Digital disruption is a term that can have you sitting on the edge of your seat, worrying about what digital trend is looming around the corner, waiting to make you change (again) the way you run your business.
Digital disruption is inevitable. However, by implementing the digital strategy defined in this article, you can start to use digital disruption to your advantage.
1. Recognize how Digital Disruption is affecting your business
While the word ‘disruption’ contributes to the negative connotations of the term ‘digital disruption,’ you should view the digital disruptions impacting your industry as not just threats but opportunities.
A trend that might sound like the end for your business may actually be a door opening to bigger, better trade. With every cloud there’s a silver lining, right?
Your digital strategy will be put in place both to successfully minimize the damage caused by digital changes in your industry and to open up opportunities.
The company that recognized digital disruption but decided to ignore it….
Remember Kodak, the company that monopolized cameras and film? Kodak have been portrayed as the organization that ignored the digital disruptions that were looming on the camera and film industry for too long, and then when they eventually joined the digitized party, it was too late and they subsequently filed for bankruptcy in January 2012.
You might not believe it but Steven Sasson, an employee of Eastman Kodak Co., invented the first version of a digital camera in 1975. At first, Sasson’s bosses were skeptical of what he was producing and believed no one would want to view their photographs on a television. He was allowed to continue to explore digital, regardless.
In 1989, Steven Sasson and Robert Hill completed the first DSLR camera prototype, much like the one you see today. After presenting it, the marketing department of Eastman Kodak Co. said that there was no point in selling the camera as it would cannibalize film sales, which was a vital revenue stream for Kodak at the time.
Whilst Kodak did make billions of dollars off the patent for the digital camera, they still took too long to embrace the inevitability of digitization in the camera industry. This appears to be utterly illogical considering they had the upper hand to their competitors from the get go.
Kodak and the digital camera is an exemplary case of letting digital disruption get the better of you and your business. Having a digital strategy in place helps keep you aware of what may be around the corner and how much time you have to adapt to the future changes on the digital front.
2. Align your digital strategy to your business strategy
The thought of creating a digital strategy from scratch can seem a little daunting if you’ve never done it before. In reality, the digital strategy will be closely aligned to your business strategy and it will be including many of the same business goals. So before you dive into it, familiarize yourself with your overall business strategy and goals to see how you can implement them into the digital strategy.
4 Key Components of a Digital Strategy
1. Online Presence
Your online presence includes your business website, mobile optimized website, online reviews, local search displays and social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn etc.). Understanding the Role of the Internet in the Lives of Consumers, a 2012 white paper by Fleishman Hillard, revealed that the Internet outplays friends and families when it comes to influence. When consumers are looking to buy a product or engage in a service, they will most likely do a search for product/service reviews via a search engine or scope out a company via their social media platforms. A strong online presence will instill trust in consumers in your products or services, resulting in a higher conversion rate.
Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool; not only is it easy to use for beginners, it’s free. Whichever analytics tool you decide to use, it’s going to be the most important component of your digital strategy. Analytics is where you are going to analyze the traffic heading to your website, the traffic sources and it measures conversions and sales. By monitoring the analytics of your website regularly, you are going to be able to pinpoint weaknesses and discover new trends that you can apply to your digital strategy.
3. SEO Strategy
The point of an SEO strategy is to get your business placing higher in search engine rankings. The thing to consider when developing your SEO strategy is the keywords that people are searching for when looking for the products or services you provide. You’ll use these keywords to shape your content in blog posts, online articles and throughout your website, especially on your landing pages.
4. Efficiency Through Technology
To ensure your business is running as efficiently as possible, consider employing software for time consuming areas of the day-to-day operations. Today there’s software for almost everything, from accounting to CMS, email marketing to business management. Accounting software could mean you don’t have to hire a bookkeeper; being able to send a newsletter to your customers via email marketing software saves time, looks professional and offers analytics on the receiver’s actions. Using the right software for your business can not only save you countless hours but also money.
By covering these key components in your digital strategy, you will be prepared to confidently adapt to upcoming digital disruptions in your industry and be more capable at minimizing the damage they may create.
3. Determine what your customers want
Think from the customer’s point of view when planning your digital strategy.
Plenty of times businesses make the mistake of selling the product and not the solution. When you think about it, there are going to be many more businesses selling the same product that you’re selling and to differentiate yourself from competitors is to solve the problem that your potential customer is experiencing. You want to convince them that they need your solution to fix their problem.
For example, why do you buy a can of Coke?
We don’t buy a can of coke just because of the shiny red packaging, we buy a can of coke because we want to experience that thirst quenching refreshment. Sell the experience not the cans.
4. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer
Monitor your competition closely to aid you in identifying digital trends across your industry. What are they doing on their websites, social media profiles, blogs, and email marketing sends? What trends can your business apply to its digital strategy to help sales, customer service and product? More importantly, what should you NOT apply?
By keeping your finger on your competitors pulse means you can observe what works and what doesn’t and utilize this information for your own digital strategy. Now, more than ever, people are happy to share almost everything with complete strangers online, especially on Twitter. Listen to what your competitor’s customers are saying about their product or services and use this insight to improve your own services.
Taxi companies around the world ignored their competitors and have taken a hit because of it.
Monitoring competition works both ways. The ride-hailing startups like Uber and Lyft heard the cries of the taxi consumer and built their businesses with their complaints in mind. And instead of the taxi companies identifying the threat these startups were imposing and adapting to the changes that the consumers wanted, they kept to their traditional ways and have lost out as a result.
This was a great example of the consequences of keeping an eye on industry competitors and using the information to your advantage. The startup companies were monitoring the taxi industry to offer a product that solved the consumer’s problem and the taxi industry eventually saw the trend but decided to protest against it instead of assimilating.
What can we take away?
A digital strategy is put in place so that you can forecast the digital disruptions coming your way and help to easily adapt to them or minimize the damage they create.
- Recognize the digital disruptions affecting your business and DON’T ignore them.
- Create your digital strategy with your business goals in mind. What are you wanting to achieve and how can your digital strategy help you reach those goals more effectively?
- Listen to your customers. What do they want or need and how do you solve their problem?
- Watch your competitors closely and use their moves to your advantage.
About the Author: Tess O’Loughlin is a PR and Digital Marketing Executive for Redline Digital Media, a boutique digital agency who specialize in conversion focused web design and online marketing.