Digital marketing never stands still for long. Just when you get used to a certain set of technologies, trends, and patterns on which to build your online business, something new comes in to change the game and forces your tactics to evolve.
The Evolving Digital Landscape
For some of us, the ever-evolving digital landscape is thrilling; it gives us something new to read every morning, something new to do every day, and something to bring up in every meeting. For others, it’s an unpredictable, painful process that leads to more work and weaker results if you aren’t fast enough.
Nobody can predict the future, especially not in the digital realm, but if you pay close attention to how the digital landscape has developed (over the past few years especially), you can make a reasonable prediction about what’s coming next:
- Desktop is mattering less and less. We knew desktop users were flocking to mobile in droves since mobile devices first came out, but only this year did mobile traffic finally overtake desktop traffic. So far, that growth pattern hasn’t slowed. In fact, some companies are preparing for desktop to stop mattering altogether. Google’s John Mueller made a statement earlier this year that it’s no longer necessary to have a desktop version of your site–mobile is now the preferred means of internet access for consumers and tech influencers alike. That means it’s more important than ever to have a mobile component to your digital strategy.
- Social is starting to mean much more than “social.” Social media apps change a little more every year, but for the most part, those changes have been made to introduce new kinds of social interactions or simplify old ones. Now, social apps are moving in non-social directions; for example, Pinterest is leading a new trend of social/e-commerce hybrid apps, which offer social functionality combined with purchasable items, and Facebook is developing its own digital assistant.
- Video is becoming the new normal. For a while, written content dominated the digital landscape, but now videos are taking over. Thanks to wider availability of lightning-fast internet (and smaller screens that favor video over text), video content is becoming preferred and more popular among publishers. Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are auto-playing videos in newsfeeds and rewarding video contributors; even Google is considering allowing video ads in its SERPs. If you don’t already have a video content strategy, it’s time to get one.
- Automation is ruling back-ends. You don’t notice all the manual actions that take place after you click a button online. You don’t see all the human production managers preparing your Amazon order for shipment, or all the Google coders responsible for putting the latest update together. But those human elements are starting to gradually fade away–Amazon is preparing a fleet of self-piloted drones to handle future deliveries, and Google just introduced RankBrain, a portion of it search algorithm that learns and updates itself over time. As more self-regulating systems emerge, it will be harder and harder to predict development patterns in the digital landscape, or adapt to them once them emerge.
- Virtual reality is right around the corner. Oculus, the biggest name in the new wave of virtual reality (VR), recently partnered with Samsung to release the Samsung Gear. So far, critical reception and sales have been glowing. Early next year, Oculus is releasing the Oculus Rift, a technologically complex device compatible with major gaming systems and even Facebook (which owns Oculus outright). Though there’s a slight possibility for consumer apathy or total failure, it’s more likely that we’re about to enter an age where VR consumption of digital media is the new normal.
If you’re prepared for these changes in 2016 and the coming years, your business will be in far better shape than your competition. You’ll be visible, you’ll have a bolder, more cutting-edge reputation, and you’ll stand to gain a bigger payout since nobody else will be doing what you are. Of course, adopting new strategic shifts in anticipation of merely-predicted changes in the digital landscape is a bit of a risk, but online marketing is a realm that rewards risk takers.