From Analog to Digital: How to Build a Digital Foundation in 2019

The world is digital if you’re not leveraging the influence of a branded website, e-commerce portal, social media advertising, automated email campaigns, bots, content marketing, and SEO your competition is. Move past the traditional selling methods, they aren‘t effective anymore and you lack control over your audience! I often ask individuals, “what is the initial thing you do before deciding where to eat?” and they reply every single time without fail “I search for it on google”. Bingo! Learn to market your business online or you are setting yourself up for defeat and leaving countless bucks on the table for your competition to reach.

If you’re a newbie to the whole digital thing, then be ready to take notes. Becoming digital is not an overnight activity. It takes time to understand the intricate happenings behind the scenes. Many would be reluctant to say their organization is structured and optimized for digital. Let’s get a few facts straight, being digital is a regular daily function that takes time and consistency. For a digital strategy to achieve results, you need to develop the framework. Before we jump into creating this framework, let‘s talk about what it means to be digital.

The Power of Digital Businesses

I want to drive a point regarding the potential of digital. One of the best-known examples is Amazon. Jeff Bezos was one of the original to use the internet to sell products, he started in 1994. Like I said above it takes time and consistency for a digital strategy to work, but in Jeff‘s case, his brand is a household name known across the world now. Amazon didn’t even have a brick and mortar sales location until recently, it was all done via e-commerce. E is not just for electronic, I prefer to interpret it as EVERYWHERE giving organizations the opportunity for exponential growth.

What makes his business model so powerful?

I can drone on about this topic, but to make things short and sweet it‘s the ease of use. You log into your account, choose from thousands and thousands of items you would have trouble finding elsewhere, add them to your cart, and carry out your purchase like magic a few days pass and your items arrive at your doorstep. Sure, you could get in your car and drive to a brick and mortar location, but this takes time and time is a luxury people enjoy.

You may have noticed that several large brick and mortar stores have closed, or are downsizing. This is not a coincidence, this is a shift in the purchasing paradigm with younger shoppers leveraging technology to make their lives easy. From ordering products online, to having food delivered, hiring an on-demand driver to pick them up, watching shows via streaming, or renting someone else‘s home for the weekend. These are all indicators of the way everything is flowing and the direction you should be moving. 

According to consumer trends for 2019: a forecast of consumer buying behavior

“Consumer trends in 2019 will take shoppers out of single-channel shopping experiences and tie the physical and digital worlds closer together.”

The Digital Mind Set

Taking your business digital requires a shift in thinking, you are adding sales channels that need nurturing on top of your current channels. You will take your traditional customer purchasing behavior and apply them to some customer on the internet you have never met to convince them to buy your product. Sound easy, right? It can be if you know exactly what you’re doing, but if you did, you wouldn‘t be reading this article. So, how do you go about changing your mindset and preparing your business for the world online?

  • Think in broader terms, being digital means access to a global network of businesses and customers. You can now forge partnerships digitally, and reach your target audience in new and creatives ways, by leveraging the power of social media networks.
  • Acclimate and educate yourself about technologies that affect your business. There is a tech solution for just about every business you can be in, learn about the ones thriving in your business vertical. Implementing them can have a serious upside on your business, cutting expenses, easing workloads, and allowing you to focus on core business functions.
  • Follow the most current technology trends. As tech is continually evolving industry, knowing the current tech landscape and what‘s in the pipeline will help you have insight that will keep you on the cutting edge.
  • Understand the lingo – know about the Internet of things (IoT), Cloud Systems, Virtual Reality, AI, Automation, Blockchain, Chatbots, Big data, and SaaS. There are plenty more but these should be able to help you wrap your head around the vastness of the tech on the distant horizon.

Transformation Initiatives

It was Albert Einstein who said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. As a business in 2019 you can‘t expect the same outdated business models and lines of thinking to spur you onward, you either learn to adapt to the way the world works now or you go out of business. To truly transform your business it will require an overhaul of your business activities, processes, business model, and competencies.

  • Business activities would be your marketing, human resources, administration, customer services, etc. With today‘s software improvements centralized cloud-based systems will be essential to streamlining your business activities.
  • Processes are any connected work done to achieve a goal. Processes can typically be client facing or internal. Get to know automation services and AI, soon most of your business processes will be conducted by an automated system or robot. 
  • You’re now digital your business model must change your medium of lead generation, client acquisition strategy, and profit channels are now worldwide.
  • When going digital it requires a whole new set of skills, operational job roles, software to learn, etc. Be forward thinking and dynamic, provide training to your employees, hire talent already versed in your needs, and invest in educating yourself about these skills.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Which parts of my business are ready for a change immediately and which will require gradual change? For instance, perhaps you are still doing payroll manually. There is a slew of applications like QuickBooks that can automate this process.
  • What technology am I already using? Is it outdated? Perhaps, you already have software or applications you use, but are these the best suited for the job or is something available that will work better?
  • Which Technology should I be using? Let‘s use a warehouse as an example, you will need to find software for in taking products, tracking products, tracking inventory, cost analysis, and fulfilling customers’ orders.
  • Have I examined what my competitors are using? If your competition is doing well in the market, it would be beneficial to conduct research to find out their processes.
  • What are my end goals? Define the results you seek by implementing your new tech, look at costs, savings, and new performance metrics.

Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy

Not so long ago newspapers were the go-to for reaching your customers, then there was radio the first form of audio advertising, and the television came along visual advertising with sound, that reached customers right in their homes. These advertising methods were blatant upfront ways of engaging clients when a commercial came on you knew you were being sold on something.  Advertising doesn‘t work the same way digitally, it‘s passive, hyper-targeted, preference-based and intelligent reaching you sometimes without you even knowing it.

Why is it important to know this? Not to be a killjoy but traditional marketing is dead, seriously when is the last time you picked up a newspaper? You’re probably reading this article on your Ipad, as it was suggested to you on a newsfeed on your favorite social media platform. How about tv, have you even watched cable in the last month or do you have Netflix, youtube, and Hulu one click away? Even in your car, you are most likely Bluetooth connected to your phone playing a custom made playlist you created for your daily commute on spotify.

If you’re using traditional marketing methods, are you even reaching your customers? Think about it how many clients are in the target audience that listens to your local radio stations, or the readership of the local paper? Maybe you have a billboard, did the passengers even look up from their mobile devices to see it? The thing about digital marketing is you know exactly who you’re reaching when you’re reaching them, and where you’re reaching them.

Selecting your marketing channels

First things first, where is your website? A website is like a digital business card, it provides information about your services, products, and company. It is the centralized point in your strategy, a website is where all the traffic you generate through SEO, social media, and even word of mouth should lead. A website doesn‘t have to be glamorous, but it needs to be functional it needs to be good enough to meet your clients end goal.  The market now has a variety of programs for do-it-yourself website builders like Wix, that allows just about anyone to build a website. if you’re looking to do something more lavish, you can find a freelancer to build it for you.

Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and the list goes on. How do you choose the right channels to reach the right audience? Each channel has its benefits and downsides, below is a breakdown of the main ones.

Facebook has the largest user base, so it‘s highly recommended you use this channel for both b2c and b2b. We can use a variety of different media on Facebook, one reason it’s so popular. As a platform, it has the highest potential of reaching your intended audience, as you can target niche audiences with ease.

Linkedin is made for professionals, so B2B companies should gravitate towards this channel. Much of the same content that can be shared on Facebook, can be shared through LinkedIn. The platform offers what they call sales navigator which puts you in direct contact with decision makers.

Instagram is highly visual, if you’re primary focus is showcasing your products or services through pictures, then Instagram is the perfect platform for you. Instagram is owned by Facebook, which means it‘s a 2 for 1 platform with ads from Facebook translating to ads on Instagram.

Twitter allows you to reach out with under 140 characters, it’s been known to be highly effective for communicating directly with the people you want to speak too. Its hashtag system allows it to reach a wide audience quickly.

Youtube is the most used video content platform with an estimated billion-plus user base. Youtube has led to the creation of digital influencers allowing them to express their creativity and uniqueness in a way that is highly entertaining and appealing.

Remember, being social is great but being overly social can be a time waster. Pick 2-3 channels that are most relevant to your needs.

Content is King

I heard this term like three times today, but it‘s relevant. Content is the currency of the internet and good content gives you buying power. When you dive into creating for your marketing channels, you need to consider your audience and appeal to them. Don‘t just throw random stuff out, make it interesting to keep them coming back for more. Use a blend of media like infographics, videos (recommend 30 seconds), memes, blog articles, polls, reports, anything that can benefit your following.

“Social media is about the people! Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide you.” – Matt Goulart

Tips for a solid content strategy

  • Plan ahead. With tools like Hootsuite, you can post to multiple channels at the same time and even schedule them ahead of time.
  • Know your audience, define your customer personas and build custom content that fits their demographic.
  • Test different content and find the fit that produces the most engagement.
  • Post frequently and consistently, if not prepare for your audience to seek relevance somewhere else. 
  • Spread your content everywhere, create as much organic reach as you can.

From Analog to Digital

Remember, becoming a digital takes time and consistency. Understand the power it offers and change your mindset to leverage it accordingly. Look to change your business from the inside out, analyze, research, and implement according to your bottom line. Transition away from the traditional, be creative and be dynamic. Your digital foundation has been laid, now build upon it and create your masterpiece. 

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