What is a digital communication strategy?Written by 1HQ 6 December 2021
From national retail brands to non-profit organisations and government agencies, in today’s business environment, having a well-constructed and properly implemented digital brand communications strategy is essential. Indeed, according to technology research and consulting company Gartner, organisations that successfully implement a digital communications strategy that focuses on personalised messaging for their target audiences can expect a 16% increase in commercial outcomes when compared to those that don’t. And this is just the start.
A well-thought out and professionally crafted strategy can help your organisation increase profits, build brand image and, ultimately, communicate more effectively, helping to ensure core organisational objectives and goals are met. However, creating a digital communications strategy is easier said than done and requires money, time and a lot of patience.
In this blog, we take a deep dive into digital communication strategies, providing a basic guide to this vital digital marketing staple. From describing what digital brand communication actually looks like to explaining why it is so important and how successful strategies can be put in place, continue reading for all you need to know when it comes to digital communication.
What is digital communication?
To put it simply, digital communication describes the various methods of sending and receiving information electronically. From emails and mobile phone calls to smart phone applications, websites and social media interactions, every time information is sent from one device to another digitally, this is an example of digital communications.
Naturally, when it comes to businesses, digital communication typically involves the use of electronic marketing, advertising and search tactics. However, despite often being overlooked, an organisation’s online customer services, as well as internal employee-to-employee communication tools, also fall into the digital communication bracket.
How do brands use digital communication?
Although all brands are different, favouring specific methods of digital communication, many now favour an umbrella approach to marketing that covers a range of communication methods, using a number of platforms. Indeed, in a business environment in which it is becoming increasingly more difficult to be heard or seen, an all-encompassing, unified approach to digital communication is typically required in order to stand out.
There are many types of digital communication channels, both for internal and external use, all of which have their different strengths and weaknesses. Brands use these tools to advertise their products/services, sell their products/services, operate customer services, communicate internally, communicate with partners, corporate clients and other business associates, and more. These tools include everything from basic email, telecommunication systems and websites to social media profiles, search engine tracking systems, and web conferencing tools.
Why is digital communication important?
Digital communication is important because human sociality revolves around communication, and with the technology now available to us, communicating using electronic devices, in many cases, is the most efficient, effective and simplest way to transfer information. Without digital communication, both individuals and brands would have to physically write and send messages/marketing materials through the post if they wanted to communicate with an audience that was not located close by. Now, thanks to digital advances, messages can be delivered instantly via phone, email, website, social media and even cloud.
In this sense, it could be argued that digital communication has been largely responsible for rapidly expanding global markets over the past 100 years and the development of capitalism and consumerism. For this reason, digital communication strategy should be a key part of every success-focussed business.
How to create a digital communication strategy
Although digital communication does also include those tools used for internal communication, when it comes to digital communication strategies, the focus tends to sit with external digital marketing.
While it’s true that creating a digital communications strategy for the first time can be overwhelming, there are a number of steps that can be followed to help your brand produce a skeleton strategy that can be built on. Below we have outlined the four key steps we believe essential in the creation of an effective and ultimately successful digital communications strategy.
- Outline your business objectives
As with any business strategy, identifying what you want to achieve before you start putting a plan together is crucial. To do this, a range of stakeholders involved in the communication-side of your business should be brought together to discuss specific goals. While these targets should be kept realistic, broad goals will work at this stage. For example, you may want to implement digital communications tactics to better grow brand awareness, strengthen customer service offerings, increase social media outreach or simply improve lead volume. Once highlighted, these targets should be kept at the centre of thought as the strategy is put together.
- Identify target audience(s)
After you have identified your business goals, it’s time to determine who you want to reach in terms of your target audience. This process should involve aligning your chosen target audience with your goals by providing answers to a number of general questions. These include:
- Which social channels do your target audience use?
- What type of content do they engage with?
- What do they search for online?
- What devices do they use to communicate?
- What are their expectations of your brand’s website and other communication channels?
- Do they already interact with your brand, or are they a completely new audience?
- Select the most suited communications tactics for your brand
Once you have identified your communication goals and highlighted a specific audience to target, it’s time to select the tactics that may work best for your brand. This process will make up the bulk of your digital communications strategy. This should include a mixture of each tool mentioned above, as well as other digital marketing tactics. These tactics are typically split into two separate areas – owned and paid digital marketing techniques.
Firstly, owned tactics. These techniques include organic search engine optimisation and social media marketing, both of which can improve your online presence and help your website rank higher on search engines simply by improving the content of your site/and or social media output. As well as organic search tactics, owned tactics can also include the use of email marketing. Through sending targeted emails, your brand can build relationships with both old and new customers, leads and/or other prospects.
On the other hand, there are paid tactics. Unlike organic owned techniques, which attempt to bring about improved digital communications through people communicating with your organisation naturally, paid tactics involve paying to make your organisation more visible online, leading to improved communications. Paid tactics typically fall into two categories – paid search and paid social. As the names suggest, paid search helps to drive relevant traffic to your site from search engines, while paid social attempts to increase your brand’s reach on social media.
- Use KPIs and analytics
Finally, before you put your chosen tactics into action, you need to put KPIs (key performance indicators) in place. These metrics, which are designed to help you measure your progress, can be vanity and value metics and typically include data such as:
- Site traffic
- Returning visitors
- Online conversion rates
- Click thru rate
- Customer service resolutions
- Cost per lead
- Brand awareness.
Once you’ve collected this information, you can add it to your chosen goals, audience and tactics to develop your final strategy. Remember – keep your goals and target audience in mind and ensure your chosen tactics are being implemented correctly. If your strategy is successful, you should start to see improvements when measuring processes against your baseline KPIs over time.