Digital Marketing in 2015: 70 Must-Read Predictions From the Experts

By Unknown, blog post 17/12/2014

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As an industry, digital marketing is in a constant state of flux. For this reason, if you’re planning on maintaining your 2O14 strategy, you could run into trouble. But we’re guessing you want to stay ahead of the curve, right?

To help you and your business, we’ve curated all of the 2015 digital marketing trends and predictions worth knowing about. There are 70 of them, in fact.

Many of the predictions have come from some of the top marketing professionals around the web, butwe’ve also asked our own experts here at Strategy Digital to peer into their crystal balls.

So with the days until next year counting down, click the links immediately below to take you to appropriate section and discover where the experts predict you should be concentrating your digital marketing efforts in the 2015.

Content Marketing
SEO
Social Media Marketing
Pay Per Click Advertising
Mobile
Web Design
Data
Digital Marketing Miscellany

Content Marketing Trends for 2015

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More brands will find value in becoming publishers

According to statistics published in Forbes, 90% of B2C brands are now investing in content marketing. As such, the content marketing industry is worth a whopping $44 billion. For these reasons, more and more brands will find value in becoming publishers.

Predicted by @leevann at MediaPost

Fragmented markets will demand more customised content

Because target customers are more fragmented than ever, marketers will be required to tailor their content more specifically. As such, sales copy and marketing messages will need to be customised for a huge number of platforms – both online and offline – to reach their target audience.

Predicted by @pamdidner at TopRank Blog

More large brands will buy media companies

As content marketing continues to grow in popularity, big brands with lots of money will purchase media companies and integrate them into their business. This will allow large brands to build loyal audiences with less effort.

Predicted by @joepulizziat at TopRank Blog

The art of visual storytelling will continue to grow

With more content comes more digital noise. As a result, visual storytelling will become more common place as a method for cutting through the increasing level of digital noise. Not only that, but visual stories are better for inspiring emotion – something that tends to connect with consumers more successfully.

Predicted by @Ekaterina at Top Rank Blog

More brands will use both paid and owned media to fast-track content distribution

In order to keep up with the demand for content creation, more brands will create their own content and use paid for media in combination. This means brands will look to complement the creation of their own content with native advertising efforts to reach as wide a consumer audience as possible.

Predicted by @brianclark at Top Rank Blog

Content will be more important than ever

Google’s search algorithm continues to get more sophisticated. As a result, it’s better at connecting search queries and providing searchers with content they find useful. Therefore the emphasis on producing informative content will become more important than ever.

Predicted by @sujanpatel at Forbes

Marketers will create more original audio content

At present only 6% of marketers produce audio content, such as podcasts. However in a bid to expand their reach, more marketers will consider learning about podcasts as a prelude to producing more audio content.

Predicted by @predsicker at Social Media Examiner

Brand storytelling will be put into the hands of the masses

Technology like GoPro and Hyperlapse will allow consumers to produce high-quality visual content about the brands they love. In the hands of savvy marketers, this content could be harnessed to connect with consumers on an unprecedented emotional level.

Predicted by @SayMedia at SayMedia

Videos will be bigger than ever

Unless you have lived on the moon, you will have seen the use of videos for marketing purposes grow steadily over the last few years. Expect this trend to grow tenfold again next year, as more companies turn to ‘explainer videos’ for marketing purposes.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

The level of marketing noise will increase

With more and more companies creating content, the volume of low-quality content will grow exponentially. Low-quality content is classified as marketing noise because it offers consumers little to no value.  However, as illustrated by Google’s Penguin algorithm, search engines are already starting to clamp down on content that offers no value.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

Real-time content will become more popular

Up to now, many content marketing agencies have concentrated on creating editorial calendars full of evergreen content for their clients. In 2015 however, content marketing will focus more on real-time events and subjects that are more topical, as content, SEO and PR become intertwined as disciplines.

Predicted by @HelenVibrant at Contently.com

SEO Trends for 2015

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More SEO, editorial and social departments will converge

SEO, content creation and social will be seen less as the jobs of specific departments and more as part of a greater whole. As such, these skills will be split less between specific departments in businesses and will become increasingly part of the same job role.

Predicted by @leeodden at Top Rank Blog

Creativity will start to win the battle over optimisation

In the main, digital marketing is obsessed by optimisation. Of course, this is an important part of the discipline, and one that isn’t going to change. However to stand out and cut through the increasing amount of marketing noise, some brands will start to give more of a priority to creativity than optimisation.

