At the start of 2012 I made a vow to get in shape, shed some pounds and take up running. I was spurred into action by yet another request to sponsor my younger sister on an epic feat of endurance - that and the fact that my love of good cooking was beginning to show.
Having taken up various sports over the years only to drop them a few months later, I knew I needed to take a different approach. One of my passions other than food is technology and on the market today is a broad range of tracking and measuring devices that allow you to quantify your own performance and see the improvements of training programmes. I downloaded a running app from my phone and invested in a Nike Fuel band to make sure I became more active outside of my running programme.
I have found that the 'quantified self-trend' (i.e. the name given to this type of self-tracking) has been a key motivator which has kept me focused and encouraged me to lace up my shoes and go for a run whatever the weather. It is rewarding to see improvements in the data; the longer distances and the quicker times on the app. The ability to drive quick improvements, see the results and track longer term improvement overtime are a key part of raising any capability: short term results drive up energy levels and excitement whilst the longer term changes drive results.
Resolutions aren't just personal, the recent holidays gives us time to reflect on changes we might want to make professionally – the capabilities we want to acquire and projects we want to be involved in. Looking at our latest client research, improving digital capability is a popular and timely area where organisations are expressing a need to increase performance.
Over the past few years I have been fortunate to help a wide range of clients build their digital capabilities and assist them in co-developing and achieving their digital vision. As I've discovered with the running app and fuel band, key to the successful building of capability is the connection into data and the ability to quantify it and track performance improvements over time.
For those who have made a professional resolution around digital, the key thing is to develop an immediate plan to drive short term results as you develop your vision and raise your capability as an organisation. Short term improvements can inspire colleagues and the organisation more broadly to consider the digital opportunity. I would suggest following these five steps to improve your brand's digital fitness:
1. Connect with the analytics: all too often activities originate out of marketing whilst key measures such as website analytics and app usage reside with the digital teams. Connect with the people who hold the information and develop a dashboard of the key metrics for easy quantification of current performance and circulation around the organisation.
2. Listen to and monitor Social Media: it never ceases to amaze me how few organisations listen to social media on a regular basis and for those that do how narrowly the reports are distributed. If they exist, find them and harness their insight to help you optimise performance in the shorter to medium term.
3. Understand SEO: understand how SEO enables you to implement real improvements to your digital performance quickly. By developing more insightful shareable content to ensuring that content charts higher in results pages, SEO and awareness around how it operates is increasingly core knowledge for all Marketers.
4. Think Mobile: think of mobile as the most powerful piece of equipment in the digital gym, get to know it, understand it and harness it – confident in the knowledge that the time you spend on it will pay real dividends.
5. Audit your website: honestly ask yourself when was the last time your website was audited for content and optimised for the user experience of your customers, for search and for conversion. Further refine the performance of your website by A/B testing key landing pages and those pages that are critical to conversion. Whilst search and social are great ways to drive incremental traffic and awareness, optimisation and testing are the most powerful methods of extracting value from those already visiting your digital assets.
The great thing about resolutions at a professional rather than personal level is that often they can be shared and collaborated on. Rather than pounding a treadmill in the early hours of the morning the most rewarding and motivating experiences I have had come from running with someone who is fitter and faster than me. Enlist the help of your agencies and colleagues and seek to build your performance together, you'll stand a much better chance of realising your objectives and have more fun along the way.
This post is by Stephen Ingram, Digital Development Director at Brand Learning.