10 DIGITAL MARKETING TRENDS BUSINESSES CAN’T IGNORE

The internet changed the way people communicate, search for and share information to an extent that has had a profound impact on marketing. With the rise of disruptive technologies and competitors, businesses and marketers know that marketing needs to change to better support business goals and compete in this new connected economy. Read on to see the 10 digital marketing trends that will be marketing game changers this year.

1. CONTENT MARKETING BECOMES MARKETING

Content creation is at an all time high as brands become publishers in their own right in 2015, using their content efforts to establish trust and authority. Increasingly marketing budgets are being reallocated to content marketing, a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute finds that 45% of B2C marketers have a dedicated content marketing team and a further 69% are producing more content than they were a year ago.

Key Takeaway – Content marketing is here to stay as traditional marketing becomes increasingly ineffective. Success will require a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable content to attract, retain and ultimately drive profitable consumer behaviour.

2. CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICERS WILL GET MORE SERIOUS WITH DIGITAL STRATEGIES

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.

Key Takeaway – Digital has changed the game. Create a strategy and execute on it. Digital must be embraced by companies if they want to remain competitive.

3. STORYTELLING BASED ON EMOTIONAL VALUES

How is your brand changing the world? Defining this story, the values and the channels it will be told on will be the foundation for differentiation and authentic story telling. In order for this to be successful these stories must reflect real brand values. According to a study by HBR, 64% consumers who said they have a brand relationship cited shared values as the primary reason. The reality is that consumers don’t really want relationships with brands.

Key Takeaway – Shared values are by far the largest driver of customer loyalty.

4. MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS NOT MEANINGLESS ONE SIDED COMMUNICATIONS

As value based storytelling becomes the focus, we will see the creation of content assets that act as a starting point for more meaningful multi-way digital conversations that evoke emotion. Continually monitored, Facebook provides a great platform for these conversations to take place. This online engagement and how the brand is perceived, will be one of the key measurements of digital success as well as online influenced measured by Klout.

Key Takeaway – Cat videos, pictures of puppies and quotes aren’t going to cut it in 2015.

5. CONTINUUM MARKETING

With value based marketing at the core of marketing in 2015, consumer insights, social listening will become key to creating relevant content. We’ll see stand alone campaigns replaced with a ‘continuum experience’ with marketers communicating cohesive messages that engage across the entirety of the buyer to advocate life cycle. According to the recent report released by the Economist and Business Intelligence Unit, strategy and planning is a top area marketers admit they need to develop skills in. While some marketers admit they are confident in developing strategy, a greater percentage admitted shortfalls in the execution and management of their strategy.

Key Takeaway – Successful marketing will require the ability to combine project management skills, data science and top level strategy.

6. INSIGHT DRIVEN MARKETING

No guessing anymore as Google Webmaster tools, Trends, keyword research and social media tools provide insights into what customers want. This will not only influence content creation but product development as we move toward data driven decision-making. We will see a shift from discovery oriented content development and distribution to SEO driven to context aware content. The bar is being raised on hyper relevance for more personalised marketing and this can only be achieved through insights.

Key Takeaway – Expect to see increased investment in SEO, social media tools and reporting technologies to gain maximum ROI from digital marketing initiatives.

7. BUSINESSES WILL CONTINUE TO INVEST IN SEO

SEO is a never ending process, if you’re not consistently working on your strategy, your competitors will outrank you. With Google’s ever changing algorithms and more recently social signals impacting search results, investing in organic SEO is more important than ever before. Not investing in content marketing and SEO strategies is potentially damaging to your business, as it is one of the major factors Google evaluates when looking at your website. Google’s huge algorithm changes and penalties for bad SEO practices last year saw SEO rank #5th on LinkedIn’s 25 hottest skills in 2014 and this year will be no different.

Key Takeaway – SEO isn’t dead, it’s proven, cost effective and with 89% of consumers using search for purchase decisions if you want to be found, you’ll need an SEO strategy.

8. SOCIAL MEDIA

According to the Salesforce ‘State of Marketing 2015’ report 70% of 5,000 marketers polled stated they would be increasing their social media marketing, with 66% stating social media was integral to their business with dedicated social media teams in place. Additionally the always on culture of social media means that for brands to deliver real time marketing they’ll need to start thinking 24/7 not 9-5.

Research from Hubspot finds that 92% of marketers state social media is important as part of their overall marketing strategy, with 80% stating their increased efforts increased website referral traffic. While 97% of marketers are using social media, 85% are unsure of what tools to use indicating a huge potential for social media marketing to increase the value it brings to a business. An example here would be businesses using social media as a research tool, collecting and analysing data to make more informed marketing and business decisions will start to see greater value from their investment in social.

With organic marketing on the rise, Google is relying more on social media signals for search engine rankings which means social media and SEO strategies need to be aligned to increase organic search rankings.

