As you lay down the foundation of your 2015 marketing outreach strategy, you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve by connecting with your audience through your online marketing efforts. In 2015, it’s going to be all about micro-targeting, paid media, targeted content, responsive design, and marketing automation. Over the last few years we’ve observed that marketers have been focused on better targeting strategies—one-to-one communications—for engaging customers and prospects, rather than one-to-many.
Here’s a preview of the 5 digital marketing trends you should consider as part of your 2015 marketing plans:
1. Micro-targeting to Raise Email Response
With the incredible amount of consumer data being captured and stored (e.g., pages viewed, documents downloaded, videos watched, and products added to shopping carts), it is possible to segment your audience into much smaller like-minded groups than ever before. Use this data to tailor your messaging by industry, region, market, age, interest, income, gender, etc.
All this detailed consumer-level data lead to the ability to create micro-segments. A micro-segment is a grouping of people who share exceedingly similar descriptions. Micro-segmentation lets you approach niche markets in one-to-one conversations—this can mean a vast improvement in the response to your emails, as people are more apt to read a message that is relevant to their interests.
Practice has proven that open and click-through rates rise when the size of a market segment is smaller. This isn’t because of the size of the segment alone, but because the message is more closely targeted. As a marketer, you want to use any technique that can improve response; so, more detailed information about customers is worth real dollars in marketing ROI, sales, and profitability.
What to do: If you don’t know who your audience is, you won’t know what relevant content or offers to deliver. Committing to buyer persona development (i.e., research-based representation of your ideal customer and like-minded groups of people who buy your products) helps you understand their needs, challenges, and motivations. Buyer personas are examples of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. Once you know who you’re talking to, you can develop the kind of messaging and content that speaks directly to your audience throughout the buying cycle. Harness the power of buyer personas.
2. Paid Media Channels for Content Marketing
Today, content marketing is a top strategy for organizations of all types and sizes. With visibility extending far beyond your website, it’s predicted that paid content placement, in which organizations pay to have content appear alongside original editorial in publications, will increase in 2015 as a unique and cost-effective way to drive quality traffic targeting a specific audience.
The emphasis on helpful content with paid visibility will continue to grow. Content will always be a priority but getting visibility to it will not be as free because Google and other properties will continue their push to keep the visitors on their sites giving users direct answers such as contact info, stats, game scores, etc. Site owners will have to pay for visibility for their entire web presence which extends far beyond their website and social properties and includes how they look in the SERPs, review sites, etc. —Geoff Karcher, President, The Karcher Group, Inc.
What to do: While continuing to maintain organic content distribution, integrate paid media. Take a look at your budget and, if you can afford it, pay in order to get your content in front of your targets. For example, with the targeting capabilities of LinkedIn, you can reach your target audience directly. LinkedIn allows its users to publish in three different places (e.g., on the user’s own page; on a group page of which the user is an admin; and on their company page). Company pages, specifically, allow you to narrow down your audience in order to target the people who you know will benefit most from your content.
3. Content Marketing based on Buyer Personas
As you begin to adopt micro-targeting, your understanding of your target market (i.e., buyer personas) will deepen, and your content will become more finely tuned on your buyer’s pain points—not your product or brand. You’ll want to develop content for each stage of the buyer’s journey:
Awareness: Educational content (e.g., eBooks, white papers, editorial content)
Consideration: Issue resolution content (e.g., webinars, white papers, trial downloads, videos)
Decision: Differentiating content (e.g., solution comparison, case studies, trial, product info)
Pretty much every marketer knows that content is king and, truly, it’s one of the best avenues towards lead generation. But the sad reality we all have to face is the fact that few have both the time and/or the resources to constantly generate all that content all the time.
What to do: If resources are available, put together an editorial team to oversee content quality and consistency. If in-house resources aren’t available, hire freelancers to write content, allowing the editorial team to focus on strategy, placement and analytics.
4. Website and Email Design for Mobile Devices
Now that a significant number of people read their email on mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, etc.), you’ll want to ensure that the email you’re sending to them is optimized for their particular viewing experience. Don’t assume that the beautiful 800 pixel wide HTML email you just created will look just as beautiful on an iPhone when it’s proportionately shrunken down to a width of 250 pixels.
Also, in 2014, more and more websites opted to go responsive and that number will continue to rise in 2015. Responsive design is just one of the many ways that your site can be mobile optimized and it is one you should take very seriously, especially considering that Google favors mobile-optimized websites when presenting results for searches made from mobile devices.
I predict that B2B marketers will see their audiences cross over to “mobile first” for the first time in 2015 where greater than 50% of their marketing content will be consumed on mobile or tablet device. —Russell Glass, Head of B2B Products, LinkedIn
What to do: People have quickly come to expect a mobile-friendly experience, and if your customers and prospects are having a bad one–being forced to read tiny text or scroll horizontally, being unable to click links, and so on–you could be missing out on an opportunity to win their business. Go responsive ASAP. Fine-tune your mobile strategy to incorporate responsive design into your emails and website!
5. Marketing Automation for Real-time Personalization
Marketing automation is a set of tools that allow you to efficiently and effectively manage lead generation and nurturing programs from initial prospect contact through the entire sales cycle. Simply put, it works to automate manual and/or repetitive marketing processes (e.g., customer segmentation, customer data integration, and campaign management).
According to research from The Aberdeen Group, using marketing automation can increase conversion rates by over 50 percent. However, businesses still struggle to integrate their existing tools into a single system to take their marketing to the next level—executing and managing marketing efforts across multiple online channels (e.g., email, web, and social).
With marketing automation, you’re able to personalize content by paying closer attention to the pages visitors are browsing on your sites, the products they are purchasing, and the information they have provided to you. In addition to providing you with real-time access to marketing data, marketing automation platforms offer more integration capabilities to segment your lists based on individual customer preferences, behaviors and events to customize and deliver personalized content in real-time.
What to do: First look at your current marketing tools. Find opportunities to more tightly integrate them. They may include options like the app marketplace offered with Saleforce’s CRM suite. Opt for a comprehensive marketing automation system, like HubSpot, that has built-in integration tools to create landing pages, calls-to-action, etc.
These 5 trends are just some of the things you should expect to see more of in the year ahead. While there are most certainly other strategies and tactics, we believe the 5 trends discussed above are likely to have the most impact in the coming year. So, to maximize your chance for success in 2015, adjust your marketing plan accordingly!