It is hard to argue that social media has changed the face of digital marketing, or marketing overall for that matter. The transformation is so great that the line between traditional and digital marketing has been blurred and a great many companies are finally accepting the fact that to win in marketing they MUST have a digital strategy and that strategy should probably include using social media.
So, it is no surprise that last year digital marketing accounted for 25% of all marketing dollars spent and that that number is expected to rise to 33% this year. It is possible that in just a few years digital marketing costs will be THE major expense item for most companies. Where is that money going? A good chunk of it is going to paid advertising on major social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
As we start off the year, it's helpful to look at which digital marketing trends are likely to dominate the landscape in 2015. Following are my top 7 predictions for digital marketing trends in 2015.
1. Email marketing will need to become smarter.
Businesses who have been investing heavily in digital marketing over the past 5 years are already figuring this one out. In the past, offering a company newsletter via email was often enough to build and grow your list. But with website visitors becoming increasingly wary of handing over their email addresses, businesses need to become extremely smart about what types of email content they provide and how they promote it.
Using free eBooks or white papers that offer true value are great lead magnets that work well to entice people to join your list. As you continue to send highly relevant content to your subscribers, they recognize that you truly 'know your stuff', and are more likely to purchase your products or services.
In 2015, businesses will realize that sending MORE emails isn't the key...it's sending BETTER emails and creating more valuable lead magnets.
2. Brands that succeed at being human will win.
People buy form people and companies that they know, like and trust. Social media has made it easier than ever to establish personal relationships with large numbers of customers and prospects quickly and for very little cost. Brands that understand this and are investing in creating a more authentic and humanized marketing experience will be the clear winners in 2015.
This will involve putting relationships ahead of sales, and building connections rather than simply promoting products. Brands that focus on building community and providing amazing content via social media will be the clear front-runners. I believe this so strongly that I actually wrote a book on the very subject called Will The Real You Please Stand Up: Show Up, Be Authentic, and Prosper in Social Media.
3. Content marketing will (finally) become about true value.
This has been a popular talking point over the past couple of years, but I believe 2015 will be the year when content finally becomes about quality over quantity.
A successful content strategy should be about producing first-rate content, not just rehashing or compiling everyone else's insights. Businesses will finally realize that blah, run-of-the-mill content does very little in terms of increasing search rankings or attracting followers. In fact, they will begin to see that producing low-quality content can actually be damaging in terms of SEO and building trust.
4. We'll begin to see a decrease in the number of online marketing strategies businesses employ.
Yes, you read that right! Let me explain. Over the past number of years, we've seen businesses and marketers scramble to constantly add new and better strategies to their marketing mix. Marketers clearly find social media an exceptionally important element of their marketing, however where and how they use their resources has become increasingly fragmented.
Currently, around 1 in 3 marketers are able to calculate the ROI of their social media marketing efforts, and this number is only going to increase. I believe that as marketers get better at tracking and measuring the ROI of their efforts, we'll see businesses allocate their time and money more effectively. Rather than being active on 10 social networks, for instance, they'll increasingly realize that having a strong, active presence on 5 networks will result in an even higher ROI.
In other words, while businesses will spend MORE time and money on social media marketing overall, exactly WHERE and HOW they invest these resources will become more targeted than ever.
5. Brands who use social primarily for "pushing" sales will die out.
You know I am all about social selling. Unfortunately, many people who hear the term assume this means pushing their products or services on their social media followers. This couldn't be further from the truth!
Social selling is about building community, attracting leads, and providing valuable content...NOT about pushing a product or message. Brands that continue to use social media to PUSH rather than to ATTRACT will find themselves wasting a ton of time and money, and alienating their fans and followers.
For more on this, see my post The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Selling on Social.
6. "Mobile-first" will replace "mobile-friendly".
We hear a lot about the importance of having a responsive or "mobile-friendly" website, however 2015 is when we'll see a shift to a truly "mobile-first" mentality.
This means thinking about mobile when it comes to each and every piece of content you create - your blog posts, emails and social media posts. A majority of your followers and subscribers are likely to be accessing your content via mobile, and yet many businesses still aren't creating and distributing their content with these users in mind.
Considering how and where your mobile users will be reading your emails and social media posts is key; for instance, do your social media links direct your followers to a mobile-optimized landing page? Do you use lots of images on social media, which are great for attracting the attention of your mobile followers? Have you optimized your content and headlines to catch the attention of readers who are 'on the go'?
7. Content marketing will become integrated company-wide.
In the past, content marketing efforts have been restricted to a select department or individual. In many companies, the SEO department has been responsible for content creation and dissemination, while other departments have been fairly isolated and haven't been involved in any way.
As businesses experience the significant benefits of their content, they'll realize that content marketing needs to be done at the company-wide level; that individuals from all departments should have input into what types of content are created, and in how that content is distributed. Your sales team, for instance, will have the most relevant insights into customer questions and behaviors...so why aren't we involving them in the content brainstorming process, at the very least?
Think about which individuals in your company can offer unique insights or skills for content creation and dissemination. Not only does this lead to amazing, targeted content, it gets everyone invested in the process.
What changes or trends do you predict for digital marketing in 2015? Share your insights below!