With Gartner predicting that digital marketing budgets will grow by 17 percent in 2015, the discipline really is going from strength to strength, evolving as the internet and the way people consume it evolves.
In the world of digital marketing next year, in addition to an increase in social media advertising and more responsive, personalised product adverts, there will also be an increased focus on creating digital content which is more Hummingbird friendly. The algorithm favours content designed to respond well to semantic search, and more complex phrases.
An increase in structured data is also likely to impact search and digital marketing, and content may become almost more important than the website itself. Already rich snippets are being displayed in search returns, helping businesses differentiate themselves from the competition, and sites that make provision for these should thrive.
Brands will increasingly become publishers – this trend has been evident for some time now, as Google prefers high quality, useful content, and moving into the New Year the focus on quality, useful content which has a real purpose for readers, is key.
It will no longer be sufficient to simply pay lip service to the integration of content across multiple platforms, instead ensuring a complete immersion of content.
Audience segmentation is more paramount than ever before, with digital marketing, social media and CRM making the business of drilling down into who your customers are (and minute detail about their personalities) much easier. In 2015, this segmentation will become even more precise, as the communication between brands and customers continues. Related to this, 2015 should also see the employment of more ingenious CRM tactics including more personalised messaging and communication.
As wearable technology and augmented reality becomes ever more prolific, brands will need to adapt their digital marketing efforts to ensure they are innovating to perform through these exciting new technologies. The possibilities they will provide for interactive and engaging marketing activities are endless.
Rather than being seen as a selling tool, digital marketing will instead continue to evolve into a process embracing the customer journey driven through storytelling. The New Year should see more organisations embracing digital marketing and its concepts (engaging informative content, brand personality and an understanding of audience interests) as inherent to their entire operation, not just sales.
Brands and corporations will focus on projecting a human face and personalised style of communication over corporate speak through their digital marketing activity.
Visual storytelling, which has been a key digital marketing tactic for some time, will continue to be a key approach for marketers looking to drive customers through the decision making process , and this tactic works well across social media too – creating engagement and driving interest. These stories, and digital marketing in general will increasingly see humour used to humanise content and messaging even further.
As with social media, the ongoing balance between paid and non-paid content will continue, much like the traditional combination of advertising and public relations-driven editorial. Savvy businesses will understand that it quite literally pays to pay sometimes, particularly if the audience and platform have been researched thoroughly to ensure the investment is a wise one. With this in mind, social media platforms will redouble their advertising sales strategies to help ensure they profit from the landscape.
In 2015 the convergence of marketing, public relations and advertising with digital marketing will continue, and as many professionals now know, these disciplines should not be considered in isolation as part of any digital marketing strategy in order for it to succeed. Social media, search optimisation and content creation will also all be done in conjunction with each other as part of this wider convergence.
Mobile data will also play a major role in the digital marketing landscape of 2015. It is vital that marketers have the power to harness and understand the way consumers use their phones in response to calls to action though marketing and PR, so they are able to analyse this behaviour and plan for future activities which maximise tactics that work effectively. Not only will mobile data be crucial, but technological developments will allow data sets to be linked across all user devices, so communicating with target audiences and understanding buyer behaviour will become more simplified.
Content marketing will move to talk about more topical content rather than evergreen subjects, creating a necessity for more relevant and frequently updated content than ever before. Not only will it need to be more topical, but longform content will thrive over thinner content as Google algorithms continue to target thin content.
Video and audio investment will be bigger than ever before, as brands seek to engage audiences through highly entertaining and sharable content.
Analytics and evaluation will become even more paramount along with the role of digital marketers; as the focus is firmly on the value of digital marketing to organisations, proving the value and impact of activities will also become key.
By Kathryn Dawson, creative director at Strategy Digital.
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