“What??” I hear you yell, “I can barely keep up with today’s technology, and you want me to worry about technology that hasn’t even been invented yet?” It’s almost enough to make a person head straight for a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.
We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there. ~Charles F. Kettering
However, the future is coming—more quickly than ever before. The rate of change in business is blindingly fast, and the rate of change in technology is even faster. Businesses that succeed will be those that plan for that change and embrace change as an opportunity to grow.
Here are three elements to keep in mind as you think about your digital marketing strategy.
1. Mobile is Mandatory
The numbers are staggering. More and more people are using tablets and smart phones to research companies before doing business with them—and then conducting business transactions over those same devices.
It is not enough to say that you have a website. Not all sites are mobile friendly and even fewer are true responsive sites. In order to be competitive, you need to embrace mobile/responsive technology.
81% of smartphone users have done product research via smartphone and 50% have made a purchase with one.
~research from Prosper Mobile Insights
2. Control Your Content
Gone are the days of calling your webmaster and politely asking if maybe, possibly he or she could find a way to squeeze a few minutes into an overcrowded day to make a change on your site. If business is moving quickly, you need to be able to control the content of your site just as quickly.
Today’s best practice is to build a site with an open source CMS. (Keep breathing, I’m going to explain.) A CMS, or Content Management System, gives non-programmers the ability to update their website. Have a new press release? No problem, just upload the document. Have pictures from a company event you want to show off? Nothing easier (as long as your site is designed with a photo gallery). Want to let customers know about a spur of the moment sale? You have the power.
Open source refers to the code being available to the general public. This means that a large community of users can test, create, and maintain different modules. (NOTE: If someone tells you they have a proprietary CMS that they built that would be Just Perfect for you, run. Quickly. By definition, a proprietary CMS will never be as well tested or maintained as an open source system. We’ve seen too many companies fall in love with the idea of something Just For Them only to find themselves in very expensive and unforgiving quicksand within a few short years.)
An open source CMS does NOT mean a cookie cutter site. Some of the most unique and creative sites are built using an open source CMS. What it means is that your developer will spend time (and your money) customizing the look and operation of your website and not inventing an underlying frame.
3. Plumb in the Water Lines
There is no way to know where your business is going to be three to five years from now. And there is absolutely no way to know where technology is going to be by then.
What we do know is that (hopefully) your business is going to grow and change, and that (definitely) technology will expand and change. Features we can’t even dream of today will be commonplace in three years.
To succeed, you don’t have to be able to predict the future, but you have to be ready for the future when it gets here.
Think about building a house. You might not be ready to finish out the basement, but it is much easier to plumb in the water lines so that you can easily complete the project when you’re ready. Make sense?
Successful companies will think the same way about their website. Rather than build a site that will have to be completely redone to accommodate future growth, companies are building sites that will grow along with them—making change easier and less expensive down the road.