Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The State of Digital Marketing In 2015 - Trends and Analysis

It’s clear that we live in a fast moving, hyper-transparent and digitized age. On all levels. Rapid change is the key defining reality of our era. Companies either drive it, adapt to it, or succumb to it. Some may feel threatened by this trend, but we see it as an excellent opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves.  You just need to know where it’s all going.

It also helps to understand that there are no real boundaries today between digital marketing, design, content, advertising, retail design and other disciplines. The distinctions are artificial. In fact, for the consumer, almost every moment in their day-to-day life involves an interaction with a brand, and all are equally important. Every touch point must therefore be carefully created to provide a rich and consistent experience.

If, as Marshall McLuhan espoused, “the media is the message” then the consumer is the medium today.  Positive endorsement from other consumers is the most powerful media available to brands. This is especially true in today’s content- saturated world.  Audiences are no longer swayed by messaging - it takes coherent, immersive experiences that create conversational capital. Brands must earn consumer attention by providing value in the form of entertainment, information, and utility.

That said, to assist in navigating through this rapidly changing competitive environment here are our predictions for 2015.


Optimizing for mobile has been a significant priority for businesses in 2014, but 2015 will be the year that mobile strategies move beyond simply having a responsive site or mobile app, and focus on mobile-optimized content and social media marketing as well.

We know that Google has been placing additional emphasis on how mobile-friendly sites are; in fact, they’ve stated that mobile usability is now “relevant for optimal search results.” This emphasis is apparent in the recent launch of a new feature in Google Webmaster Tools called Mobile Usability.

2015 will see businesses finally incorporating mobile into all areas of their digital marketing: a fully responsive website, mobile ads, and separate content specifically for mobile website users. Businesses will also begin to realize the necessity of having a mobile social media strategy that considers how mobile users consume and interact with social media posts.

Social media spend will increase significantly

Brands will finally realize the importance of social media marketing.  As organic post reach continues to fall, and as platforms like Facebook further restrict what types of posts can be shown in users’ feeds, paid advertising is only going to increase as businesses struggle to maintain traffic and sales from social media channels.

Some businesses are seeing positive results from their investment in social media (some are not), including increased exposure and traffic, and are seeing paid social ads as the way to scale these results.  Twitter’s new advertising options (beta) for example has transactional payment triggered by specific actions like website clicks, app downloads and email opt-ins.  This will mean small to medium-sized businesses will be far more likely to invest in these objective-based campaigns.  Note also that Micro-sites will also be used far more in 2015 for promotional activities as they help direct traffic to the main site and thus facilitate or bolster it’s popularity.

Inbound + Content marketing will be (even) bigger than ever

According to the B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report, 93% of B2B marketers said they used content marketing in 2014, and 42% said they considered their strategy effective (up from 36% last year).

As marketers continue to see the benefits of their content strategies, a portion of the money previously earmarked for search engine PPC, SEO and social media reach will be re-allocated to content marketing efforts.  A major struggle, however, will be finding ways to stand out amidst the throngs of other content vying for attention. Case studies, video content, research-intensive content, and authoritative content will be what give businesses an advantage over their competitors.

Businesses will also increasingly be willing to invest in mobile-specific content, including creating short-form content that’s easily readable on mobile devices, understanding their audience’s mobile habits and putting more emphasis on video and visual content that’s easily consumed via mobile.

Email marketing will receive a renewed focus

With social networks reducing the amount of visibility brands and businesses receive and with search engines intimidating business owners and marketers with ever-increasing complexity of their ranking algorithms, businesses will return to the one marketing asset that they can control entirely; their email list. This renewed focus on email marketing will intertwine with content marketing to blur the lines between e-mail and content marketing.

As brands realize the value of content marketing, they’ll begin to discover ways to streamline their email content in order to avoid redundancy.  One way in which they’ll do this is to repurpose existing content into downloadable PDF’s (such as whitepapers or value-added content), which can be offered as opt-in incentives to build an email list.

Brands will also begin to realize the necessity of differentiating themselves from their competitors when it comes to email marketing. In HubSpot’s 2014 Science of Email report, respondents reported a significant decline in how often they bought a product or service from email messages they had received (35% said “never” in 2014 compared to 25% in 2011). This finding underlines the importance of businesses employing creative, relationship-based strategies to their email marketing rather than just attempting to make a quick sale.  Think “less shotgun, more sniper rifle.”

The lines between SEO, content marketing and social media will become even more blurred

SEO and content marketing will continue to co-exist as two separate but intertwined disciplines that rely on each other for success. That said, content marketing is now the primary influencer of search visibility. Businesses that don’t invest in a solid content strategy will discover that their SEO campaigns are ineffective, at best, and damaging to their search visibility, at worst.

SEO will come to be seen more as a subset of online marketing, dealing with technical aspects such as meta-tags, indexing issues, penalty recovery, and keyword research. Social media, on the other hand, will come to be seen as a necessary amplifier of any content strategy. While businesses have been focused on creating high-quality content, less focus has been given to promoting and distributing that content.

Businesses will also increasingly realize the other important benefit of social media, including increased brand recognition and brand authority, improved customer insights and higher conversion rates.

Brands will scramble to humanize

With the rise of social media, brands will realize that their customers are on social media channels to interact with other people, not with brands and corporate-sounding lingo. Brands that are able to connect with their audience on a human-level will enjoy higher conversion rates, better brand loyalty, faster audience growth, and happier customers.

A company’s ability to humanize their brand (and find their unique brand voice) will be the single most important success factor using social media in 2015. Brands who engage and develop authentic relationships with their fans, followers and email subscribers will see tremendous benefits, all of which will ultimately increase their bottom line and ROI.

Marketers will find new ways of making native advertising more relevant (and less promotional)

With steadily decreasing click-through rates (CTR) over the past few years, businesses are realizing the ineffectiveness of banner advertising for driving sales. While increased visibility is still a benefit of banner ads, small to medium-sized business looking for results will be less inclined to invest in channels that don’t offer a calculable ROI.

With the increase in popularity of native ads, marketers and publishers will constantly be looking for new ways to mimic editorial content while remaining transparent to website visitors. 2015 will see collaborations between publishers and brands whereby sponsored content is specifically created to be shown alongside the primary content; in this way, native ads will not be promotional in nature, but instead will offer relevant and engaging supplementary content.

More and more, marketing and communications must widen their horizons and embrace the fact that, for brands, speaking to “consumers” is just not enough. Yes, we all are consumers and most of us accept this reality. But a more meaningful way of engaging people is to recognize that they are also, if not primarily, humans, fans, users, visitors, or guests (depending on the context). Your ability to develop rich experiences is rooted in this understanding.  Ultimately, focus less on crafting moments and more on creating movements. 

Have questions?  We’re here to help.  Drop us a line at info@goodbuzz.ca or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.