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What’s a digital strategist? Part Two.

Hello again. I’ll continue the conversation about the elusive “digital strategist” title. If you haven’t read Part One, take a moment to catch up.

Last time, I talked about your website as the main hub for your online presence, and the role of the strategist. At the beginning of online marketing, there was a bit of an “if we build it they will come” philosophy. False. The reality is, if you build it they most often won’t know you exist until you invite them.

Think of your website as your home. You’ve cleaned and organized it and now it’s time to invite your friends over. How do you do that? Email? Facebook message? Text? Written invitation? The theme here is that you go to where they are and invite them to where you want them to be. You give them a reason to come: “We’re having a birthday party,” “It’s game night,” “We’re throwing some deliciousness on the grill.” Whatever the reason, most likely you match the event with the people most likely to be interested in it.

The same thing applies in online marketing. When you partner with a digital strategist, you have someone to find out exactly where your audiences are, what’s important to them, and how they’d like to be contacted. Using your knowledge of your audiences as a starting point, we may recommend doing some research to validate your thoughts. This research can be anything from looking at your website metrics, to customer interviews, to online surveys – or more. It’s worth the time and investment. I’ve never worked on a project where we didn’t pick up some helpful info!

Obviously, social media is a big deal these days. Your audiences are there. It’s your strategist’s job to understand which social channel(s) will be best suited for your business, and then come up with a plan for how to best utilize the channel. This includes timing, deciding whether or not to do paid promotions, and setting up a measurement plan to monitor what’s working and what’s not. And, you know how you keep hearing about changes to Facebook? Yeah. We keep track of all of that so you don’t have to. Because social media is so very much more than just knowing how to post.

And, then there’s search. A good digital strategist will start by demystifying the SEO/SEM/PPC jargon for you. They’ll help you understand what happens with keywords, how to choose the right ones and where to place them. Your strategist will give you the basis for how your content team and search marketing agency (if you need one – and we’ll help you decide that) can take the ball and run with it. If your search efforts don’t require a specialized search agency, a good digital strategist will know what to do to start and maintain your search program.

When you hire a digital strategist, here are things to look for:

1. The strategist speaks to you in regular language. Don’t be sucked in by the perception of expertise via the use of jargon or buzzwords.

2. Tangible examples of past projects. Make sure they can clearly and simply explain to you how they’ll measure your effectiveness.

3. The most effective strategists know what they’re good at and when to bring in someone else’s expertise. Strategists should be knowledgable on all things digital at a strategic/leadership level. They should not present themselves as the be all/end all.

Digital strategy isn’t rocket science. Nor is it something to be handed off to an intern because “It’s the Internet!” Doing it well requires a digital strategist who can bring expertise to the table, serve as the liaison between the best interests of you and your customer and educate your team on how to make effective decisions.