5 reasons why your digital strategy fails and how to avoid them

Jacki James

Jacki James is a Strategic Planner with digital strategy specialist, Zuni, and moonlights as a digital marketing lecturer for ADMA. She blogs for Zuni at zuni.com.au and you can follow her on Twitter @JackiJames.

Strategy documents collecting dust are all too common. Experience across a range of businesses and industries has identified five common reasons why even the most brilliant digital strategy might fail. Know them, and avoid them.

1. Your strategy was developed in isolation

Engaging key stakeholders throughout the strategy development process is crucial. It is much harder for people to pick holes in the strategy if they have provided input and been consulted along the way. It’s not just the executive team that needs be on-board: You need buy-in at the coalface too. That means including the people who will execute the strategy, like your in-store sales force and customer service teams.

2. The rest of the business is focused on other things

Every digital strategy needs to be mindful of the business context and environment. A realistic digital strategy needs to be one that:

  • Demonstrates how it will contribute to achieving overall business goals
  • Is mindful of other projects, competing priorities and the demands of business as usual
  • Is realistic in terms of the commitment the business is willing to make regarding budget and resourcing.

3. The strategy doesn’t bridge the gap between conceptual and tangible

Strategists, planners and agencies are great at distilling strategic approaches into simple conceptual plans. While this is great for communicating strategic direction, it often leaves the executional staff at a loss on how to turn the plan into something tangible to implement.

The job isn’t finished with delivery of the strategy. Digital strategies need to be accompanied by tools, guidance and examples of how to bring your digital strategy to life. For example:

  • Functional and content requirements that the strategy dictates
  • A measurement framework that includes both digital and business metrics
  • Resourcing plans which outline ownership and responsibilities for delivering the strategy.

4. No-one knows how to implement

The reality of bringing any digital strategy to life manifests into a long list of projects, tactics and action items. Every digital strategy needs to be accompanied by an implementation plan that clearly defines the staged rollout of individual streams of work.

Following a linear path towards the optimal end goal won’t give your brand a competitive advantage. Great implementation plans typically deliver a mix of activity across at least four key horizons:

  • Quick wins
  • Mastering the fundamentals core to digital success
  • Building momentum and audience engagement
  • The path towards digital innovation or ubiquity.

5. The great results it was delivering at first have started to wane

Of course your digital strategy was accompanied by KPIs so you could proudly boast it was working. But then something changed. The world of digital moves at a fast pace, new channels and trends emerge seemingly overnight. What worked today might not get you the same results next month.

Your digital strategy implementation plan should factor in a framework for ongoing monitoring and continuous optimisation from the outset. Test, measure, learn, and adjust. Repeat.

Checklist to get your digital strategy from plan to action:

Bringing a strategy to life requires more than just a brilliant document and presentation. These top tips will ensure you the greatest chance of getting the broader business to action your strategy:

  • Engage key stakeholders throughout the strategy development process, including executional and managerial staff.
  • Ensure your strategy demonstrates how it contributes to the overall goals of the business.
  • Apply a budget and resourcing ‘reality filter’ to your strategy. A million dollar solution will never cut it on a $50,000 budget.
  • Demonstrate how the strategy will become operational via examples or tools to be used to implement the strategy.
  • Include an implementation plan that defines the individual projects required bring the strategy to life.
  • Test, measure, learn, and adjust. Repeat. Ongoing optimisation and refinement of your strategy is your best chance of delivering great results.

Tags: digital marketing, digital strategy, leadership strategy

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

State of the CMO 2019

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at understanding how ...

More whitepapers

Blog Posts

3 skills you need to drive better collaboration

A study published in The Harvard Business Review found the time spent in collaborative activities at work has increased by over 50 per cent in the past two decades. Larger projects; complicated problems; tighter timeframes: These require bigger teams with specialised skillsets and diverse backgrounds, often dispersed globally.

Jen Jackson

CEO, Everyday Massive

Better the bank you know?

In 2018, only 21 per cent of customers believed that banks in general had their customers best interests at heart and behave ethically. Only 26 per cent believed that banks will keep their promises; views cemented further following the Hayne Financial Services Royal Commission.

Carolyn Pitt

Head of account management, Hulsbosch

What 15 years of emotional intelligence told us about youth media audiences

Taking people on an emotional journey through content is the most critical part of being a publisher. Which is why emotion lies at the heart of VICE Media.

Stephanie Winkler

Head of insights, VICE Asia-Pacific

This journey would identify all your future life aspects!

Maryann Humphrey

Open Colleges: one-to-one journeys is the goal

Read more

It's a pretty good idea. I think this integration is useful. Don't you agree?

Misty Stoll

Officeworks hops on voice interface bandwagon with Google Assistant integration

Read more

ok. so no RCS support? by the way, RCS is a lot bigger than 5G in terms of marketing and monetisation so y'all should be covering it.

DragoCubed

Optus goes for education with 5G network campaign

Read more

Many companies and individual merchants have shifted their major part of marketing to web marketing services Portland as it weighs fewer ...

Radiata Solutions

6 Ways to ramp up Social Media to Your Web Design

Read more

This is a unique experience! Will be interesting to talk to their managers.

Joyce Harris

​How Krispy Kreme revitalised its brand in a saturated market

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in