Today’s software and IT services industry revolves around digital branding, engagement, and delivery. Market challengers and leaders are allocating more resources to digital initiatives each year, and building an effective digital strategy is a top concern for more than 70% of CEOs and CIOs, according to McKinsey research.

Creating a successful, measurable digital strategy can be a daunting task for software and IT services organizations, but brands that are pursuing digital initiatives as part of their core growth strategy are outgrowing their competitors by a wide margin. In our experience, there are four keys to success that dramatically improve the effectiveness of digital initiatives for software and IT services providers.

1: Put digital at the center of your digital strategy

Every business owner knows how important a business plan and marketing strategy are. With digital channels becoming more important every day, software and IT services companies are rushing to launch digital growth initiatives to keep up with their competitors. Unfortunately, many organizations are doing so without taking the time to reevaluate their core growth strategy and integrate digital channels with that strategy. By skipping this vital step in the strategy development process, they’re assuring that their digital initiatives will have mediocre results.

To avoid that, take the time to re-open your marketing strategy and make your digital efforts central to your future efforts. Evaluate your audience, your competitors, and your goals, and develop a digital strategy that can be deployed in unison with your existing sales and marketing assets and campaigns to drive measurable growth.

2: Focus on the channels that are right for your brand

At first glance, it seems like your target audience is everywhere all at once, and it can be tempting to chase them down. As a company with limited resources, you run the risk of spreading your assets to thinly, leading to a presence on too many channels, none of which are driving profit for your company.

Instead of being everywhere, take the time to identify the channels that can serve as key engagement points between your brand and your audience. It is much more profitable to pursue 2-3 channels with focus and vigor than to have an ineffective presence on every digital channel available to you.

3: Understand your goals, and measure your results

At Risr, we believe that all digital efforts can be quantified and tied to our clients’ growth. This approach allows us to understand the impact that each digital asset or campaign has on revenue growth, which leads to more effective budget utilization and improved results.

Once you’ve created a digital strategy that aligns with your business goals, clearly define the metrics for each channel and asset that are important to you. Then, monitor those metrics on a regular basis and attribute new revenue to the appropriate channels. By doing so, you’ll know the true ROI of your digital initiatives, and put yourself in a position to improve your digital assets’ efficiency and growth contribution over time.

4: Remain consistent and engaged

There’s no quick-turnaround digital strategy that produces real-world growth. You need to accept that digital initiatives are long-term strategies, and support them as such. Whether you’re deploying social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, or digital advertising campaigns, you’ll only realize the maximum return on your investment if you stick with those initiatives and remain committed to measuring and improving them over time.

In addition to staying the course, your digital presence will require a high level of engagement over the long term. Digital channels require regular monitoring by a team capable of developing and testing improvements on a regular basis, and capable of staying engaged with your target audience on a daily basis.

5: Partner with a capable team

In a Gartner survey, CEOs of companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue stated that finding and recruiting qualified talent is the most significant roadblock on their path to digital success. In a separate study, Gartner found that up to half of all digital marketing efforts are being outsourced to marketing and advertising agencies.

For software and IT services providers, partnering with a company like Risr makes financial and operational sense. It can take months to recruit and onboard a qualified digital marketing leader, and months after that to build a team capable of meeting your company’s goals. When you partner with an outside agency, you eliminate the headaches associated with finding, hiring, and retaining an internal marketing team. This allows you to continue to focus on building your product and supporting your sales, development, and support teams while also reaping the rewards of a successful digital strategy in a shorter timeframe.

As you set your sights on 2017, consider how building a strategic and focused digital strategy can help your company reach it’s goals. Don’t rush to join the digital rat race. Instead, take the time to create a digital strategy that is right for your company, and commit to supporting it for the long haul. In doing so, you’ll put your organization in a position to meet your growth goals in 2017 and beyond.

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