Today’s digital landscape isn’t the same as what we saw ten years ago—or even two years ago.
However, the passage of time has also shown us which areas change quickly and which are more reliable for marketing and advertising.
We’ve covered the fundamentals of marketing previously, but today we’ll be taking a deep dive into the digital essentials you need to know about the digital landscape.
What Is a Digital Landscape?
The digital landscape is the total collection of hardware, software, and content that interact with digital advertising.
This includes email services, websites, computers, smartphones, videos, blog posts, and so on.
Things that exist on the internet but are fundamentally irrelevant, such as hobbyist websites that focus on unrelated areas and host no ads, are not part of the digital landscape.
In many respects, services like Facebook and Google are fundamental aspects of the digital landscape.
Google has an outsized role for one company thanks to its near-total dominance of digital advertising, but small services using new technologies can also offer value to businesses.
The digital landscape is constantly evolving based on the collective actions of all potential customers.
If some advertisements don’t work, companies create new ways of showing ads. If content doesn’t reach people, companies make different types of content.
In the broad sense, the digital landscape is a wide-ranging application of iterative marketing.
Companies tend to do more of what works while occasionally trying new things, so the marketing we have now is considerably more valuable and effective than past strategies.
Innovations are helpful when you can create them, but for most companies, it’s fine to just understand the best practice for a particular scenario and follow that.
The digital landscape is what works, so you don’t need to reinvent social media or digital marketing from the ground up to get good results.
Components of a Digital Landscape
You can break a digital landscape up into four main components.
They’re all part of one landscape, but it’s often easier to consider each section separately.
Social Media Landscape
The social media landscape includes sites like YouTube and Facebook.
These platforms tend to have broad access to users and distinctive characteristics.
However, each one functions separately, so you can’t always apply the knowledge you’ve gained from one to any other.
The marketing landscape includes the digital tools and techniques you can use to market to customers.
This frequently crosses over with the social media landscape but also includes other marketing tactics like Google’s services, blog posts, and offline content that intersects with or directs people to your website.
The technology landscape includes the tools people use to access the internet, as well as the hardware and software you have access to.
This is distinct from the marketing landscape but includes the underlying tools you might apply to marketing.
Finally, the media landscape is the overall realm of news and information that you’re advertising in.
The media landscape is important because it’s arguably the most challenging part to control, so you may need to adapt to it instead of trying to direct it.
Why Is Going Digital Important for a Business?
People access the internet in more ways than they used to.
Browsers are still a popular choice on desktops, but people can also use apps on desktop or mobile devices.
Each of these has their own interfaces and ways of impacting the overall customer experience and therefore exist as different marketing channels.
Most companies cannot afford to ignore the digital realm.
Even stores that are mainly physical need a digital presence to get found because that’s how customers are looking for them.
Consider Apple. For many years, they’ve locked their mobile devices to make it hard for anyone else in the private sector to install things on iOS devices without going through their app store and their rules.
This kind of monopoly-like control isn’t a new idea, but it stops business owners from relying on certain types of marketing strategies.
There’s another layer of complexity in the digital marketing landscape here: the harmony between different systems.
Most companies no longer provide a complete service to their users. Instead, they provide one specific service that needs to exist alongside software from many other companies.
You can see this on websites. You may have the hosting provider giving servers, WordPress providing basic site structure, one or two dozen apps to modify the site, and even some custom code for business needs.
A failure at any of these companies could bring the entire site down.
The good news is that most companies recognize that it’s hard to adapt all at once, so they try to make it easy to integrate things together.
This, too, is a direct result of the modern digital landscape and how businesses are deciding to coexist in different areas.
How Can a Digital Landscape Be Improved?
There are two main ways to improve a digital landscape: adjusting your techniques and applying machine learning and AI.
Artificial intelligence is a vital aspect of the digital landscape, although not in the way most people realize.
Machine learning is key to processing the enormous amount of data that internet users create during their engagement with each part of the web.
To draw an analogy here, data is like an enormous pile of ore.
We know there are valuable materials in it, but processing the ore in bulk will provide more valuable material in less time than trying to sort through a mountain of rocks by hand.
There is no way any human can keep track of the sheer amount of information we’re able to gather these days.
Computers can, though, and training AI to not just understand trends but predict them is something likely to offer value next year, more the year after that, and so on until we can completely predict the market.
If that sounds like a stretch too far, remember that a lot of machine learning is ultimately about figuring out how to create decision trees.
If you can figure out what questions to ask and what the likely outcome of each result will be, you can use existing data sets to create startlingly accurate predictions on almost any topic.
In short, machine learning and artificial intelligence can tell you how to adjust your landscape, which is what ultimately brings you profit.
Digital Landscape Trends to Watch
Here are some trends to pay attention to over the next year.
1. Influencer Marketing & Transparency
Influencer marketing is a powerful way for connecting with potential audiences, but only when it’s applied well.
Most customers prefer influencers who are honest and upfront about advertising partnerships.
This is essentially a recommendation from a friend, and it’s a sharp break from the kind of techniques we’ve seen in the past.
2. 5G and the Future of Cellular Technology
5G and cellular technology are mainly about speed.
Screen resolution is high enough that most companies don’t need to worry about this any longer, but connectivity speeds impact how quickly people can access your content and how likely they are to engage with it.
High connection speeds also allow you to deliver many types of advertising more effectively.
A video can be captivating in ways blogs aren’t, for example, so speeds fast enough to let people load videos can change your digital landscape.
3. Content Quality vs. Quantity
Both of these are important, but according to experts like Neil Patel, quality ultimately matters more than quantity.
High-quality posts can help you establish yourself as an authority on a topic and make people want to engage with your material, whereas frequent low-quality posts are more likely to drive people away.
Everyone wants to be #1 in the digital landscape.
Your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum because your competitors are also trying to capture the market.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be on top to succeed.
Knowing the tools and techniques available to you is enough to start marketing effectively and growing your business, so evaluate your strategies today.