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5 steps to defining a strategic vision for your brand website

28 May 2020James Scott-Flanagan

Your organisation has invested in a new customer experience platform which promises to improve efficiencies, provide you with invaluable insights and drive value for your customers and the business. What next? How can you harness these benefits with your brand site?

The platform has been successfully rolled out to brands and markets. Everyone is ready for action, right? But do your brands all have a plan? Do they have a strategy as to what they are going to do with this magical, yet slightly daunting, new box of tricks?

In this Cog Blog web strategy series, we take brand and site owners on a journey, helping them to develop an actionable strategy to get the best out of their new websites for which this new platform has laid the foundations. In this first of 3 articles, we’ll set out how best to define a strategic vision for web, or what we like to call, the North Star, in 5 simple steps:

Take stock of your existing state

The first step to building a new strategy is not only looking forward but looking back. In order to build a successful strategy, you must first assess where you currently are. What has worked before? What isn’t working? What are your brand’s strengths and weaknesses when delivering web?

Web maturity is an ambiguous expression; however, it is crucial to understand when building a new web strategy. How mature your brand currently is with regard to web will impact your new strategy and your ability to implement it. We define web maturity as follows:

to what extent brands are currently using web as part of their current go to market brand strategy

Understanding this will help highlight strengths and weaknesses which will come in useful later, during the implementation of the new strategy. Web maturity can be broken down into 6 key areas (diagram below), all critical in building a successful web strategy. Taking stock of your existing state will measure to what degree you are currently comfortable delivering in each area.

Maturity Pyramid

Identify your purpose

Once you have a good understanding of where you are now, it’s time to start looking forward. What direction do you want to take your strategy in? Defining your direction of travel can be daunting. It’s best to start by articulating the purpose of your site. This usually falls into one (or more) of three core areas. Ask yourself, why you have a site? Is it to...

Educate. Do you want to educate potential customers about my brand and products?

Collect data. Is my site there to drive 1st party data collection, so you can learn more about your customers?

Drive conversion. Is your site’s purpose to act as a key stage in the path to purchase, either directly (ecommerce) or indirectly (drive to store)?

Purpose Triangle

You may find that only one key area applies for you, or that you are aligned to all three. Understanding the purpose of your site will enable you to create a web strategy which will add maximum value to the wider marketing strategy.

Articulate your vision

Your vision is the specific point to which to which you are aiming. That’s why we like to call it the North Star. You should be able to articulate your vision in one sentence, outlining the main reason for your brand to have a site and what you would like it to do moving forwards.

The vision is informed by the purpose. If education is the most important purpose for your site, your vision will reflect this. Think of it as the elevator pitch for your site.

Why is this vision so important?

  • A vision gives brands something to aim for
  • A vision makes it easier to create objectives which more accurately reflect ambition
  • A vision (+ objectives) ensure brands create a strategy which is relevant and generates the most brand value

State your objectives

Articulating your vision is the first step but may feel distant and hard to achieve. Setting objectives will help break down the overall vision into manageable, achievable chunks. Objectives are smaller goals, which help brand’s reach their overall ambition. Your objectives must be ‘SMART’, as demonstrated in the example below:

Good Objective Example: Increase overall engagement with my brand site product pages by 15% in the next 6 months.

Specific (✓), Measurable (✓), Achievable (✓), Realistic (✓), Timebound (✓)

Bad Objective Example: Increase overall brand site traffic by 110% in 3 months.

Specific (X), Measurable (✓), Achievable (X), Realistic (X), Timebound (✓)

Know how you’ll measure success

In order to keep track and assess to what extent you are achieving success, you’ll need to assign metrics to your objectives. Each objective should have its own metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs). In addition to measuring success they will also help you tweak and evolve your strategy post-implementation.

Example: “Increase overall engagement with my brand site product pages by 15% in the next 6 months”

Some example metrics could be:

  • Increased combined page views to product pages
  • Decreased bounce rate for product pages
  • Increased time spent on page for product pages
  • Increased returning visitors to product pages

Remember, once you have defined your metrics you will need to define your reporting structure, (e.g. how will you report your figures and how often). You will also need to ensure you understand how to make changes to your future strategy based upon new data (we will explore this in more detail later in the blog series!).

These 5 simple steps should give you a clear understanding of how to define an overall strategic direction for web, build a vision upon it, and assign objectives which can be tracked and (hopefully) achieved.

If you’d like to talk to us about helping you to define your North Star, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

The next article in our web strategy series will help you understand the building blocks you have in your tech arsenal to build the capability to achieve your new goals. Check it out next month!

Author: James Scott-Flanagan
Published: 28 May 2020
CMScontent strategycustomer experiencemarketing technologydigital platforms

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