As Google continues to get better at connecting related search queries, long, in-depth content will become more of a trend. Educating the target audience will now become the top selling point of many brands from whatever industry they are in.
What can a small business do to benefit from that trend? Quite simply write a blog, and write as often on it as you can. Tell stories about your customers, their questions and concerns, their feedback to you. Basically anything that is related to your customers and their issues with your product and services. Do not sell them anything in your blog, just educate them. Be bluntly honest and tell your customers why you are doing things the way you do them. Don't tell them what you do, they can see that themselves.
Content creation, search optimization and social media will be less siloed as specific departments and treated more like skills that exist across the organization. Optimisation will move beyond individual tactics and focus more on overall customer experience across channels. 2015 will be all about tracking the 1:1 buyers journey! Marketers are continuing to connect all of their digital demand generations channels and tools. In 2015 we’ll get closer to being able to track exactly how we earn each customer from the top of the conversion funnel to the bottom. For example, companies will be able to track a single prospect through the time they saw an ad, came to the website, followed on Twitter, downloaded a whitepaper, signed up for a trial, engaged with a salesperson and eventually became a paying customer.
This is the toughest thing to adopt for a small business, so here is what you can do. Take a couple of lead generations channels that you can manage, the easier once are web and social media. Search engine optimisation, Google adwords, Paper Ads, Radio and TV are often too complex to manage and get an idea on Return on Investment. Engage with your web and social media leads through a simple Customer Relation Management (CRM) system and use that software to follow your new leads through the entire sales cycle.
B2B and B2C 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.
For any business this is the simplest thing to implement. Revamp your website to a responsive website that is optimised for viewing on desktops, tablets and smartphones and even on TV's. Implementation is straightforward, does not take an army of developers and can be done quite economically and lastly does not take months to do. It is THE thing to do for any business that wants to see leads and new business coming through the door through digital marketing.
2015 will be the year of data-driven marketing. All design, advertising and social media will focused on driving measurable results using cutting edge tracking and predictive analytics. Websites will focus more on optimising conversion rates then increasing website traffic.
As a small business you are more local and more targeted then a larger organisation, but now the bigger boys are also targeting your local customers. So your message needs to be out there as well, and you need to make sure that you engage with your web and social media leads through a CRM system (see #2) and a live chat box on your site. You will be able to see who is on and you will be able to engage with the visitor on a live chat. And questions, concerns or inquiries can be dealt with during the chat.
Businesses will finally wake up to the fact that social media and mobile marketing are no longer new phenomena and should be integrated right from the start of any marketing campaign or inbound initiative. The future of digital lies in companies being social and mobile by design.
A small business can not set the trends in digital marketing, it just needs to understand when the time is ripe to jump ship, leave the traditional ways of marketing behind and engage fully in mobile and social media marketing. More traditional businesses like manufacturers will jump ship in 2015, you will need to do the same as well.
Nothing to worry about, even if it does not happen. The likelihood you invested a lot in that channel if at all is minimal.
Further ideas on how these trends might influence small and medium sized businesses are welcome. Leave your comments or drop me a note on firstname.lastname@example.org.