Whether you're a digital veteran or an online newbie, every business nowadays needs to have some kind of digital strategy (if you don't have one yet, consult our article on why you need a digital strategy). Every year, it becomes increasingly clear that if your potential clients cannot find you online, you might as well not exist. How do you ensure that you can grow your business with the power of the web? With a good digital strategy that's adapted to the times, of course.

For our first post of 2014, we would like to give you some ideas on how to review, reassess and adapt your current digital strategy to a field that changes faster than most people can keep up with (that's why we're here!). If you don't have an online strategy yet, consider this a basic guide to building one for 2014.

Strategy basics: Look at your goals

A good digital strategy uses your business goals as a starting point. Without clear business goals, you can't really come up with good digital goals that support your business in the way you want it to go. Here are some examples of goals and how digital strategies can help.

Increase traffic to your brick-and-mortar business

If you have a business with an actual storefront, one of your goals probably is to increase the amount of people who walk into the door. You can do this in many ways: a more attractive storefront, street signs and traditional publicity. But the digital realm can also be useful to you. Just think of Yelp recommendations, UrbanSpoon reviews and TripAdvisor comments and how these influence whether people are going to visit your store or not. Ignoring these review sites can come at a big cost to your reputation, both online and offline.

A good digital strategy for this goal includes regular monitoring of review sites and answering promptly to comments and complaints. It also, of course, requires you to have a website of your own (get one if you don't) where people can look up more information about your business and your products or services. It may also involve keeping a good presence on social media as well as paid advertising on appropriate online channels.

Increase traffic to your website

If your business is exclusively or mostly online, then the equivalent of more traffic through your doors is more traffic to your website. Digital marketing provides many tools to increase traffic: paid advertisements, an informative and well-maintained blog, guest posting and a good presence on social media. Cutting through the noise of the web gets more and more complex every year, but there are tried and true ways to cut through the noise: good engagement with visitors, content with great value, an e-book or speaking at conferences.

Exploding your website traffic requires a perfect storm of social media engagement, interest from influencers and having a strong, original message. How are you going to achieve this in 2014?

Increase online sales

This goal is often related to increasing traffic to a website–but increased traffic doesn't always mean increased sales. Sometimes a website may have many visitors who give up because the buying process is too complex, or the calls to action are not clear, or your payment process does not seem secure enough. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  • Is it easy to buy something on my website? Can someone buy a product with a few clicks or does it require a long process that might discourage new customers? Try buying one of your products and assess the process.
  • Are visitors asked to take action early in the process? After they are on your website, can they clearly know what you have to sell? What are my calls to action and where do they appear in the buying process?
  • Does my website seem trustworthy? Would someone who has no prior knowledge of the company or the product feel safe buying from me?

These are only a few ideas, but these should get you thinking about your sales process and how it might affect your overall performance.

Launch a new product or service

If your goal for 2014 is to launch a new product or service, the most important thing to do is to reach and attract the people who are most likely to buy it. In this case, building a buyer persona and developing an outreach strategy will help you find the right audience for your new product or service. Add to this the basic strategic points mentioned above, and you have everything you need to attract clients and sell your products, both online and off.

New online tactics: go where the people are

There are millions of websites on the web. How do yo get people to come to yours? Here are some tactics to adopt to get the most out of the new trends in digital marketing.

  • Get a Twitter account and monitor it closely. People who contact businesses on Twitter expect a near-instant response. Never leave your Twitter followers hanging.
  • Get on Pinterest. One in three American women are now on Pinterest. That's not counting men, or other countries. Getting on Pinterest is becoming as essential as a Facebook page.
  • Change your Facebook approach. As Facebook changes, so must you. Facebook now rewards a high number of social reactions–likes, comments and shares. Make content that provoques reactions to take full advantage of these new parameters.
  • Write more. Content is the uncontested driver of traffic. Writing more, and on various outlets (guest blogging, Medium, Huffington Post, etc.) in addition to your own blog will help bring more eyeballs to your website. If you don't have time to write more, we offer copywriting services.
  • Send newsletters. Email newsletters are still the best way to contact customers. The strength of a business (especially online) is not evaluated by the number of visitors but by the number of email subscribers. If you don't have a newsletter yet, it's the right time to start one.

These are a few tactics to adopt for the coming year–things change fast and a new channel can appear, but these are basic techniques to help maximize the return on your digital efforts.

Online tracking: hunt for data

Tracking specialists would tell you that this is the age of data. Although we wouldn't necessarily want to live in a world that's all data all the time, it's important to keep an eye on your traffic and sales data to make the most of your digital strategy in 2014. Here are some basic tips to get you acquainted with data this year.

  • Get to know Google Analytics. Google Analytics is your friend. It has tons of interesting data on your website traffic and visitors. If you're not sure where to start, consult Google's guide or contact us for some one-on-one training.
  • Keep social media statistics. Most social media channels will provide some stats for their users, but there are more sophisticated tools out there that can help you track follows, likes, shares, tweets and pins. 
  • Set goals. It's not everything to know how to read data: you must decide what data is important and what numbers you want to see change. Setting specific traffic or data goals can help focus your online marketing efforts.

Once you know your way around the graphs and tables provided by Google and other online tracking tools, it's easy to get a glimpse of how your business is doing. You cannot effectively implement a digital strategy without keeping an eye on the numbers. If you're not too good with that stuff, we can also keep track of your numbers for you.

Is 2014 your best online year yet?

With these ideas and tips, you're well on your way to making 2014 your best online year yet. Focus your efforts towards specific goals and see your online marketing objectives met–and even surpassed! If you need help with any part of your strategy, don't hesitate to contact us for expert digital marketing advice. 

What are your business goals for 2014? How do you integrate digital marketing in your general strategy to help reach these goals? Share your ideas, thoughts and tips in the comments!

Image by Sean MacEntee

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