Competing in the 2015 digital landscape

Competing in the digital space is simple but it’s not easy

Our goal is to help you build a digital roadmap for your business in 2015. We will use trends and predictions to highlight why we think it’s necessary for you to take one route over another, but at the end of the day, we want you to have a rough idea of how you can get your business from digital point A to digital point B in the coming year and beyond.

Just Showing Up Is No Longer Good Enough

Believe it or not, there was a period when the Internet wasn’t such a crowded, oversaturated place. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, being present in the digital space put you well ahead of the competition, because it was pretty much uninhabited. Even just 10 years ago, the Internet wasn’t as jam-packed with businesses competing for attention. If you had a website, you were doing something that most of your competitors didn’t think they needed to, and that
was a huge advantage.

Those days are gone. Just showing up is no longer good enough. In fact, just showing up essentially renders you invisible, because everybody understands that the world is thriving in the digital space.

Technology Is Changing Marketing

There is no question that technology is driving change in the marketing world, and yet marketers and businesses still lag on the adoption of new devices and digital channels. For some, it’s the old “head in the sand” approach, but here’s a newsflash: things are going to change, whether you like it or not. For others, keeping up with technology seems daunting, so they just don’t do it. One thing is for sure: marketing is not driving change in technology, so even if you label yourself a marketer, it would serve you well to become at least somewhat of a technologist too.

The Internet looked looked drastically different 10 years ago. And in another 10 years from now it will be unrecognizeable. The rate of change is accelerating and the breakneck pace of the technological advancements we’re making is incredible, to the point that every business and marketer should be using a tool, channel or device that is outside his or her comfort zone. It’s the only way to get used to working in an environment in constant flux, but it’s absolutely necessary because that’s the just the world we now live in.

My own business partner, a Google Top Contributor, one of only 12 people in the world to consult regularly with Google, has said many times that the more knowledge he gains the more terrified he is of the power of digital advertising and what it actually takes to do it well. Take it from me, he is absolutely top in his field so this should tell you something; do not leave your search advertising in the hands of amateurs. There are a select few who can really do it well. A word of advice ~ safeguard your ad spend!

Paid Advertising Channels Deserve Your Attention

Even with that said, paid ads are another thing we’ve been harping on over the last few months, especially the social kind. We know the Internet is saturated with content; it’s just the way things are now.

It’s frustrating to write a good blog post or article that only 20 people will read. Social ads and other forms of paid advertising can ensure that your content marketing efforts are seen and read. We repeat: social ads can guarantee an extended reach for your content. And the kicker? The total cost for a social ads campaign, at least at the time of this writing, is extremely cheap.

If you can allocate or reallocate some budget, paid search campaigns are also becoming a necessity because no matter what industry you’re in, you can be sure that at least one of your competitors is paying for space on search engine results pages (SERPs). The only real way to compete with that is to get your own space on the SERPs. The constantly changing search algorithms are another reason paid search campaigns deserve your attention. It’s getting more difficult to keep up with the changes Google makes to its algorithms; with paid search, as long as you pay for your ads, they will appear on the SERPs.

Humanize Digital Experiences

Customers are human. Even if you’re a business-to-business company, humans carry out the
buying and selling. These distinctions might seem obvious, yet you can still find robotic, company-centric marketing messages that are filled with corporate jargon.

Customers are intelligent and they know what’s going on in the digital space. Customers understand there is a constant battle for their attention that’s never going away, so they’ve learned to ignore poorly executed marketing. These days, that means marketing messages that haven’t been humanized.

First and foremost, your digital content should speak directly to your customer and it should be about your customer. Obviously, your content needs to be about your business and its offers too, but it should all be written for the customers’ benefit. And no, it’s not to the customers’ benefit if you tell them how great your products and services are – that’s a decision you need to let them make on their own. When you can tell there’s a real person behind a marketing message – a real human who is trying to reach out to your personally – that’s how you know you’re having a humanized digital experience.

Tell Your Story

Everybody loves a good story. Stories are why we read books, go to the movies and watch TV shows. The stories surrounding athletes and the games they play are what make the Olympics and professional sports so intriguing. We love stories so much that, by contrast, we think anything that isn’t a good story is boring and irrelevant. So the question is, are you telling a story with your marketing?

The majority of businesses are embracing the chance to tell their story, ant it’s a trend that
will continue in 2015. The good news about the digital space is that it offers a variety of great
storytelling mediums for businesses: long and short form articles, videos hosted on Vimeo or YouTube, social stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, infographics, presentations on SlideShare and even relatively untapped mediums like Vine. So you have an audience that wants to hear your story and various mediums by which to tell it.

Optimize the Digital Journey

If there’s one big takeaway here, it’s that when it comes to the digital world, everything is connected. Your marketing strategy should connect the dots of your digital roadmap and lead your customers along your brand’s optimized digital journey. In order to optimize a customer’s digital journey, you must deliver a consistent presence across your digital properties. This includes your website, content, social media and mobile marketing efforts working in concert to present a seamless customer experience regardless of device, country, or time of day.

It might seem like a difficult task to integrate and streamline different tactics, but that’s exactly why you need to start mapping out your 2015 digital framework right now! Armed with a roadmap and a destination for your digital marketing efforts, you can determine your brand’s story, choose how you’re going to tell it, and then prepare to deliver it. The only thing left to do? Bring on 2015 and embrace the opportunity to execute the framework you’ve just built!

In conclusion

The key to predictions and prognostications is actually doing them. But it’s tough to take action. We discussed just some of the potential shifts and trends of the digital landscape and provided some ideas for how your business can adapt to these changes in 2015. So to help you get on with it, here’s a summary of where the digital marketing industry is heading and the actionable tips we came up with:

Just showing up is no longer good enough:

  • When it comes to digital, don’t do the bare minimum
  • Determine whether you can commit the time and resources to doing digital the right
    way (if not, doing nothing is better)

Technology is changing marketing:

  • Are you prepared to learn new things in order to move forward?
  • Focus on new technology and marketing will get easier

Paid advertising channels deserve your attention:

  • In 2015, find a way to include paid advertising channels
  • Look for ways to promote your content, increase your reach

Humanize digital experiences:

  • Put a little bit (or a lot) of yourself into your marketing framework
  • Be honest, transparent and real

Tell stories:

  • Market your brand by telling your story
  • Your story should be real, human, and aim to connect and engage with your
    audience

Optimize the digital journey:

  • Choose marketing tactics that integrate well with each other
  • Create an optimized digital journey for your customers

In terms of adapting to an always-evolving market, your business’ desire and willingness to
embrace change is the key. Will you look to the future and try to figure out what your business needs to do to succeed, or will you stick your head in the sand and hope for the best? If you are the kind of marketer who wants to get the jump on your competitors, creating a digital framework based on your own observations about the digital space is an excellent way to do that.

If you want to learn more about how to create a digital blueprint for your business, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or call toll free 1.888.996.1595. I’ll be more than happy to chat.

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