The leaves are down, bomb cyclones are in the news and Thanksgiving plans are finalized. That means 2014 is winding down … and it’s time to look ahead to 2015.
Honestly, I can’t remember a year where more changed in the world of marketing and advertising than the one we’re about to leave. The pace of change in technology is crazy, and companies and consumers are becoming savvier by the day. Quite a few techniques that worked fine a year ago now seem hopelessly antiquated – and you can expect we’ll be saying about the same thing a year from today!
Here’s what we’re going to see in 2015 … and a bit about what all this space-age-like technology means for brands.
2015 Marketing Trend No. 1: Always-On Advertising
In 2015 and beyond, brands will really know you – and they’ll be able to get their messages in front of you when you’re most likely to act.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows, so do opportunities for so-called “inference advertising.” Think about it: Everything from your TV to your phone to your thermostat to your smoke detector is connected. That’s a lot of opportunities for data collection … and a lot of opportunities for the creation and dissemination of instantly relevant advertising.The possibilities are endless.
Take my example above. Let’s say you have the Nest Protect, which detects smoke and carbon dioxide. Your Nest Protect goes off, and a day later you get an offer from a smoke damage cleanup service.
Another example: You look up the new Jordans on Foot Locker’s website, and you receive a push notification as soon as you’re within a mile of the closest brick-and-mortar location … with a compass indicating where the store is, a single click for directions and a 10 percent off coupon good for the next two hours.
That’s real-time, relevant advertising. In 2015 and beyond, brands will really know you – and they’ll be able to get their messages in front of you when you’re most likely to act.
2015 Marketing Trend No. 2: The Rise of Wearables
Call it the Apple Effect: Once the Cupertino, California giant embraces a technology, it’s pretty much a guarantee that consumers and developers will embrace it, too. It happened with smartphones, it happened with tablets – and next year, it’s going to happen with wearables.
What does that mean for brands? Obviously, it’s huge for the kind of inference advertising described above. (Someone’s passing 7-Eleven on the sixth mile of their run? Buzz them with a coupon for a Gatorade and an energy bar.)
But leveraging wearables is about more than getting timely offers to consumers. The smartest companies will use the new platform to create entirely fresh ways for users to interact with their brands.
Look at what Starbucks has done with the smartphone platform. They’re a coffee shop … and their intensely useful app is consistently near the top of the App Store charts, with hundreds of thousands of downloads. They’ve made it easy to pay, tip, check rewards balances, reload gift cards and even download music – all under the Starbucks banner. Who would have imagined all that in 2006? Or in 2011 for that matter?
Whichever brands can create that kind of disruptive experience with wearables will reap the benefits for years.
2015 Marketing Trend No. 3: Mobile Web Browsing
Even as new mobile platforms emerge, traditional mobile offerings – smartphones, tablets, smaller laptops – will continue to increase in importance. More than half of U.S. Internet usage already comes from mobile devices, and there’s no reason to expect that trend to end anytime soon.
Simply put, your web offerings need to be accessible from any device, any time. Ideally, this means new web development projects should be built with responsive design in mind. At the very least, they should contain a lightweight mobile component that serves up the features and UX elements that phone and tablet users need while leaving out what can’t be used on such devices. Click-to-call = good. Flash (if you’re using Flash for some reason) = bad.
Not to long ago, a prospect came to us wondering why his website wasn’t converting the way he thought it should. At first glance, it was befuddling – the site was well designed, rich in content and easy to navigate.
On a desktop machine.
Problem was, 60 percent of his traffic was coming from mobile devices, where the site was somewhere between broken and completely inaccessible. That meant six out of every 10 visitors were wasted. Not good. After a mobile-friendly development project, his site essentially received a massive traffic (and conversion) bump overnight.
2015 Marketing Trend No. 4: Increased Consumer Skepticism
In the last three-to-four years, web content has gone from important to king. Most folks recognize how important content is, and how it affects search engine visibility – which ultimately affects the bottom line.
Unfortunately, not everyone is an expert content creator. That means there’s a lot of junk out there – and there’s more being created every day. You get that, I get that, and your users get that, too. As a result, people are being more and more skeptical about where they choose to spend their browsing time.
That doesn’t mean your brand shouldn’t produce content on a regular basis – quite the opposite, in fact. But you should spend time thinking about what you’re putting out there. Is it dime-a-dozen click bait, or does it provide actual value to readers? If it’s the former, don’t bother to click “publish.” Even if they read once, they won’t be coming back … and they certainly won’t be buying.
2015 Marketing Trend No. 5: Smarter Resource Allocation
By this point, you’re probably getting the sense that 2015’s main marketing trend will be all about the “more.” More advertising, in more places. More mobile platforms. More content. And in many ways, that’s true.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your marketing budget will also be “more.” That leads me to the final strategy smart companies will be adopting next year: A re-focus on smart resource allocation.
Very few brands have the internal resources or bandwidth to handle everything I’ve talked about in this post, plus the blocking and tackling that’s made B2B and B2C marketing and advertising work since forever. The good news, however, is that you might not need to take on everything. Start with strategy – the view from 30,000 feet – and ensure that you’re investing in the areas and technologies that make sense, rather than simply doing to do.
No company (except Google and Cyberdyne Systems) can be everywhere and do everything – not anymore. The best marketers will start 2015 by evaluating their needs and their resources, then deciding where they can best make an impact. Work smarter, and you can make it a very good year.