Key Takeaway – With the right strategy and talent in place, social media marketing will deliver more conversations, more customers, more website traffic and more sales.

9. IT’S ALL ABOUT USER EXPERIENCE (UX)

According to Statista, mobile phone internet user penetration worldwide will reach 52.4% in 2015, therefore websites need to be optimised for mobile. Mobile consumers have high expectations around user experience and if they can’t view your website properly on mobile, 61% of them will leave and move on to another site. Furthermore, 74% of consumers said they are more likely to return to a website that is mobile friendly, so if your website can’t be viewed on mobile you’re losing out on sales. Mobile users also spend more money, so if your website is not already optimised for mobile it should be your top priority for 2015.

Key Takeaway – Websites that are not mobile friendly annoy consumers and negatively effects their attitude towards the brand which is bad for revenues.

10. MARKETERS WILL TAKE THEIR WRITING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Marketers will step up their game, focusing on empathy and customer experience, more relevance and inspiring through high value content that customers find useful. 2015 really will be the year marketers create and curate content customers will thank them for. The Content Marketing Institute found that key content marketing initiatives for 2015 were creating website content that converts, creating higher quality engaging content, becoming better storytellers and optimising their content.

Furthermore, key to search ranking success will be high quality detailed, well-researched articles, blog posts, interviews and reviews. The line between blog posts and articles continues to blur as data from Google shows that search engines prefer longer content with top ranking pages containing over 2,000 words. Sharing on social networks is also greater for content containing over 1,000 words that will see the creation of more substantial content this year.

Key Takeaway – With content marketing seen as the most commercially important digital marketing trend for 2015, all businesses should have a content strategy.

THE DIGITAL MARKETING SKILLS GAP & HOW YOU CLOSE IT

Marketing, or rather the role of marketing has transformed over the past 10 years as the result of disruptive technologies and changing consumer behaviour. This change continues today at a rate never experienced by the industry before and while the role has transformed, many marketers have not made this transition. In the latest report from The Economist and Business Intelligence Unit, ‘The Rise of the Marketer’ more than 80% of marketing executives interviewed stated marketing needed restructuring to better support business goals. A further 29% stated urgent change was needed. This blog posts looks at 8 ways your organisation can close the digital marketing skills gap.

GET TOP LEVEL COMMITMENT

Digital is a boardroom issue. CIM research from 2012 found that while marketers see its potential, less than one in five businesses stated social media was central to their overall marketing strategy. Without buy in from top level management and the board, digital will never deliver results because it was never invested in to enable it to.

ASSESS YOUR MARKETING TEAM’S SKILLS

Digital is continually evolving, new platforms, algorithm changes… so first things first, get an understanding of where your skill levels need to be, then you can pinpoint where the skill gaps are. Once you know what digital marketing skills and capabilities are lacking in your organisation you can define and prioritise which capabilities you need to upskill or outsource.

According to Grovo, 90% of marketers report a critical deficiency in digital marketing skills and in a study released by SkilledUp 34% found it difficult to hiring content marketers or don’t have the skills to implement content marketing strategies. Other common areas where skills are lacking within organisations include; digital media monitoring, SEO, email marketing, project management and analytics.

Research by CIM found that only 2% of marketers felt they had adequate skills and competencies and that was only in the area of social media! A major concern is not only the lack of skills of some marketers but the rate of which they are acquiring new ones.

UPSKILL

Digital marks the biggest shift in decades in how marketing operates and in this ever changing landscape if you don’t train your staff you will get left behind. If you did step 1 already, this will make gaining approval in the budget for training. Explain the value of the training in terms of how it will improve the level of marketing output. Digital is continually changing, from Google and Facebook algorithm changes to social media platform terms of use, marketers need to be immersed in the media to remain up to date on all these changes.

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OUTSOURCE WHAT YOU CAN’T UPSKILL

When you use the right people, outsourcing can be an effective way of managing short term requirements and long term upskilling that may be more cost effective than hiring that talent internally. Having and training existing talent in house will enable you to work better with outsourced talent, digital has to be driven internally or it will never bring results.

MILLENNIALS. HOW TO FIND THEM AND RETAIN THEM

Millennials represent the largest generation of consumers and with the majority of leadership positions not having millennial mindsets, businesses need to ensure they have the talent in place to market to millennials. That said, hiring a clued up 20 something would be a start but retaining them is another thing . A recent report found that 45% of millennials would choose workplace flexibility over pay, one reason being is their reliance on freelance work and the need to manage their time more effectively. Millennials are seeking employment on their terms and as a result, and they are ending the traditional 9-5 day job.

FORGET 9-5, THINK 24/7

Technology has enabled 24/7 connectivity blurring the lines between work and personal life and for every minute of every day is a connected consumer who increasingly expects brands to be online when they are. Due to the always on culture of social media marketers need to be super connected, responsive and contactable out of normal work hours. To engage with the connected consumer you need to be online when they are. Social media is in cyberspace, not office space and office hours.