“A List of Goals is Not a Strategy”: How Not to Plan a Web Strategy

The Harvard Business Review published Graham Kenny’s article “A List of Goals Is Not a Strategy”.

Written By
Dan Partridge

Kenny begins by outlining the expectations that most people have when they sit down to talk about strategy. In most situations we’d draw many of the same conclusions that he lists – growth, increasing sales, optimising ROI, more efficient work practices etc.

“When you’re done, you might scratch your head and reflect: I think this looks OK. It doesn’t. It contains what might be called goals, objectives, actions, and vague statements of intent — but alas, no strategies.”

These conclusions resonate with us. We help our clients to plan and implement their web strategies in order to grow their business or organisation. Applying Kenny’s observations into a web design context gives us two very helpful questions to shape any web strategy discussion.

Here are two important considerations that will help you to plan a web strategy:

Who do you depend on for success?

This is a great question that will have a big impact on the way that you plan a web strategy, website design and digital marketing. Quite simply, you need to work out who it is that you are specifically targeting.

Your target audience might only be a tiny percentage of the population. It doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that you know who your target audience are then then plan a web strategy that will help you to engage with these people better.

It’s also essential to identify those within your business or organisation upon whose shoulders your success or failure rests. Maybe you’ve got a talented writer who needs to be encouraged to allocate more of her working hours to producing highly engaging content for your website and social media platforms. Perhaps there’s a key member of your admin team whose attention to detail is crucial in keeping your eCommerce website up-to-date and accurate.

These people will play a key role in helping you to implement and plan a web strategy. Identifying them at the outset will help you to protect their time and ensure that their efforts are focused on your key priorities.

What do people expect from you?

This is another valuable question. Too often, for example, we are primarily concerned about communicating our sales messages to customers. Little or no consideration is given to thinking through what the customer might want from you.

Unsurprisingly this will vary from one organisation to another. An easy way to contextualise this question is to identify the reasons why an individual might follow you on Facebook or Twitter. *Hint: it’s probably not your sales pitches. However, your industry knowledge, product updates, special offers and local events might well be.

Learning what your users expect from you helps you to clarify your web strategy by identifying key messages that need to be prioritised.

It also gives you a chance to position yourself ahead of your competition. By taking steps to become the business that your customers want, for example, you increase the likelihood of growing your customer base.

If you’re running an eCommerce store you might want to give away a run of freebies or offer free shipping. After all, when the shoe is on the other foot and you’re a customer these things are very attractive. 

Identifying what people expect from you will also liberate you from going through the motions simply because you think that ‘these are the things that businesses should do’. In your approach to social media, for example, you should feel permission to tweet and post in a way that educates, informs and entertains your target audience. It doesn’t matter if it’s only interesting to 10% of the population; the important thing is that it is interesting to those people.

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