If you had told me ten years ago that I’d be wondering what my neighborhood grocer’s digital strategy was, I probably would have thought you were joking. Fast forward to today, though, and I feel a sigh of relief every time I can order grocery delivery with my phone in a pinch. So what’s changed in the last decade? When it comes to our digital experiences, practically everything.

Between new and changing regulations, like GDPR, and who’s transforming or disrupting which traditional business model next, the digital landscape is becoming more sophisticated all the time, and everyone—regardless of their business—should be thinking about how they’ll evolve to keep their digital footprint innovative.

When a digital strategy is table stakes, you have to think steps ahead

Gone are the days when you could leave digital innovations to the Silicon Valley types. Whoever you’re hoping to do business with—whether you’re a realtor, a doctor or a tailor—your customers are savvy enough to demand digital convenience with everything from how they view their medical records and interact with financial services to where they schedule their nail salon appointments, and if we’ve learned anything from Amazon—besides how to order a birthday present with same-day delivery—it’s that businesses that are not innovating their digital strategy will soon be left in the dust.

Consider how quickly setting up a Facebook page and some search engine optimization for your website went from being innovative to the bare minimum. And in the digital space—where everything is democratized in some way, businesses need to be thinking two to three steps ahead with their digital strategy.

If you have an online presence, have you considered A.I. as a way to triage your customers’ online outreach? If you work in real estate or home design, what could virtual and augmented reality do to transform your sales model?
People want faster, seamless and convenient interactions, and they’re willing to show preference for brands that recognize this in every industry. And the burden of innovation isn’t just on consumer-driven businesses. B2B companies are, ultimately, just appealing to people, too.

Innovative digital strategies have never been easier

Innovation can be an intimidating word. But no one’s saying you have to invent the next cryptocurrency to be innovative. What you do need to do, though, is look beyond what everyone else is doing. Because as soon as a successful tactic or strategy is uncovered and more businesses adopt it—just like the SEO and Facebook tactics mentioned above—it will only raise the bar.

Another myth to be dispelled is that only Fortune 500 companies need innovative digital strategies. It’s never been easier to get access to resources that can help you understand your customers and adjust your strategy. Even small businesses can use tools, like CRMs, email automations and targeted Facebook ads for a relatively inexpensive price tag. In fact, there are even companies that cater to helping small businesses unlock and leverage meaningful digital experiences for their customers.

Help your customer, help yourself

So maybe this blog has inspired you to think twice about your digital strategy and where it’s headed, but you’re still a little intimidated by the marketing terms and technical jargon. Where do you start?

I’d recommend considering your most popular use cases—maybe even start with the five things people do most often with your business—and ask yourself if they’re as easy as they can be. How can digital resources improve them? If they leave your site, will they know how to find you again? If they sign up for your newsletter, are you sure they’re reading it? If they visit your store (online or in person), have you made the transactions they often have with you as easy as they can be? If you’re innovating thoughtfully, you’ll hopefully find that addressing those frequently performed tasks and behaviors not only helps your customer, but it unlocks new efficiencies for you and your businesses.

We all know firsthand how good it feels when we find that new digital resource that brings convenience and simplicity to a hectic world. Imagine how much more convenient the world would be if everyone had an innovative digital strategy.

Have you recently made innovative changes to your digital strategy? Maybe you’ve got your eye on a new trend but you’re not sure how well it will work for your business. Start a conversation in the comments below.

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