The 1001 Meanings of Digital Strategy

Conquering the known world
Conquering the known world [From the awesome ]
We’ve heard it over and over again. Everybody and their brother is a strategist (the digital ones are the worst. just kidding, the social media ones are the worst :)).  Usually in the business world when one doesn’t understand a competency he or she will add “strategy” after it.

Digital strategy can be interpreted in a myriad of ways.  Taking it from the top we have the digital business strategy.

A business model is just a mechanism that defines how a business can live and thrive. When we’re considering digital as an element of that business model we’re dealing with digital business strategy (the IT function is usually very involved at this level).

Digital Business Strategy answers questions like:  Can we use digital and technologies to optimize the business model? How does digital impact different business practices (sales, marketing, hr, production, etc)? 
In terms of KPIs: increase in sales, decrease of marketing and HR costs, optimized production, etc.

Digital marketing / brand / product strategy is somewhere below this. The marketing function supports sales, business positioning, and other good things.

Digital marketing strategy answers questions like: How can digital marketing improve the business marketing function? Integration with the multichannel marketing? Consumer engagement models? What digital marketing programs can be implemented? How do they relate with current marketing programs? 
In terms of KPIs: increase in consumer reach, brand equity, sales, community size, community engagement %, etc. These should be tied into the digital business strategy KPIs. 

What about digital strategy?

At this level we find the most common usage of digital strategy. Often is it brand related and specific to a program, project or campaign.  Here, the brand/creative/multichannel strategies are already defined and/or planned. The remaining questions have to do with the digital execution of the multichannel plan and it is very tactic specific.
For instance we can ask: How can digital support the multichannel plan? What are the few principles that will drive our digital tactical planning? Which are the best platforms to leverage? How much weight should we give to specific digital channels?
The KPIs are pretty much the standard digital KPIs: reach, engagement, channel or platform usage, etc. The details of these KPIs are provided by the supporting tactics.

Hope this helps clarify some misconceptions.

And of course, no strategy is worth the paper it’s written on, unless it is supported by a consistent tactical planning that ties in its KPIs with the business and brand’s objectives.