Strategy is the bedrock of business and most serious entrepreneurs wouldn’t dream of setting-off on a journey without any idea of where they are going or how they are going to get there. However, when it comes to digital it’s surprising how many online businesses don’t have a strategy.
Ridgeway regularly hosts ‘digital boost’ events where we kick-off the ‘Strategy & Goals’ session by asking how many delegates have a strategy… knowing full-well that only a few hands will be raised.
However, at our last event the question was met with complete silence, you could hear a pin drop, nobody had a digital strategy and that’s what has promoted us to write this post.
Why do you need a digital strategy?
Ask most business owners what they want to get out of their website and they usually answer that they want to sell more widgets. The widgets might be physical, service based or brand-based, but they want to sell more of them.
However, there’s a problem because resources are finite and all widgets are not equal, which is where a digital strategy comes into play. A digital strategy helps successfully allocate effort and resources to best achieve business goals.
To help shape strategy start by asking yourself a series of simple questions such as:
- Would you rather sell 1 x £10,000 widget or 10 x £1,000 widgets?
- When you sell a widget can you cross-sell additional widgets?
- What’s the lifetime value of an individual widget?
- Which widgets have a clear market advantage?
- What’s the online competition for your widgets?
Once you begin to unpack the real commercial value of your products and services you can then create a strategy and allocate resources. An effective digital strategy will not only drive business sales, but it can also change business direction as illustrated in the following real-world example.
Developing a digital strategy in the financial services sector
Search Engine Optimization in the finance sector is tough and it doesn’t get much tougher than the insurance market. Online aggregators with big budgets have reshaped the marketplace leaving traditional insurance brokers fighting for their livelihood. Working with an established broker we faced this exact David vs Goliath situation and to survive we needed a digital strategy.
We started by looking at insurance Products and market Opportunities and allocated resources based on the following knowledge:
- We dug through the data and carefully sized-up the online competition
- We knew that our client was great at placing bespoke business packages
- We knew our client earned significant margin on business packages
- We knew there was plenty of potential for cross selling (from property to van)
- We knew that small businesses can grow into big businesses
Defining the North Star Goal
The next step was to define the North Star Goal which is a concept that came out of the entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley and has helped many start-ups become household names.
The North Star Goal is the ‘big one’ it’s your ‘magnetic north’ and everything you do should help you navigate towards the North Star. Think of the North Star as a journey as much as a destination and you won’t go far wrong. Our North Star was to become recognized as the ‘go to’ broker for small business insurance within 18 months.
Defining business goals
To help progress towards the North Star we set shorter term goals of increasing small business insurance quotes and conversions by 40% by the end of Q3.
Setting SMART goals is essential when you’re heading into unchartered territory, so make sure your goals are:
Specific What are you trying to achieve and why?
Measurable How will you know you have succeeded?
Attainable Are your goals realistic given the resources?
Relevant Are your goals worthwhile for your business?
Time Bound What are your deadlines and start points?
Defining Key Performance Indicators
With the North Star Goal and interim business goals defined the next step was to define Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are a much-misunderstood marketing measure, which are often confused with goals, when their primary purpose is to provide guidance.
The secret to selecting effective KPIs is to remember they are key performance indicators and using more than five or six will make it difficult to interpret the data. Remember that KPIs are all about measuring resources and progress, which means they can be turned-on, turned-up, turned-down and turned-off. For example:
Turning KPIs on and off: Say a KPI is to decrease your Bounce Rate by 5% in Q1, once you have achieved the desired result you can stop working on Bounce Rate and focus on another KPI such as increasing Dwell Time.
Turning KPIs up and down: Say a KPI is to increase the Open Rate of your email campaign by 10% in Q1, but it soon becomes apparent the additional resource isn’t translating into conversions, you can turn-down the volume on this KPI and turn-up the volume elsewhere.
Choosing Key Performance Indicators
With a clear strategy in-place and an incisive understanding of opportunities we decided on the following KPIs to help achieve a 40% increase in conversions by the end of Q3:
- 10% increase CTR in Search Results by reworking meta data
- Build 40 high-quality targeted links via content outreach
- Increase keyword footprint via 6 product pages 3 guide pages and 3 case studies
- 10% increase in conversions via pushing get quote and newsletter sign-up
- 5% decrease Bounce Rate via UX and content review of key pages
- 25% increase PPC ROAS by improving quality score via landing pages
- 50% increase LinkedIn followers via Sponsored Content/ Sponsored InMail
The outcomes of an effective digital strategy
Small business insurance quotes (and brand mentions) began to boom and by the end of Q3 all targets had been smashed. Not only had quotes increased geometrically but conversion rates had moved into double figures whereas conversion rates for other insurance products had fallen.
Small business insurance afforded plenty of opportunities for cross-selling, lifetime product value was high, customer loyalty strong and our client was well on their way towards their North Star.
The working example shows how a clear digital strategy can pay rich dividends and provide a profitable and sustainable footing for continued growth.