Brand and marketing publications are full of futurists waxing lyrical about the potential impact of Web 3.0 and the metaverse. While there’s no doubt we’ll need to keep these developments in mind to futureproof our marketing strategies and businesses, making them your sole focus will only divert your attention from your more important, current digital marketing priorities.
So, what are Web 3.0 and the metaverse anyway?
The different iterations of the Internet refer to who owns and creates content. During the original Web 1.0 era, the Internet was simply a place you went for information: a small number of content creators for many content consumers. Today’s Web 2.0 sees many of us using social media channels to create content ourselves, but with ‘Big Tech’ owning most of it. Web 3.0 advocates envisage a future of decentralised blockchain architectures, providing users with decentralised web browsers that not only block ads but allow them to control their own data and content.
While connected to Web 3.0, the metaverse refers to new customer experiences and ecosystems. Think a shift from consuming content on devices like tablets and smartphones, to a new virtual and augmented, immersive reality where work and leisure activities can be undertaken using VR headsets and other emerging technologies.
What are the current biggest digital marketing priorities?
But while these potential blue sky developments are something to be aware of for future planning, there are some far more pressing practical issues and digital marketing trends you should be concerned about right now.
As a leading digital optimisation agency, we’ve put together a short list of the most important things to keep in sight for your digital marketing strategy.
1. Adhering to the latest privacy and data
Data privacy is a hot topic right now, and legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) place a big burden on businesses to comply. This is understandable, as more and more personal data now sits in the cloud, and security breaches have become commonplace.
The burden that compliance places on SMEs is one problem, but another is the UK’s plans to overhaul privacy rules in a post-Brexit departure from GDPR. And while this may put an end to cookie and consent pop-ups, the EU would still have to agree to these changes, and marketing teams will need to keep abreast of any changes despite the volatility.
2. The way the cookie crumbles
Speaking of cookies, get ready for a cookieless future. As the importance of data privacy continues to grow, third-party cookies will soon become a thing of the past, and with it the consumer behaviour insights that so many marketers crave. It’s a critical asset to be losing, but savvy marketers can prepare for a future of doing things differently.
Third-party cookies will be replaced with first-party data, which will allow marketers to offer a very personalised customer service. In fact, many analysts say that brands can already start creating better marketing campaign outcomes if they were to switch their marketing efforts and stop relying on third-party cookies.
3. Get the most out of marketing automation
There's been much talk about how companies shouldn’t lose the human touch, and while this will always be true, it’s also true that most marketers are still not leveraging automation as much as they could.
Automation saves time and reduces human error, in a way that could easily mean the difference between success and failure for the business. By analysing big data, automation tools can pinpoint audience behaviour, allowing marketers to adapt and fine-tune their email marketing campaigns to be as personal as possible.
4. Gearing up for growth
A business can only start to worry about what the future may hold once it knows it can survive the present. And the website may play a greater role in their success than they realise.
If your business is growing the way you want it to, there is a good chance your website is going to run into capacity problems. As your company grows in popularity, so too does the traffic to your website. When traffic starts to slow your website down to the point that users are no longer able to quickly access your products and services, you have a problem. Getting your capacity ready before the need arises should be a digital priority.
Fortunately, the solution is as simple as better server management. As your business grows, so should the number of servers to deliver content and manage their individual loads. With more servers, you can also speed up your website by storing data remotely.
5. Save time and money with third-party APIs
Third-party APIs (application programming interfaces) are a godsend for both marketers and developers: when the business wants to add new functionality to the website, developers can use these APIs, instead of writing the code themselves. This obviously saves businesses time and money.
At the same time, they give marketers an array of tools for their website, such as displaying the company’s Twitter feed, adding a chat feature, and even tracking competitors’ product pricing.
6. Eliminate downtime
Website downtime is business poison, so it's clear why uptime is a digital priority. Very often, it comes down to a small problem. This is because many businesses have still not addressed their monolithic website architecture. In fact, most businesses only become aware of it when the website implodes.
In most cases, the problem is that apps grow as the business grows, meaning they get larger, more complex, more difficult to manage, and more difficult to scale over time. Certain development frameworks like Laravel fix this issue by splitting applications into micro-frontends, so that even when something goes wrong with one app, the website can continue to function. This sets the website up for the future because it also reduces development time and complexity.
7. So long, Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer’s (IE) official retirement marks the end of an era. So why is it still a digital marketing priority? Many websites still contain code solely to support IE. And because this code is invisible, most marketers (and developers) just leave it in place.
Newer browsers, however, require a lot less code to run optimally, so leaving unwanted code may affect your website’s performance. Clean code also means less chance of bugs, so this bit of spring cleaning should be added as one of your digital marketing activities.
8. Universal Analytics also says goodbye
Google’s Universal Analytics will stop processing new hits from July of 2023. While this gives you some time, it's better to switch to Google Analytics 4 as soon as you are able. This will allow you to import sufficient historical data and usage, setting you up for a smooth transition.
9. Step up your environmental awareness
In most jurisdictions, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is optional, which leads to selectivity on what goes into the report. But now many governments are looking to make this reporting mandatory, particularly with regard to environmental impact.
The digital sector’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise and businesses need to show their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint. This usually means improving digital efficiency, to make it a win-win for business and nature.
While these are clearly company-wide considerations, they also need to be a digital transformation priority, as marketing teams will also have to play their role, particularly when considering their suppliers. Since emissions data will become more widely available, suppliers will, in future, also be ranked according to their environmental impact. Gartner predicts that carbon emissions will be one of the top three buying considerations by 2025.
To help you get started, we’ve already written about how good UX design and content marketing can help to tackle climate change.
Exciting times ahead
Marketers have a lot of emerging technology at their disposal. In the long term, these tools will only become more useful, as the marketing function continues to expand in scope, possibilities, and platforms. But colourful and exciting concepts like Web 3.0 and the metaverse are a long game. They won’t appear out of the blue and users will slowly ease into them.
Marketers should, do the same, led by the latest data on what their customers want, but always prioritising what should be done today. Getting understandably excited about the potential opportunities of virtual reality is all well and good, but pales into insignificance compared to a massive GDPR fine today...