New Year’s Resolutions for Your Digital Strategy
OHO's team of dedicated strategists share new year’s resolutions to help shore up your digital strategy at the start of the new year.
It’s the start of a new year! As we struggle to remember what day it is and how to login to our work email, we are (hopefully!) hopping back into the saddle refreshed and resolved to make the most out of 2023.
With that in mind, we asked OHO strategists what new year’s resolutions could help get your digital strategy in ship-shape. Like all good resolutions, our ideas aren’t radical or unrealistic — they are achievable steps toward meaningful progress.
Commit to Monthly “Quick Check” Audits
The idea of undertaking a comprehensive content audit on your website may feel daunting — that’s a lot of content, after all, and your to-do list is… well, long. How can you find the time?
What you can find the time for are monthly “quick checks” of targeted areas of your site. For example, in higher ed, you might review admissions pages before your recruitment cycle kicks into high gear and check a few notable program pages to ensure their currency and clarity. For a health insurance site, you might make sure your plan pages and FAQs sections feature the most up-to-date information heading into the open enrollment period.
As you undertake these quick checks, report to your leadership about these efforts to begin making a case for dedicated time and resources for more comprehensive, ongoing site auditing.
Analyze Dynamic Content Performance
Dynamic content — such as news articles and blog posts — are among the most well traveled pieces of content on our site. You can consider them digital brand ambassadors, being shared and discovered by a range of audiences and tasked with presenting key elements of your brand and experience.
You should strive for a holistic measurement strategy where you have insight into how this content performs and loop those insights back into your editorial process. A good way to prepare for that kind of approach is to start by focusing on your top performing piece of dynamic content. What got the most traction? Why do you think that was? What can you take away from its performance? How can you operationalize those insights for the future?
Set Up GA4 Before Universal Analytics Disappears
Speaking of measurement… On July 1, 2023, Google’s Universal Analytics will stop logging site traffic, necessitating a transition to the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4). However, this transition is not as simple as plopping a new tag into your source code and watching new data roll in. There are a number of fundamental changes to how Google Analytics 4 processes and presents data, particularly when it comes to events, conversions, and reporting.
It’s not too late to begin planning your transition to GA4 — here are some things to keep in mind. OHO has also been guiding a number of our partners through this process, so let us know if we can help.
Schedule Bi-Annual Strategic Check-ins With Key Stakeholders
As philosopher John Locke once proclaimed (we think), “no digital strategy is an island.” We are not managing and updating websites with the end goal of having a website. We don’t run campaigns for the heck of it. These are just tools used to achieve broader strategic business objectives — to recruit students, to increase awareness of resources, to attract or inform patients, and so on.
The folks setting those objectives and priorities —whether they fully understand it or not — are relying on digital strategies to help them succeed. Get more insight into their goals, their target audiences, and what success looks like. From there, share thoughts and outcomes from your digital strategy, with the goal of achieving a shared understanding of how digital platforms can best support their objectives.
The stronger your partnerships with those stakeholders, the more likely they are to achieve their goals and the more clarity you will have to do your work effectively.
Find New Ways to Elevate Your End User’s Needs
We can get so wrapped up in our work — fielding demands from higher-ups, collaborating with colleagues on big ideas and problems, researching trends and best practices, or just keeping up with the to-do list — that we can sometimes forget who our work is for. That’s right, the end-user. Our audience. The people without whom we would literally have no reason to do the work at all.
So, resolve to better understand and prioritize their interests more in the year to come. That could mean getting more insight into user behavior through improved approaches to measurement and analytics. Heck, staff a table in a common area with a laptop during lunchtime and ask folks to complete a key task or react to some draft ads. (While using your intern in the next cube might be tempting, we always recommend testing with real customers.)
Identify All of Your Website Editors
“It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?” We can adapt that classic ‘80s PSA in the context of web governance — it’s 10 a.m., do you know who your editors are?
It may seem like a silly question — of course we can track who has accounts in our CMS! But think about turnover (and how often, when someone departs a role, you are actually told about it), or login-sharing, or parts of the website that are simply unaccounted for. Is that list of usernames giving you the whole story?
By having an accurate tally of your CMS users, you can better track who is up to date on their training and what parts of your website have ownership gaps. You can create mailing lists or other means by which to communicate with site editors about training sessions, brand standards, upgrades, or other relevant topics. And you can ensure their managers are in the loop about their website responsibilities and what they entail.
Broaden Your Understanding of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We are seeing our partners increasingly paying more attention to (and putting more resources behind) issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and we are here for it. This may seem like an overwhelming area to make progress in, but you don’t have to tackle all of the challenges yourself — just be a part of the solution. To that end, here are a few helpful starting points:
In those aforementioned stakeholder check-ins, include your chief diversity officer, disability services office, or similar functions
When considering the end-user — through user testing, focus groups, or what have you — ensure you are accounting for the diversity of your community
Consider how to get more diverse perspectives to inform your work— whether that means how and where you recruit for an opening, or who participates in user testing
Commit to regularly reading, watching, or listening something that broadens your understanding of these topics as it relates to your work. Here are some of the resources we’ve been sharing on our team recently:
Webinar: Best Practices for Inclusive and Diverse Photography in Higher Education (CASE members only)
Be open-minded about audience feedback. Whether it’s comments on social media or what people say in community meetings, listen to what people are saying about how your institution or organization is doing. If you get called out, resist the urge to get defensive — take it as an opportunity to more closely consider their perspective and how that might positively influence your work.
Triage Your Taxonomies
Your website taxonomies will likely evolve over time as the needs of the users and the organization change. Another thing that can happen over time is term bloat, which can yield an excessive amount of options that create confusion for both end users and site editors.
It’s good practice to review your taxonomies annually to make sure that they reflect current editorial and user needs, as well as how end users would group content and label those groups. Eliminate any taxonomy terms that are no longer necessary and clean up redundant terms.
For example, if you have “Theater” and “Theater Arts” as terms in the same taxonomy, they are too similar to each other to be both necessary and useful. You may decide “Theater Arts” is the more accurate term. In that case, find content tagged “Theater” and tag it “Theater Arts” instead before you remove the term “Theater” from the taxonomy.
Update Your Photo Wishlist
If I said, “think of the three photos that you feel most perfectly encapsulate you and the experience you offer,” you could probably conjure those images in your mind. The best of the best, right? The challenge is not to conjure them too frequently in your marketing materials.
Photography — whether you have an in-house photographer or rely on freelance resources — can be resource-intensive, so it is important to be thoughtful and strategic when planning and using your visual content resources.
Ensure you have the images you want on your shot list. Align that list to your brand priorities and strategic objectives. Identify the ways visual content can express what words cannot, and ensure those ideas are included. Give yourself the breadth to meet a range of needs while expressing your essence, without overusing impactful imagery.
Refresh Your Reading Lists and Podcast Feeds
We are fortunate to work in a professional environment where our peers share so freely of their experience, knowledge, and approaches. But a new year provides a great opportunity to refresh your list of blogs, podcasts, and other learning resources to ensure you’re getting the freshest, most relevant insights. Stay curious, and stay challenged.