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You know digital is important, but what exactly is digital strategy? To ignite your exploration, Sapient's Nonprofit Practice brought together key concepts about digital strategy into one convenient Little Black Book.
Sapient's Little Black Book of Digital Strategy 2014
of Digital Strategy
“The visionary starts with a clean sheet
of paper and reimagines the world.”
— Malcolm Gladwell
Keynote at Sapient iEX, Idea Exchange 2013
ABOUT THIS BOOK
You are here. You picked up this book. You know digital is important, but
what exactly is digital strategy?
To ignite your exploration, we have brought together key concepts about
digital strategy into one convenient little black book.
At Sapient, nothing excites us more than enabling curious people like
you to reimagine the digital world.
DIGITAL: POWER TO IMPACT THE WORLD
We live in an always-on world where constant connectivity
transforms how we access information, shapes and deepens our
conversations, and changes how we unite with other human beings.
From the desk of a global CEO, to the couch of a college undergrad,
to the kitchen of a busy parent, digital gives us all the power to
impact the world.
A digital strategy helps you harness this power and is vital for your
organization to connect with people.
A digital strategy defines the
organizational benefits of digital
initiatives and provides a path for
how to achieve those outcomes.
DIGITAL STRATEGY CREATION
It’s easy to get lost in all the hype.
Take these steps into consideration before you dive into digital:
ALIGN ORGANIZATIONAL OBJECTIVES
Be clear from the beginning how a digital
strategy will help you meet organizational
SET CLEAR METRICS
Two typical metrics for digital include Return
on Investment (ROI) – the revenue you are
getting back for the cost your putting in - and
Return on Engagement (ROE) – the human
engagement you are getting back for the cost
your putting in.
UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
Remember to keep your audiences’ needs,
particularly unmet needs, and expectations as
the main driving force of your digital strategy.
User Experience (UX) is critical; if your
audience can’t easily navigate your website or
use your mobile app, they will go elsewhere…
or worse… complain loudly to their 7,546
followers on Twitter. Yikes.
Digital strategies happen in iterations; Use
your audiences’ needs and your budget to
prioritize what happens first and don’t worry
about the rest just yet – you’ll get there.
Anticipate future developments to keep up
with the constant changing nature of digital
technology. Plan ahead to seize opportunities
and mitigate potential issues.
POLICIES AND STANDARDS
There are many policies and standards needed to build, execute, and maintain an effective digital
strategy. A few of them include:
Sets the policies, standards, and operating
procedures to create, execute, and manage
the digital strategy.
Helps your developers operate more efficiently
and makes the most of your technology by
outlining highly technical things like network
and server infrastructure to less technical
things like file naming conventions.
SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES
Establishes how to maintain your organ-ization’s
brand, interact with your online
audiences, and moderate your social media
Part of a content strategy, content governance
keeps your content streamlined by setting the
rules and regulations for creating, implement-ing
and managing your content.
DESIGN STYLE GUIDES
Keeps you “on brand” (and out of your
designer’s dog house) by setting guidelines
for brand colors, typography, logo position and
usage, photography, and other art assets.
WRITING STYLE GUIDES
Establishes the personality of your brand
through an outlined tone and voice by creating
the set standard for writing copy across all
platforms and channels.
DIGITAL STRATEGY TEAM
Creating and implementing a digital strategy takes a team. Some of the team players fall into
the categories below and the more of them you get involved from the beginning, the better. Just
remember that your audience is a central part of this team.
Ensure your digital
initiatives meet audience
expectations and needs
• Information Architects
• Visual Designers
• Interaction Designers
• Usability Testers
Define, create and share
content that connects with
• Social Media Specialists
• Communication Specialists
Create, build, and test solutions
that are stable and usable
• Front End Developers
• Back End Developers
• Platform Specialists
• Quality Assurance Tester
Answer questions like why do
you need a digital strategy?
What will the digital strategy do?
Who is the digital strategy for?
• Business Strategists
• Digital Strategists
• Content Strategists
• User Researchers
EARLY AND OFTEN
“Accelerating and innovating to match
the pace of digital requires a clear
vision, a focus on the audience and a
team of diverse skillsets, perspectives
and experiences. Today, the question
is not if organizations should adopt a
digital strategy, but if they have the
right team to create and execute one.”
— Nathan Brewer, Vice President
Sapient Nonprofit Practice Leader
A FRAMEWORK FOR DIGITAL
The following framework is a simplified model to think about digital from information creation to
information presentation to the audience. By separating digital into layers, we gain a clearer
understanding of the importance of each layer and how they support one another. A more complex
cyclical model would include audience research and an analytics framework to operationalize data-driven
Your digital information
• Content (Text, Video, Audio)
How you manage your information
• Web and Enterprise Content Management Systems (CMS)
• Application Program Interface (API)
• Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM)
How you present your information
• Digital Displays
• Social Media
What are the operational
processes and mechanisms
required to ensure the
continued success of content?
