Last Friday I got up early to attend a session at the 22nd edition of Creative Mornings Montreal, a monthly event. It was a talk on climate change led by Caithrin Rintoul, founder of Montreal-based start-up Provender, an online tool that helps farmers distribute their crops directly to chefs. And he was a chef himself once, at renowned restaurants like Au Pied du Cochon and Joe Beef. He was also among the first employees of Lufa Farms.
During the session, he discussed the effects of climate change on agriculture over the centuries, as well as the dangers of diminishing seed and crop diversity. I couldn’t help but see a parallel between what he was talking about, and the game-changing events we’ve seen in recent years, driven mainly by the web, that have had a huge impact on how we do business, from both the employer and the customer perspective.
We’ve felt the impact of these changes time and time again: when Google took up the fight against fraudulent blackhat SEO practices, with the end of like-gating on Facebook, the introduction of Canada’s anti-spam law, bill c-28, when Facebook considerably reduced brand pages’ organic reach in favour of paid placements, with the social web and the rise of user-generated content, with search based on intent rather than keywords (ref. Google Penguin/Panda/Hummingbird), the explosion of connected objects, and increased multi-device usage. Depending on your web marketing strategy, these events would have affected your marketing plans either a little or a lot. Going forward, I’d even predict that we’ll soon see sites without a mobile strategy lose organic traffic, as a result of the growing impact that the mobile user experience has on search.
In the context of agriculture, Caithrin recommends seed diversity as a way to counter climate change. For the web, the same logic applies. You need a certain amount of balance and diversity in your marketing efforts and channels. As they say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket!” We have very little control over the tools and platforms we use every day, and because they’re constantly evolving (hat tip to Facebook!), they can be unpredictable, making it unwise to invest all your efforts in a single strategy. Achieving balance and diversity in your marketing plans will also allow you to create synergy between your activities across multiple platforms. For example, improving the user experience on your site might result in more social shares, thereby increasing the visibility of your content, which then amplifies the number of links to your web properties, reinforces the popularity of your domain, and improves your search visibility – organic and paid – since your quality score would probably go up, too.
In fact, with the web in constant evolution, it’s very hard to create any sort of detailed, long-term marketing plan. Which makes it extra important to make sure that not only do you have a solid foundation that respects best practices for each area of the web, but that you’ve also built in the ability to be flexible and reactive. In the end, it’s the brands that are quick to adapt to new trends that reap the rewards.
As a reminder – the Super Bowl XLVII ad that made the biggest splash in 2013 was unofficial, and had a miniscule production budget compared to the other advertisers. Extremely simple and strongly supported on social media, the ad was created in real time in reaction to the power outage that hit the stadium during the game.
This article has touched on just a handful of the many changes that have altered the way we communicate our offerings on the web. How about you, which changes have affected you the most?