At present, there are dramatic changes in our society due to current events. Because I am originally a historian and enjoy recognizing, analyzing, and perhaps even anticipating developments a little, I took a look into the crystal ball for you. What is currently changing with the digitization, and where is the journey heading?
Economy – digitization
That certain professions are in a dramatically poor state of health at the moment is something you are probably familiar with and trivial. But what does the digital economy look like in detail?
I observe several parallel developments in the digital economy:
- With online shops, it depends strongly on the industry how good or bad the business is going at the moment. Food and garden shops experienced a considerable boom. All consumer products, such as clothing or consumer electronics, sold incredibly hard at the beginning of the crisis. But in some cases, things are now really looking up because during the lockdown, more people than ever before bought online. Even hard-boiled offline customers became new customers in some cases. They are now staying, and the customer base has grown at all online retailers – at least that’s my impression.
- Those who were not really digital are now at the latest. In Munich, Germany, there is a farmer from whom you can order a vegetable drive-in using Whatsapp. Clever minds have opened up completely new lines of business during the Corona crisis. That doesn’t really affect large corporations at all, but small and micro-enterprises in particular.
- We are currently dealing with turbo-digitization in many areas. Many companies now want to take off with online marketing. This is partly since traditional sales channels (1:1 sales and especially trade fairs) have broken away. You try out what you haven’t done so intensively up to now and notice, “Hey, online marketing is a great channel.”
- Many digital companies, which were already struggling before the crisis because they were no longer up to date, Corona has supposedly dealt a death blow. I view with skepticism that state funds are helping many of these companies without being checked. But hard to say: some would have gone bankrupt even without Corona and are now kept alive artificially by subsidies. It is a pity that companies are disappearing, but it is quite reasonable, and in the course of the Corona crisis, there is a significant shakeout in many sectors. State aid should be available for many companies – but the money should no longer be paid out entirely without an audit.
- Nobody had time to check it out? Right – that’s why more digitization is needed here as well. If a similar crisis should arise again, the state will also be more prepared, for example, through automated approvals and, ideally, advance evaluation by means of AI. Every bank and many companies do this by default, and the state also needs such processes.
Networking – digitization
In March, I was at the SEO Campixx, which took place just before the lockdown. I had been very unsure whether I should go there, and many old friends were not seen there this year. I gave my lecture on the first day – there were already some (from today’s point of view rather banal) rules to avoid infections, but for everyone there, they were very drastic.
In the evening, there was the chancellor’s historic speech, and I spontaneously decided to rebook my flight the next day from afternoon to early morning. I wasn’t afraid of Corona, only of the flight chaos, which Berlin likes to have. Only when I had landed in Munich did I receive the news that the second day of the Campixx had been canceled anyway.
Unfortunately, I suspect that in the long term, too, conferences will be less attended for the time being. Even if people are allowed to accompany them again: Digital conferences are more convenient than personal ones, you won’t reach as many participants as before Corona. But that is, of course, only my estimation.
As a participant, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all – it helps you get in touch with people again, and maybe the conferences will become more “nerdy” again. 🙂
Digital meetups, on the other hand, will quickly disappear again. Together with Konstantin Sarkar, I have been running the SEO Nomads for 11 years. We’ll start again when the time is right (and in a refreshing new location that will top everything we’ve done before!) But if you have already met with friends for a zoom meeting with beer, you know: It’s not great. Small gatherings of 20-40 people are naturally cooler “in real.”
Office Culture – digitization
In mid-March, all of the Seokrates also went to the home office. Until then, it was possible to work in the home office without any problems, as we were a pure home office team from 2007-2010 in our early days.
However, most of us have been using it about once a month, some only once a week. In the meantime, we are no longer really in the office for over two months. Fortunately, we had already created all the technical prerequisites, and the changeover went almost smoothly. Since I have such a great team, there were hardly any problems with the work. Everyone is doing their job as before, and editorial staff has even felt that there is now more peace for concentrated work. I can also blog and am hardly ever disturbed. 😉
I am sure that our office will soon be full again. At the moment, there is – with hygiene requirements – the possibility to go to the office, but we don’t force anyone to do so. A few people are coming, mostly about a third – always different secrets. I have also noticed that it is perfect to see other people.
I assume that we will soon have more people in the office again – but it probably won’t be the same as before. Some events change the world permanently, and it is a different world afterward. Home Office has established itself with us, and rightly so. However, in the long term, it’s not only in the home office that you can stand it. At least that is my impression.
- The home office will be possible throughout the US in most companies. Anyone who offers no or only minimal home office will hardly have a chance as an employer.
- Remote working will be possible, even away from tech startups. By the way, we are currently looking for a remote SEA manager as a pilot project (among other vacancies!).
- In the future, offices will be less of a “workplace” and more of a meeting place for teams. Silent, concentrated work is more likely to be done at home, while the office will be the place for meetings and to meet colleagues.
- Basically, there will be more home office, but it will not be like working only in the home office. That’s too boring for everyone in the long run and you become lonely.
- Digital meetings will replace many personal meetings. This alone has also led to a surge in digitization. Microsoft Teams and Zoom have become an integral part of life.
Another significant change will be that there will be less business travel. If a well-made video call works, companies will no longer send their employees across the country (or the world). Personal contact will undoubtedly remain relevant, but only for maintaining (business) relationships. The classic field sales representative could be on the road less in the future, but that remains to be seen.
Online Marketing – Digitization
Shopify is considered to be a very beginner-friendly online shop, which offers many micro-entrepreneurs an easy and fast start into the online world. That precisely this kind of shop system is growing came out of necessity that many small businesses needed a quick, easy to configure shop solution.
What I currently see are three developments:
- Some online companies are intensifying their marketing activities. But that only selectively, most of them continue as before.
- The last classic companies, which have not yet been involved in online marketing, are now taking a professional approach. In some cases, trade fair budgets are entirely invested in online, and a lot is happening here.
- Some small and tiny companies are entering the market with excellent ideas. For example, the vegetable drive-in (mentioned above) or the many new services that have been created.
- There are even more players coming into the market: big companies that have not been digital so far and tiny.
Examples of new markets in online marketing
- The vegetable shop next door offers a delivery service. Orders are placed via Whatsapp, without a website. Advertising is done via Facebook and Google Ads.
- A local watch shop will, in the future, run Google Ads. While it has been the exception so far, it will be the rule in 2020.
- Many local businesses will also be available digitally, so a fashion boutique will also sell clothes in the future (for example, with Shopify).
Which channels are currently growing the most?
Paid Ads: Short-term adjustments to the business model and new markets can be managed most quickly with Paid Ads. Even small, local companies will rely heavily on regional paid ads in the future.
Webinars were more in demand than ever. At times, search requests for webinars were five times higher than before the crisis. Many companies reacted to this and also offered webinars. Unfortunately, interest is currently flattening out again – companies should always check whether webinars are still worthwhile.
Lead generation is not a channel, but in this field, the interest and efforts will be permanently higher than before because even the last “classic” companies will enter the market in 2020.
In principle, every online marketing channel will grow – but with an inevitable delay. The pathways that can be quickly activated were; first, the more long-term ones (such as SEO) will come later.
The most important key statements at a glance:
The online market is growing in 2020 and will continue to pick up speed. Digitization has turned on the turbo!
Networking, conferences, webinars: There’s a lot of movement here. A lot will change in the coming months.
The home office will be established on a large scale, but will not replace the classic office. The office will become a “meeting point.”
Every online marketing channel will grow strongly in 2020. Paid ads will be the first to go, the rest will follow towards the end of the year at the latest.
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