27 Digital Marketing Trends for 2015: Our predictions
Digital marketing best practice is a constantly shifting foundation, on which you might think it would be difficult to build a stable brand – but that’s not the case.
By monitoring rising trends and being prepared to adapt, your brand will stand a good chance of not only surviving in the competitive digital world, but also standing out.
In this post Fresh Egg’s digital experts look back at their predictions from last year, and let you in on the key trends you should be looking out for in 2015.
UPDATE: Digital Marketing Trends 2015 podcast
We've created this podcast that features four of our experts discussing some of their predictions...and more! Listen now using the player below:
Julian Erbsloeh – Head of insight
1. Deeper impact of Universal Analytics
As more companies embrace Universal Analytics and get to grips with the advanced measurement opportunities it offers, the data will become more meaningful to organisations; and with accurate interpretation, businesses will garner more profitable insight.
2015 will see the early adopters reap the rewards of being a step ahead. By the time their competitors are forced to migrate to UA, early adopters will have already fine-tuned their implementation several times, giving them a distinct competitive advantage.
No company can afford to have a digital decision maker who is not passionate about data and understands how to translate insight into actions.
2. Improved personalisation of websites
One of my predictions last year was for personalisation to become more main stream. In my view, this has not been fully realised – while many vendors have created a more accessible set of tools and services in that sector, the uptake has not been as great as anticipated.
Some companies offer machine-learning algorithms within a black-box solution that drives all personalisation on a website; while others specialise in advanced profiling and segmentation, enabling businesses to decide what to do with the identified segments. The market is still a bit fragmented, but my prediction for 2015 is that more businesses will adapt this new technology.
If it’s done well, users shouldn’t even notice it creeping into their lives. The internet will simply become a little better overall.
3. Increased user-centric analytics (profiling, personalisation and re-marketing)
In 2014 many online businesses seemed obsessed with profiling their users, gathering as much information about them as possible, and using that data to sell more. This data included all sorts of personal and behavioural insight – anything marketers could get their hands on – including data from social and professional networks.
While this approach is likely to continue throughout 2015, it won’t last forever. There will come a point where we will own our personal data and choose when we want to be approached by brands for specific products and services. We will also have the power to withdraw ourselves from their segments when that need no longer exists.
This might be a little hopeful, but one should be allowed to dream, right?
Duncan Heath – Head of conversion services
4. Measuring from source to sale: lead generation sites will look beyond just conversion rate
There will be far more lead generation sites starting to scientifically optimise their sites/apps for the quality of their leads, not just the volume.
While conversion rates for ecommerce sites are still seen as being a critical success metric, for the last few years there has been a greater importance put on the quality of those conversions (i.e. order values). After all, there’s no point improving conversion rates if order values go down, resulting in lower overall revenue. Ecommerce sites have seen great success in optimising for metrics such as "average revenue-per-visitor", which considers both conversion rate and order values.
For a while now, however, lead generation sites have been getting a raw deal. They've been optimising their conversion rates well enough, but few have spent time and energy trying to understand the quality of the leads they're getting.
This is crazy, but is thankfully beginning to change, and lead generation-based businesses are taking note. Couple this with new technologies and integrations (see Universal Analytics Measurement Protocol, for example) that make it easier to track users from source to sale, and it's clear that there’s never been a better time for lead-generation businesses to step up their optimisation.
5. Integrations will be everywhere
Data is great, but data that talks to other data is really great.
I'm not necessarily talking about "Big Data" here, I'm just talking about integrating different data streams together to learn things you couldn't previously, which is really beneficial for conversion rate optimisation.
For example, your site survey software (such as Qaularoo) integrates with a split testing platform (such as Optimizely) to tell you what the user feedback was for different site variations you're testing. Your split testing platform integrates with your analytics package (such as Google Analytics), which also integrates with your call tracking solution (such as CallTracks) to tell you which of your variations drove the most phone calls and how individual devices performed differently, for example.
Your call tracking solution integrates your CRM (such as SalesForce) to tell you how many of those phone calls actually led to sales, and your CRM integrates with your ESP (such as Pure360) to tell you which emails drove those converting phone call. These integrations give you real, actionable insight, and in 2015 there will be increasingly more of them.
David Sewell – Head of innovation
6. "The internet of things"
I predict a massive explosion in internet-enabled devices measuring you, measuring this, measuring that, measuring them, measuring me and measuring other stuff too. Medical devices, household appliances and transport networks will all talk to each about us: making decisions on our behalf about which TV channel to show and whether or not it’s time to draw the blinds.