Predicted by @AnitaBNewton on LinkedIn

Long-form will be more appreciated than short-form copy

The Google Penguin and Payday Loan algorithms provided a sucker punch to those marketers who were securing quick wins with low quality content. For the purposes of SEO then, more marketers will appreciate the value of long-form as opposed to low-quality ‘thin content’ – which Google describes as 200 words or less.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

Guest posting for SEO purposes will die

In January 2014, Google’s Head of Spam, Matt Cutts, declared guest posting dead as a way of generating backlinks, Of course, there are still legitimates reasons to guest post, such as generating traffic. However, expect those agencies still using guest posting for SEO purposes to stop completely in 2015.

Predicted by @AlexeiLee, Head of Social and Promotion, Strategy Digital

Social Media Marketing Trends for 2015

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Social media platforms will mature from a commercial perspective

The vast majority of social media platforms will follow Facebook’s lead in 2015 and introduce a mix of paid-for-content and native adverting. As such, more social media platforms will start to fulfil their potential as a commercial entity as well as a great user experience.

Predicted by @AlexeiLee, Head of Social and Promotion, Strategy Digital

Social media and search will continue to converge

While there has been no official word from Google, a correlation between strong social signals and good search rankings is impossible to ignore. For this reason, search marketers will need to concentrate on the social side of digital marketing to a greater degree than ever before.

Predicted by @AlexeiLee, Head of Social and Promotion, Strategy Digital

Successful content marketing strategies will require social engagement

As social media and search converge, content sharing is translating into credible links and better domain authority. As a result, brands that engage their social communities with sharable, inspiring content will be successful. Conversely, social influencers are now more aware of their worth and aren’t shy in letting brands know it.

Predicted by @AlexeiLee, Head of Social and Promotion, Strategy Digital

Social CRM will create a new era of personalisation

For many brands, the holy grail of marketing has been to create a customised experience for every customer in the purchase lifecycle. From automation to direct response feedback, improved CRM tools will help brands to understand their customers better and send more personalised messages.

Predicted by @TheDavidAlves at Memeburn

Digital analytics will become more accessible and widely used

An ever-expanding number of media channels and platforms are providing accessible analytics. Of course, Google and more recently Facebook have led the way. But now sites such as LinkedIn and Pinterest are providing brands with more insights. As such, the accessibility of high-quality analytics will see usage grow.

Predicted by @gonzogonzo at Frederic Gonzalo

Businesses will integrate social media and mobile marketing at the beginning of a campaign

Now they’re not the new kids on the block, more businesses will integrate social media and mobile marketing at the beginning of a campaign. As such, search and ad placement for mobile and social media will rise to the forefront of many marketers’ plans.

Predicted by @sujanpatel at Forbes

Social media will be a lot more aggressive in attempting to appeal to advertisers

Facebook aside, social media platforms have solely concentrated on engaging with users, followers and communities. However, Twitter and LinkedIn have both developed tools to appeal to brands that want to advertise. And don’t be surprised if other brands follow suit next year.

Predicted by @gonzogonzo at Frederic Gonzalo

The majority of marketers will use more infographics and memes in 2015

In line with the growing demand for visual content, marketers will create more infographics and memes next year. In fact, Social Media Examiner states that 70% of marketers are planning to increase their use of both infographics and memes.

Predicted by @predsicker at Social Media Examiner

Social media will account for a quarter of all marketing spend for SMEs by 2016

Small and medium sized businesses are waking up to the possibilities presented by social media. As a result, the research group Borrell Associates report that local social media spending could rise from $1.1 billion in 2011 to $7.8 billion in 2016.

Predicted by: @SmartBrief at SmartBrief

Your social network wants to be your wallet

Last October, it was revealed there is a hidden payment feature inside Facebook’s Messenger app. The feature, when activated, will allow users of the app to send each other money via their debit card details. As such, 2015 could see a battle for the mobile payments market break out between tech and social giants such as Facebook and Apple.

Predicted by @invoker at Time Tech

Lots of new social networks will launch, but will they last?

Ello, Yik Yak and Tsu were just a handful of the new social networks that rose to prominence throughout 2014. Expect the number of new social networks to follow a similar trend in 2015. But faced with the competition posed by established heavyweights such as Facebook, how long will they last?

