Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Are you really a digital strategist?

It's quite funny to me to see the term 'Digital Strategy' appear in job descriptions for roles across the online world, including those I now help clients fill.
Note: it's even funnier to see what some candidates actually think constitutes the creation and delivery of a Digital Strategy and in-turn make them a Digital Strategist.

I therefore thought it would be useful to highlight those activities and approaches that I believe a digital strategist might use in their role.
(Of course, it would be easy to start listing out all the things they are not, but then that list might turn out to be quite long.)

So here's my list:
  • Think strategic
    Always keep the vision of what digital technologies, processes and marketing can do for your organisation and how this change applies to the company aims and objectives. This means that you have to understand the end game, but also how you are going to close the gap between that and whatever you have now.
  • Align the digital strategy to the business strategy
    No strategy exists in a vacuum and yours can add the most value when it aligned with the other competing needs of the business.
  • Champion the digital strategy
    The best person in your organisation to be the digital champion is you (and your team, if you have one). Your managerial peers will need a central senior person they can consult with who 'gets this digital stuff' and can help them. This doesn't mean you suddenly need to exhibit youthful enthusiasm or a stoic 'all knowing' air - you just have to be approachable and communicative to all level. It also means you are the senior stakeholder who works with the different business units to help them contribute to the digital strategy.
  • Own the digital roadmap
    Having the vision and strategy is one thing, having a plan of how this will be achieved (including the key milestones, dependencies and other influencing initiatives across your organisation) is something else. The creation and management of this plan is a key artefact in the communication of how your end game is going to be delivered.
  • Grow internal digital capabilities
    You are not going to achieve your goals by yourself and you therefore need to build the required expertise within your company to take digital forward. Growing individuals and digital teams doesn't necessarily come naturally to everyone, but you can also help across different functions by outlining what skills and experience are needed in both the short and longer term

Monday, January 26, 2015

Probably the best placed online advert

Back in 2010, there was a viral video going around from on-board a cruise ship during a bad storm. The clip gave various shots, including a passenger area, where people are flung about.

However, it wasn't the online video that gave me to biggest laugh, but the advert posted alongside it. Advertising the services of EuroTunnel, which runs under the English Channel and avoids the stormy waters above it.

If this was done on purpose... it was brilliant placement.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Align your Digital Strategy and Business Architecture

Your Digital Strategy should be a vision and roadmap of how customer-facing online content, functionality and technology initiatives will be implemented and managed across your organisation.
But so far there is no common framework for describing the creation and delivery of a digital strategy. 
Note: I'm not too sure why this is, the discipline of digital is now pretty mature. Perhaps it is because online covers such a wide range of subjects from tactical digital marketing techniques through to programmes that transform businesses and create significant customer channel shift. 

Business Architecture is a description of an organisation's structure, usually in terms of governance, services and information.  The Business Architecture Guild (somewhat nebulously) describes it as "a blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands". The discipline is full of strange terms such as TOGAF, OMG & Zachman and there are a number of approaches used to describe an enterprise / business architecture. Each of them trying to align the technical architecture and practices with the larger organisational strategy. 

However... what is clear to me is that very few organisations align their digital strategy with their business architecture. Which means that the two are possibly working in silo'd isolation or at the very least not joined up in thinking, delivery and (more worryingly) in their representation back to the rest of the business.

Hasn't the time now come to correctly align the two?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Building a high performance digital team

I've been in this digital game a long time (in dog years, I should have been put out of my misery by now). I've therefore been part of and have personally built-up teams of digital specialists on both the agency/consulting side and as part of client organisations. From a crack development unit that managed to construct a financial services website from scratch in just a few weeks, through to a digital marketing department (starting with just one member) that managed a multi-mullion pound acquisition budget… I've hired, fired, seconded, acquired, procured and borrowed people from all manner of disciplines. And yes, building some wonderful and useful online stuff in the process.

I've therefore listed out the factors that I think are needed in the creation and development of a high performing digital team (plus to help me, I have also asked the team at one of my current clients to add their suggestions too).

A ‘can do’ attitude:
“I've done so much with so little for so long, I think I can do anything with bugger all!” was once the line mentioned to me by one team member over a decade ago. This partly sums up the sort of ‘can do’ attitude that can make all the difference in a smaller team. It is often not the tools, the processes or the technology that makes the difference, it is the mental approach of the individuals.

Yes sure, the phase “work smarter not harder” is often used in management circles, however sometimes you just need a team to bear down on an issue and work at it for a while. This can be especially true when the work in question is a little more mundane or repetitive (e.g. when proof reading content or carrying out user acceptance testing – thanks JM!)

