A digital strategy is a clear vision for the future of your organization’s digital ecosystem and a plan to get there. In a rapidly changing world, it’s crucial for organizations to focus on a digital strategy that is rooted in organizational goals, audience needs, and the impact you are hoping to achieve.
You may be facing the challenge of how to realign your digital strategy and modernize your technology while juggling many other shifting priorities in operations, advocacy, or programs. You’re not alone. So where do you start?
Think about the goal before the technology
Every digital or communications activity your organization undertakes should be strategically aligned with the mission and goals of your organization and the wants and needs of your key audiences.
Whether you’re working on your overall strategy or a particular campaign or event, always start with clarifying the goal that you’re working toward and making sure that your entire team is on the same page. You won’t know whether launching a new TikTok presence or reigniting a dormant email campaign is the right choice until you’re clear on what you’re trying to achieve and who you’re trying to reach.
Forum One recently partnered with Easterseals NH to define a future-ready strategy for their digital ecosystem, including opportunities for a new website, an employee intranet, and other digital platforms that could make the organization’s work more efficient and impactful. Through extensive audience and market research—such as staff interviews, staff and external audience surveys, and a comparative analysis of peer websites—along with an in-depth review of their current digital ecosystem and online user experience, Easterseals NH now has a solid foundation of data and recommendations to more effectively utilize their digital ecosystem to fulfill their mission, attract top employee talent, and increase donations.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Other organizations are facing the same challenges, and there are a lot of great technology solutions for digital engagement. Get free advice from nonprofit technology groups, attend virtual events, or sign up for a competitor’s email list to see what’s working and what’s not.
Our work with the ALS Association details how it transitioned from the viral success of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to a streamlined, comprehensive digital strategy that united local chapters and national audiences. The ALS Association had a national website and individual sites for each regional chapter. The challenge was that if a piece of content was updated on the main ALS Association website, each chapter website would then need to update it as well, and the risk of having outdated information on some of the sites was, understandably, a major concern due to the complexity of the disease. By implementing a new CMS and information architecture, ALS Association now has a standardized and flexible digital ecosystem to manage content, which has in turn amplified the Association’s voice and message across its 39 geographically dispersed chapters and beyond.
Start (and fail) small
Once you have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve and what tactics might work for you, try it out before you commit. You can learn a lot about what your audience wants and where your capacity gaps are by testing out ideas.
Define who you are trying to reach and what they care about, then do a single event, a trial campaign, or a single video with a small group before announcing a series. Establish metrics that measure reactions, engagements, and your own internal successes and challenges in executing the plan—remember that staffing, budget, and organizational change management are components of your plan as well.
Plan for the long-term, and adjust as you go
A successful digital strategy should be flexible enough to accommodate technology and organizational changes and specific enough to chart a clear course that the entire organization can align with.
Growing your digital engagement capacity will likely require investments of budget or time over time. Set up regular review sessions on a quarterly basis to dig into what has been working and how you can improve. These should be longer sessions that involve key stakeholders. On a day-to-day management basis, set up weekly or biweekly check-ins with key staff to ensure that you are staying on track with your strategy.