Christmas decorations down? Check. New Year’s resolutions made (and for most of us broken already)? Check. 2015 marketing plan complete? Before you check this off, have you considered what you shouldn’t be doing in 2015? If you answered no or even yes, you may find it worth reading through our guide to ‘what not to do’ with your digital marketing in 2015. Here are some of our opinions, insights and predictions into what trends we can expect and what practices CMO’s, start-ups, SME’s, larger organisations and agencies should avoid in 2015.
Don’t underestimate the importance of content marketing!
Yes technical SEO is and will continue to be an important element in your digital marketing plan; however, content marketing will become the most important driver for search engine visibility. All you need to do is look at the Kissmetrics blog for Five Smart marketing predictions for 2015 to see that four out of the five are somehow content marketing related! So don’t forget… ‘Content is king’. Think in terms of ‘what is Google’s job?’ Is it there to provide users with technically perfect sites? Yes, in an ideal world; but more importantly its objective is to be the best search engine it can be, and to do that its primary objective is to provide the user with the information they desire.
Don’t believe content marketing only exists to sell
Yes sales are important, there is no denying that. However, we believe that 2015 will see a necessary shift in mentality. Brands will become publishers. What we mean by this is that brands will need to move away from producing content with the sole purpose to sell more. Awareness, engagement and relationships have never been more important and good quality content will be pivotal. Brands need to offer value whether it’s a story or informative piece and without valuable content how do you expect to overcome the noise? Rich Media is vital in order to make your content more appealing and Google places more emphasis on images now more than ever. So don’t forget a picture can tell a thousand words!
Don’t believe content marketing is the new kid on the block
Marketers love buzzwords. Content marketing is one of these buzzwords and we would argue it’s always existed, only it’s evolved. Fundamentally, content is the cornerstone of all digital marketing and in recent years has gone through a makeover and been rebranded as ‘content marketing’.
Don’t overlook the importance of Mobile friendly sites… Oh and don’t forget your tablets
No we’re not talking about your daily vitamins, we’re talking about those shiny rectangular things that were once laughed at but now ‘all the rage’; and while we’re at it be smart about your mobile phones! In actual fact let’s look at it a different way – Stop focusing on desktop and understand that smartphones and tablets are far more important than ever before. According to comScore in 2014 mobile overtook desktop for the first time and now accounts for more than half of all time spent on digital media. Furthermore, it is being predicted that tablets will outsell mobiles in 2015. Don’t get us wrong, desktop is still important and desktop consumption even increased in 2014 as we saw more and more time spent online. We’re just saying that mobile and tablet usage has increased even more and now has a bigger share than desktop.
The good news (especially for small businesses) is mobile responsive experiences or mobile optimised sites reduce the investment needed as you do not need two different websites (one for desktop and a separate mobile site) and this approach is Google’s preferred choice. In 2014 we could surmise that Google was placing more importance on mobile usability. This was evident with anyone using Google Webmaster as they would have noticed the mobile usability section. Furthermore, the search engine even tested the use of mobile friendly icons beside search results. In addition we have witnessed Google penalising sites that have mobile errors.
Don’t believe Social Media and SEO aren’t linked
Social Media may not be as heavily weighted as inbound links at the moment, but there is no denying that social signals are an important organic SEO factor. It’s logical that Google would factor in highly shared content as it demonstrates value. To date Google have said that the correlation between high social activity and high ranking is coincidence and it is probably due to the fact the content offers value. On the flipside in house research has proved otherwise; for example KissMetrics observed that when a site accrued 100 Google+ followers, its rankings jumped by 14.63%.
Whether or not social media affects SEO rankings directly it is still an important factor and should be carried out as part of a thorough online marketing strategy. Shared content (both your own and 3rd parties) produces backlinks, drives traffic and generates search queries for your brand; all of which influence ranking.
Don’t believe SEO quick fixes, cheats or hacks
Don’t get us wrong, there are quick wins and often ‘low hanging fruit’, but there are no cheats, hacks or underhand tactics to create instant success. People often think that we can wave a wand or practice some black magic and hey presto their website is number 1 on Google. It doesn’t work like that! You need a long term SEO game plan, there are no quick fixes i.e. keyword stuffing, link baiting etc. In fact Google will penalise sites and this isn’t something new for 2015 but this 'dark arts SEO' is still something that people believe works and some agencies still practice!
Don’t advertise to everyone – target your audience
One of the buzzwords being thrown about at the moment is ‘hyper targeting’ or ‘hyper-personalisation’. With the sophisticated software tools on offer today we possess the ability to segment our audiences far more than ever before. Not only can we segment but we can target our audiences. Retargeting and location targeting will join forces to deliver more consistency and relevancy to marketing campaigns improving the customers experience by producing offerings they actually want or need (in some cases before the consumer even realises they want it).
Don’t start digital marketing or social media channels because you feel like ‘it’s the thing to do’
Understand the need for it and most importantly what you want out of it and what value that particular channel offers. Then decide whether you have the resources to manage that channel sufficiently – the last thing you want to do is damage your brand equity due to a poorly managed channel or touchpoint. Whilst we're on the subject of social media, don’t buy likes and followers! It became more common in 2014 and offers little value, is easy to spot and can actually harm the brand.
Don’t forget to look back and learn from 2014
Start with research, research and more research! Use a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) Look at what strategies or channels worked in 2014 (delve deeper i.e. what channels converted or which built awareness)? Assign resource affectively. Who are your audience? What motivates them? What media do they consume? Is location a factor? What’s changed with your audience? Is there a new target market out there you can target? Competitor analysis?
2014 saw the increased importance in social media and emergence of new and exciting technologies. We also witnessed start-ups and small businesses benefit from social media as it allowed them to connect and engage with their audience. On the flip side, ‘free’ social is on the decline with a rapid shift to paid social.
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