When’s the last time you took a good look at your company’s entire digital ecosystem all at once to look for opportunities to be more effective? Hmm… I dare say, this probably only happens once a year at the most. And if I’m like most of you crazy-busy marketing leaders out there who don’t have time to tie your shoes during the day let alone take tons of time to review the entire digital ecosystem, I think it’s time for a much needed review.
What’s Included in The Digital Ecosystem?
Because every company is different, I cannot list every possible digital vehicle within the ecosystem. What I can do is list some common connection points (see The Digital Ecosystem for Marketing below). Because I am a marketer, I naturally want all of a digital ecosystem to be somehow connected to the marketing team. However, depending on the business and industry, this is not the case. In fact, depending on data storage and flow, services, servers, goals, processes, how you market and the size of company, the digital ecosystem could be a highly fragmented mess, similar to spaghetti that’s overflowing out of the bowl and onto the table. Nobody likes that. In the business world, this is probably more common than you might think –Not the spaghetti, the digital fragmentation.
Before you begin the assessment process, you may want to think about what internal business units or teams should be part of your assessment.
This will help speed up the assessment process and will also help provide clarity about who’s responsible and plays an integral role for each part of the digital ecosystem. Collaboration with these other teams and understanding about their needs and expectations will also help the business to have a more effective digital strategy.
The Digital Ecosystem for Marketing
This is a much easier process for me, but still not a walk in the park. From experience, I can say that most digital ecosystems I have worked with include these things. These are not an exhaustive list, just a few that I have worked on within a digital marketing strategy.
- Website and development
- Data collection, flow, storage and re-distribution
- Mobile customer to website to data collection process
- Mobile app(s)
- Email collection, dissemination and automation
- Video (on-website and off)
- Digital PR
- SEO and inbound links
- Social monitoring tools
- Online and mobile surveys
- Customer mobile integration
- 2nd and 3rd party data integration
- Organic social media
- Advertising on social media
- Live video social media
- Display and retargeting advertising
- Digital OOH
- Cable TV
- Online Sponsorships / Partnerships
- Live video streams
- Corporate web demos and live presentations
- Marketing automation services
- Content Marketing
- Live chat functionality for customers
- Chat / messaging for employees and teams
- CRM / ERP / CMS
- Cloud operations
- Online tools and software
- API integration
- Customer and employee generated digital content
Digital has a way of bringing a company’s customers and products together in a simple user experience. This can occur with both B2C and B2B and brands. The ultimate goal is to create maximum value for the customer, an amazing user experience all while increasing revenue opportunities.
13 Questions To Ask Before You Begin The Assessment
You could probably think of a hundred questions to ask the teams involved in the digital ecosystem assessment, but do you really need to? Probably not. My suggestion is to start with the big picture with questions, then narrow them down department by department and let each one derive their own questions based on their roles and goals for the company’s digital ecosystem. Here are a few that I would bring to the Q&A process.
- What value is the customer getting from our digital ecosystem?
- If the digital ecosystem is to be successful in your department, what does it have to accomplish?
- What customer touch points in the digital ecosystem are most important?
- What customer touch points are most frequently interrupted?
- If these touch points are not functioning properly, where is the breakdown occurring?
- What is the customer path to conversion look like?
- Is one of your channels or pieces of technology in the company’s digital ecosystem out-of-date?
- Is automation occurring when communicating to the customer?
- If you have e-commerce, is data flow and data management manual or automated?
- Are there pain-points that need to be addressed? (labor or technology)
- Is the digital ecosystem pieced together over a number of years? This means communication points aren’t talking to each other and the entire ecosystem isn’t part of a master plan
- Is the digital ecosystem cobbled together over time or is it orchestrated to accomplish a corporate goal and strategy?
- Is your team knowledgeable about all the pieces of technology and operations that are connected throughout your digital ecosystem?
Create A Master Digital Ecosystem Flowchart
Look at the entire Digital Ecosystem one piece at a time. Then do your best to create a master flowchart with every digital channel that touches your brand, customer, revenue, servers, website… you get the idea. If you can create this master flowchart that allows you to see everything, you will be able to see every possible pain point and potential breakdown in the customer path and identify them. Once you discover where these are in the digital ecosystem and fix the breakdowns, you will be surprised at how much more productive your teams will be. Start with customer-centric touchpoints and work your way into how they connect with your business. These can be the most important ones that lead to revenue. However, broken internal digital ecosystem processes and technology can also lead to serious problems with data, communication and even commerce.
YourBrandExposed.com is a digital marketing and strategy consultancy that works with businesses big and small to solve their most difficult questions surrounding digital, brand development, generating qualified and business growth.
Scott MacFarland – Chief Content Marketer | Digital Strategist
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