and accessible to a wide audience.

Another important objective for your website might be lead generation. If that’s the case, you’ll need to think about specific elements like call-to-actions (what are they, how do you get people to follow them) and enquiry forms in order to identity how you can secure more leads via your website.

Beyond your website

Your website is obviously not the only digital tool you have (or could have) at your disposal. The best digital strategies consider all the technologies available to enhance both the customer experience and increase internal efficiency.

Digital products are defined as any software-enabled product or service that offers some sort of utility. Examples include web apps, native apps, and software-as-a-service platforms. Harnessing these in the right way can bring all sorts of benefits to your organisation and solve complex problems.

MakeRoom is a digital product we created for print company RoomFifty, which allows artists to sell and fulfil art prints directly from their website – creating an additional revenue stream for RoomFifty.

Digital products and the customer journey

Digital products can be used to enhance the customer experience by enabling more self-sufficiency, transparency and personalisation.

For example, a homebuilder might offer a customer-facing portal, accessed via their website, which enables buyers to track the progress of their purchase, upload or access key documents, and create snagging lists. This would streamline what can be a complex, time-consuming and frustrating process by improving transparency and communication and putting some of the power back into the hands of the customer in terms of moving things forward.

Digital products can also help with customer retention by improving how you deliver ongoing support, and also by enabling new ways to promote loyalty and advocacy. An example of the former might be a utility provider enabling customers to log faults or request assistance via a mobile app. On the loyalty and advocacy side, an app like Costa Club which enables you to collect points to spend on free cups of coffee is a fairly easy way to encourage customers to keep coming back.

Digital products as a business tool

The right digital product can benefit your business internally, too. Harnessing the right tools in the right way can improve efficiency, help with long-term cost-saving and give you better insight and visibility over key data. An example might be an employee-facing business intelligence dashboard which pulls data from multiple systems and customer-facing tools to bring sales and marketing, support and financial data into one reporting interface. This might be an out-of-the-box Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, but it could also be a custom solution that pulls in more complex data.

Building the right thing, in the right way

Once you’ve set out in your digital strategy what it is you need to create, or build, an important consideration is how this will be achieved. How will everything fit together to create a seamless experience? How can you ensure your product is scalable as you grow and the needs of your customers change? It’s important to consider not just how the user interface will look and function, but how it’ll be supported by the infrastructure, and how you’ll manage content and data, to ensure it’s fit for purpose.

Our mantra at Adaptable is “build the right thing, in the right way”. We evaluate the tools and techniques available for building a product and the associated risks or benefits to find the right solution.

Mitigating risk and planning for the future

A good digital strategy puts in place a framework for continual improvement. Future-proofing your digital strategy is vital to ensuring you get the most out of any investment you make in digital, and that you don’t get left behind.

This includes considering how development and iteration will continue on your website and/or digital products. Not only does this help you stay on top of changes in your industry, the marketplace and your business, but it also helps you save money. In one scenario, we calculated that an organisation could have incurred an additional £23,000 over a 3-year period if they chose to make wholesale changes to their website rather than investing in iterative improvements. Having a roadmap for ongoing improvements and a framework for delivering them is vital to getting the most out of digital.

Summing up

In this post we’ve covered some of the key considerations and facets of a successful digital strategy.

These include:

  • How digital tools and platforms fit in with and enhance the customer journey
  • Having a vision of what could be possible, not just what’s possible within the current ecosystem/infrastructure
  • The role of your website in the digital journey
  • Moving beyond your website and considering how other digital tools could enhance the customer experience and internal efficiency
  • Ensuring that your are investing in and building the right tools, in the right way to support future growth and meet your needs
  • The importance of considering ongoing development to mitigate risk and protect your investment

Looking for more help and advice on developing your digital strategy? Our proven discovery process helps organisations unlock the way forward when it comes to how digital can help them. Get in touch to find out more about how we could help.