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21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions

Posted on May 1st, 2014
Written by Lee Odden
In this article

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    Digital Marketing Trends

    The only constant is change.

    From technology trends to changing business models to evolving consumer behaviors, there’s a lot to consider in order for today’s marketers to really have a handle on what’s important about what’s next.

    Old digital tactics and mastering individual channels are being overcome by the need to create a common brand experience across the digital experience on and offline. Customers expect to access and consume information across platforms, apps and devices and in order for brands to “be the best answer” wherever buyers are looking, they’ll need to figure out what’s next and where to focus.

    To capture some of what’s important for digital marketing in 2015, I reached out to some of the marketers I’ve worked with and come to know over the years. It’s an inspiring collection of marketing brain power and experience represented by brands like Cisco, IBM, Dell, Google, Intel, Marketo and LinkedIn as well as industry thought leaders like David Meerman Scott, Ann Handley, Jay Baer, Ekaterina Walter, Mark Schaefer, Ardath Albee, Brian Clark and many more – 21 in all.

    Business content has to be more than informative. It should entertain too. That’s why I asked each marketing smartie to share a “selfie” of themselves to go along with their 2015 prediction. A surprising number have never taken and published a selfie before, so you’re seeing them here first.

    From content to mobile to ads to humor to being more human – this post covers a variety of important areas of focus for digital marketing in 2015. Dig in, learn and enjoy:

    Ann Handley Selfie

    Ann Handley  @annhandley – Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
    Is it 2015 already…? And I just learned to routinely write 2014 on my checks…(darn it!)

    So here goes: In 2015, I’m thinking about two things:

    1. We’re taking the notion of “”brands are publishers”” and pushing the boundaries of that further.

    How that plays out: We’ll focus on enormous empathy and customer experience (and not just more blog posts). (That doesn’t mean blog posts aren’t important, for the right company and the right customer. But it means we consider if that’s the best approach, rather than making a post the default.)

    We’ll focus on more relevance and new inspirations (rather than just the tried and true).

    And we’ll focus on being generously useful. 2015 really will be the year we create and curate content our customers will thank us for. Which leads me to…

    2. Marketers become ridiculously proud of their writing!

    In our online social world, we recognize that all marketers are writers. Everybody writes, and that’s true whether you are the Chief Content Officer or Marketing VP or the mar-com manager. Our words are our currency – they tell the world who we are, as Beth Dunn points out. They can make us look smart or they can make us look stupid – and so being able to communicate well in writing isn’t just nice; it’s necessity.

    Are you thinking writing doesn’t matter in our video/podcast/Instagram world? Actually, it matters more. Good writing is like an iceberg – use your best words to convey depth under the surface. That means you’re got to choose those words well, and write with economy and the style and the end reader in mind (there’s that empathy thing again!). That’s true whether you’re writing a listicle or the words on a Slideshare deck or the opening paragraph Lee wrote at the top of this post… 🙂

    Jay Baer Selfie

    Jay Baer @jaybaer – President, Convince & Convert
    It’s already happening, but 2015 will be the year of paid amplification. With content marketing reaching near-ubiquity, the success pendulum will swing toward boosting consumption of content. That will put a new focus on math, testing and optimization as content production and content distribution become equally important.

    Mark Schaefer Selfie

    Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer – Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions
    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.

    Pam Didner selfie

    Pam Didner @pamdidner – Global Integrated Marketing Strategist, Intel Corporation
    Marketers have been advised to create and tailor different formats of content with customized copy for highly fragmented marketing channels from TV and print to various social media platforms in order to reach their target audience. It’s the right thing to do.

    Digital marketing will continue to morph and promotion channels will be further fragmented. The major change for 2015 is NOT about digital marketing. The major change will come from Marketers by Going Back to Basics: reevaluate the target audience, determine what works and what doesn’t. Re-prioritize and be smart about resource allocation and investment.

    Mike Stelzner Selfie

    Mike Stelzner @Mike_Stelzner – CEO, Social Media Examiner
    Major change in digital marketing: Those that pitch are becoming ignored. 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.

    Brian Solis

    Brian Solis @briansolis – Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group
    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.

    John Jantsch Selfie

    John Jantsch @ducttape – Founder, Duct Tape Marketing
    I believe organizations will go deeper into overall strategy with digital marketing – 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.

    Bill Hunt selfie

    Bill Hunt @billhunt – President, Back Azimuth Consulting
    In 2015 companies will stop treating digital marketing as a tactic and embrace it as an ecosystem. The ecosystem will enable a singular goal of attracting, engaging and retaining new and existing customers by providing information and content that gives them everything they need to locate, purchase and use their products and services. The days of preaching to customers rather than exciting and informing them are rapidly coming to an end and marketers that can effectively connect with prospects will win.

