The way we view digital needs to change – it’s no longer a single channel that we just need to incorporate into our strategy. It’s a do it or die situation (in the context of a company’s bottom line), it’s a way of life now with its own ecosystem. Not just another way to reach an audience.

 I’ve seen this phrase posted on a lot of channels such as Instagram and Facebook:

 “It’s funny how on MSN we used to say BRB, we don’t say that any more. Now, we live here” 

It’s so true. When was the last time you worried about not being able to communicate online? For those in the UK, even keeping touch while in Europe has been made easier with the reduction in data roaming costs. Most mobile network providers also offer packages/offers for those travelling outside of Europe, not to mention the fact that Wi-Fi seems to be a necessity now. We’re transitioning from a world where Wi-Fi is a luxury and something you advertise, to assuming it is always there – and when it’s not, restaurants and hotels, or where ever you are use it a selling tactic (in a, let’s switch off from the outside world kind of way). We are always connected.

I remember when moving away from your friends meant only speaking to them on the phone occasionally or sending postcards etc (I am only 25 so this was not that long ago). Now, two and a bit years after finishing university I still talk to my best group of girls every single day, despite the fact we are spread across the entire of the UK, Switzerland and soon to be Australia. A bad or good day at work, a new outfit, a new date and even what we had for dinner – we all know within minutes. They know everything about my life and I know about theirs. We are all there to talk, swap stories and help each other when needed. We don’t need to schedule in time to be have a conversation – the time is always there because we are always there, online, connected, in our WhatsApp group chat.

 So what does this mean?

It means that everyone is competing against everyone. Companies no longer just have to compete against other companies. They have to compete for time and engagement against friends, family, work colleagues, media and the list goes on. Brands have to reach their audiences on devices, platforms, channels (whatever you want to call them) that are already saturated with activity from let’s face it, way more interesting sources.

Companies/brands need to be clever. They need to know the right time, the right place, what and who to target with their content. They need to be available with all the right information on whatever device the user is using. It’s no longer enough to have a website – you need to have a responsive design, your load time on mobile needs to be reduced and you need to refresh the content regularly to work with Google’s algorithms. You need to have the ability to be super analytical so you can understand who is visiting your website, what they are doing, where they leave, why didn’t they complete their transaction? You need to be on social – at the right time, with the right content and with the right team behind it ready to react when needed. You need to recognise users and their behaviour so you can deliver ads at the optimal moment that they want to click through to your website.

Think about companies like Uber, Deliveroo and Netflix. They all address one thing: the desire for cost and time effective immediacy and convenience. You can get an Uber car within minutes to your precise location with no money in your pocket, you can order your favourite food from your favourite restaurant to your own home and you can watch your favourite TV shows and films without leaving your house.

Consider this from a marketing perspective: you need to make it easy for other companies or consumers to get the information they want – people don’t want to travel, people don’t want to dedicate an hour of their time to one topic. People want to be able to finish reading an article or watching a video on their phone/tablet when they have to leave to go elsewhere. They don’t want to and don’t expect to have to wait until they reach their desktop again to resume what it was they were doing. So you need to make sure you can provide them with this.

But you also need to think about the other side of it. Yes, your content needs to cut through the noise but not too much customers feel like you are invading their privacy, their online space. Ads that appear in articles and cover your phone screen are just irritating. I couldn’t tell you what the last one that appeared on my phone was because I didn’t care – all I cared about was where the “x” to close it down was. I get irritated when I am reading something online and all of a sudden it feels like the I’m reading about something completely different – only to realise that I started reading an ad. Please just stop doing this. Companies also need to know when to stop. I bought a pair of trainers after clicking through on a Facebook ad once, but then after I had bought the trainers, I was followed by these ads for months and months. I found myself regularly telling my computer/phone screen that they were stupid because I had already purchased them (from the very website the ads were driving me to).

 It isn’t enough to just be there, online, you have to play your part in the digital ecosystem to stay relevant.

This blog was first published 27th September 2017, available here.