I know this kinda goes without saying, but I did want to mention it. Working with a bunch of smart people who not only know their onions, but also can develop their skills and experience on the project (without affecting it) is usually a pleasure.  

So what do you think? Have I missed anything?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Customer Journey Catherine Wheel

In an earlier post I explained how the Customer Journey for an organisation should not be a linear progression, but a cycle. To illustrate this I used a simple piece of ready-made clip art from PowerPoint and quickly inserted this into my content.

However, given a bit more time, I have now pulled together a better diagram to illustrate what I mean.

In this diagram I have used the same 5 segments to show the cyclical path a user takes (Awareness, Interest/Desire, Action, Experience and Advocacy). But I have also added an inner section that represents the running of Internal Process and an outer ring that represents the tasks that customers perform.

I've used various and more specific versions of this diagram in previous consulting work for clients, but I think this diagram represents a more generic approach which can be adapted as the need arise.
The only real problem I now have is… what do I call it?

For the time being, I think I'm going to use the term Customer Journey Catherine Wheel. A diagrammatic version of the popular firework that hopefully explains the round and spinning nature of both this model and the physical namesake.

What do you think? Is it a silly name? Can you come up with a better one?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Customer Journey should be circular

A lot of different approaches are used for mapping the Customer Journey (the ‘soup to nuts’ depiction of your customers’ progress from unaware & unknown person to satisfied patron). Many typically show the path along different states of customer engagement, with the AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire & Action) model being a tried & tested one that has stood the test of time – I've also referred to it a lot in this blog over the years.

But as we know, one person’s advocacy can be another’s awareness. And especially with online communications (and especially Social Media) now able to facilitate near-instant feedback about an experience or product, the ratings given by one customer can heavily influence a lot of other people to either find out more and alternatively it can put them off for good.  Or to put it another way, your customers are one of your greatest assets and in most cases they should not just be part of your retention activity, they should be used to fuel your acquisition activity too.

This advocacy therefore means that rather than the Customer Journey being a line from awareness through to the experience of the product or service, it becomes a circle looking something like this:

The phase of the customer journey where a person becomes initially aware of something and wants to find out more.

Interest & Desire:
I've merged the two AIDA model phases into one here, as things get incredibly blurred (and with some products such as consumer electronics, brand devotees jump straight from awareness to intense desire). This is also the phase described by Google as the Zero Moment of Truth and can be the period when a multitude of inputs from all channels are considered.

This is the goal, the purchase, the sign-up, the commit phase. You get the picture…. (The First Moment of Truth)

This phase is when the customer actually experiences their purchase and realises the value of what they have procured. (The Second Moment of Truth)

Here is where a customer reviews your service and rates the service you have provided. They can do it on your site or on any number of review and feedback sites, or can use social media platforms to voice their satisfaction or disdain. It is therefore these comments and sentiment that in my opinion keep the customer journey cycling around.

Monday, January 5, 2015

User Experience and Customer Journey – do you know the difference?

As the processes and techniques of digital and multi-channel delivery become more widespread and well-known in organisations, it’s not uncommon that teams, stakeholders and clients become familiar with the terminology used too.  However I quite often hear the term “User Experience” (or “UX” for short) mixed up with the term “Customer Journey” and I think it’s time I clarified things. So here’s my thoughts on the two and why they should not be confused.

User Experience:
From my perspective User Experience is the science (and art) of creating functionality and information that helps the user to carry out particular tasks. In the world of websites and native mobile device applications (apps) this revolves around: understanding users & their needs, mapping user flows through key tasks, creating wire-frames, designing the interface and testing it to ensure it does what it should as well as it possibly can.

Customer Journey:
This is wider task of mapping the entire path of the customer from start to finish E.g. from a point where they are not the customer and perhaps not even cognisant of your product or service, through to the stages where they have become a customer and beyond. There are a lot of different models for how this customer journey can be represented, but regardless it is useful to map this journey for your business.

So do the two cross-over? Yes, in my opinion they definitely do and in fact I believe you cannot properly create the ideal User Experience unless you properly understand the Customer Journey. By this I mean that any UX work done needs to know where it fits in the wider picture of things, what the situation is for the user beforehand and what the end goal is.

For example, if you are creating the interface for a ticket vending machine at a sports ground, it would no-doubt help your UX resource to understand why the user is there, what they should (or shouldn't) have done previously and what they are going on to do. In this example, the creation of the vending unit is not to raise awareness, to educate or to entertain, it is there to help the customer who may already have purchased a ticket to get it printed out as efficiently as possible so that they can go and have the bigger experience they have paid for.

Either way, I suggest that to truly deliver the best for your customers you need to create both and validate them in as many ways as possible, both before and after you have delivered.