Digital marketing is a fast-evolving industry, and companies wishing to stay relevant and competitive need to stay abreast of developments. Even better, they should anticipate rather than react to them.
In looking forward, I feel that the following four, exciting marketing trends are going to come into their own in a big way in 2015:
The advantages offered by today's technologies and online data mean that companies and brands are going to increasingly make the move from blanket marketing to personalisation - from mass consumerism to mass personalisation.
We're not talking about customisation in this respect, which is tailoring products to individual client requests, but rather customising specific products to specific groups of clients.
Customers want personal value and personal assurance. When they get this then we're going to start seeing some really great marketing taking place. With the technologies that are in place now, we can actually start to create this personalised service, both in content delivery and service delivery and in a variety of different other factors.
2. Actionable analytics
Up until recently all online data took time to analyse; statisticians had to turn data into graphs so they could then be consumed and actioned upon by companies. Now, however, with the introduction of real-time analytics as well as crunching and visualisation tools businesses can understand data far better and far quicker.
What this means for the world of marketing is that companies are empowered to move more quickly in the marketing space - they can make informed, well-timed decisions and create more agile marketing strategies. They can also react speedily if something is going awry.
3. Focus on customer journey
Marketers operating on the cutting edge are those that recognise that our physical and digital lives are continuing to merge in ever more complex and inextricable ways. They thereforelook for ways to create marketing opportunities via both physical and traditional avenues and digital ones.
The astute marketers of 2015 will therefore be those who are less concerned with single channel conversion but rather concern themselves with the entire customer journey, which nowadays often involves people interacting across all channels on the road to conversion.
The focus is moving away from conversion measurement towards understanding the customer journey. If we can understand the customer journey then we can really start to look both at the digital and physical realms to be able to work out how people are buying and experiencing our brands.
For example, people don't go onto Facebook to make a purchase, but a Facebook post could be the influencing factor towards a purchase two or three interactions down the line. So focus on the customer journey is going to become more important than the focus on conversion optimisation of a particular channel.
4. Seamless customer experiences
One of the major pain points for companies operating both online and offline is disjointed and unsatisfactory customer experiences. The year 2015 will see brands creating more unified customer-facing services.
This change will require a reduction in the silo-ing of divisions as well as heightened internal collaboration. A key insight for companies and brands is realising that customers see them as a single entity, so if different arms of the business operate differently or in isolation, customers will inevitably experience complications, inefficient service, frustrations and more.
Companies need to adopt a 'single customer view', which is about understanding how customers interact with the brand as a whole. Only with that holistic understanding of your customers' omnichannel engagements with your brand can you hope to provide a seamless customer experience.
About Mike Saunders
Mike Saunders is the CEO of DigitLab, an international speaker, and has had the privilege of working with some of the worlds most prestigious organisations including Vodafone, IBM, Microsoft, KPMG, Norton Rose, Mr Price, Toyota and Exxaro. Along with his experience in business, Mike has also contributed to leadership programmes for Gordon's Institute of Business (GIBS).