When I work with clients – no matter whether they are early stage startups or successful multinational companies, the challenge is to deliver value quickly. In most cases, it is about reviving what has been started, fixing what is not working well, or creating what needs to be.
There are three connected steps that you can take to revive your digital business too. Here’s how.
3 Connected Steps
Before you read further, write down on a piece of paper your “reason for service”. What or who do you serve? Which focus creates value for you, your staff, colleagues, and collaborators? Think about it and write it down.
So many businesses, organisations, and government departments forget their “reason for service”. Sure, a business likes to make money by selling product and services to its customers. And equally an association or other organisation delivers value by serving its stakeholders and fulfilling its mission. And governments serve… citizens, right? But unless you can pin your “reason for service” to a need and a delivery point or person, you’re already in trouble. Here’s a hint – until robots have a wallet, your digital activities had better prove valuable to a person. Or business. Or citizen/stakeholder. Someone with a budget and a willingness to spend.
Now, the challenge is to plan and set an agenda. It is almost impossible to take all three steps at once. But it is possible to stagger them.
Step 1: Content
For success in the digital domain, you need content. Lots of it. You need content that addresses, reinforces and helps deliver your “reason for service”. This goes far beyond simply having a brochure site – content about your products and services, corporate structure, team, and approach. It means proactively solving problems for your audiences. It means creating the context for change. And it means doing so ahead of a decision to purchase.
And all this means is that content is an “investment” that you must make in the relationship you want with your audiences. And investment, in business terms, means strategy.
To revive your digital business, seek help and consult widely. Look to case studies to see what’s possible. And then read through Paull Young’s learnings from two years working with charity: water. But don’t read for understanding. Read to observe what was delivered for the charity via content – and apply that thinking to your “reason for service”.
Then it’s a matter of creating content, measuring, and tweaking. But to really make your content work for you and your audiences, you’ll need insights. You’ll need people to actually engage with the content and not just simply click “share”. And that is where tools like Content.ly come in. Write the content. Promote the content. And then see what actually works.
Step 2: Experience
The digital world is a much more compact place than we’d like to think.
Indeed, governments, businesses, schools, universities, and organisations of all ilk have struggled to keep up with the pace of this aspect of globalisation. Look at the state of Australian online retail. Or government services. Or eCommerce. The list goes on…
Suffice to say, when it comes to customer experience, there are no such things as national borders.
We don’t, for example, actively discriminate between websites with a .com or a .com.au domain. We don’t login to Facebook.com.au. We don’t hesitate to buy items from eBay.co.uk or Macys.com. And the experience of purchase that is available through these sites sets a bar that few Australian sites reach. This means that we are competing globally for every click and every purchase. The “level playing field” promised by the internet age also applies to far flung businesses seeking our custom as much as it applies to our businesses reaching out to new markets.
Constellation Research’s R “Ray” Wang and Natalie Petouhoff suggest that businesses frame their experience strategy around the 9 Cs of Customer Engagement. This means focusing on people centric values, delivery and communication styles, and “right time drivers”. But with 9/10 customers expecting a consistent experience across channels, we can often wonder what to prioritise and where to start. The folks at Desk.com have some ideas. All these things then play into your technology choices – which is Step 3 – Platform.
Step 3: Platform
It is unlikely that you will be delivering your audiences a world class experience with compelling content if you’re using a web platform from 2003.
As the technology has evolved, so has our use and consumption of web and social networking services. Similarly, we have become used to sharing our personal information in return for a more personalised experience. And we’d like that experience to be consistent across all channels – whether digital or not. And for this to happen, we need to work with platforms, connected suites of products, or integrated solutions.
One of the most successful approaches here has been the American Express Open Forum. They have effectively harnessed their product and service offerings, integrated it with intelligent and insightful content, and packaged it up in a way that appeals to a variety of audiences. From a single login, you can read content, ask questions, explore topics, check account balances, undertake financial transactions, redeem rewards, book travel etc.
MYOB have begun a similar process with their Pulse blog. WorldNomads connect travellers, stories, experiences and social good together while also providing a range of travel insurance products. Now, not every business has the resources of these companies – but low cost technologies are bringing some of these integrations and capabilities to smaller businesses and not-for-profit organisations. Check out Orbtr for sales automation and lead management built into your WordPress platform – or nationbuilder for your community organisation.
What are you waiting for? There’s work to be done!