As we see 2014 draw to a close, 7 key members of our digital marketing team have been looking in their crystal balls to predict what will be happening within various aspects of digital marketing in 2015.
Adam C’s Predictions
In 2015 we will see a massive reduction in the SEO influence of keywords in title, H1 and possibly other on-page elements. The combination of higher levels of long tail searches and voice searches will mean that Google puts much more weight on the contextual use of the keywords within the body of the page. By the end of 2015 we could see the title and H1 tag being bumped to the same status as that of the meta-description i.e. no effect on rankings but may be used in your listing. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though and will see a return of both readable and imaginative titles again. It will also mean that the content of the page, more than ever has to be top quality. Cookie cutter pages with a few keywords swapped in to key elements will lead to SERPs oblivion.
2015 is absolutely going to be the year of remarketing, specifically cross-device remarketing. Users now routinely remain logged in to Google, Facebook etc. across their mobile, tablet and desktop computers. Advertisers are going to wake up to this fact and devise new and slightly creepy ways of following us around from device to device. There will be a flurry of privacy concerns as the public get caught out by their families after browsing for gifts or other items on their phone while their partner switches on the laptop at home to see ads for the same products. For the marketers however, it will mean a closing of the loop in tracking sales and conversions across different devices. Although Google is part of the way there already, this will grow in robustness and be seen across a number of platforms in 2015. Having the full picture of how users interact before a sale means that PPC strategies can be streamlined to cut costs and more effectively target the end result.
In the social networking sphere in 2015 Google plus will either implement a killer feature that gets people to jump or it will die off completely. Personally I expect it will be the former. Another failure like Google Buzz is unlikely to welcomed by Google’s shareholders. So far Google has attempted to force people onto its social network by tying in YouTube comments, circles from your Gmail contacts, and aspects of their other services. In 2015 I think they will flip this on its head and entice people to join in by signing up prominent content producers who will publish exclusively on Google plus. They will essentially poach the top bloggers, Facebook and Twitter users and hope that their followings come with them.
In 2015 I think we will see an increase in the use of Schema markup. With SERPs trying to understand more about the context of a page to deliver the right results to the user, Schema plays an important part in this moving forward. As discussed in our blog in November, Schema.org is used on only 0.3% of domains and as more site owners become educated on its benefits, I would expect to see this shoot up over the next year.
In 2015 we could see added benefit in SERPs for sites that use unique images. With Panda looking to reward high quality content, the focus was on quality content. The next natural step is images. You have to ask yourself, what value do stock images have for a user? Very little in my opinion and they’re duplicate across the entire web. Next year we could see a push toward rewarding websites that use their own unique, quality images, as oppose to images that are duplicates on dozens, or even hundreds of sites.
Adam H’s Predictions
It is my hope, as well as my prediction, that Google will continue to hammer link building activities. Panda and Penguin (with perhaps the introduction of a new black and white animal algorithm – my bets are on Orca) will become more sophisticated, links will become less important and hopefully Google will start to recognise and include social weight and noise as a positive reflection of how popular a brand or its products are – which in my opinion would adhere better to Googles goal of producing the best search results.
Facebook will invest a lot of time and money improving its search functionality, with 500 million in counting active users, why shouldn’t Facebook compete in the same space as Google?
Brands will need to stand out with their content by thinking outside the box much more if they wish to be seen online. Simple blogging has been done to death, brands will need to adopt a more media, visual and interactive approach if they wish to remain top dog. Apps, videos, games, interactivity within websites will be how brands wow, entertain and capture new audiences.
Brands without a mobile strategy in place can basically kiss goodbye to their online traffic and sales – mobile is going to be even bigger in 2015 than it already has been in 2014. Everyone in digital, from web designers to marketers and advertisers, need to be thinking “how will this perform on mobile”.
SEO will still be a huge part of the online landscape. However, the focus will be on ensuring your brand, its website and everything that flows from that (social, ppc, email, content) is in-line, heavily branded, optimised to its best technically, provides the best user experience and that all pages and content provide value and are of an extremely high quality. Google wants to list the best website/answer for the search query; more so than ever, brands need to make sure they provide that answer. Spend less time trying to “game” and “manipulate” Google and more time ensuring that your website is the best.
Content should be created with specific target markets in place, this should then be distributed directly to those people. Individual email lists and social followers (Facebooks target audience feature) should be created so that this content reaches the intended eyes and ears. Brands will need to be more savvy with content creation and realise that not everybody will like or use their products for the same reasons.
Brands ignoring social media are will fall behind and drown. Brands not willing to pay for social media (advertising, promoting content, engaging) will follow. Social media platforms such as Facebook don’t owe brands anything, to succeed on social then you need to invest in your social strategy. Social media is going to be as important as ever and an investment in social strategy will be imperative to your brands success.
