In late 2014, we made a big change in what was then Bosweb Systems. We launched the Digital Service Plan, a brand new way of servicing our clients month-to-month with a long-term, strategic focus.
This was a very different concept from working project-to-project or with discrete chunks of pre-paid hours.
Instead, we were offering our clients a 12 month partnership with only a “big picture” idea of what we’d be completing in that time.
Our new vision was welcomed by lots of clients, and some came on board, becoming major contributors to the success of our rebrand and continued growth in 2015.
Twelve months down the track and some clients have increased their plans, some decreased, and we’ve all learnt a lot about how to make these work for everyone. We’ve listened to our clients and taken onboard their feedback, along with our team’s, on how we can work together more efficiently and effectively.
We realised that we needed to answer some important questions:
How do we make sure that an effective digital strategy is developed?
How do we make sure that it’s implemented properly and reliably?
How do we measure the results and know if it’s been successful?
Making strategic vision a reality
We talk a lot about strategy in Big Blue Digital, and for good reason. Without a strategy, you have no focus, no plan, no goal posts, no measure of success.
Our Digital Service Plans (DSPs) are built with strategy in mind, but we were missing one piece of the puzzle: the internal strategy for successfully planning, implementing and measuring each client’s digital strategy!
Over the last two months, we’ve been re-defining our Digital Service Plan structure to make it easier to plan, implement and measure the work we do. More consistent, more reliable, more predictable and more valuable.
If you’re already or soon to be a Digital Service Plan client, you’ll be experiencing the benefits of this new structure very soon!
But for those of you who aren’t in a position to become a client yet, don’t worry - I’m going to share with you the secrets to trying it yourself.
How to plan, implement & measure your own Digital Strategy
1. Complete the Digital Business Model Canvas
We start top-level. Think about your business objectives, your customers, what partners you could share content with, what channels you currently use, and what kind of resources you realistically have.
To do this, we complete the Digital Business Model Canvas.
This is a thought-exercise to get you started - it doesn’t result in a strategy by itself, but it makes you think about some important things!
Action: Complete the Digital Business Model Canvas (with our form or “offline”) and record your answers for later reference.
2. Assess your Ecosystem
Everything your business does online fits somewhere within your Digital Ecosystem, and before you can plan for the future, you need to know what its current status is.
Read more about the Digital Ecosystem and download a copy of the visual framework.
Action 1: Print out the Ecosystem framework and tick off what you have and what you think you need.
Step two in assessing your current status is recording some baseline metrics. You should write down how each element in your Ecosystem is currently performing, so you know when you’ve improved and by how much.
When we do this audit for our clients, we have an extensive list of standard metrics to record. For your audit, visit the tracking or “analytics” area for each element (if it exists), and export a report for the past 30 days or just write down some of the key numbers.
Action 2: Record the key metrics for the past 30 days for each Ecosystem element.
3. Write your strategy
At this stage, we run a Discovery Workshop with most of our clients where we go through the Canvas and Ecosystem Audit and our strategic recommendations. The result is a document with a Strategy and Tactics for achieving the goals of each Ecosystem element
.For each element, we document its:
Why do we have this element? What general things are we trying to achieve with it?
What steps are necessary to achieve these objectives? What do we need to plan, design, build, set up, research, document, kick off etc.? Who will do them?
3. Goals & KPIs
How will we know when we’ve succeeded? Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.! What specific metrics or KPIs will we look at to measure the goal?
It might seem like a simple structure, but the content in this document can be invaluable.
So how does a small business figure all this out by themselves?
The short answer is, that you just might not be able to do it all. But you can and should try it!
Every business should be able to define their objectives for each element in their Ecosystem. It helps to have an understanding of the general audience and best practices of a medium to understand how to best use it, but that shouldn’t stop you from setting some objectives, even if you later on discover that they need to change.
You can also decide on some sort of activities for each element, even if it’s just “Source somebody to build this for us”! You should be able to set up and get started with most of the elements in the the Social Media and Content Marketing facets, at least.
Once you’ve worked out what you can take on yourself, then you have a good scope for hiring someone to help fill in the gaps.
Setting goals for each element is really important. It helps to have a strong understanding of what metrics are available and what they really mean, so you can tie them back to your business objectives. Make sure that your chosen metrics mean that you’re becoming known, building fans, gaining leads and making sales. If a particular number doesn’t imply growth in any of these areas, it’s probably not worthy as a goal.
Action: Write down each Ecosystem element that you currently have or plan to implement. Define your objectives (why), activities to undertake (what) and goals (measure of success).
4. Set your 12 month Roadmap
We’re in the process of building a Partnership Roadmap with each of our Digital Service Plan clients, which defines the projects we’ll be working on, ongoing work each of us will do, and when meetings, reports and audits are due.
Once you have a list of activities to start on, you can make one for yourself. Make it eye catching and easy to read, then print it out and put it somewhere prominent where you and anyone else involved in bringing your strategy to life can see it every day.
What to include on your Roadmap:
General timeframes for each main piece of work.
eg. “Complete blog editorial calendar - end Feb 2016”
Ongoing work, with frequencies and responsibilities.
eg. “Monthly blog post - Write Tuesdays, Publish Fridays - Mary”
Regular reviews. Set aside times to check-in with how you’re progressing on your activities and against your goals.
These can be weekly, monthly or quarterly, and I recommend planning a different type of review for each of these timeframes.For example:
“Every Monday - quick chat about last week and plan for this week”
“First Thursday of each month - meeting to review what we’ve done, overview of metrics and make sure next month’s plan is still correct”
“First Thursday of each quarter - sit down meeting to conduct monthly meeting in more detail”
Action: Create a simple table (in Word, or even Canva) to create your Roadmap. Complete it with the activities you’ve already decided on and have everyone involved commit to whatever regular reviews you put in the Roadmap. Print it out and put it up!
5. Stop, check, refine
This is where you set up some monitoring and conduct your reviews.
The digital environment and business in general are always changing (and at a fast pace). We always need to STOP. CHECK. REFINE our strategy, plans and activities. If things aren’t working, make changes until you get the results. Marketing is a moving beast and not all activities touch the customer's “sweet spot” first time round. Use your analytics tools to help measure the activities KPIs.
You can monitor each element in your Ecosystem through their native analytics or “stats” area (eg. Facebook Insights) or use tools that collate reports for you. Here are a few ones to start with:
Remember to focus on metrics that support your strategic goals (they mean something and you can take action from them).
Stop, to have your regular reviews (by yourself or with your team).
Check your KPIs, goals and if you achieved all your planned activities.
Refine your plan for the next period of time. Update your planned activities and consider if you should change your KPIs or strategy.
Take the plunge
Yes, doing all of this takes even longer than this blog post takes to read, but it’s worth it. (We are here to help!)
Without thinking strategically, considering your audience, setting goals and reviewing your progress regularly, you’ll continue to muddle along online without knowing if you’re getting any real return on investment.
Any business should be able to attempt each step I’ve recommended themselves, but if it’s a bit overwhelming, you don’t have time, or you’re just after a professional’s touch, we would love to talk to you about your Digital Strategy.