How your online architecture drives your marketing strategy
Jun 17, 2015
Technology shifts and changes so quickly that it’s difficult for even early adopters to keep up, let alone the rest of society. New technologies and devices enter the market every month, allowing consumers to enhance their lives. Just a few years ago, smartphones were the hottest new gadget, but now they have become another ubiquitous tool while we wait for something even newer.
At the same time, these constant and quick changes in technology trends are forcing companies to re-evaluate their online presence. Unfortunately, it often takes a large investment of capital and resources to upgrade a myriad of online systems in order to promote their brands on all possible platforms and across all mediums. From mobile devices to social networking, consumers span the entire spectrum of technology, while organizations struggle to upgrade older web platforms, let alone offer services on newer devices to meet the demands of their customers.
Out of date systems don’t just cost money to maintain, they also have a negative opportunity cost in the form of missing channels. Companies that only offer a website, and are struggling to upgrade it, may be missing out on a new wave of wearable consumer devices, new social networking trends, or even “the Internet of Things,” which is the latest industry buzzword. Unfortunately, this problem exists because their server architecture and online presence was built only for a desktop audience instead of planning for future growth.
Future growth is not just about adding more systems to an already decentralized infrastructure, or adding more communication channels into an already dispersed marketing strategy. Instead, an ideal plan for the future combines a holistic content marketing approach with an equally singular online architecture, providing the benefits of efficiency, effectiveness, and preparedness.
After all, the key to digital expansion is not just adopting the latest trends, but being prepared for those that loom on the horizon. And being prepared is what sets a brand apart – it’s the difference between promoting content or products to a huge audience, versus being stuck with an aging system that only reaches a fraction of the desired customer base. Building a future-proof and scalable architecture allows a company to reach their customers where they are now, while also giving them the ability to adapt to new trends and devices as they emerge. Thus, they can provide a consistent message across all devices and platforms, not just today, but tomorrow as well.
How did we end up with so many systems?
The original Internet was built with web servers, which provided websites to thousands and then millions of computer users, all accessing information and purchasing products on their desktops or laptops. Companies created websites to showcase their brands and sell products, and consumers began to learn where to quickly find the products and information they desired.
Eventually, websites were not enough, as even more consumers joined social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and many more (some of which are no longer around). These large websites evolved into their own platforms, which offered brands a chance to host their online presence within the infrastructure of the social network. Then, a company could send customers to their Facebook page in addition to their own website. But many organizations struggled to make the transition from their own website into a social network’s platform.
Then, the handy smartphone entered the scene, followed by its big brother, the tablet. Another platform emerged in the form of mobile apps, representing another key infrastructure upgrade required for brands to reach consumers. People could access information instantly from anywhere, and any organization or brand that was not immediately in front of consumers’ eyes began to miss huge opportunities to promote themselves.
And if an organization was actually able to publish a smartphone app, would their marketing message and strategy stay consistent across all devices? Where in this maze of online systems does a company house their catalog of products, or gather new leads? Moving forward, it’s even more complex because now we have smart watches and eyewear, too. And “the Internet of Things” means that more devices will become capable of providing information to consumers, or sending information back to online systems about consumer behavior. This is yet one more ecosystem that an IT department needs to consider when planning an online architecture.
So, how do we move forward?
Just as a marketing strategy needs a core and consistent message, so should an online architecture. The ideal solution is to both unify our online presence from a technology perspective, as well as from a content delivery and marketing perspective. As a brand, we need our websites, mobile apps, social networking personas, and eyewear interfaces to all provide a streamlined, efficient, and consistent consumer experience, all while growing the technology architecture in a relatively inexpensive manner.
The ideal solution is an architecture where our system delivers content and data to any online device using a universal language understood by all types of technologies. Imagine if our web server didn’t just provide web pages. What if it also provided data for our mobile apps, content for our social media campaigns, and geo-targeted information for smart watches and eyewear? What if all of this data was provided in a language that future devices already understood? Then, the heart of each of our online consumer channels becomes that one server which provides only data, and all other websites and devices pull information from this one source.
This concept is known as an “API Architecture*,” which is a technical way of saying that your single server now provides content as data to any interested device, service, or website through a streamlined and uniform format. This one data source, being one system, is now easy to maintain and upgrade. All other systems or devices become a consumer to that single data source to get the content, products, and messaging data that brands rely on to sway consumer opinions.
Websites can now focus on design, pulling their content from the single source. Thus, they become just a front-end interface, built with a lightweight structure, which can be hosted in the cloud and scale when needed at extremely low cost.
Mobile and wearable device applications can also be built in a more lightweight manner because they don’t need to contain all of their needed content. Instead, they just pull data as needed from the server. Mobile apps can now be created faster and at lower cost than before, all while maintaining consistent messaging.
By proving data in a consistent and uniform manner in a popular and industry-standard format, we also make ourselves prepared for the future. As new devices or platforms become available and grow in popularity with consumers, a company’s systems are already prepared to deliver content to these new devices with the same consistency as the rest of the ecosystem.
One source for all content and messaging
Once a brand’s content, products, and messaging are all housed in a single system, not only do we gain the ability to provide data to any type of device, but we also gain simplicity and efficiency with the process of creating and publishing content. Providing a single source of data means that a product line only needs to be updated in one place before it is automatically pushed to all devices. A new marketing campaign can be created in a single instance, whereas in the past it had to be duplicated across multiple websites, devices, and platforms. This allows the messaging to stay consistent, and allows content authors to publish faster, resulting in timely and coordinated campaigns.
So, by planning for the future with our technology, we also plan for the future with our content and marketing strategies. We save time and money by preventing the piecemeal architectural growth that plagued us in the past, and we gain a better and more efficient marketing strategy and content publishing platform.