2015 Predictions: Digital Marketing

Stephen DeAngelis

December 16, 2014

One area in which you can find a wide variety of predictions is digital marketing. The reason for all this interest is that digital marketing is on the rise. Dr. Mark Camilleri (@markcamilleri), an independent writer, speaker and business strategist, asserts, “Firms ought to adapt themselves to online marketing, whether they like it or not.” [“Digital Marketing Trends for 2015,” Business 2 Community (B2C), 28 November 2014] It might be easier for companies to strategize about their online marketing activities if they have a better sense of how the digital marketing landscape is unfolding. That’s what today’s article is about. The editors of SayDaily note that digital marketing involves “the convergence of a brand’s website, social media, mobile marketing, games and apps.” [“Top 5 Trends in Digital Media for 2015,” SayDaily, 14 November 2014] Since a number of predictions about digital marketing in 2015 have been made by various sources I’m going to combine them into one Top Ten list.

1. Mobile Technologies

One prediction that almost every prognosticator agrees with is that mobile technologies are going to rule the digital marketing sector in the years ahead. The SayDaily editors write, “Mobile-only/Mobile-first will be the rule, not the exception. In 2015 every website must be mobile-ready because everything’s shifting mobile. What’s more, according to Ovum, one billion people will use mobile as their only form of Internet access in 2015.” Camilleri writes, “Businesses are encouraged to produce content that “scales down” on mobiles. … According to (Forbes, 2013), ‘87% of connected devices sales by 2017 will be tablets and smartphones’.” Dan Shure, owner of Evolving SEO, adds, “We’ve already seen the massive ripple effects mobile has had on the digital marketing industry. I believe we’re going to see this accelerate in 2015 and beyond. We’re going to see further advancements in how Google indexes apps in search. And we’ll see it become harder and harder to track and measure important data across users and devices.” [“6 Predictions About The State of Digital Marketing In 2015,” by Sujan Patel (@sujanpatel), Forbes] Tom Webster (@webby2001), Vice President of Edison Research, states, “My top change/trend for digital marketing in 2015 is the rise and eventual preeminence of mobile data. … The continual removal of barriers between message and action that mobile gives us (for those who begin to think that way) will begin to restore the balance of the Force for attribution, and digital marketers can start to get away from channel-based thinking and move towards a more human behavior-centered model, with mobile serving as the unifying principle to unite offline and offline marketing.” [“21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015,” by Lee Odden (@leeodden), TopRank Online Marketing Blog, May 2014]

2. Platform Convergence

Brian Solis (@briansolis), Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group, asserts, “I’d love to say that by 2015 we will truly see digital strategies that are integrated across social, mobile, advertising, marketing, comms, et al. But, we won’t. What we will see though is a more conscious effort to bring disparate groups to the table to learn how to collaborate across screens, channels, and moments of truth to deliver ONE experience to customers wherever they are in the lifecycle.” [Odden, op. cit.] John Jantsch (@ducttape), Founder of Duct Tape Marketing, agrees with Solis and suggests that the digital path to purchase will gain prominence in the years ahead. “I believe organizations will go deeper into overall strategy with digital marketing,” Jantsch writes. “Chief Digital Officers will help organizations lessen their focus on demand creation and heighten it on organizing an end to end customer journey through digital storytelling tactics.” [Odden, op. cit.]

3. Marketing Content

Connie Bensen (@cbensen), who works in Global Social Content Strategy, Innovation & Governance at Dell, states, “My prediction for 2015 is that the digital marketer aka Social Bizologist (the person guiding the integration of social into the business functions of an organization) will be asking for an end-to-end content solution. We need a tool that can facilitate content efforts from ideation to publishing while tracking the usage and performance of content across the customer journey. This will allow for ease in repurposing, localization and accommodate real-time efforts.” [Odden, op. cit.] Camilleri adds, “One of the main ways that companies are establishing authority and trust among their consumers is by consistently creating high quality content that may provide useful and interesting insights to audiences. Through integrated marketing communications involving social media channels, companies are steadily building a strong rapport with customers, which will inevitably help them to develop brand equity.” Perhaps the hardest thing for marketers to learn will be that the best content approach goes light on selling and heavy on interesting content. Mike Stelzner (@Mike_Stelzner), CEO of Social Media Examiner, explains: “A little bit of selling here and there is great, but those marketers who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, are gonna get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by consumers and prospects. Get cracking folks, it’s time to actually care. That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track, like answering customer questions and providing more value online.” [Odden, op. cit.]

