What is a Digital Strategy? Many companies in Fargo are behind the curve when it comes to digital strategy but they don’t have to be. At Hash we have spent a lot of time considering how to best explain this to our clients. When we boiled it down digital strategy comes down to 3 main areas: technical functionality, design/aesthetics and marketing. If one piece is missing the whole strategy is compromised. They’re all dependent on one another and none can exist alone. Hash Interactive was founded based on the need in the community for the first two: functionality and aesthetics, but in our early stages we forgot about the 3rd quintessential piece: marketing. We now feel confident that we are bringing all three together with our new approach and thus providing a better product/service to clients. Having experienced these initial struggles have made us more capable to help businesses in Fargo going through similar issues. When explaining digital strategy to our clients we take a look at the three categories individually and then explain to them that if they exist independently from one another the formula always breaks.
To have a worthwhile user experience you need functionality – people demand the latest trends in technology and expect advanced interfaces with AI like intelligence. This has been forced by the large website/companies that people are use to (Amazon, Facebook, YouTubes etc). For instance my dad always complains to me when he comes across a mobile site on his tablet that sucks. Why? Because he expects the same experience that he just had on amazon. Websites/applications need the latest and greatest because others are pushing the standards.
We’ve been talking about branding a lot lately in our client meetings. First impressions, consumer confidence, user’s perception about you and your company. People judge, that’s what they do. It’s a primal instinct. You see someone and you already have preconceived notions about who they are, what they do. Same for websites/your brand. It just so happens that in today’s world your users/customers will see your website before they see you or walk in your store. Companies can live or die by their outward appearance to the world. It’s a test that all their customers and potential customers put them through before they earn their trust.
Up until recently we have neglected the importance of marketing. I knew it was always there and was always important but never embraced it as a quintessential piece of digital strategy. Maybe because the demand for it hasn’t been as apparent or noticeable mainly because of my own ignorance and the ignorance of our clients. What they don’t know, they don’t know to ask for. I have concluded that we are setting clients up for failure if we neglect this piece. The Internet is the most competitive landscape you’ll ever find – Billions upon billions of sites – making marketing that much more important. It’s the limiting factor in your strategy. You can only go as far as you invest into it. I’ve determined a couple subcategories of digital marketing: organic, paid and virality. We’re more familiar with the first too but the third is a little more obscure and actually contributes to the misconception that you need marketing on the web at all. For instance, look at Facebook, never have “marketed” once in their existence – not at least traditionally. So people assume that it’s popularity has been derived solely on its functionality/ingenuity. However, I believe it is a falsity and an outlier. Whether they meant to or not they stumbled upon the third subcategory of digital marketing: virality. Virality is the most eluding of the three subcategories but can be the biggest payoff in the end. It’s hard for people to justify the expense of virality because it’s so far out of the traditional realm of marketing that it’s not understood. Again, people misconceive virality as a happenstance; but actually can be studied, broken down, replicated and implemented into a digital approach. However, takes time (and therefore money) to introduce virality into your digital marketing approach. Marketing is not everything, but without it your digital strategy (and thus the investment in the other two categories: functionality and design) is nothing.
At Hash Interactive we feel that it’s have all or have none. Try as you may you can contort your strategy and try to force success with only one or two but you will inevitably discover what’s taken us years to realize your digital strategy is supported by a tripod of functionality, design and marketing and will crumble without one of the three.