Some jobs are easy to imagine — a chef, a doctor, a car salesman, a teacher. But when I tell people I’m a digital strategist, I get furrowed brows or jokes about spending my day on social media.
I’ll admit it’s not what my 5-year-old self wanted to be when I grew up (teacher, Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, missionary), but I love what I do and I enjoy the challenging nature of my job.
A lot of what we do is behind the scenes, but the role is critical to our agency’s success. So for those who still aren’t sure what the job’s about, here’s a closer look at the life of a digital strategist.
What Is Digital Strategy?
Digital strategy encompasses everything we do to create, produce, and analyze digitally rich projects. From new websites to social media to search-optimized content — and sometimes the offline components that accompany these assets — any project with a online component has digital strategy as a backbone.
What Is a Digital Strategist?
A digital strategist is responsible for the planning, execution, and measurement of all that. Digital strategy work requires a vast skill set, so a digital strategist wears many hats.
A good digital strategist is:
A dream is a wish your heart makes — or, in the case of digital strategy, a dream is a goal your strategist reaches. Reaching client goals requires understanding the big picture and thinking of creative solutions to reach the right audiences in the right places at the right times.
My favorite “dreamer” role in my job is brainstorming. From content ideas to lead-nurturing techniques, dreaming is the easy part.
Getting from point A to point B is easier with a map, which is why strategists need to understand the current brand position and the goal to create a comprehensive road map for both the brand and customer journeys. This element of the job requires skills in creating plans, managing expectations, identifying key performance indicators (KPIs), and realizing ROI.
A strategist makes sure the tree falls in the forest when the ideal people are around to hear it. Once the strategic direction is in place and materials are created, a strategist makes sure they are published and amplified according to the plan.
To do so, we have to know all there is to know about:
- Social media platforms
- Search engines
- Customer-relationship management systems (CRMs)
- Marketing automation platforms (MAPs)
- Content management systems (CMSes)
- Analytics platforms
- Programmatic ad platforms
In the content creation process, your digital strategist sets content up for success by ensuring every asset follows SEO best practices. When a promotion is running — on social media, paid search platforms, etc. — a strategist keeps a close eye on its performance and adjusts as needed for the best results.
Digital marketing is only about 25 years old, but it changes regularly and rapidly each year. Due to the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of Google, social media platforms, and so many other facets of the digital space, digital strategists need to have a keen eye for technology trends and changes.
Clients — and co-workers — rely on their strategist to know how to make an impact online, so knowing these updates and how to implement them requires agility and curiosity.
After all is created, posted, and amplified, much of our job begins. We document the results of campaigns, projects, and deliverables and provide insight into what worked well, what didn’t, and why. Strategists need to be able to parse through numbers and data sets and find the story to tell clients and team members.
Ultimately, a good digital strategist is a people person who knows how to communicate ideas, solve problems with co-workers and clients, and present data in a concise, engaging format. Strategy runs throughout the life span of a client project, which requires a lot of teamwork and collaboration along the way.
A Digital Strategist’s To-Do List
Every day looks a little different, and every client has their own challenges. But on any given day, you can find me:
- Brainstorming for a client’s editorial calendar or a new business strategy.
- Monitoring social media for the brand pages we manage. This involves checking interactions and messages, scheduled posts, and running promotions.
- Checking every piece of digital content we produce for an optimized focus keyword, meta description, SEO page title, and proper keyword density.
- Uploading content to a client’s website, formatting it for readability and search, then including the preview link in a QC doc for the team to review.
- Pulling campaign results and compiling the results and key takeaways into an analytics deck to share with the team and the client.
- Writing social media posts.
- Optimizing Google Ads and Bing Ads for our agency’s inbound marketing efforts.
- Crafting an email for a monthly newsletter, loading it into the appropriate CRM and/or MAP, and sending a test to the team and client for review.
Being a digital strategist isn’t always easy, but it’s satisfying and rewarding when you get it right. And I can honestly tell you it’s better than anything I dreamed up as a kid.