4. Social Media

Camilleri writes, “It is in the businesses’ interest to get to know about the demographic profile of customers. In addition they should be aware of the latest contemporary trends and conversations that are happening on social networks. Businesses ought to present themselves in a way that feels native and endemic to customers.” Although the ROI on social marketing strategies has yet to be proven, every corporation can benefit from listening to what their customers and social media influencers (see prediction 7) are saying about their products and services.

5. Videos

“When it comes to potential reach,” Camilleri writes, “video is peerless. YouTube is currently receiving more than one billion unique visitors every month – that’s more than any other channel, apart from Facebook.” … Apps such as Twitter’s Vine (with its six-second maximum clip length) have dramatically increased the opportunity for businesses to upload social videos having authentic content.” Ekaterina Walter (@Ekaterina), CMO at Branderati, agrees that videos will play an increasingly important role in marketing. “In the age of infobesity and increasing digital noise,” she writes, “visual storytelling will continue to emerge as a strategy for not only standing out, but also for nurturing and growing vibrant and engaged communities. The ability to craft visual stories that inspire emotion and spark the movement will help companies get noticed and amplify their message throughout those communities.” [Odden, op. cit.]

6. Augmented Reality and Wearable Technology

Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer), Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, predicts, “As far as 2015, there is a vast change on our horizon that will be led by augmented reality and wearable technology. This change will be so profound in fact, that I think we will look back at this revolution as something that is as important as the Internet itself. By the end of 2015, wearable technology should be gathering enough steam that we will begin to see some early marketing applications. What does marketing look like when the Internet surrounds us like the air that we breathe? Fascinating to think about.” [Odden, op. cit.] Isabel Wilimas adds, “Closing the gap between the online and offline experience will be a big step not only for online marketing, but for Internet in general. One of the first possible technological applications meant to combine online and offline are micro-location technologies, in particular Apple’s iBeacon, which has during the last year completely revolutionized the scene and is slowly being introduced into commercial settings. But that’s not all. Wearable technology will become popular enough for us to see some of the first marketing application of the technology. The Internet of things will create a completely new kind of environment and marketers will have to keep up with its rapid development in order to stay in touch with the changing needs of consumers.” [“10 Online Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015,” Inbound Now]

7. The Rise of Influencers

Roz Lemieux, CEO of Attentively, states, “We expect 2015 to be the year influencer marketing comes into its own. As a way of amplifying content and driving campaigns forward, when you combine social listening, content and influencers you unlock a powerful new channel within the marketing mix. As our wonderful clients have been discovering this past year, there’s enormous value to be gained from this approach. We look forward to 2015 when influencers will factor more prominently in social and content marketing.” [“Our Predictions For The State Of Digital Marketing 2015,” by Jeanette Russell (@jnetrussell), Business 2 Community (B2C), 9 December 2015]

8. Native Advertising

Brian Clark (@brianclark), CEO of Copyblogger Media, predicts, “2015 will continue a trend that has caught steam this year, which is mixing paid media with owned media to accelerate content distribution. The best ‘native’ advertising helps build an audience into a long-term business asset, and that’s a goal worth spending on in conjunction with owned content creation.” [Odden, op. cit.]

9. Targeted Marketing

David Meerman Scott (@dmscott), a speaker and bestselling author with Freshspot Marketing, predicts, “In 2015, digital marketing will converge with digital selling in a meaningful way. Marketing (one to many) and sales (one to one) are beginning to use the same techniques of content creation and real-time engagement. The best organizations will not run marketing and sales as separate ‘departments’ but will merge the two functions into one customer facing organization focused on revenue generation.” [Odden, op. cit.] Wilimas adds, “Targeted ads are considered twice as effective as non-targeted ones and one study demonstrated that retargeted display ad will inspire 1000% more people to search for this product! No wonder that targeting strategies are expected to dynamically rise in 2015.”

10. Marketing Analytics

Almost all the above predictions will rely, in one way or another, on good analytics. Wilimas predicts, “The importance of this section of marketing will rise in 2015, when spending for that purpose [is] expected to rise by 60%. Furthermore, we’ll see marketing automation technologies applied more and more often – their use is predicted to grow by 50%. In short, marketing data will become a crucial point in any marketing endeavor and its acquisition will be easier and faster. Consumers will generate a vast amount of detailed information and companies are expected to use specialized software to help them in making sense of the data at hand.” The editors at SayDaily add, “Advanced analytics are like Moneyball in Digital Media. In 2015 we’ll see smart media companies adopting data-driven strategies that move beyond just accessing ‘big data’ to actually integrating data into everyday marketing decisions, product development and campaign planning.”