We’ve all heard so much about digital marketing and data this year. Businesses want to understand how their investment is working in marketing. Marketers want to grow businesses and reach more customers, as well as keep the ones they have. How do marketers and small businesses get ahead of the curve as we head into the final stretch of 2014? Here are my predictions for what marketers and small businesses need to be thinking about as we approach 2015.

  • Getting Back to Basics – Digital marketing is actually fragmenting channels, which will continue to occur with the growth of mobile and digital marketing. Marketers need to get back to basics and take a look at their target audience. Ask yourself if what you’re producing is relevant to your audiences’ behavior and interests. Are you speaking to them or producing content and ads that you think they will be interested in?
  • Mobile – If you aren’t thinking about mobile then you will be left behind. According to eMarketer, almost half of U.S. adults’ media time is spent with digital and almost half of that time is on mobile. The Internet is expected to hit 3 billion users in 2015, reaching 42.4% of the entire world’s population. Mobile consumption is expected to overtake tablet in 2015. If you aren’t planning on reaching customers via mobile, you’ll be missing out.
  • Responsive Design – Your website now has to be responsive. This means that customers need to be able to utilize your website via their smartphone or tablet. Your site has to be optimized for mobile consumption. Gone are complex menus – think compressed menus, clean design and a mobile-friendly site overall. WordPress has so many responsive themes to choose from now. It’s not about building a custom site any longer. It’s about utilizing a template that’s already optimized for mobile and adding your content. Remember, your website now is one of many channels your customer will go to.
  • Moving from ‘One to Many’ to ‘One to One’ – Your messaging cannot be about selling any longer. You need to create relationships one by one. You can no longer “target” the masses; instead you have to think about how to build those relationships with much more relevant content.  Be human – gone are the days of corporate speak and dull, boring campaigns. Becoming less formal in your messaging is going to be critical in reaching potential customers.
  • Retention and Loyalty – Both are going to become just another growth channel on how businesses gain more customers. Think about how you can create deeper loyalty and a better experience for your customer, so they can build word-of-mouth for your business. It’s all about experience, experience – how can you WOW your customers and keep them coming back for more? This applies to all types of businesses, both B2C and B2B.
  • Paid Social Media – Social media has really already become a pay-for-play world, so don’t budget without an investment in paid social media advertising. Now that big brands are there to stay, it’s a crowded space and having a strategy for paid advertising is the norm, not the exception.
  • Technically Savvy – Marketers have to learn coding, become data geeks and embrace the science behind marketing or be left in the dust. Marketing is no longer an advertising/PR gig. It’s about understanding content delivery, SEO, social, email, mobile, lead generation and how all of these tactics work together. Understanding how to enhance and optimize daily is just part of the job.

These are the areas of marketing that I think are going to influence how businesses and marketers reach their clients in 2015. This isn’t unique to B2C businesses. B2B business must embrace these trends as well. If you’re thinking that way, then you’re not in tune with how people engage with brands. Take a look around the next time you’re on the elevator, in a restaurant or at an event.  All those heads down consuming their devices are only going to become even more relevant with wearables and how you reach your customer.

Originally Published on Generations FCU Blog