Characterized by continuing crises on every front from leadership to environmental to economic and of course health, 2020 was a year that reinforced the importance of digital worldwide. We saw transformation in even the most established (some might say resistant to change) industries. As so many consumers experienced the blurring of lines between their working and personal worlds, they are finding cause to reevaluate their own digital lives. This incredible shift in consumer behavior has captured the attention of the C-suite in a way never seen before.
Unprecedented shifts in work/life arrangements and this reevaluation of digital consumer behavior have accelerated digital and even crystalized its importance exponentially, creating a seat for digital strategy at boardroom tables worldwide.
Moving forward in this direction, strategists need to step up and demand continued attention (and spend) by connecting the C-suite directly to the value of digital across departments. In this article, we’ll consider three key components for communicating the importance of digital-first strategies to decision-makers in your organization.
Attribution is an ongoing struggle for marketers worldwide. In fact, thinking about channels as competing with one another is where the struggle often begins.
Today’s digital strategies must be multi-channel, always-on, continually monitored, and agile in response to data and insights. Rather than thinking of performance in terms of channels competing against one another, you need to be able to communicate to your C-suite their complementary nature and the value of the strategy as a whole.
The key to justifying spend comes in communicating value. Aim to drive an understanding of the synergies that can be created when your digital strategy connects to departments and lines of business across the organization.
From customer acquisition, retention, service, and support, to employer branding and employee engagement, you need different digital content and channels to support different parts of your business.
Set-and-forget strategies are no longer sufficient. Organizations must commit to monitoring and pivoting in real-time, requiring that your C-suite need is digitally aware.
Search marketers can offer up a great perspective here, but make sure they know that your digital thinking and expertise aren’t limited to search marketing. SEOs can make a great bridge between the various areas of the business, as they tend to have the best view of big picture customer journey and experience.
Leveraging that insight and putting meaningful digital reporting on the agenda can foster collaboration across the organization. It can also provide executives across disciplines with an understanding of how data can support continuous improvement in their respective areas.
How do we keep on top of what’s trending and how we’re performing relative to industry benchmarks? Decision-makers must understand and commit to monitoring, reporting on data and insights, and most importantly, modifying strategies to meet the needs of changing consumer behaviors while maximizing spend.
Once we accept that a multi-channel strategy is demanded to reach customers throughout their journey, we can begin to strategize with an expectation that ongoing data review will support continuous enhancement. As a starting point, your digital strategy should detail how each channel fits as part of the overall strategy.
Email marketing, despite being oldest channel of the group, tends to outperform some newer channels. What is critical here, as in the rest of your digital strategy, is understanding the role of the channel relative to the wider customer experience.
The right data and insights can support the development of email campaigns that are genuinely relevant to your customers by providing you with an understanding of how, where, and when your customers are likely to open your message.
Used at the right stage of the customer journey, personalized and intuitive email communications can support and deepen customer relationships.
Today’s consumer expects companies to deliver across more channels in more formats than ever before. Social media channels offer organizations the opportunity to connect with their customers in real time, whenever and wherever they are.
The ability to target efficiently, reach mass audiences, and A/B test content with ease makes social a cost-efficient must for your digital strategy. Understanding the behavior and preferences of your customer base will be key to platform selection.
The ability to engage prospects with dynamic ads personalized to them, targeting audiences across a range of variables, presents offers a valuable option to marketers.
Critical in this space is an understanding of your goals and monitoring of ROI in support of refinement over time – a great sandbox for testing keywords and refining ad copy, PPC presents a more costly option than display ads.
How you optimize PPC will depend on the type of advertising you’re doing, which ultimately comes back to your intent. Search ads are great for driving sales, for example, while display ads may perform best for building awareness.
Your content strategy should be designed to engage and support your customers at each stage of the buying process, with the goal of earning their business and fostering ongoing relationships.
Understanding when and where your customers engage with your content is the starting point for success. From product and service content on simple web pages to whitepapers, infographics, articles, and blogs, you’ll need data to inform the inbound journeys you design.
Ongoing monitoring and analysis will help you to connect and engage your prospects, with refinements supporting you to direct resources efficiently, improving the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts over time.
Data, market trends and consumer behavior. Search behavior is, at its core, a window into the mind of your customer. The glue that keeps it all together, a strong search strategy is key to a holistic approach.
Search data and insights feed all channel campaigns and SEOs speak the language of digital. In short, the data and insights that search can provide are integral to how departments can support one another from insight sharing to process optimization and keeping a daily pulse on consumer behavior.
Moving past the traditional marketing technology stack to a fully integrated platform can support not only process automation and efficiency but also meaningful communications with your C-suite.
AI-powered technology can help to quickly analyze and illustrate a company’s place in the market, providing insights across a range of areas and opening a meaningful dialogue with the C-Suite.
Even so, truly staying ahead of the curve requires not simply understanding what your customers want and need but collaborating across teams to translate digital insights, plus your industry and market-specific knowledge, into action. Speaking the language of your C-Suite—results-focused and data-driven—is critical to continued buy-in.
When presenting results and insights, understand that subtlety is not your friend. Evangelize your successes by quantifying the impact each channel is having. Make clear how you intend to act on these insights.
Data-driven digital awareness is of critical importance for the entire organization, yes. But you’re the expert. Own it. Celebrate it.
A recent study from Deloitte found that the top factors driving CMO success centered on being the voice of the customer at the leadership table, an enterprise-wide business mindset, and knowing how to use customer data and analytics. Keep these in mind when presenting to your C-Suite and choosing the most viable and efficient digital channels such as SEO.
In a time when C-suite attention is focused on digital transformation, the opportunity is rife to embed value-adding insight, sharing, and collaboration at senior tables.
Keeping digital awareness top of mind will help to develop knowledge and understanding across your C-suite. And by regularly communicating and celebrating digital successes, you’ll support ongoing attribution of digital as a key element of the company’s success across lines of business.
Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.
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