This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web. Looking back on how the Internet has changed our lives and businesses so drastically, it reminds us how important it is to prepare for the future. This leads us to the question: What does the future hold for online business?
1990 – The Birth of the World Wide Web
On March 12, 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee published a paper proposing an “information management” system, which would come to be the foundation of what we know today as the Internet. On Christmas Day in 1990, Berners-Lee released the code for his system for the world to use, for free.
The early stages gave ordinary people access to share documents and interact with others connected to the Internet. In early 1990, graphical displays were created in order to give a visual representation of the files.
2014 – The Internet As We Know It
Earlier this year, The Pew Research Center published a report called, “The Web at 25 in the U.S.” The report highlights the distinction of “the Web” from “the Internet” by describing the Web as a “a service that uses the Internet’s architecture and … technologically distinct from some other Internet functions such as email and peer-to-peer file sharing.”
Using the Internet to search, share, interact, buy, and sell has become a way of life for this generation. The Internet’s 25th anniversary gives us a great opportunity to look ahead at the rapid change it will have on our lives and our businesses.
2025 – The Future of the Internet
Pew’s Digital Life in 2025 reports these 15 themes or scenarios about the digital future in 2025 based on its survey of open-ended questions about the Internet:
- Information sharing over the Internet will be so effortlessly interwoven into daily life that it will become invisible, flowing like electricity, often through machine intermediaries.
- The spread of the Internet will enhance global connectivity that fosters more planetary relationships and less ignorance.
- The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior.
- Augmented reality and wearable devices will be implemented to monitor and give quick feedback on daily life, especially tied to personal health. Political awareness and action will be facilitated and more peaceful change and public uprisings like the Arab Spring will emerge.
- The spread of the ‘Ubernet’ will diminish the meaning of borders, and new ‘nations’ of those with shared interests may emerge and exist beyond the capacity of current nation-states to control.
- The Internet will become ‘the Internets’ as access, systems, and principles are renegotiated.
- An Internet-enabled revolution in education will spread more opportunities, with less money spent on real estate and teachers.
- Dangerous divides between haves and have-nots may expand, resulting in resentment and possible violence.
- Abuses and abusers will ‘evolve and scale.’ Human nature isn’t changing; there’s laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime, and those who practice them have new capacity to make life miserable for others.
- Pressured by these changes, governments and corporations will try to assert power—and at times succeed—as they invoke security and cultural norms.
- People will continue—sometimes grudgingly—to make tradeoffs favoring convenience and perceived immediate gains over privacy; and privacy will be something only the upscale will enjoy.
- Humans and their current organizations may not respond quickly enough to challenges presented by complex networks.
- Most people are not yet noticing the profound changes today’s communications networks are already bringing about; these networks will be even more disruptive in the future.
- Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’
Of course, no one will really know until 2025 how realistic Pew’s survey results really were, but we look forward to seeing how things turn out. However, we can get a closely accurate idea of what the next big thing is online.
Looking Forward: Dynamic Website Personalization (DWP)
Entrepreneur recently released an article sharing the newest innovation for the Internet – Dynamic Website Personalization (DWP), or simply, sites tailored for each individual customer, based on his or her preferences.
It seems that this would’ve been done years ago, and yet it is such a revolutionary new topic. Why? Because the information, which has been previously unknown, is now being made available for marketers to pinpoint their exact target consumers and create a site specifically tailored to that individual’s needs, wants and desires. This formula will produce a deeper connection between online businesses and the customer and ultimately lead to more sales.
Dynamic website personalization (DWP) is the ability to dynamically change the content, messaging and offers displayed to a select visitor based on a set criteria. The set criteria can be changed based on website behavior, actions, stage of the buying process, content interests, etc. Rather than creating a webpage designed for all audiences, DWP allows you to focus on each individual’s preferences.
Hubspot looked at data for more than 93,000 calls to action by using its own software. Meghan Keaney Anderson, product marketing manager at Hubspot said, ““We looked at the data for more than 93,000 calls to action created using HubSpot, and hundreds of millions of views over a 12 month period. We found that calls-to-action dynamically targeted to the user had a 42 percent higher viewed to submission rate than calls to action that were the same for all visitors. That’s marketing, and impact, any business would love.”
DWP has the potential to boost call to action by 42%. That is huge for online businesses that rely on call to actions to drive traffic and sales.
While personalization and segmented marketing is nothing new, the platforms for marketers to create direct webpages to consumers haven’t been available until now. Email was one of the first possibilities for marketers to use segmented marketing, and it returned with empirical evidence of great success.
MailChimp reviewed their user base and found that segmented emails received a 14.4% increase in open rates and a 14.9% increase in click-through rate than the list average.
With these impressive rates for segmented email marketing, just think of what using “smart” content could mean for ecommerce websites. In the next few years, we will be sure to see DWP being integrated into platforms into their functionality, and it will make the Internet experience even more personalized than ever before.