Predicted by @invoker at Time Tech

Online shopping and social media will finally combine

In 2014, both Facebook and Twitter began beta-testing ‘buy’ buttons that appeared next to tweets and posts. Therefore, you should expect e-commerce and social media to integrate in a big way by the end of 2015 – subsequently, providing users the opportunity to make purchases in just a few clicks, and without leaving the network.

Predicted by @invoker at Time Tech

Smart devices will get more social

Because of cheap sensors, everyday appliances from bathroom scales and refrigerators to bracelets and watches are now connected to the internet, sending dataIn 2015, social networks will attempt to meet the challenge of meaningfully integrating this data from the ‘Internet of Things’ into their platforms.

Predicted by @invoker at Time Tech

The social advertising backlash will grow

Ask most people and they will tell you they don’t like being advertised to. In 2014, platforms like Ello proved there’s a market for ‘ad free’ social media, which will continue to gather momentum in 2015. Alternatively, some platforms might try a subscription model to circumvent the need for ad revenue.

Predicted by @AlexeiLee, Head of Social and Promotion, Strategy Digital

Social networks will get more private

Because of a backlash against the lack of privacy users experienced with established social networks, 2014 saw a number of ‘private’ networks gain popularity. However, networks such as Snapchat, Secret, Whisper and Telegram, turned out not to be as private as first thought. Expect social networks to have a better stab at providing anonymity for their users next year.

Predicted by @invoker at Time Tech

Pay Per Click Advertising Trends for 2015

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The industry will keep moving towards automation

As Google Shopping becomes more important for retailers, ad formats that use ‘structured data’ will keep moving towards automation. For example, ads will start to tell you whether something is in stock nearby (already available in the U.S.) or will provide a countdown to a sale or event.

Predicted by David Mooney, PPC Account Manager, Strategy Digital

PPC managers will have slightly less control

The rise of Google shopping means that PPC managers will have slightly less control in 2015. This is because Google Shopping isn’t keyword driven but instead relies on the quality of the feed (i.e. landing page) and then the AdWords algorithm to choose what’s best.

Predicted by David Mooney, PPC Account Manager, Strategy Digital

Call tracking will become more important than ever

Because of the rise of mobile, call tracking and attribution will become more important than ever. As such, companies that provide and create advanced cross-channel tracking abilities will do increasingly well.

Predicted by @jmgagnon at Momentology

Businesses that invest in landing pages will find success

Landing pages are vital to performing well in the paid search market. As such, investing in site speed will positively impact upon ad position. Similarly, investing in a better mobile experience will help break through what can be a huge barrier to success.

Predicted by @andrew_goodman at Momentology

Optimisation will shift from keywords to thinking about audience

Marketers can now better leverage intent gathered from search data to decide how they are going to engage with audiences. As such, for brands who want to stand out in a crowded digital marketing place, key words will become less important than thinking about the audience.

Predicted by: Emily Helander at Momentology

Mobile Trends for 2015

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Mobile usage will outgrow desktop

In 2015, mobile usage will continue to rise to such an extent that desktops will almost become obsolete. Of course, mobile usage allows consumers to make buying decisions in the moment. However it also gives marketers yet more opportunity to reach their target audience – during periods of work, rest and play.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

Marketing channels will become even more connected

In the past, mapping out the full conversion process for consumers has been near to possible. However as marketing channels, including mobile, become more connected, many businesses are set to use multi-channel attribution modelling in 2015. This, in turn, will help marketers to better understand how consumers behave before converting.

Predicted by @sujanpatel at Forbes

Organisations will increase their digital marketing spend significantly

In statistics revealed by the technology research company Gartner, businesses are planning to up their digital marketing budgets by 17%. Because of the growing adoption and number of connected mobile devices, this is one trend that could continue to grow year-on-year.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

Mobile-first will be the rule, not the exception

According to the independent analyst and consultancy firm Ovum, one billion people will use mobiles as their only form of internet access. For this reason brands will need to ensure that their websites are mobile-ready above all other web design concerns.

Predicted by @SayMedia at SayMedia

Video will be bigger on mobile devices

More videos will be used for marketing purposes. Similarly, mobile usage will be greater than ever before. Logic dictates then, that we will see more brands trying visual storytelling techniques on mobile devices through the medium of videos.