7. Improvements to Google webmaster tools
Improvements to Google Webmaster tools continued in the last 12 months, as per my 2014 prediction. A host of new features have been added, including:
- Mobile-usability testing
- Rendering webpages
- Improvements to the GWMT API
- Testing robots.txt files
- Troubleshooting hreflang
- Debugging app-indexing
- Signalling faulty redirects with smartphones
I am going to extend my prediction from last year to 2015 too, when I expect a paid version of Webmaster Tools will become available, with increased historic data and per-day limits.
8. Death of cookies
I foresee Google leading the way with the roll out of anonymous identifiers (AdID) – currently used in Android apps – but being be extended to browsers too by defining a new standard in the header response.
This will not only solve the issue of tracking using cookies on mobile devices, but will also give individuals the ability to set their own advertising preferences.
David Somerville – Head of inbound marketing
Reflections on my 2014 predictions
Looking back on my predictions from last year, social media advertising spend has undoubtedly increased in 2014. A recent announcement by Group M (a worldwide media buying company) stated that the UK will be the first country, where digital advertising spend overtakes all other forms of advertising (print, outdoor, TV, radio etc.).
Having spent some time out in Australia this year, I have seen first-hand how many brands are still over-reliant on traditional ‘push’ marketing, whereas in the UK there’s a definite shift away from this.
9. Social media advertising will go from strength to strength
While this was a prediction for last year, I’m also going to use it as my first for 2015.
eMarketer’s recent industry report showed that social media platforms are this year accounting for 10.5% of the UK’s overall digital ad funding. Facebook take the lion’s share of this, with a 7.5% stake alone.
Last year I also talked about an increase in diversity of social media advertising products, which again came to fruition. In October this year Tumblr introduced auto-play video ads, partnering with the likes of Lexus, Universal and JCPenney.
The platform’s audience has grown by 40% (from 300m to 428m) since the acquisition by Yahoo!. Also in October, messaging platform Snapchat introduced ads to its US users, while Instagram began exposing UK users to its “natural” ads.
10. Brands will tackle Dark Social sharing
My second prediction for 2015 concerns the increase of ‘Dark Social’. This refers to social media content that is shared away from the social media platform it was first posted on, for example via email or online chat apps. This sharing can't necessarily be measured by web analytic programs and therefore the data on engagement, reach is ‘dark’ to us marketers.
For brands, this means that reporting fully on the effectiveness of campaigns may be nigh-on impossible. A recent study by RadiumOne shows that currently only about 31% of shared activity takes place on Facebook and other public-sharing channels, whereas 69% is on ‘dark’ platforms.
Team Sky has looked to tackle this issue by ensuring that all their content is shared using the Po.st link shortener, enabling more accurate tracking.
11. Video will dominate further
My final prediction for 2015 is the continued increase in the use of video. It seems this medium is always ‘the next big thing’, but there are more reasons than ever for this to be the case. We have already seen above that video playing a more important role within social media advertising, with Tumblr and Instagram pushing their video products.
Twitter is taking advantage of the trend as more consumers adopt two-screen usage (watching TV and tweeting on their phone/tablet at the same time), with the launch of Twitter Amplify. This video-based product takes something from a TV broadcast and packages it into a video ad on Twitter. This is then sponsored by a relevant brand and ‘amplified’ across Twitter beyond the sponsor’s usual reach of followers.
Outside of the ad space, we have seen Facebook video views on desktop overtake YouTube. In August, the platform recorded nearly a billion more video plays than YouTube - although this was buoyed by the Ice Bucket challenge. Facebook now serves up more than a billion video views daily – a result of a recent adjustment to the algorithm to show more videos in news feeds.
Steve Teece – Head of technical SEO
13. Greater visibility of SPAs in the SERPs
Nate Wood – Head of biddable media
14. Further commercialisation of Google SERPS
In the past 12 months we’ve seen the trialling of Google image ad extensions, increased testing of Google shopping and new call-out extensions to promote elements of businesses. Google is really keen to keep the usability of its SERPs high, while squeezing every penny of revenue opportunity from its traffic - and 2015 should see further advances to Google Shopping as competition for retail advertising spend increases.
15. Improved targeting
This was a prediction of mine for 2014, but not a lot happened in this arena. The introduction of RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) in 2013 saw a large take-up by advertisers, as a strategy to target generic search in a cost-effective manner. However, the additional tools for segmentation didn't really materialise in any ground-breaking way.
16. Google mobile and growth of RTB
Google pushed mobile heavily in 2014 and continued to see traffic share for mobile increase. Google also saw its first day where mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic.
RTB (real-time bidding) grew substantially in 2014. In the US, possibly the largest global market, ad sales grew by 55% year-on-year. Mobile and video ad sales were an estimated five times that of 2013.
17. Increased use of video
In 2014 video continued to see great adoption by brands. John Lewis used YouTube to great effect in November with the launch of its TV ad – a highly-anticipated advertising campaign. This formed the central piece in a well-executed digital strategy that could proudly hold its head up as ‘multichannel’.
