Most people using the word strategy do not know what it really means. Some may use complicated jargon and discuss buzzwords, but in short it’s how you are to reach your goals and sustain it. The digital landscape is very fast moving and needs constant, competitive execution to keep up. By digital I mean the front facing applications of an organization and its platform, optimization, and execution from acquisition to final delivery. Zappos is a brilliant example that was a pioneer in simplifying the online store. The market space is tight and constantly changing from new hype technologies like Ruby to AngularJS. Here are five golden rules to follow in maintaining a competitive edge.

1. User Experience

UX, UX, & UX. User experience is key. The customer is always right and if they are not happy with the user experience, they are not going to be a brand advocate. User Experience starts with what your client sees first and it should invoke a strong connection with the product or service, that includes for today’s tastes a simple sleek design and information readily available.

2. Speed and Reliability

Did you know the majority of people exit out of a page that takes them longer than five seconds to load? Five seconds. Speed is important, think about the last time you did an online search, even seeing the load bar with today’s platforms is a no-no. Reliability is another key, 404’s on webpages and mixed outputs given the same input is just wrong. Whatever process your organization has in place should be as streamlined as possible, if it’s for an online shop the customer should be able to add to cart to entering in payment information as easily as possible and if it’s a specialized service and they have questions they should be able to contact an expert at any time (which is now prevalent with the use of chat bots).

3. Data Collection, Mining, and Execution

Chances are your organization has a vast pool of data. Most just don’t know it yet. Past sales? That’s a lot of vital information from demographics to seasonal patterns. Web analytics, past advertising campaigns successes, and more are just more examples. If you don’t have a lot of data to work with, then start collecting. From A/B tests to installing a couple lines of Google Analytics code you can do a lot more to enhance your strategy.

4. Identify and Target

If you’re looking to sell luxury cars chances are you wouldn’t advertise to students in Siberia. That’s why it’s important to first identify, then target. Perhaps a little harder than A/B testing is multivariate testing, and it’s worth it. If you have a mobile app you can tinker with the UI and different modules to see what fits your users the best. Targeting is so important that one could argue that Google (and it’s 89% percent of revenue due in part to analytical marketing) is due to supreme targeting.

5. Lead with a hook

Just like this article started with a hook, you need to lead your users and future partners with a hook. This does not have to be a headline. It could be, for some, a product. Others introduce a white paper on a niche topic that would be of interest and help to people. Salesforce for example lets all IT professionals and executives know it has the best all in one workspace that can declutter aging legacy systems.

Digital strategy is important right now and there’s reasons that consulting companies from IBM to Infosys are hiring bright minds to help the largest of companies. To be a company that survives in this age you need to adapt to have the best digital presence and maintain it with the new cutting edge technologies. You could have the best products, but still lose out just as Xerox did to Microsoft and

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