Predicted by @ceverson at Adweek

Web Design Trends for 2015

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Sophisticated yet simple typography will be king

The big and thin titles that you have become used to seeing will remain prevalent throughout 2015. The same can be said of clean and minimalistic fonts, too

Predicted by Elisabetta Bruno at Strategy Digital

Static design of websites will be phased out

Static design for websites that are constantly updated will eventually phase out, and responsive design will take its place.

Predicted by Elisabetta Bruno at Strategy Digital

Infographics will become more interactive

Although static infographics will remain the quick and easy way, they will also become the underdog and not-so-popular. This is because interactive infographics are more engaging than static infographics. As a result, infographics will keep getting more and more interactive.

Predicted by Elisabetta Bruno at Strategy Digital

Website structure will continue to become simplified

Website structure will keep being simplified with less pages and more interactivity. This will allow people to achieve the same result with less clicking, albeit more scrolling.

Predicted by Elisabetta Bruno at Strategy Digital

Complicated textures will not make a comeback

Because web designs need to be mobile compatible, complicated textures will not come back in the near future. As Google’s Material Design catches on, shadow and light will instead be used more and more to show the elevation of each item on a “3D canvas’.

Predicted by Elisabetta Bruno at Strategy Digital

Minimal design, primary colours and simple shapes are in vogue

Windows 8 reintroduced an art deco-type style, where design is minimal and the use of primary colours and shapes is widespread. Due to the nature of mobile content, ‘fancy’ and complicated designs are set aside for bold designs that make a statement and show a clear hierarchical order.

Predicted by Elisabetta Bruno at Strategy Digital

Apple’s influence over the visual design will continue to wane

For years, when Apple launched a new design style, the web design world would follow suit. However, both Windows 8 and Android Lollipop are proving more influential in the visual world at the moment – despite the mixed reception of Windows 8 from a usability point of view. Expect Apple to still be playing catch-up in 2015.

Predicted by Elisabetta Bruno at Strategy Digital

Designers will come up with a universal language that transcends barriers

As the world and, by extension, marketing become more globalised, the need of a universal language that transcends traditional barriers becomes greater. In 2015, expect designers to make the first step towards making this a reality.

Predicted by Noah Smith. at Contently.com

Data Trends for 2015

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Digital marketing campaigns will be more targeted and data-driven than ever

In 2015, access to better quality data will continue as a trend. In addition, with the increasing use of mobile, proximity messaging will be more common. As such, businesses will be able to track purchase and location data to produce marketing messages that are hyper-targeted.

Predicted by @sujanpatel at Forbes

Big Data will have tangible customer benefits

Okay, we admit, this has been a prediction for at least the last two or three years. However, according to Anita Newton, next year could be the year that big data moves from being a feature to providing big insights on a big scale that affect consumers in a big way.

Predicted by @AnitaBNewton on LinkedIn

Pre-targeting is the new real-time

Big data will allow businesses to analyse and predict consumer and buyer preferences more accurately than ever before. As such, businesses will be able to send hyper-targeted marketing messages to consumers while they are in the buying phase, not after it – making pre-targeting the new real-time.

Predicted by @SayMedia at SayMedia

More technology that links data sets across all our devices

Consumers now have the ability to browse and access information that influences their buying decisions anytime, anywhere. For this reason, we will see an increase in technology that allows brands to access data across all the connected devices used by consumers.

Predicted by: Lisa Materazzo at Adweek

The use of marketing data will continue to increase

Spending by brands on marketing analytics is expected to grow by 60% in 2015. This is because data driven tools are becoming easier to use and information like the cost of acquisition per new customer is becoming easier to obtain. As a result, more companies than ever are enjoying actionable, data-driven insights.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

1-to-1 marketing will grow in massive way

The more relevant something is to you, the more likely you are to interact and engage with it. Data-driven marketing is leading to greater personalisation and an increase in 1-1 marketing. The upside for marketers and businesses is the potential for higher sales from satisfied customers, who feel brands are talking to them personally.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

Miscellaneous Digital Marketing Trends for 2015

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Hummingbird friendly content will increase

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm – which analyses users search queries to come back with the correct answers – is getting more sophisticated. As a result, digital marketers will concentrate more effort on producing content that responds well to complex phrases and semantic search.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

Structured data will have a greater impact upon search

Websites that use structured data markup are already able to differentiate themselves with high-quality rich snippets in search results. Therefore, those businesses that are able to leverage structured data better will be able to make a greater impact in search and digital marketing in 2015.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

Total immersion will trump integration

Participation within niche platforms will no longer be enough for brands. As the number of sources where consumers can access information increases, the need to create a consistent brand experience will become more important than finding a niche focus.

