It's that time of year again folks -- you know, the time to be inundated with retail email until our inboxes are more bloated than our bellies after the family holiday gathering.
That was just dry (awful) marketing humor, but seriously, it's the time for marketing talking heads (like me) to give their predictions for the coming year. I don't have too many of them, but I'd argue most of them could be considered bold predictions. Guess we'll have to wait until this time next year to know if any of them are true or not. In the meantime, let's pontificate...
1. The decline of the mobile-only website.
It makes little to no sense for marketers to manage two separate web properties when a well-designed responsive site can provide a great user experience, too. Brands that require a completely unique experience that responsiveness can't provide can leverage mobile apps. Look for mobile-only website design and development companies to enter into an age of decline and never recover.
2. The marriage of responsive websites and push notifications.
New technology pioneered by Roost is blurring the line between push notifications from apps and push notifications from actual websites. Their technology is browser based so as long as a user has the appropriate browser on their mobile device or desktop, and they've opted in, they can receive push notifications. It's likely that other companies will enter this space next year, too, and brands will be quick to adopt this powerful technology.
3. Facebook's organic reach will be nearly zero percent for brands. Twitter will significantly reduce organic reach for brands. Pinterest and Instagram will announce the coming reduction in brand visibility.
This is probably the least bold of all of the predictions. Twitter has already come out and said they'd be copying Facebook's approach to branded organic visibility. It's a proven business model for social media networks. Brands that have invested major dollars in these platforms aren't just going to walk away when their organic visibility is non-existent. They'll pay to play and the networks mentioned above know this.
4. Kapost will be acquired.
Actually, I'm very surprised they weren't acquired this year. As content marketing has matured, so has the speed at which software companies have been acquired and consolidated. There are countless examples. This will continue next year and Kapost will be gobbled up. There are several other companies that will be gobbled up, too, but I'm not bold enough to list them.
5. Look for many more brands to purchase niche online publications/blogs.
Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute has been sounding this horn for a while. Even the content producing machine, HubSpot, bought the Agency Post this year. There's a deluge of content being produced and published every day on the Internet and building new audiences from scratch is getting harder and harder. Brands are beginning to figure this out. So instead of building an audience from scratch, look for several well-known brands to outright buy an audience through the acquisition of an online publication or blog.
6. Content discovery and native advertising begins to grow up.
This relatively new distribution channel for content marketers has been getting a little push back because of some of its sensational headlines and shocking imagery. In many cases, certain forms of native advertising have picked up the CPC (cost-per-click) habits of banner ads. As a result, marketers are doing everything they can to solicit a click, as opposed to actual engagement.
Some native advertising networks and tools will move from a CPC model to a cost-per-engagement (CPE) model. This will go a long way in cleaning up some of the sensational headlines and shocking imagery. CPE will be much more appreciated by consumers and marketers, alike.
7. No more big algorithmic penalties from Google.
The days of large search engine results page (SERP) swings are over. Panda, Penguin and their subsequent updates have essentially achieved Google's purpose -- to mostly reward only content that deserves to be rewarded in its SERPs. The last of the spammy manipulation was put to rest this year with the manual penalties against guest blogging at scale.
8. Content marketing adoption rates will continue to decline.
Adoption rates have already started to decline (from the low '90s to the mid-'80s). The Content Marketing Institute chalks this up to the fact that they changed the definition of content marketing this year. I, on the other hand, believe the decline in adoption was caused by the fact that 63 percent of content marketers believe their efforts are ineffective.
Next year we'll likely see this declination continue. It will mostly be the late majority and laggard brands that bow out. They started content marketing too late and are struggling to build audiences because they have no plan for content promotion and distribution.
They're working in a "build it and they will come" paradigm which doesn't work for many brands today. Marketers for these brands are under pressure to show a return in the quarter an investment is made. After a year or more of no returns, budgets and resources for content marketing will likely begin to be dismantled.
The silver lining in this is that the brands that have minor to tremendous success will double or triple down on content marketing. The overall content marketing economy will continue to grow, even though some laggard and late majority brands will bow out.
The 2015 pontification is complete. While every prediction is not certain to come true, what I do know is that next year digital marketing will be even more exciting than it has been this year. Have some predictions of your own for next year? Agree or disagree with mine? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let's discuss.
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