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Using tactics to drive online actions and reactions

Adrian Porter Head of Strategic Research

In the late 6th century BC Sun Tzu - Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher wrote; “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”. How amazing that after trawling the web for hours looking for a contemporary quote that would set the tone for our latest report, that I couldn’t find an example that did it so perfectly as one that is generally over used and was written 27 centuries ago.

Ok, Sun Tzu couldn’t have foreseen how his words might be relevant to our digital world, and I’m no expert on ancient Chinese military conflicts, but taken literally his words are very relevant to the thrust of our new report which encourages organisations to think tactically in relation to a broader customer engagement strategy, aligned to a business objective.

Strategy without tactics - the slowest route to victory

The point is that often organisations come to us with a request for a discrete strategy that might be for social media, personalisation, content or mobile. In many cases ‘strategy’ can be a misnomer as the objective that the client is aiming for can be delivered more quickly and less expensively by a selective appreciation of the target customer, the engagement the organisation wants from the customer and the tactics required to provoke the relevant  action or and reaction.

Tactics without strategy - the noise before defeat

This isn’t to say that tactics alone will deliver to the organisational objective, since this is a reactive state that will only maintain the status quo at best. What is required is a customer engagement strategy that responds to an objective and puts in place tactical initiatives that are cross-cutting and interdependent.

What is a customer engagement strategy?

A customer engagement strategy brings together five tactical areas into a cohesive appreciation of the actions and reactions an organisation is attempting to drive from a particular customer in relation to a business objective. It is a fluid process, in which tactics are employed, measured, reviewed, refined and either redeployed or rejected in a state of constant evolution. (see diagram at top)

Isn’t this a customer experience strategy?

Certainly an engagement strategy should be part of a customer experience(CX) strategy,. However a successful CX strategy can be far wider ranging, including all customer touchpoints both on and offline and might involve systems integration at an enterprise level. It might also require elements of organisational change and process re-engineering as part of a broader transformational agenda.

What tactics should I use?

Our newest report will provide you with the inspiration to begin to try tactics that have succeeded for others. Using best practice examples from a wide variety of organisations you will be provided with 25 tactical initiatives that you can begin to try tomorrow as a means of engaging your target customers.

Over the coming weeks our experts will be talking individually about each of the five tactical areas that need to be addressed to produce an effective customer engagement strategy and hopefully moving you away from the notion that each can be seen as a discrete piece of work. We hope to take you towards the idea that digital strategies are really only business strategies that employ a series of tactics to deliver a business objective.

Later in the year we will be offering a further report on the question of the Customer experience, and how organisations should begin to understand and manage their customers’ journeys from a holistic, multi-channel standpoint.

You can download the report - Driving Actions and Reactons Online: Customer engagement in the new digital world - here.