The Three Most Important Elements of a Long-Term Digital Strategy

It’s true, the idea of making a long-term digital strategy isn’t as popular as it should be.

Over the past few years, businesses have gotten caught up in implementing quick and easy tactics instead of building strategies and plans that are long-lasting and sustainable. In order to truly build a long lasting and sustainable brand, you need to start by thinking about the future and not just what will generate short term buzz and traffic. This doesn’t mean you have to stop thinking about the short-term or that generating buzz is less important. It just takes a different type of thinking to create a brand that is truly sustainable and can transcend into the future.

The idea of having a long-term digital strategy is one that hasn’t been around for too long. Digital marketing is still a relatively new concept which is why so many businesses have a hard time understanding how it works. A digital strategy that can sustain itself into the future needs to be built on a foundation that isn’t any different from a strategy that was built on traditional principles.

Here are the three key principles that make for an effective long-term digital strategy. Make sure you keep them in mind when you build your own strategy:

Focus on Creating Valuable Content

Create content that people will find useful for years to come. Conduct groundbreaking research. Do surveys and publish quality content that is educational, entertaining or engaging. It’s really that simple when it comes down to the idea of “value” and marketing.

The folks at KissMetrics an analytics startup, have a deep understanding of providing value to your target audience. The company offers businesses with analytics software that gives them the answers to key questions that they cant get from simply scanning Google Analytics.

Recognizing their target audience as marketers or those who are in charge of marketing within a startup; they release a wide variety of rich content through their blog. Some of the most highly valuable content on their site is their marketing guides as they have developed marketing guides for Quora, Reddit and even Pinterest.

Identifying the needs and wants of your audience is the first step in creating industry valued content. We’ve already talked about the importance of knowing your target audience but now it’s time to think about what kind of content they would be interested in reading. What type of content would their colleagues or even your competition be interested in reading?

The worlds most popular CRM, Salesforce, uses their blog to cement their position as leader in the space by creating and sharing thought leadership content that is filled with insights and best practices. They talk about everything from customer service and sales to mobile and the power of the cloud, they cover everything and anything within their space and constantly push their story as a leader through valuable, relevant and timely content.

To do any of this, you need to identify who you’re talking to and what they really want to read. Not every “social media business” needs to actually talk about social media. The folks at BufferApp started their blog by providing people with Twitter tips, they then started talking about general social media tips and have since shifted their focus to life hacks, productivity and customer happiness.

If this tells you anything, it’s that your gut instinct may not be correct. You need to share content and identify which pieces of content are the most interesting to your audience. Track not only shares and likes but also track which pieces of content are leading to key performance indicators. Once you start to see trends, think about whether or not it’s time to pivot your blog and generate content that is valuable to your customers.

Establish Authentic Relationships with Influencers

It’s one thing to talk about yourself, it’s another to have someone else do it. When you can generate a conversation about your brand through a third party, you have the ability to stand out and earn an extra layer of credibility. Too often do businesses get caught up in the idea that they control their message and that third parties aren’t just as important as their own voice.

Identify influencers who are relevant in the minds of your target audience and build relationships with them. Whether you’re building relationships with bloggers or with people who are simply icons within your industry, these relationships can help you in the long run.

Digital marketing is no different than the real world. It’s all about who you know. If a user notices that an influencer is tweeting positive things about your product, you’re more likely to see that user engage in a positive way with your brand. A few consistent and positive interactions with influencers and your brand could have an opportunity to stand out as a true leader in its space.

To kick start this initiative, identify people who are influential and have a solid following within your industry or within the circles your target audience hang. Immerse yourself into their world and try to build authentic relationships with these people. Instead of simply trying to pitch them on why you’re so cool or interesting, spend time engaging with them on twitter and commenting on their blog posts.

Create Stories that Live Longer than You Do

Ask yourself when you launch a product or launch an update whether or not it’s something people will talk about in the future. People are still talking about the 1984 advertisement put out by Apple because it has stood the test of time. It was groundbreaking for its time and delivered a unique and unexpected message that is still looked at as a great piece of content.

When you create content and tell the story of your brain take a good hard look in the mirror at the quality of the story. Too often do I meet with clients who want to tell a compelling story but are working within a box that limits not only creativity but also the stories ability to truly shine. It’s important to get out of the way and inject your stories with emotion so they can go viral.

If you want to tell a story worth telling, you need to be willing to get uncomfortable. You need to embrace the idea of doing something that has never been done before and be okay with putting your neck on the line for the chance of creating something special.

When you think of most Enterprise content marketing strategies you think of the standard corporate assets. You probably think about the hours put into a mission statement and vision along with the thousands of dollars spent on creating a brand look and feel that kind of replicates everyone else in the space.

MailChimp took a different approach. Instead of doing the expected, they created a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a monkey as its mascot. The brands DNA is inherently memorable and as such, they’ve become one of the leaders in Enterprise email marketing software.

Conclusion

While a long term digital strategy might not save you if your product sucks, it will definitely help you in driving sustainable revenue if your product is good. Bottom line, long term thinking is a must in a world where digital is quickly becoming the number one source for information in every industry. In the future, it will be the number one source for purchases across more industries than we can imagine.

What elements do you think are also important pieces of a long-term digital plan?

Photo Credits: Image one by marcgelinas and image two by whiteafrican.

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