Digital Marketing Trends PictureThe digital marketing space continued to rapidly evolve in 2014 to keep up with more engaged consumers. Mobile marketing soared. Native advertising continued its rocketing rise to dominance. Google released Panda 4.0. Google also introduced another algorithm update, aimed at local search, known as Pigeon. And, the Big Data chant picked up steam.

So, what’s in store for 2015? Read our list of digital marketing trends to find out. WrightIMC CEO Tony Wright chimes in about some of these trends and what to expect.

  1. Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly will fail

In 2014, Google made it obvious that it’s placing increasing importance on mobile usability. When Google decided to move away from the “Carousel” in favor of the “3-pack,” they tested mobile-friendly icons next to search results. Google also added a mobile usability section in Webmaster accounts so users can see their mobile performance. As it was already, Google was penalizing sites that caused errors for mobile users.

In 2015, mobile search is expected to surpass desktop, according to eMarketer. According to Tech Republic, most experts agree that brands will have to be more thoughtful about leveraging mobile technology in order to deliver experiences that meet customers’ needs.

Wright says mobile marketing reminds him of SEO in the old days because the tracking is difficult, the standards are loose, and the way users are responding in mobile is changing at an ever-increasing pace as the reach and frequency of mobile content continues to expand.

“No one can tell you exactly what innovations will occur in mobile advertising this year, but the safe bet is that they will be significant,” he said. “The first step is to make sure that all of your digital assets are mobile-friendly. Then, you can adjust to whatever changes take place in the years to come.”

  1. Companies will ramp up their data-driven marketing efforts

The big data and analytics market will hit $125 billion worldwide this year, according to IDC. Data-driven marketing is delivering notable results in the areas of customer loyalty, customer engagement and marketing growth, according to a Forbes report that surveyed more than 300 executives. The report’s key finding:

Companies that are leaders in data-driven marketing are  “three times more likely than ‘laggards’ to say they have achieved competitive advantage in customer engagement/loyalty (74% vs. 24%) and almost three times more likely to have increased revenues (55% vs. 20%).”

While organizations are recognizing the value of data-driven marketing, strategies are being undertaken in a piecemeal manner, when they should use resources from across an organization instead.

We can definitely expect big data to remain a hot buzzword – a phrase that actually makes Wright cringe. He advises that companies should view big data in another way.

“I don’t like the phrase big data,” he said.  “I’d much rather have five data-driven actionable points than 10 million pieces of irrelevant data. Look at your data as a problem solving tool – not a marketing panacea. Your customers are people, not the sum of their demographic and purchase data. Always remember that.”

  1. Search rankings will become more about building relationships and less about technical strategies

With the large amount of content produced and published daily, businesses are realizing that focusing on creating content and optimizing the technical components for SEO aren’t enough to achieve their goals. Marketers are learning businesses that can humanize their brand are the ones that set themselves apart.

Higher search rankings cannot be achieved by focusing solely on technical compliance. Rather, relational strategies that engage brand advocates, influencers and the social media world will boost rankings.

It’s becoming increasingly important for marketing to integrate SEO and digital as part of their overall strategy.

“SEO isn’t magic,” Wright said.  “It’s more like plumbing. If all of the pipes don’t work, then the plumbing doesn’t work. Increasingly, we’re seeing more pipes that lead to the overall success of SEO efforts. The entire marketing plan needs to keep SEO in mind in 2015. Companies that silo their efforts are going to have a hard time showing SEO success going forward.”

  1. SEO companies will focus more on integration

The SEO companies of 2015 will know how to merge SEO, social media and content marketing. We’ll see a shift from SEO as an isolated practice to a foundation that integrates all aspects of marketing. Content marketing and social media specialists will need SEO knowledge and skills and vice versa. SEO will be integrated with the creation and promotion of content much more in 2015.

At WrightIMC, we have long advocated an integrated marketing approach – so much so that we included it in our agency name. If you want to read more about our philosophy, check out a blog post written by Wright who discusses how the traditional lines of marketing are being blurred and how PR and advertising professionals shouldn’t be threatened by SEO and digital marketing.

  1. Brands will create meaningful content and adopt video even more

Last year, companies continued to step up their content marketing efforts and created a proliferation of content. In 2015, you’ll start to see a shift to more high-quality, meaningful content being produced that resonates with consumers.

Companies will also want to quantify their content marketing activities more than ever in 2015. As it is already, only 23 percent of B2C content marketers believe they successfully track ROI, according to findings from a 2014 Content Marketing Institute Survey. And 51 percent of B2C content marketers rated measuring content effectiveness as challenging.

To help break through the clutter, video will be one of the main content marketing tactics used. Video consumption continues to surge across all devices. Marketers are observing positive engagement rates from video usage. In a video content marketing study from Vidyard and Ascend2, 71 percent of marketers indicated that video converts better than other text and images.

In 2015, we can anticipate brands creating more original video content, as well as increasing their usage of shorter video content via platforms such as Vine and Instagram.

  1. Emerging social networks will grow … but may not last

2014 was the year of niche social networks that were built in response to the failings of companies like Facebook. The lack of privacy, collection of data and pervasive advertising on Facebook has caused some to look for other networks. Ello, for instance, offers a bare-bones, forever-ad-free experience and promises to never sell user data to third parties. Ello is being labeled by some as the new “hipster social network,” but it may not be able to compete with Facebook’s thriving 1.3 billion user community.

Yik Yak allows users to exchange fully anonymous posts with people who are physically nearby. Another network to watch in 2015 is Tsu, which has promised to share ad revenue with users based on the popularity of their posts.

This year will no doubt be another exciting one in the digital marketing space. If you have any questions about what lies ahead in digital marketing or need help with your digital marketing strategy, please reach out to us in the contact form below.