The New Year has arrived and we have rounded up the hottest trends in marketing for 2015, that any brand could benefit from:

1. Mobile is going to change the way brands do business

Mobile is growing at a rapid rate – purchases made by smartphone or tablets rose 48% year over year in the second quarter to $8 billion, which is three times faster than purchases made at a desktop computer.[1] 2015 will see this number continue to rise as customers employ an omni-channel approach to shopping. Shopping habits are evolving as customers become smarter about the way in which they do their shopping – retailers are now beginning to see the benefits of having both a physical and online store. To stay on top of this trend, online retailers will have to optimize their websites for mobile, ensure fast load times, a user-friendly presentation and expert customer service. With how much technology is available, the customer in 2015 should be able to research a product on their mobile phone, look at in store and then make a purchase on their tablet without any interruption to the buying cycle.

2. Social signals, particularly Google+, will become increasingly important in organic ranking

The value of social signals for organic search has long been debated, but with Google+ it is clear that to at least some extent, ranking can be improved. It is logical to believe that Google properties do the best to increase organic ranking and would be favoured in Google search results. For 2015, it will be a must that all businesses have Google+ pages for SEO. One of the original goals for Google+ was using it to power real-time search. Currently Google has been using Google+ to discover new content. Compared to other social media platforms, such as Facebook, where there are privacy settings and restrictions on data sharing, Google+ data is immediately and fully accessible to the company that built it. In addition, pages and posts on Google+ not only accumulate PageRank, but because links to posts are followed, they pass link equity as well. As well, unlike Facebook and Twitter, each post you make in Google+ has most of the characteristics of a blog posting, including a unique URL, which has the potential to send strong semantic signals to Google’s search algorithm. In addition, once a business page reaches over 1,000 followers it gains access to +Post ads, which greatly increases content reach and helps improve search engine rankings for the website; in essence, a Google+ page becomes an ad on Google’s Display Network.

3. Personalized content is the way of the future in e-commerce

For 2015, it will become crucial for all content to be personalized to the customer’s needs and wants. For retail, this means customizing the online shopping experience for the individual visitor instead of offering a single model for all customers visiting the website. SailThru, RichRelevance, and Triggered Messaging from bubblebox:media, are just a few examples of tools that use customer’s shopping habits and historical patterns to adapt the product range represented. From a retailer standpoint, customizing content this way is invaluable because it ensures a higher likelihood of customers purchasing items in their shopping basket. Going hand-in-hand with personalized content is location data, and the ability to leverage it for increased conversion. For 2015, more and more retailers will leverage this data to gain a better understanding of who the shopper is, where they shop, where they linger, and how far they travel for certain products. With the ability to accurately track, and, in turn effectively target users based on device, intent and demographic will be critical to success.

4. Big Data will be a driving force for future conversions

The Big Data trends for 2015 reflect strategic and operational goals. Retailers will intensify their efforts to analyze customer behaviour in order to better understand their intentions and habits. Real-time data is key for businesses to succeed. Two of the most prominent real-time big data applications in business are online retail and supply chain management. For managers, this means that they can respond immediately to supply chain blockages, such as supplier failure or a disaster that impacts supply chain flow, which could affect customer response time and the ability to ship items in a quick manner to shoppers. With how short shopper attention spans are online, it is more crucial than ever that all data displayed be as accurate as possible, including inventory control and availability. For 2015, there will be an increased emphasis on speed and accuracy at checkout, including faster shipping and using third party shipping services to make turnaround time even faster and more accurate. Not just inclusive of research and analytics, big data also means a deeper understanding of customer insight. With the introduction of wearable technology, marketers now have even greater access to customers, who can receive rapid updates on price changes, promotions, marketing incentives and location-based deals that take into account the real-time location of the customer.

5. Social selling is no longer just for big brands – sales representatives will continue to build authorship through content marketing

The sales executive is just as important to growing a business as the product or service that you’re selling. Social selling is a true science, and for 2015, the trend will be an increased emphasis on building stronger relationships with potential buyers, based on an authentic sense of empathy and a deep understanding of the problems they face. Creating a real connection with the client is the key to success. Discovering a common value or shared demographic will help not just in selling your product but in selling yourself. Researchers from the University of British Columbia have shown that incidental similarities between a buyer and seller are enough to establish a personal connection and increase the likelihood of purchase[2]. These similarities include a shared first name, birthday or birthplace. Within an organization, social selling also includes becoming a thought leader through content marketing. There is an inherent need to make online writing more transparent, and Google’s Authorship technology now let’s brands and other publishers put a face to their articles in search. This will undoubtedly improve the content writers’ SEO presence and build credibility for the author. The key for 2015 will become to not just pump out content, but to pump out interesting and relevant content to audiences and potential clients, and have it be easily accessible. LinkedIn continues to be a great resource for creating virtual relationships with potential clients, instead of the typical cold-call. By publishing new and interesting content, business leads are likely to read what you’re saying and recognize the value you can provide to their company.

For more information on digital marketing and #BigIdeas2015, connect with me on LinkedIn.