Over the last few years, digital marketing has been growing in popularity and has quickly become a key piece in any business’s marketing plan. However, 2014 was when it saw its biggest push to mainstream usage across many industries and this pattern will continue into 2015 as it goes from being “the thing to do” to “the thing a business MUST do.”
The use of digital marketing includes any marketing activity executed online or with the use of digital means so let’s go through a few key areas of digital marketing and see how they will trend as we enter 2015.
The Rat Race for Content Consumption
With content strategy becoming a mainstream tactic of marketing, businesses are realizing the need to create good quality content that gets the attention of their customers. However, as more businesses flock to the digital world, the need to get creative with content will be evermore important to capture the attention of the reader.
A few tactics that will continue to grow in 2015 are video marketing, infographics and visual storytelling. One strategy that many businesses are starting to use is to bring humor and relatable pieces to their stories and brands through images, testimonials and personal stories. This creates a strong emotional response and shows a human side to their brand to establish a connection with their customers.
Importance of the Human Connection on Social Media
The importance of the human touch on social media is not new but the need for it has climaxed. Followers no longer settle for a company that preschedules all of its posts and uses an auto-responder to send thank you messages. It is human nature to want to connect with something and a brand in a digital world is no different. When people post a question or inquiry to a brand via social media, they want an authentic response – they want to know someone is listening and legitimately cares about their inquiry.
In 2015, businesses are going to feel the need to establish this in their social media practices – hire a Community Manager, establish social media protocols, determine appropriate social media responses and above all, give your social media team the tools to take care of the community with authenticity and transparency.
Search Engine Optimization is No Longer a Foreign Term
In the past six months, we have seen a tremendous increase in clients inquiring about SEO and understanding a lot of the terminology that goes along with it. SEO is no longer a thing a website developer throws into a website when building it – it is thought-out strategy that involves keyword research, content development and proper placement on websites. There’s that word again – content. Yes, content is going to play a vital role in the ranking of your website on search engines thanks to the wonderful updates the big search engines (specifically….Google) are doing to improve the user’s searching experience.
This year, Google is expected to make big changes to its algorithm to make relevant, current content even more prevalent in a website’s ranking. To take advantage of these changes, more companies will be updating their website regularly with timely, relevant content via many mediums including blogs, newsletters, page updates, creative subpages and landing pages, and most recently videos and vlogs.
The Increase of Vlogging and Video Marketing
What a beautiful combination – blogging via videos. Over the last year, businesses have started this style of blogging more and more as video becomes easier than ever to create and publish. As we enter 2015, more businesses will jump onto the video bandwagon for a few reasons: video helps convey more points in a shorter period of time including sentiment, people love to watch and share visual content, video marketing increases a viewers likeliness to buy a product by 1.81 times.
Stop Selling, Start Educating
The need for a brand to stop selling and start educating via their online channels is reaching a critical point as businesses and consumers become more educated and strategic when it comes to their purchases. Blogs, websites and social media accounts that spend their time posting about their product over and over again are now falling on deaf ears. People follow a brand because they like their product, what the company stands for and the information they share, not because they want to be sold to over and over again.
If a business hopes to gain the attention of their audience and grow their following in 2015, they need to mix in information that directly benefits the audience and is NOT promotional. If they continue down the path of 100% promotion, their followers will leave. For an example, ABC Plumbing could share tips on how to prepare your house for winter or ways to save water. These tips help the audience in their daily lives while positioning the company as the knowledgeable experts in the industry and keeping the company top of mind for the consumer. Guess which company will be getting a call when a plumber is needed?
Email List Clean Ups
In July 2014, Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) came into effect and rocked the way businesses communicate electronically. In order for a business to communicate with a consumer, the consumer was now required to subscribe to receive the communication. Otherwise, the company is in breech of CASL and can face very steep penalties. It took a while for businesses to recover from the shake up the legislation caused but 2015 looks to be a year that businesses are going to dedicate to cleaning up their email correspondence including newsletters, business email outs and company communication practices.
Keep your eyes peeled for businesses sending out “do you want to receive our communication” emails. The nice part about these is that if you no longer want to receive newsletters, etc. from the company, no action is required on your part and there is one less company clogging up your inbox. The second nice part of CASL is that companies are trying to clean up their lists so the subscribers have opted-in and truly want to receive communication from the company. This gives the company a dedicated audience of people ready to receive their message.
One thing to consider is evaluating your own electronic communication practices to ensure you are CASL compliant and cleaning up your lists so your audience is subscribed to receive your company communication. In a digital world where any social media platform can disappear in a heartbeat, a clean email list is a very valuable marketing piece that no one can take away from you, especially when it is truly people who want to hear from your company.