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Tips To Streamline Digital Planning

It’s that time of year again: digital planning! Whether it’s deciding how to use remaining 2017 funds smartly before the holiday rush or preparing initial budgets for 2018, planning often hits right when teams are pushing to final delivery of major initiatives. The process can also be dominated by spreadsheets from finance. Here are recommendations and a lightweight framework to help streamline efforts and increase effectiveness.

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What Do We Want To Do & Why

Budget cycle planning shouldn’t “boil the ocean”. It needs a clearly defined purpose of what needs to be done and why. Obviously planning for how to spend remaining fiscal year budgets differs in complexity from bigger picture annual planning. For digital efforts that means developing actionable plans for creating, improving, and/or integrating digital experiences. Define the specific experiences(s) to be addressed [eg. sites, apps, channels], the business drivers [eg. marketing, sales, product, service], target audience(s), and baseline performance metrics. When comparing potential initiatives, a scoring and ranking exercise based on customer or business impact can greatly aid prioritization.

Right People In The Room

Selecting the right participants for planning sessions is critical, especially for speed and alignment in decision-making. We’ve found most clients today have representatives from at least three groups when discussing digital priorities: product, creative, and technology. These stakeholders bring unique points of view of the business, functional, and technical requirements, as well as different perspectives of the end customer. The planning leader is even more critical – they don’t have to be a an expert in everything, but must have the authority to define the process, timelines, and outcomes. And they should also be able to throttle conversations and ensure everyone is fully engaged.

Run A User-Centered Process

A baseline on the state and performance of the current experience(s) should be shared with the team. It’s always good to do a deep dive on any original assumptions, including those related to business model, competitive research, market trends, and especially personas and the user journey.

Many firms have challenges with the last two, personas and user journey. Rapid ideation exercises that bring the persona to life as a “real person” can help to break down the walls of traditional marketing segmentation data. Participants are then able to drill into what the user really needs from the digital product or experience, how it adds value.

Mapping (or re-mapping) the user journey allows the planning participants to assess how/when/where the user can interact with the experience or product. The never-ending increase in the marketplace of new brands, platforms, and touchpoints makes this exercise key to informing prioritization and development of new or improved digital features and functions.

The Roadmap

With fresh insights in hand, the stakeholders are able to lay out a roadmap of what they want to accomplish. These prioritized activities define timelines, internal/external resources, technology infrastructure / data / research required, and high level deliverables for phases. This lightweight framework can help to set a realistic baseline for budgeting and support a real world business case.

MVP/E

One final note on digital planning – the whole point is to get moving in the market smartly, whether improving a site, launching an app, or introducing a new digital product. Customer expectations and behaviors don’t stop evolving. To bring the plan to life quickly we’re big fans of prototyping a Minimum Viable Product or Experience (“MVP/E”), putting it into market to test, then rapidly iterating and scaling. The best digital plans don’t sit on a shelf, they get to work.

 

Zemoga’s teams of creative technologists have been helping clients drive innovation and deliver amazing digital experiences for over 15 years. If you’d like to learn more about our proven approach, please reach out.

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