Ecosystem is a word that comes from ecology, or the study of the relationships between organisms and their physical space. It’s a word that speaks of interdependencies, symbiotic relationships and interactions.
Biologists in this field know that no one organism is wholly independent; each relies on the other for basic survival.
So, why start with a biology lesson?
Every month, our most read blog post without fail is our Digital Ecosystem overview from October 2015.
A year later, much in the digital space has evolved (to get Darwinian, the weaker platforms have died off and only the strongest will survive). However, the interdependent and connected nature of the Digital Ecosystem remains the same.
An Ecosystem is not just the sum of it’s parts
It is important to note that each part (we like to refer to them as facets) of the Digital Ecosystem is different. Through them you can reach unique audiences, share different types of information and progress specific goals.
However, do not confuse each facet’s individuality with complete independence.
Your unique Digital Ecosystem will be a reflect of your business, and your goals. No two ecosystems should look alike.
Ecosystems rely on connections. Your Digital Ecosystem is no different.
But where do you start?
Bring it all together
Your brand, vision, mission - your business’s very reason for being - will be the glue that binds your Digital Ecosystem together. When mapping out your ecosystem and plan of attack, always consider how each facet can work together to meet your goal.
Maybe you want to increase sales of a certain product by 5% or be recognised as the number one employer in your field. What messages (via your brand, Tone of Voice) will you communicate to reach this goal? What channels and tactics will you use to get there?
If you’re ever in doubt over next steps, or doubting the purpose of one of the facet’s of your ecosystem, come back to this point.
Build your foundation
Your web presence is your home in the digital space. It's yours. You're not renting like on social or paid search or advertising. It is the digital element that houses your content. It will receive and convert your leads, capture information and intelligence on your traffic and customers, and enable you to publish information or messages – allowing you to be smarter through more targeted content and initiatives.
Consider all the ecosystem elements attached to Web, and how you can use them to help drive you towards your objectives. Ensure that your are clear about what content should be published in each area.
Driving it forward
Do platforms or content come first? In many ways, Marshall McLuhan’s statement ‘the medium is the message’ holds true.
Your platform might drive how you present your content, but your message should be clear and platform agnostic. Having this consistent content approach is what will fuel your activity across the board, and create the connections and interdependencies needed for a thriving ecosystem.
Choose the platforms you’ll use to share your content based on which best meet your goals. There is no point having snapchat, for example, if your customers will never use it. Your Digital Ecosystem might include the following facets,
The nature of your business will help you determine what social media channels you should actively engage with, and the nature of messages you should publish.
Email & Marketing Automation
Think about how you can nurture and drive leads through your sales funnel using email. Read our recent posts, 5 Planning Steps to Make the Most of Your Sales Funnel or Warning: You Might be Losing Money Without a CRM, for more information.
People get really scared by blogs. They feel the pressure to write award winning literature (is this you? Read I Give Good Copy for some great tips). But make sure this wonderful way of engaging and proving your expertise stays out of the too hard basket.
Retargeting & Remarketing
The digital sales technique that returns over 300% ROI. Need we say more? Luckily, we’ve said it already, teaching you how to optimise every sales opportunity with retargeting and showing how retargeting really pays dividends.
As we said twelve months ago, “[The Digital Ecosystem] can be overwhelming, but the potential is huge. Start with one element and, in no time, you’ll be on the path to having an integrated, outcomes focussed Digital Ecosystem that’s unique to your business.
BONUS - The examples
Now, let's compare the digital ecosystems of two distinct businesses who - just by focusing on the elements that make sense for their business - have been able to avoid 'shiny light syndrome' to take real steps toward their goals.
Uncle Pete's Toys
At the start of our partnership, the Uncle Pete’s Toys digital ecosystem was not something the business considered. It wasn’t very sophisticated - and it didn’t need to be. The POS system handled all sales and inventory, and Facebook allowed the business to share new products with their regular shoppers.
Now, the POS still sits at the centre of their ecosystem. But, it is supported by their BigCommerce store, a stand-alone product sync app, and payment gateways through PayPal and Stripe. Customer details are filtered through a connector app into ActiveCampaign, which collects data on their purchasing behavior, interests and engagement, and also handles email marketing and marketing automation. More and more customers are also able to find the store through paid and organic Facebook and Instagram. With a focus on bringing their 'toy supermarket' to regional and remote customers who couldn't always get to the store, while retaining the integrity of their original processes and systems, this mix works.
Want to know more about how we helped to bring the magic of toys to Australian shoppers? Read the full Uncle Pete's Toys case study
ALPMA’s needs were complex. Although none of us probably appreciated just how complex at the outset.
From one humble Adobe Business Catalyst
website, we have built a range of custom tools to help them better manage their time, resources, events and members. This system manages everything from events bookings and payments to hiding and displaying content to certain members. While their collection of bespoke applications and website is complex, this one-stop-shop means that their ecosystem is very simple. Their member communciations efforts are also supported by CampaignMonitor, which they use for email marketing.
You can dive into how we helped make managing legal eagles a breeze in our ALPMA case study.
- Update March 2019 -
Yep - we've updated the Digital Ecosystem model to better reflect the changing digital landscpe. We've farewelled some of the tools that lived in our first interation (farewell Google+) and layered in more references to your brand messaging. All-in-all the message remains the same - you need to pay attention to all facets of the Digital Ecosystem to find digital success.