    Joe Pulizzi & Joshua

    Joe Pulizzi @joepulizzi – Founder, Content Marketing Institute
    In 2015 we will see a large move among brands to buy media companies, flush with cash and short on patience to build loyal audiences.

    DJ Waldow Selfie

    DJ Waldow @djwaldow – Digital Marketing Evangelist, Marketo
    2015 will be the year of HUMAN for digital marketers. Gone are the days of corporate-speak messaging and dull, boring campaigns. Instead, we’ll begin to see more marketers incorporate human-speak into their messaging – videos, pictures, humor, and human!

    Ekaterina Walter

    Ekaterina Walter @Ekaterina – CMO, Branderati
    In the age of infobesity and increasing digital noise, 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.

    Brian Clark selfie

    Brian Clark @brianclark – CEO, Copyblogger Media
    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 a long-term business asset, and that’s a goal worth spending on in conjunction with owned content creation.

    Jason Miller selfie

    Jason Miller @jasonmillerCA – Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn
    Coding will become a necessity for digital marketers. As the modern marketer strives to understand how social, content, demand gen, PR, and SEO call all work successfully within a fully integrated marketing strategy, the next skill is to add coding to their resume/ LinkedIn profile. The ability to understand how front end web development and coding can affect, enhance, and optimize a content strategy will become a necessity for marketers instead of a nice to have.

    Susan Emerick selfie

    Susan Emerick @sfemerick – Manager, Enterprise Social Strategy & Programs, IBM
    Employee Advocates will humanize digital marketing experiences on behalf of their brands, outperforming traditional media investments. This will require digital marketers to once again rethink and reshuffle the budgeting decision deck.

    David Meerman Scott selfie

    David Meerman Scott @dmscott – Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author, Freshspot Marketing
    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.

    Ardath Albee selfie

    Ardath Albee @ardath421 – CEO, Marketing Interactions
    Marketers will become obsessive about becoming relevant to their audiences and buckle down to do the work that informs the development of a digital strategy.

    Tim Washer selfie

    Tim Washer @timwasher – Senior Marketing Manager, Social Media, Cisco Systems
    As brands strive to create authentic connections online, especially with Millennials, more will understand that a clever laugh or the vulnerability of silliness is the most efficient path to earning trust and loyalty. Mark 2015 as the year of humor in digital marketing.

    Tom Webster selfie

    Tom Webster @webby2001 – Vice President, Edison Research
    My top change/trend for digital marketing in 2015 is the rise and eventual preeminence of mobile data. Clickstream data simply misses too many elements of the consideration and purchase process, and gives things like social media, word of mouth, and traditional media/advertising short shrift. But as a call to action from social media, a party, the radio, or a billboard arise, today’s smartphone-equipped consumers can take actions in the moment in a way that can be directly attributed to the medium that drove the action, without friction.

    Consider this—I’m walking around town, listening to online radio over my phone, and I hear an audio ad for a product that might interest me. In the past, were I to hear that ad, I’d have to remember the name of the company, then go home and use a search engine to learn more about the company before an eventual purchase. Who gets the attribution credit in that scenario? Search, sadly—and a most undeserved credit it would be.

    But 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.

    Adam Singer selfie

    Adam Singer @AdamSinger – Analytics Advocate, Google
    Digital analytics sophistication and (effective) usage increases: we know from research, talking to users and being an active part of the industry that marketers are increasing emphasis on measurement. Our team even launched a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to provide a free and robust resource to educate marketers and help them succeed. An ever-expanding mix of devices and channels is creating even greater pressures for digital teams to quantify their efforts, but the technology is here and the market demand for talented analysts & data-savvy marketers has been in place long enough that 2015 is the year digital measurement finally comes of age. Smart brands have already formalized their efforts across organizations and efforts. If you’re not there it’s time to catch up.

    Connie Bensen selfie

    Connie Bensen @cbensen – Global Social Content Strategy, Innovation & Governance, Dell
    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.

    Lee Odden selfie

    Lee Odden (hey, that’s me!) @leeodden – CEO, TopRank Online Marketing
    The convergence of marketing, public relations and advertising will accelerate even faster in 2015 and beyond as agencies and internal corporate organizations fulfill each of those roles. Content creation, search optimization and social media will be less siloed as specific departments and treated more like skills that exist across the organization. Optimization will move beyond individual tactics and focus more on overall customer experience across channels. Marketing is everybody’s job and more companies will leverage internal resources through social business and collaboration platforms as well as participation marketing with their community to integrate scaled content creation and social media engagement.

    As you can tell, each marketer that shared insights here brings their own experience and perspective as a flavor to their prediction. Each has their own bias but collectively, I think this group represents a great cross-section of ideas that we, as marketers, need to consider for the rest of 2014 and into 2015.

    What do you think the most significant changes and important trends will be in 2015? What is it about digital marketing that will be most important for your business and customers in the coming year?

    Need help with your Digital Marketing strategy? Check out the consulting services at TopRank Marketing