The phrase “digital landscape” has become so ubiquitous that it bears redefining—especially as we enter a new year with new technologies around every corner. 

The truth is that every business will have a smarter, more nimble competitor who has a better grasp on emerging technologies, making it imperative that you stay up to date on your digital assets and determine what’s relevant for your organization.

Let’s take 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.

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.

Related: “Tactegic” Thinking: Work Smarter, Not Harder

The Four 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.

First, we have the social media landscape. This includes platforms 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.

Second, we consider the marketing landscape, which includes the digital tools and techniques companies use to market to customers. While social media platforms can be used to market products, this component also uses other marketing tactics like Google’s services, blog posts, and offline content that intersects with or directs people to your website.

Third, 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 Should You “Go Digital”?

People access the internet in more ways than they used to, and if you’re not marketing to potential customers in every way possible, you’re missing out on a huge section of your audience.

Physical stores are especially limited, but companies that only have a usable desktop interface are also hugely missing out. About 76% of US adults say they make purchases using their smartphone, according to Pew Research Center.

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.

Related: An Effective Marketing Strategy Shouldn’t Be Hard: A Case for Fractional CMOs

How to Improve Your Digital Landscape

There are two main ways to improve your digital landscape: adjusting your techniques and applying machine learning and AI.

Machine learning is key to processing the enormous amount of data that internet users create during their engagement with each part of the web. Think of it this way: Data is like an enormous pile of ore. Would you rather sift through that ore by hand or process it in bulk and get the valuable material that’s inside much faster? 

Your data is no different. We as humans can’t keep track of that information on our own, which is why machine learning and AI are invaluable in telling you how to adjust your landscape and which trends to watch out for.

Related: The Symbiotic Relationship Between AI and CMOs

What’s Next in the Digital Landscape?

Let’s evaluate three trends to pay attention to over the next year.

First, you should know that influencer marketing is a powerful way to connect with potential audiences—but you need to choose the right kind of influencer. Most customers prefer influencers who are honest and upfront about advertising partnerships. It’s why we’re more willing to listen to a friend’s recommendation. It’s personal, human, and distinct from the way we’ve seen marketing be done in the past.

Pay attention to 5G and cellular technology as well. Customers expect speed, and connectivity speeds impact how quickly people can access your content and how likely they are to engage with it. The higher your connection speeds, the quicker you can get your advertisement out to more people.

Even though the digital landscape is all about speed, don’t be tempted to forgo content quality for content quantity. According to experts like Neil Patel, quality ultimately matters more than quantity. Ultimately, high-quality content will establish yourself as an authority on a topic and make people want to engage with your material.

Related: Marketing for Quality, Not Quantity: How it Adds Value to Your Practice and Ensures Long-Term Success

How Does Leadership Affect Your Digital Landscape?

By adjusting your techniques and learning to use the right tools, you can deftly change your digital landscape and start bringing in more profit. 

But many organizations are stuck with questions like:

  • “What tools and technologies make the most sense for my goals?”
  • “What are my competitors doing, and what should I be doing, too?”
  • “What gaps are there in my current digital strategy, and how can I fill them?”

Strong marketing leadership can help you sift through methods that may not be relevant for your organization or your industry, so you move with purpose through the digital landscape.

yorCMO can match you with an expert to help you evaluate your current strategies, forecast digital trends that you should pay attention to, and adopt techniques and technologies that can make the most impact.

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