Digital marketing is in the midst of an incredibly fast-paced evolution. Things change every minute, so marketers have got to stay on their toes to keep abreast of best practice.
We learned a lot in 2014, from the explosion of content marketing to the demise of the exact match keyword. The savvy marketer should keep these lessons front of mind as 2015 progresses in order to ensure their digital marketing strategies have optimal impact.
So, what were the 10 most important lessons we learned last year – and how should we apply them in 2015?
- Quality > quantity.
2014 saw content marketing become the channel of choice. Rather than focusing on direct sales messages, brands became publishers – using videos, guides, blogs and infographics to get their message across.
However, the clamour to be heard caused a torrent of material to flood the internet, causing even the most passionate content marketers to complain about the sheer volume of material being produced. The key is getting to know audiences – only then can you deliver what they really want, in a quantity that won’t drive them up the wall.
- Get up close and personal
Personal campaigns saw a surge last year as marketers capitalised on cookies, algorithms and programmatic marketing to reach individuals and provide a more relevant customer experience. One study revealed that 78 per cent of customers want it, so expect to see hyper-personalisation become a key marketing platform.
- Don’t forget promotion
2014 saw a flood of bad content making it difficult to be heard. This trend is likely to continue, so marketers need to be clever about content promotion. With brand owned publishing platforms like Red Bull’s Red Bulletin giving us perfect examples, businesses can create their own audience platforms.
- Go mobile
Such a lot of businesses still fail to grasp the full potential of mobile. In 2015, mobile usage is set to exceed desktop for the first time; experts predict that over half of all content will be accessed through a smartphone or tablet.
Technology has changed the face of mobile beyond recognition. It’s no longer an extension of desktop – now it delivers an enhanced, integrated, user experience in its own right. Mobile is no bolt-on; it needs to be adopted across your entire marketing strategy.
- It’s not all about ‘channel’
Last year, the distinction between ‘marketing’ and ‘digital marketing’ became increasingly hazy. Due to digital equating to over half of the UK’s media spend, the general sentiment was that it was about time to shift the main focus of marketing activity online. This year, it’s time to move towards a more multi-channelled approach. Be it B2C or B2B, it’s probable that the average consumer will notice your brand several times before converting. So, instead of concentrating on branding, SEO, advertising and PR as individual elements, a successful 2015 marketer will be focusing on how these channels can be integrated to enhance a customer’s entire journey.
- Google isn’t God
Over the last 12 months, the affects of Google Pigeon, Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda disrupted search rankings for a huge amount of businesses, negating the work of the less savvy SEO specialists out there. This year, if you want to stay ahead of the SEO curve, you’ll need to stop being obsessive over keywords and make sure your content is of interest to the direct customer – they’re only human!
As always, we can expect lots of changes to be issued by Google this year, but it’s worth taking risks. Centre your efforts on creating the great content your consumer is crying out for – it’ll be worth it in the end.
- It’s time for a data overhaul
Over the past few years, ‘data’ has become a real buzz word within the industry and we’re told that companies are able to access more information from their data than ever. Unfortunately, a significant amount of these businesses are still operating using outdated, void data that reaped little benefits. After the introduction of the futuristic analytics tools that allow you to offer customers a totally unique online experience, it’s time to give your data an overhaul and make the most of it!
- Lights, camera, action
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen video rise as the hero of content marketing and it’s a medium that’s set to stick around. Experts have even predicted that video will account for a massive 69 per cent of consumer web content over the next two years – you’d better get your director’s hat on!
Once you’ve made your videos though, it’s vital that you know where to market them. Key social media channels are an obvious place to start, but they’re set to go into competition when it comes to video marketing. Each platform will eventually favour video content hosted directly on their sites. So, if video features on your marketing agenda for 2015, don’t forget about a distribution strategy.
- Prepare to start spending on social
Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have recently put all of their efforts into driving businesses towards paid advertising. With plans in place to suppress the levels of organic reach available to social media users and a spike in the amount of content bring created, businesses that are planning to use social media this year should be thinking about incorporating some sponsored posts to run alongside their organic content. We’re no longer getting a freebie when it comes to social – if you want to get in front of your target audience, you’d better put your hand in your pocket. Although, remember, a little bit of budget goes a long way on social media.
- Listen to your customer
Over the last few years, businesses have become increasingly aware of the importance of the individual. They’re getting to know their customers and, as a result of this, are able to deliver a unique and personalised experience for their users. Brands have smartened up and began to focus less on a product’s gimmicks or cost and more on how a product will improve a consumer’s day-to-day experience.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from last year’s marketing activity, it’s that we must get to know our consumers. Only then will we be in a position to deliver a brand in a way that suits them. Pin down their buying habits, frustrations and incentives. Once these are identified, you can target your audience with a tailored message, using the right platforms, at the right times – a recipe for success!