Digital Strategy in 2011


The start of a new year heralds a series of articles about predictions for digital trends 1, 2, 3 for the year ahead, but instead I thought I would summarise where I believe we are after the year gone by.

It’s all too easy to start by thinking by platform. For example the last 5 years at least has always been heralded as the year of mobile, and it certainly looks like this year will be the year of the tablet, but it is of course important to think platform-agnostically! It’s also easy to start by thinking about channel. Has online stolen more budget from offline, has paid media spend been nibbled away by social media investment, etc, but again here it is important to think across channels, on & offline and ‘through the line’.

I believe that the most obvious trend for 2010 has been the shift towards thinking about the end results – the outcome & the user experience – and how greater understanding of this can help not only all of your marketing activity but also your business as a whole.

Every business gets to a stage where it realises how important expenditure on research is. That level of awareness is added to by a mix of worry that the research may in some way not be accurate or relevant depending on the methods used. Well it is now more possible than ever to research end users, and in almost real time, to get low cost information that is ready to use. Take a look at the success metrics around Direct Line Insurance’s ‘ideas lab‘ as an example .

For me this shift to the focus on the user experience is a revelation as it also reflects my decision to move out of a direct role in marketing and back into web development where, working with Cubeworks, I now have a great opportunity to align my 10 years experience in SEO with Cubeworks core strength in User Experience Design.

For years Search Engine Optimisation has been the mother of channel-based strategies. It’s always been proven as the most cost effective path to new and returning customers. To an extent it still is, but the problem with search is that it is still dominated by Google, and by an algorithm that has for a long time been showing it’s flaws. A recent post on Stack Exchange sums up Google’s problems currently.

Google are diversifying their offering to benefit their revenue to the extent where people are seeing different results sitting in the same room as eachother. They aren’t trying to fix the problem with their algorithm the way they used to which means that it’s more and more open to abuse. However search won’t be going away any time soon as more people use online more and more regularly, but other avenues of reference are being used more in the decision making process than search alone.

Enter Social Media and all it’s goodness. Sceptics of it’s viability as a business function were finally laid to rest by the news late in 2010 that Google’s algorithm now uses Social Media metrics to influence it’s rankings. Brands can now no longer avoid using Social Media to compete in search. Social Media is now an activity that all aspects of business are involved in.

I believe that the best lessons of 2010 will continue to be the winning investments of 2010. Creating and then correctly leveraging all of your assets, where people are and in a way that they like and find genuinely pleasurable and meaningful to use is the top line of any digital strategy today.

Here’s a fantastic infographic that sums up what’s needed. Reassuringly it’s only 5 years old!

Digital Strategy in 2011

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