Opinions

To Tame Digital Chaos, Chart Your Digital Ecosystem

Posted by Shaun Quigley on June 19th, 2012 at 4:53 am

Now, more than ever, brand storytelling is driven by digital media.

But the digital landscape is chaotic. It’s a highly fragmented universe that includes online video, display, search, mobile apps, social commerce, interactive TV, gaming and more. These new channels have disrupted the traditional path to purchase… but they’ve also created new opportunities to connect. Consumers today are always connected via mobile devices — at home, on-the-go, and in shopping environments.

But with so many moving pieces, how do you keep your brand’s digital mix straight in your head? Has your boss ever asked what your brand was doing in digital? Imagine the horror of having to explain such complexity!

To simplify that explanation, create a digital ecosystem.

What is a digital ecosystem?

Simply stated, an ecosystem is a set of relationships. A digital ecosystem visually clarifies how your mix of digital channels works together relative to your consumer’s journey.

A digital ecosystem is categorized by drivers, hubs and outcomes. It connects all the content experiences that your brand delivers and shows how your consumer gets from one place to another. Most importantly, a digital ecosystem highlights an end game for each digital investment.

Download the Digital Ecosystem Planning Template

Start with business goals, KPIs and your consumer!

Your consumer should define the elements of your digital ecosystem. Take the time to understand and chart their persona and expectations along their entire journey. Understand which media connections are most relevant (and why) during each phase of their decision-making process and articulate the type of content that gets them engaged.

From there, map out media options based on these value factors:

  • Trust of source
  • Scale of source
  • Value of connection/engagement
  • Cost to buy/cost to produce
  • Time-to-market

Create the digital ecosystem

STEP 1: Identify your drivers

Digital drivers provide reach to your consumer. These media might be paid (video, display, search), earned (user reviews, online conversation) or shared (where brands invite public participation in content creation).

STEP 2: Determine where your drivers should drive.

Hubs deliver the goods. They may be transactional, informational, educational or entertaining, but they’re typically owned (controlled entirely by the brand, like an ecommerce site) or shared (social media sites like Facebook or retail partnerships).

STEP 3: Specify the outcomes you expect in your ecosystem.

Outcomes are the actions you want consumers to take. They close the loop. It could be to watch a video, download an app, play a game, buy a shirt or rate a restaurant. Outcomes provide the data you’ll need to understand which digital channels are working, which should be optimized and which should be dropped from the mix entirely.

Understand that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Brands today have an enormous amount of digital activity in their mix. Many are driving business results while others are still being tested.  A digital ecosystem simply clarifies everything you have going on, so that everyone on your team can see the big picture, become aware of all the available assets and understand how success is being measured.

Download the Digital Ecosystem Planning Template

Shaun Quigley is VP, Digital Practice Director for Brunner. Follow Shaun @squigster.

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