18. Native advertising will boom in 2015
Content ad networks and native advertising will be adopted by more publishers and advertisers alike in the New Year. Ads will appear to be more like content, as engagement and rich-media experience becomes the norm.
Publishers will use ads as part of the content mix and will condense ad inventory to make room for larger, more engaging ad content. Expect to see more engagement ads and fewer static banners. Ads that behave and look like content will gain good traction.
19. Targeted personalisation and integration in 2015
Targeting will be even more personalised in 2015. At the same time, however, expect to see brands adopting more of a widespread approach in order to scale activity. Utilising the full funnel, we'll see more generic activity to capture the customer in order to fuel personalisation later on in the journey.
Native advertising will blur the lines between paid and organic, but we'll being to see campaigns that are better integrated. For example, we should expect to see more campaigns bridging the offline and online worlds across multiple channels. "Multichannel strategy" will become one of the key buzzwords of 2015.
20. Mobile, mobile, mobile
Mobile advertising has been hit and miss, with much inventory failing to deliver, and in-app advertising performing poorly. We'll begin to see the integration element taking shape, and advertisers using the mobility element of mobiles more.
There'll be an increased use of NFC and geo-targeted campaigns to augment the high-street experience. Google already offers in-store floor mapping, and will further extend the Street View capability to open shop doors to customers remotely.
Sarah Leach – Director of client services
Reflections on my 2014 predictions
Last year I talked largely around the increase in marketers who would be focussing on their strategy and the integration of their teams and activity in 2014. We have definitely seen this across Fresh Egg’s client base; and where ‘Big Data’ was very much a buzz word of 2014, I see ‘Digital Transformation’ being the hot topic of conversation among marketers and business leaders in 2015.
I’ve definitely seen an increase in confidence among digital leaders and their teams in their knowledge of managing digital channels – including social and paid – and there’s some really hot talent coming through within the industry.
Fresh Egg began an internship programme in 2014 and it’s exciting to see the talent come on-board. Generation Z, as they are referred to (born between 1994 and 2010), will become a major target for companies looking to hire in 2015 – Microsoft and Rackspace already do this, and Facebook and LinkedIn are known for paying high school students for internships.
21. Organisations will need to change the way they operate in 2015
As organisations shift from traditional marketing to digital, integration becomes a key priority for the majority. Understanding how digital integrates with other channels is one of the biggest challenges I see our client base and business leaders face. It requires leaders to define a vision of how channels will integrate with each other; however few companies have cross-functional teams to facilitate this, and they often still operate in silos.
The transformation of teams, tools, processes and reporting is required if businesses are to succeed. This isn’t something that happens overnight; it requires a long-term strategy and commitment from everyone involved.
22. Customer-led marketing will lead the way
Understanding the customer journey and adapting the channel mix accordingly will be a major success factor for many businesses in 2015. Fresh Egg has pioneered the Audience Intent led approach – even before Google released Hummingbird. This technique identifies opportunities for clients to target in order to improve their marketing efforts by putting their customers first.
We will hopefully see more businesses put the customer first next year, by producing content that engages with the audience at the right time, in the right place and with the right message.
Ashley Hitchcock – Senior web designer
Reflections on my 2014 predictions
As per my predictions for last year, flat UIs became a big trend, with many big brands ditching gradient-heavy sites for clean fresh designs. The mobile trend also continued to grow, as we all predicted. The wide variety of device sizes will continue to challenge us. Many websites now use users’ locations to deliver relevant content, and I think this will continue to expand with greater customisation based on users’ profiles and browsing habits.
24. Automation of code
25. Increase in responsive images
One thing that has been lacking in most responsive websites is responsive images, by this I am referring to the serving different images for different size screens – not just the resizing them. This saves bandwidth and helps with art direction. The <picture> element has been designed to solve this issue. Browser support is increasing and can be poylfilled while we wait for full support.
Matthew Abbott – Senior web developer
26. Software as a Service
The 'as-a-Service' moniker represents the changing shape of software and hardware in computing, and Software (SaaS) is one of the tenants making up the modern cloud computing platform. All the big players, from Microsoft, IBM, Google, Amazon and a host of other providers, offer cloud solutions, platforms and infrastructure.
SaaS is the next logical step for software vendors, and we've seen how the likes of Wordpress and others are offering hosted solutions. However there is little interaction from the user for managing their software.
This has been a fundamental shift in the development model, and I fully expect more services to go this way in future, producing shared, modular, composable-software solutions that can be offered up with granular-pricing models, tested extensively, and made available on more devices, to more customers.
So, what do you think? Mystic Egg? We'd love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment below.