What is digital strategy? Part seven

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This is the seventh chapter of our white paper on digital strategy. Get in touch to find out how to receive the full paper, or click here to see all chapters published so far.

Content and Engagement

Content strategy

This is a growing and increasingly recognised discipline within the delivery of digital projects. A content strategist will be involved at the early stages, alongside – or sometimes prior to – information architects. They continue to champion content as others move into their own areas of specialisation.

Digital projects are complex so are often tackled with a technology first, content last approach. For end users, the opposite is true – content is the primary focus.

As a project proceeds, a content strategist will expect to evaluate every element of content and understand the specific business need & customer goal it is intended to fulfil. Following on from that the content strategist will begin to pare down the content, removing duplication and padding, and possibly laying the groundwork for additional content if a clear need for it has been identified.

A keen interest in other workstreams is essential. If a UX team is conducting a usability study, the content strategist should want to see the results. If an experience planner is presenting findings from stakeholder interviews, the content strategist should be there, asking questions. When content producers use the new CMS to create, edit and publish materials, the content strategist should help to improve their workflow and output.

Content strategy isn’t an optional extra that can be ignored. Instead, it is an unavoidable aspect of almost every digital project – a content strategy always exists, even if the strategy is that there is no strategy. A project team may choose not to define a content strategy at the appropriate stage of the project, but at some point before launch the content issue will need to be addressed. When this is left too late serious problems can arise. It is the content strategist’s job to prevent this.


Digital engagement strategy is where the digital disciplines intersect with marketing, communications and customer service. It is one of the more rapidly changing components of digital strategy, as engagement channels are continually evolving. Five years ago it was dominated by email marketing – but this is just part of today’s mix alongside social media, blogs, SMS and stakeholder communities.

The danger in such a fast-changing space is that “silos” for each channel form within the business, with one team responsible for the Facebook page and another managing email campaigns. By overcoming this compartmentalisation, engagement strategy promotes a coherent, consistent approach across existing channels while helping businesses quickly take advantage of emerging ones.

Like search strategy, digital engagement generates large amounts of data. This presents the opportunity for greater measurability, but also the risk of becoming bogged down in weekly tactical cycles. Effort should be made to identify strategically relevant insights – the needles in the haystack.

To achieve this engagement strategy should work closely with public relations and marketing teams, being informed by their strategic objectives and established methodologies. Third party expertise should be brought in if needed to ensure the organisation can retain its strategic focus, even if disaster strikes erupt.

At the same time, this component needs to keep an eye on the horizon in order to anticipate and respond to changing channel behaviours among customers and other relevant groups – something that demands a specialised digital mindset.

What not to do

Vodafone’s “Made Me Smile” Twitter campaign in December 2010 placed unmoderated tweets on to Vodafone’s website. Anti-Vodafone content from tax avoidance protestors quickly filled up the page, leading Vodafone to pull the feature in the first weekend of launch.

Next week

This series of posts will come to an end next week with the publication of the concluding chapter.

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