Human Engagement and Modified Social Media Marketing Will Be Most Successful Digital Trends of 2015, Experts Say

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As a new year of marketing gets underway, digital marketers are keeping their eyes on the trends that seem to be gaining traction in the new year.

“Change is happening at an ever-increasing pace — and that looks set to continue into the foreseeable future,” Trond Lyngbø of Search Engine Land reminded readers Jan. 15.

That kind of change can be scary, Lyngbø notes, especially for small businesses that don’t have dedicated marketing teams to help them with transitions. But quite a few marketers have laid out some top guidelines small businesses can follow.
A Human-to-Human Feel
The most successful digital marketing campaigns this year, brand strategist Kim Garst wrote for The Huffington Post Jan. 20, will be the ones that give an impression of human-ness to their audience. This means businesses will need to make the counterintuitive move of putting sales second to storytelling and engagement. The key, Garst advises, is to create a brand that people recognize, like and trust.

A focus on branding ties in well with the continued importance of content marketing. This strategy, which aims to offer helpful information in an effort to build brand credibility instead of specifically marketing products or services, allows companies to create an image of themselves as community members that potential customers can relate to — as opposed to simply being businesses people can choose to patronize or not.

Content marketing will also continue to be popular, multiple experts note, because it draws together two major goals of digital marketing: It both increases brand awareness and accomplishes factors associated with search engine optimization, a perennial concern for digital marketers.
The Changing Face of Social Media
A focus on business-to-consumer relationships will also change the way social media is used, Garst predicts. Brands that primarily use their accounts to push sales or suggest products will need to expand their engagement factors.

Of course, paid social media advertising is far from dead. Christopher Heine wrote for Adweek Jan. 16 that 70% of digital advertisers intend to increase their social media marketing spend in 2015.

And while few small businesses would be able to afford the rates, the figure Snapchat is demanding for a single day of advertising puts into perspective the massive importance of social media in a modern marketing plan: The app, popular with millennials, is asking $750,000 per day for ad placement.
The Continued Rise of Mobile
Underlying numerous aspects of marketing — everything from social media use to website design — is of course the increasing dominance of mobile Internet access. No longer is “mobile-friendly” good enough, Garst writes: “2015 is when we’ll see a shift to a truly ‘mobile-first’ mentality.”

This means that all content, whether it’s an emailed newsletter, an article or blog post, or a banner ad, will need to be optimized for mobile.

“There’s been a change in world order: the smart phone is now the consumer’s object of desire,” said Clayton Thompson, partner at MyNetWire. “When you take into consideration that tablet and smartphone browsing statistics are expected soon to surpass desktop browsing, business websites will be missing out on a huge amount of opportunities if their site and content aren’t mobile friendly.”
New Assessment Metrics
Numerous marketers have pointed out that one area of marketing that should see progress in 2015 is not a specific technique, but rather the technique of measuring success; currently, as Angela Hausman pointed out for the website Business2Community Jan. 18, fully 90% of marketers have no specific training on how to calculate a return on investment.

As digital marketing progresses, decisions are sometimes driven less by what experts recommend and more by whether customers can see quantitative results.

Now, it’s common for marketers to report on the things that are easy to measure, such as Facebook likes, Hausman says. But the things that are easy to count may be only weakly correlated to real marketing success. For that reason, she says, marketers this year will need focus on developing key performance indicators that are custom tailored to each digital campaign’s goals.

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