Predicted by @TheDavidAlves at Memeburn

Augmented reality and wearable technology will impact on marketing efforts

Wearable technology and augmented reality will be one of the biggest technology trends in 2015. As such, brands will make a concerted effort to create related marketing applications for these types of technology. How long will it be until the internet and marketing messages infiltrate our every waking moment?

Predicted by @markwschaefer at TopRank Blog

More resources will be spent on stuff that’s hard to measure

For many the value of business and, by extension, marketing is measured in metrics. However to stand out from the crowd and to show consumers they care, brands will have to dedicate more resources to things that are harder to measure – like answering customer’s questions and providing valuable online experiences.

Predicted by @Mike_Stelzner at TopRank Blog

The idea of segmentation will be superseded by fragmentation

For years, the idea of segmentation has been the established norm for brands wanting to reach their target audience. Now though, target audiences have become more fragmented than ever, However, digital, social and CRM will provide the tools to understand and reach fragmented customers better than ever before.

Predicted by @TheDavidAlves at Memeburn

Companies will start to embrace digital marketing as an ecosystem

Companies will stop using digital marketing as a tactic and will embrace it as an ecosystem. In other words, digital marketing will be used to attract, engage and retain new and existing customers, while providing information that adds value and informs the buying process from start to finish.

Predicted by @billhunt at Top Rank Blog

Corporate babble-speak will be consigned to the past

As consumers become increasingly aware of when they are being sold to, corporate babble-speak will be replaced with a more personable touch. As such, a more relatable way of speaking to consumers will become more common and human-speak will become a bigger part of the vocabulary for digital marketers.

Predicted by @djwaldow at Top Rank Blog

Digital marketing concepts will be about more than just encouraging sales

Digital marketing concepts will become more about driving the entire customer experience, from start to finish. As such, storytelling – which has become the defining concept of digital marketing – will be about more than just facilitating sales and will become inherent to the entire marketing operation of more businesses.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

More digital marketers will feel compelled to add coding to their skillset

Out of necessity, the skill-set of the modern marketer is already more diverse than it’s ever been. Now on top of social, content, PR and SEO skills, many marketers will feel compelled to learn coding to keep ahead in an industry that is in constant flux.

Predicted by @jasonmillerCA at Top Rank Blog

Employee advocates will help humanise digital marketing experiences

In the social media era, employee advocates play a critical role in authenticating trust signals for brands. As such, brands will place more importance than ever on humanising digital marketing experiences for consumers through employee advocates.

Predicted by @sfemerick at Top Rank Blog

The importance of analytics and evaluation will grow

As digital marketing continues to grow rapidly, more brands and businesses will be keen to measure their ROI. Therefore, analytics and evaluation will become vitally important for proving the value and impact of specific digital marketing-related activities.

Predicted by @KathDawson Creative Director, Strategy Digital

Digital marketing and digital sales will converge to a greater extent

The same content creation and real-time engagement techniques are starting to work for both marketing (one to many) and sales (one to one). For this reason, more organisations will consider uniting their marketing and sales departments in a bid to maximise efficiency and revenue generation.

Predicted by @dmscott at Top Rank Blog

Humour will enter into the digital marketing arena in a big way

As brands try to connect with consumers online, they will understand that making people laugh or showing their vulnerable side is effective. As such, sharing a joke – perhaps about themselves – will help brands earn trust with consumers in 2015.

Predicted by @timwasher at Top Rank Blog

Large portions of TV ad spend budgets will be reallocated for YouTube

For many Millennials – people aged 18-34 – YouTube has replaced television as their main source for viewing content. As such, online users watch more than 100 million videos on YouTube every day. As a result, marketers will use more of their ad spend budget on YouTube than ever before.

Predicted by @AnitaBNewton at LinkedIn

More money than ever will be spent on online ads

More people than ever spend their free time on the web. Plus, the web offers marketers more opportunity to send consumers targeted messages than any other platform. As such, Forrester Research predicts that digital ad spending will overtake TV ad spending by 2017.

Predicted by @DavidWells at Inbound Now

To talk to us about how our expertise can help your business to thrive online in 2015 and beyond, call Mark Poppleton on 0117 971 2499 or get in touch via our contact form.

Featured image by jacinta lluch valero