Implementing a digital strategy

By Ian Lahmer, Marketing Director, Venco Venturo Industries LLC
Generation Next Governor at Large

Published in the January 2016 issue of Generation Next Edition. 

Understanding your company’s core branding and marketing strategies will help you determine the digital channels used to communicate with your customer and business contacts. Defining your market objectives and goals will help you gain new customers.

Here are a few ways to define your digital strategy:

  • Define your target audience. Understand customer demographics (market size, age, income, education and location), ethnographics (values, traits, hobbies, likes, needs) and psychographics (values, attitudes and lifestyles).
  • Define what success means and how you will track key measurements.
  • Define your digital platform – this will help you develop your campaign to fit each medium. 

Marketing Channels


This can include landing pages, microsites, websites, and many other areas for linked campaigns.  Creating a campaign with these end-channels in mind can help with advertising and educating the customer on your brand. The steps to implementing your site are important:

  • Define the PURPOSE of the site. This will help you determine your target audience and set goals for your site as well as help you measure how well your site is performing and how you can expand and improve information, design elements and tools.
  • Plan your site design. Before jumping into a site editor and starting to build pages, plan content, site structure, navigation and other tools for the customer.
  • Design the site. Layout, colors, relevant images and industry design are important for retaining site visitors. Use of white space is important in a corporate environment to increase the reader’s attention on your content.
  • Draft site content. Consider text such as articles, blog posts, lists and reviews. Graphics should be formatted for the web (72 dpi) and be royalty-free (not owned by someone else). Multimedia can improve or have a negative impact on your site depending on size, whether it’s appropriate for sound and video, and whether it is appropriate for your target audience.
  • Build your site. There are many options to consider when building your website. Many online editors and software programs are either free of charge or available for a minimal fee. However, understanding HTML, JavaScript, PHP and databases is a skill-set that many companies do not have represented on staff. Thankfully, pre-built software and web programs help bypass that hurdle and allow you to quickly and easily build a site. 
  • Select a hosting Provider. Choosing a website hosting provider is important for testing purposes.  Understanding this process is very complicated, and – unless your company has the bandwidth to do so in-house – you can save time and money while minimizing errors by using an outside company that specializes in this process.

Email Marketing

Newsletters explaining your company’s goals, products and new ideas can help enhance your customer relationships. Also, including online surveys will give you a response from your customers that results in increased purchasing knowledge and understanding your buyers. You can implement an email marketing strategy using a variety of low-cost programs on the web. ConstantContact, Campaign Monitor, iContact and many other smaller email marketing programs are good for those who send out a few emails per month. ExactTarget, Bronto, Yesmail are appropriate for larger corporations who send out thousands of emails per month. The larger, customized versions of email marketing programs also include a much larger cost.

Email marketing lists can be built by including a sign-up form on your website, Facebook page or any other channel by which customers visit your company. An important note: customers who do not opt-in to your list and continue to receive your emails can report a CAN-SPAM infraction which violates the federal laws of marketing to customers who do not wish to receive information. If you send commercial electronic messages to Canada-based recipients, then the recently-enacted Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) also comes into play – regardless of the sender’s country of origin. This is why user opt-ins is a very important part of email marketing. Each email program has a lengthy section on CAN-SPAM and CASL compliance information.


Depending on industry, implementing apps into your strategy can increase customer reach. Tools and informative topics can easily be placed in an app for ease of use and download to those in the field.  Important notes for apps:

  • Keep your data responsive. Apps that are outdated and with irrelevant data will be forgotten or pitched by users. Constantly updating data is costly, but it is necessary for those who have taken the time to download.
  • Keep the information relevant. Too much information can overload the customer and in turn, keep them from using this valuable tool created to help them. Keep it simple and relevant to the issue for which the app was created.
  • iTunes, Google Apps or Windows Store? This is the question many developers and companies have to answer. Each app is developed in a different language for each online store.  This costs time and money, and not all stores are equal. Differences include visitor rates, download rates and customer ratings. It’s up to a company to understand where their money is best being spent. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Online searches for your company’s goods and/or services can be expedited by increasing the keywords that potential customers use when conducting searches online. As discussed in last month’s column (Key Components of Digital Marketing, by Andrew Dawson), building your website with a clearly defined site map and relevant copy will increase your SEO. Keep this in mind when building copy for your pages. Tips for increasing your SEO:

  • File-Naming Conventions. When you name files and downloads, keep them in line with what people will type in the search bar.
  • Navigation. Keep the main title attributes of a navigation menu relevant to the content people will be searching for. Consistency throughout the website is important for customers to better understand your business.
  • Page Titles. Each page should be named according to the content it provides. This should be consistent throughout the site.
  • Meta Descriptions. Describe the pages and the content included on each of those pages.
  • Image Alt Attributes. Name/title the images included on your website. This can help search-engines find your content faster. 


Keep your customers updated on your company news, product news and events to give your audience insight into your company. Start by taking pictures of any social gatherings at your company – including  company lunches and sales meetings; new products; and more. This could be a great way to connect with your customers while giving them more information about the culture of your company. Daily updates can also keep customers coming back to your site.

Social Media Marketing

Social media can have a positive or negative impact on your business depending on industry, audience and channels. The majority of companies use Twitter and Facebook as their main social media hubs but there are many others. Using these would depend on the type of business you have and how you want to interact with your customers. When discussing your social media strategy, here are some key areas you need to consider:

  • Determine your objective. Understand the role social media plays in your workplace, and determine if  jumping on the social media bandwagon will help your business. Do you prefer to simply have a social media presence or will you actively use it as a customer interaction portal?
  • Keep it departmentalized. Keep it centralized. Usually the marketing department will own the social media portal. This helps keep customer interaction consistent and originating from the same source. Too many users could misuse and misconstrue information – thereby confusing customers.
  • Be aware of technology restrictions. Knowledge of firewalls, rules about time, access, and many other content controls will help you understand if your company can support social media and also help you form an internal social media policy.

Analytics and Data

Gauge your campaigns to understand your success and options for improvements. Tracking your campaigns can help you monetize and understand if your digital marketing is properly being implemented or if you are spending time on an “unknown”. Here are a few tools to help you gain insight into your marketing:

  • Google Analytics. This robust, free program can benchmark against other programs, testing and monitoring visits. This is the most widely-used analytics program due to its ease of use and availability.
  • Adobe Site Catalyst. Known for its Creative Suite which includes software programs such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Fireworks, key features include drag-and-drop dashboards, customization options, embeddable reports and targeted testing. The only downside is that it costs $5,000+ per month. 
  • IBM Digital Analytics. Most options offered by many analytics software programs (e.g., benchmark insights, customizable options and actionable data) are available. Pricing is dependent on Pricing is per custom quote.
  • Web Trends. As one of the oldest analytics solutions to enter the market, Web Trends stays on top of competitors by constantly updating their offerings and improving their data. Key features include heat maps, unlimited custom metrics and increased mobile and social measurement features. This program is also priced by custom quote.

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