Happy New Year everyone! At the beginning of each of the last two years, I’ve written a blog where I make 6 online marketing predictions for the upcoming year. I love writing these blogs because it gives me an opportunity to go back and see how right (or incredibly wrong) I was with my predictions.
My predictions focus on all online marketing practices including: social media, web & mobile design, SEO, SEM and everything in between. They are usually fairly broad and relate mostly to the business practices of small to medium-sized businesses.
Let’s get started by reviewing my predictions from 2014.
1. The new Facebook timeline will finally launch for all users.
Correct. It took a bit longer than I expected but the new Facebook Timeline launched for most users between March and April.
2. Businesses will begin to fully embrace the different ways to make their search results stand out.
Correct. More and more businesses began optimizing the way their search results appeared on Google, mostly through Google My Business. Google did, however, take away one of the most enjoyable ways to optimize search results by removing the author image which appeared next to blog post results.
3. SEO will no longer be a standalone service.
Correct… kind of. Many SEO centred businesses still exist however the services they provide to optimize sites has evolved into content marketing instead of simply SEO.
4. Initiatives will be put in place by businesses to place their social media focus on making things less business, more personal.
Correct. Businesses are beginning to understand how to be successful on social media and one of the ways is to make things more engaging and less sales-driven.
5. Retargeting ads will become more mainstream for small to medium sized businesses.
Wrong. The number of people who have experienced retargeting or remarketing has increased, but the number of small to medium sized businesses who are actively using it has not.
6. Video and visual marketing will become a key point in many online marketing campaigns.
Correct. Video has become a huge component to many online marketing campaigns. Check out this blog post for a few great examples. I probably wouldn’t call these companies small to medium sized, but the campaigns are great.
4½ out of 6! Not too shabby. I’m actually really surprised about the re-targeting ads prediction. Why more businesses aren’t taking advantage of such a great marketing tool is beyond me!
On to 2015…
1. Engagement numbers across all social media sites will continue to fall as the Facebooks and Twitters of the world push for more ad buys.
As I briefly discussed in my blog “4 Brands Still Getting Great Fan Engagement of Facebook“, engagement numbers (Likes, Shares, Comments, Favorites, ReTweets etc.) are down across all social media sites. This trend will continue as newly publically traded social media companies look to boost their bottom line through purchased ads. What does this mean for your online marketing? For posts where you want an increased reach, you’ll need to create a small budget used solely on purchasing ads on social media.
2. Goodbye mobile-ready websites. Hello fully responsive websites.
One of my predictions a couple years ago was “2013 will be the year of mobile website design”. Pretty good prediction but that was back when mobile-ready websites were still an “in” thing. Not anymore. More and more companies designing or re-designing their websites will expect it to be optimized for a mobile viewing experience not only on smartphones but on tablets as well. That’s where responsive programming comes in. Expect to see more websites optimized for viewing across all devices in 2015.
3. Heavier focus on email marketing and segmenting email marketing lists.
Even though many email marketing lists in Canada took a hit when CASL came into effect on July 1st of last year, email marketing was still a force. It will continue to be a force as businesses realize reaching their customers with a targeted email is still effective. Sending a targeted email starts with segmented email marketing lists which keep your Fans informed with only the information they’re interested in. For example, if one particular user only engages when they’re sent information on a specific product, only include them in email lists which feature that product.
4. Retargeting/Remarketing ads will become more widely adopted by small to medium sized businesses.
I need redemption! I was so confident that I’d be right with this one in 2014 that I’m bringing it back in 2015 to right my wrong. Retargeting/Remarketing is something many people see but don’t really know how it works. Have you ever visited a website (say SportChek), leave that website, visit another website and then magically see an ad for SportChek on that other website? That’s re-targeting and it is extremely effective. It keeps your company top of mind and actually won’t go away for a set number of days or until a user clears their “cookies”. My guess is that 2015 will be the year that more local businesses adopt the retargeting/remarketing trend.
5. Social media and content marketing will become more important in search engine optimization.
Back in June, I did a presentation on SEO titled What It Takes to Rank in 2014 and one thing I focused on was the increasing importance of social media and content marketing in SEO. This will continue in 2015 as search engines find new ways to rank the most legitimate sites at the top of their results. One way they’ll do this is by using the popularity of a website link you place on your social media. How many people engaged with the post? How many people shared it? This of course goes hand in hand with content marketing. Updating your website blog on a regular basis with useful, educational content people Share, Like and engage with will be crucial to your SEO success.
6. More businesses will make better use of data from Google Analytics and other data sources.
One of the best things about online marketing is the ability to track just about everything. We install data tracking software like Google Analytics on all the websites we create, and we use that data to drive increased traffic, leads and sales. This will continue to be adopted and used not only by marketing agencies, but by businesses as well. The data received can help you better communicate with your customers on a one-to-one level and advertise content specifically targeted to their needs. The more businesses use data to market to their customers, the better their ROI on specific campaigns will be.