What will dominate the marketing landscape in 2015? We’ve put together a list of some of the most important marketing trends on which you should capitalize in the coming year. Some of the trends have been coming on strong for a while, while others are more futuristic. Either way, these trends are sure to help you achieve more with your marketing in 2015.
Software is Eating Marketing
Marc Andreesen famously stated that software is eating the world. Well, we say that it’s most certainly eating marketing. The Chief Marketing Technologist Blog by Scott Brinker has identified 947 companies that provide software for marketers, organized into 43 categories across 6 major classes. That’s a whole heck of a lot of software. As Brinker points out, we can expect even more products to hit the market, especially in the areas of marketing middleware and marketing apps, in the coming year.
Gartner has actually predicted that the CMO will be responsible for a larger technology budget than the CIO by 2017. Think about that…
Data Science is Producing Brand Transformations
Greater access to customer data is leading brands to transform into more customer-centric forces, with brands understanding customers on a deeper level and targeting them more granularly. Frank Cooper III, Global Chief Marketing Officer of Consumer Engagement at Pepsi, states, “Science will play aggressively in brand marketing from now on.”
A good example of this is the shoe manufacturer, Timberland. Revenue at the company was relatively flat between 2006 and 2012. Then it turned to data, and revenue has grown significantly, with sales growing 22% in the Americas and 15% overall in the most recent quarter. Timberland credits its turnaround on a two-year customer study of 18,000 people. Through an analysis of the data, the company identified its ideal customer and started transforming from a feature-focused, outdoor shoe manufacturer into a targeted, outdoor-proven, urban lifestyle brand. The result? Its sales have improved in every global market and every product category, delivering profit margins around 13% in 2014, up from 8% in 2011. Steve Rendle, group president of VF Corporation (Timberland’s parent) Outdoor and Action Sports Americas division has called the brand “the next big growth story.”
In the B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America report, published by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, in-person events were identified as THE most effective form of content marketing FOR THE FIFTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR. Overall, 69% of marketers pointed to in-person events as very effective. This is a tactic that, from the very early days of the company, helped Salesforce.com grow into a billion dollar+ company. At my last agency, a colleague and I introduced local events to the marketing mix, and within one year they were the number one lead driver for the company. Although marketers love to talk about all things digital these days, analog events can be crazy effective as well!
Integrated Content Marketing
According to the B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America report, the average number of content marketing tactics used by B2B marketers is 13, with the following leading the way:
- Social Media (outside of blogs) (92%)
- eNewsletters (83%)
- Articles on Your Website (81%)
- Blogs (80%)
- In-Person Events (77%)
With content marketing, there are no silver bullets. Brands that will succeed in 2015 are those that will integrate content across formats and platforms so that the brand is creating consistent, cross-platform customer experiences.
Branded Video Content
Original, branded video content is on a tear, with GoPro, Red Bull, Chipotle, UPS and WestJet leading the way. Red Bull is now just as much a media company as it is a beverage maker. It has an in-house media team, boasts its own online TV channel, works on films with $2 million+ production costs, partners with major media companies such as NBC, develops TV ideas and attracts close to 4 million YouTube subscribers.
Even B2B companies like Cisco, GE and Intel are going “all in” on branded video. Cisco shows off its video chops in various ways. The company produces an endless stream of engaging videos, including a web documentary series titled “The Network Effect,” which focuses on the inventors who built the telecom network and its corresponding impact on the world. The company’s YouTube channel is filled with a continual flow of original content, with a whopping 28 videos published in the past two weeks alone at the time of this writing.
The Mash-up of PR, SEO, Content Marketing & Social Media
You can no longer do PR in a silo and expect to be successful. Same with SEO, content marketing and social media. It’s almost unthinkable today to launch a PR campaign without an equal focus on generating the accompanying content, optimizing it for maximum visibility and leveraging social media for further amplification. The power of these marketing methods is in the compounded results when integrated and amplified in harmony.
What this portends in the industry is the end of the stand-alone agency. An agency in a silo such as PR or SEO just isn’t as effective as an integrated effort, and this will lead to a seismic shift in the agency landscape, with many mergers, acquisitions and new integrated entities.
From Creation to Amplification
Rand Fishkin, the co-founder of marketing software company Moz, recommends that you ask, “Who will share this and why?” prior to publishing any content. With the deluge of crappy content all over the place these days, it’s a great question for content creators to ask. One of the keys to getting content shared by more influencers in 2015 will be to simply create more compelling content. This will involve equal parts data science, customer empathy and creativity. But it can’t stop there.
With the saturation of content online, there will be more focus placed in the coming year on getting the content in front of the right audiences. This will naturally lead to competition and paid opportunities for content amplification, which will increasingly gain in effectiveness. Relationship building will play an important role in amplification efforts, but so will the use of increasingly sophisticated and robust amplification tools and technologies.
An Explosion of Programmatic Advertising
According to eMarketer, US programmatic ad spend topped $10 billion in 2014. That’s a lot of advertising. And there’s more to come. Much more! eMarketer is predicting that US programmatic ad spend is set to double by 2016.
Much of this growth is through the mobile channel, with mobile accounting for approximately 44% of all US programmatic ad spending last year. Expect mobile to overtake desktop numbers as early as this year, and then to start to dominate in a few years. This shift to mobile is consistent with trends in the overall display advertising market, as well.
The majority of programmatic buying is still mostly restricted to banner ads. However, expect that to start to evolve in 2015, with more programmatic buying of video and rich media. And expect increasingly targeted, personalized advertising coming out of this, as only programmatic platforms can handle advertising so dynamically at scale.
TrendWatching.com is a global trends insights service, with trend watchers in more than 90 countries and with clients such as Coca-Cola and Google. According to this trends research powerhouse, marketers need to be on the lookout for “post-demographic consumerism.”
What happens when people don’t act the way they are “supposed to”? Boundaries are falling and people are feeling more freedom to experiment or express their own uniqueness. Uh oh…marketing based on demographics is about to get more challenging.
For example, when you think of gamers, you think of guys in t-shirts and messy hair between the ages of 13 – 25, right? Uh, that’s actually dead wrong. According to Statista, the largest percentage of video game users in the United States is over the age of 36. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, “In the UK, women now account for the majority of video game players, and there are more gamers aged over 44 than under 18.” Wow!
Get ready to throw out the old demographics and to embrace the new. Age, gender, location and income are less meaningful. Expect more cross-demographic fertilization and embrace the new social and cultural norms.
Doing the Right Thing Is the Right Thing To Do
According to research conducted by former Procter & Gamble CMO Jim Stengel, companies with higher ideals consistently outperform the competition. In Stengel’s book Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profits at the World’s Greatest Companies, he reveals that in a 10-year growth study of 50,000 brands, the 50 highest-performing businesses were the ones focusing on ideals. In fact, these 50 firms grew three times faster than their competitors!
Tom’s Shoes is a great example of a company that is profiting while helping those in need, with a social business model that donates one pair of shoes to those in need for every pair bought. So far, they have donated more than 35 millions pairs of shoes to children in more than 60 countries. Doing good is good for the world. And it’s good for the bottom line, too!