What delivery model is
necessary to acquire,
create, maintain and
What is the content
experience for the
audience? What goes into
a digital solution? To which
user(s) is it targeted?
Content is the life force behind your digital strategy – it’s what you use to connect with your
audiences. Content strategy is a piece of digital strategy and is the systematic, thoughtful approach
to creating the most relevant, effective, and appropriate content at the most opportune time, to the
We break down content strategy into three pillars:
DON’T LET YOUR LIFE FORCE BECOME A DISEASE – AVOID THESE COMMON MISTAKES:
• Outdated or missing content
• Off-message, stale, inconsistent content
• Inconsistent experiences across all audience touch points or platforms
• Little to no personalization to the content
• Lack of content ownership – no one is accountable
• Lack of governance or oversight to control quality, accuracy and legality
• Content that does not fulfill or meet audience needs
• Inefficient use of powerful, and often expensive technology
Analytics includes data analysis, statistics, and insights. All of this information helps you make informed
decisions on how to improve your digital presence. Common metrics include views, clicks, click through rate,
number of downloads, number of users, unique visitors, and conversion/buy rate.
An Application Programming Interface is a set of tools (data libraries, etc.) that developers use to create new
features for a digital platform, or connect one platform to another. For example, you can use Facebook’s API
as your user name and password to login to other websites.
APPS Short for applications, Apps are small, focused programs loaded onto your smartphone or tablet. Three types
of apps include: web, native, and hybrid.
CMS A Content Management System is a platform for organizing information, data, and user information for a
website. It is the interface used by website owners to create and publish information.
CRM Customer Relationship Management systems are used to create and manage user accounts for websites
including maintaining your user preferences.
DATABASE Databases store all kinds of information in an organized fashion. Databases can store structured data (i.e.
numbers) or unstructured data (i.e. text, pictures, etc.)
METATAGS Metatags provide information like what your webpage is about, who created it, how often its updated and
keywords that describe the page’s content.
MICROSITE Small, targeted websites, created for specific, often time-bound, purposes. Good uses of microsites include
promoting an event, advertising promotions, etc.
PLATFORM A way to organize digital information. Think of it as the foundation that your digital presence is built on
Return on Engagement. A key metric in social media and Digital. ROE measures online and digital traffic and
transactions, measures it against dollars invested. Some metrics include likes, forwards, tweets, retweets,
downloads, average time spent per user, etc.
ROI Return on Investment. Similar to ROE, ROI measures dollars received versus dollars invested. This may be
measured in raw currency, tracked by donations received, or by members gained.
Really Simple Syndication. Scans the Internet for content personalized to your preferences, and presents it
in a simple, organized way. Want to read the headlines from all the major newspapers in the U.S. in less than
hour? RSS to the rescue!
SEO Search Engine Optimization helps your audience find your content easier by bringing your website or webpage
to the top of search results like Google or Yahoo!
Similar to apps, widgets are small, visually based applications on your smartphone, tablet, or internet
browser that can be programmed for a different functions. Widgets can be music players, to calendars, to
Why do we exist? How do we do what
we do today, but better? Where have
we been, where are we going, and
how are we going to get there? Our
approach to working with nonprofits
is not just about providing the
answers but about understanding
the questions in the first place. We
work to optimize organizations by
understanding your goals—and then
recommending and implementing the
means to achieve them.
By collaborating with your organization to
assess, improve, integrate, or develop business
processes and strategies, we can help nonprofits
focus energies and dollars on their constituents,
and modernize operations so you can maximize
From mobile solutions for fund-raising or public
outreach, to technology platform solutions for
member education or data capture and sharing,
we understand the tools and software unique
to nonprofits—and how they define the ways in
which users experience your organization.
Whether the challenge is increasing
membership, increasing awareness, or
increasing revenues, we help nonprofit
organizations connect with the public, and
engage and retain donors, members, volunteers
We help nonprofits define, refine, understand
the impact of, and analyze the relevance of your
mission and vision, and we work with you to
develop and document the plans behind those
BUSINESS MODEL & PROCESS
TECH STRATEGIES &
MARKETING, OUTREACH &
ORGANIZATIONAL ASSESSMENT &
We are Sapient, and we understand how a robust digital strategy can help give
nonprofits the power to impact the world. A team of 11,000+ strategists, technologists
and storytellers across the globe, we provide organizations the insights and tools to
link digital solutions to overall strategic context. Our work reflects the diversity of
nonprofit missions as well as their common objective:
enabling positive social change.
ENABLING POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE
Don’t tell anyone, but we made a little black book… just for you.