Developing a digital strategy

Use these prompts as your strategic online communications template

1. Concept and context

  1. What service / content will your project offer that’s unique, or better than anything that’s currently available?

  2. What need does it meet?

  3. What other online or digital services are in direct competition, what lessons can be learnt from them, and how will your project be different / better?

2. Understand your audience

Develop profiles to represent typical audience groups. Main two approaches:

    • Gender
    • Age
    • Occupation
    • Geographic location
    • Income
    • Educational background
    • Ethnicity
    • Family life cycle
    • Character, personality, values
    • Activities, interests, opinions (AIO)
    • Brand allegiances and preferences
    • Aspirations, needs and motivations
    • Media consumption
    • Digital literacy / accessibility requirements

Some data sources:

  • What do you know already?
  • Surveying and focus-grouping
  • National statistics and media use
  • Competitor circulation figures and media packs
  • YouGov Profiler

3. Channel strategy

  • What channels are your audiences likely to use?
  • Are there existing communities, online or otherwise, with which you can engage?
  • Can you use different channels to target different priority audiences?
  • How will you build community pre and post launch?
  • What are your business goals for each channel? eg growing traffic for ad sales, driving traffic to website, building community, gathering content, selling subscriptions, promoting downloads…

Map cross-channel user journeys

What will be typical user journeys, engaging with your brand on multiple channels? eg:

  • Print > website > social media
  • Search > website > social media > print
  • Social media > website > tablet app

4. Website design using scenarios

Developing personas and scenarios helps you understand how your users behave, what they’re after, and whether they’re likely to be satisfied with the service.

A persona is an imagined person who represents a type or group of users. Personas help us work out who our users are, what are their goals and motivations, and how our products and services fit into their lives. For personas, use your audience profiles.

A scenario describes a hypothetical instance of use, within the context of the persona’s goals and motivations

Construct 3 scenarios for each persona, including:

  • Purpose of visit to website, and how it could be judged successful for both the user and your business goals
  • Time of day of visiting, geographic location and environment
  • Technology used for access
  • Gateway – how the user came to the website e.g. through search (give details of keywords), social media referral etc

5. Search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy

Identify 5-8 site-wide keywords (note that these are often 2-4 word phrases, rather than single words). Use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner to establish their popularity, to find other related terms, and to establish whether they will drive traffic to your site.

How will you ensure your site ranks for these keywords? Which keywords will need to appear in your site’s URL, page titles, headings and fixed menus?

What other keywords will you want to rank for? What will this mean for your content strategy?

6. Identify digital revenue streams

  • Display ads / Google ads
  • Native advertising
  • Sponsorships
  • Crowdfunding
  • Affiliate programmes
  • Paywalls / subscriptions / memberships
  • Downloads
  • Electronic editions
  • App sales
  • Services: recruitment, classifieds, comparisons, dating…
  • Knowledge services (e.g. helping other brands develop social reach and / or editorial)

7. Develop your content strategy

What content, where, for whom, why?

  • Website
    Sections, content types and formats, frequency, search landing pages (SEO hubs), social media destinations
  • Social media
    What type and frequency of content will be expected, and will prompt the highest levels of engagement?
  • Apps, digital editions etc

Plan possible content by plotting to a publishing matrix covering all channels, and use to identify which personas are being underserved.

8. Design

Identify likely design influences for the ‘look and feel’ (this does not need to be restricted to your direct competitors), and the best practice for layout and navigation that will be suitable for your project and its users.

9. Measure and evaluate

What will you measure? How often?

  • Business goals eg downloads, subscriptions, brand extension sales
  • Site Analytics eg page views, visitors, time on pages, bounce rate
  • Social metrics eg followers, shares, comments, mentions, clicks
  • Qualitative testing eg surveys, focus groups

What will be your review and evaluation process? How will this be fed back into editorial strategy etc?