Digital Marketers need to stop using terms such as “link building”, “gaming”, “manipulate”, “hacking” – the key to digital marketing today and in the future is to Be Real! Do actual real business stuff, run a competition, support a local cause, run promotional campaigns, advertise, PR, create things, showcases, conferences, giveaways – the list is endless, but all these activities, whether performed on or offline should become part of your digital strategy; as this projects the image of a real working and engaging brand – something I expect Google would pay close attention to when it comes to providing that “best answer”.
2015 will likely see the evolution of the knowledge graph as Google continues to anticipate our every move when it comes to search. With Google Now, the search giant is learning users’ habits and will try to anticipate your searches, destinations and every need before you even need to type anything. The idea will be that users remain within Google, gaining all the information they need without ever having to open a new website. Voice search will likely increase in prominence and play into this idea, allowing users essentially to have a conversation with the Knowledge Graph. While this might primarily be used on mobile devices, as it becomes more of a habit, expect users to start adopting the practice across all platforms.
It goes without saying that brands should regularly be producing new and relevant content but in 2015 they should take it to the next level. Not only should there be useful and engaging written content but brands should be utilising every tool available to them through images on Instagram and Pinterest and videos on YouTube and Vine. Most brands still have a long way to go to compete with general users on these platforms who are producing fantastic, reactive content without the budget or resources. Brands need to think more like individuals and rather than having every Tweet going through multiple layers of clearance, trust socially smart individuals to create a cohesive content narrative.
In 2015 online retailers will intensify their efforts to analyse customers and their behaviour in order to understand their intentions. With the rise of personalised mobile shopping experience predicted for 2015, customer data will become increasingly important for brands looking to attract a loyal customer base. The objective is to provide relevant offers, products, content etc.. at the right moment to simply become better e-traders. Analysing the users data will allow for better segmentation in the market place which in turn will provide for a better understanding of your customer; what they want from you as a brand, how we should engage as a brand and also on what channels we should be engaging with our consumers. It is vitally important that we use this data to understand our consumers better to provide a better journey for them showing that we as the brand are listening to them which will allow for increased CVR, revenue and most importantly loyalty. Marketing analytics spend is predicted to increase by 60% in 2015.
In 2015 it is predicted that local consumers all over the world will discover global, or foreign, web sites in a major way, and spend a larger portion of their online budgets on non-local e-retailers. This will pose serious challenges to local merchants but will also create new opportunities for them to sell abroad. Geographic digital marketing is going to be big in 2015.
Integrated Marketing Mix
Offline and online marketing integration will play such an integral part of a business’s overall strategy.
Marketingland described it best when they said “The customer’s mind perceives one continuous brand. We live in a world where customers casually cross multiple marketing channels throughout the course of an hour and can see a kiosk ad, print promotion and social media campaign within moments of each other.” Connecting and leveraging these two channels will amplify both reach and conversion; creating a non-stop loop of activation that will exponentially increase ROI across both. Marketing should be looked at as a whole; driving the offline audience to online programs and vice versa.
2015 will again see marketers making serious considerations towards other search engines. Apple are already thinking of changing the default search engine for IOS to Yahoo. I also think that this will be a major year for semantic search and Google are going to heavily invest in personalised search.
Mobile is going to step-up a gear and if sites are not fully responsive they will lose to competitor sites who provide a superior UX on mobile. I also think that Google are going to rely less on links (but still maintain links as a factor) and integrate citations and knowledge graph nodes deeper into hummingbird. I think that meta information will lose a lot its relevance and this would make sense from a personalised search POV. Multi-channel marketing is going to be huge in 2015.
We are going to see some big changes particularly in this field. I think that PPC will evolve in-line with personalised search to deliver ads which are highly targeted and the days of simply matching keywords to search terms will be in decline. There will be further moves to tracking users through logged-in accounts rather than anonymous cookies which will also give further opportunities for cross-device PPC marketing.
Over the course of 2014 we’ve seen established brands really assert themselves across all digital channels – the bigger budgets they have allow for greater PPC spend, recruiting better content practitioners to maximise the impact of their content across all channels, more effectively manning and managing all social channels simultaneously, and recruiting the best web developers. Not only that, their greater offline spend insures they are front and centre in users’ minds when they search for products and services.
The coming 12 months will see those who have invested in mobile really push ahead. If a site isn’t responsive and/or their purchasing system is too difficult to navigate on a mobile device, customers will simply go to their competitors. Towards the end of 2015 we’ll see a flurry of quickly thrown together mobile check out systems.
This applies to all digital channels. The balance between impersonal and too personal will need to be mastered; again, those that do will set themselves ahead of those who are still fumbling around. However, I would suggest that the creepily personalised web experience is more accepted than ever before, owing in large part due to the creative ways in which it can go almost unnoticed.