It’s December and there’s an annual tradition that marketers love even more than the arrival of Santa, kicking around predictions about what will be hot (or not) in the year to come. There’s no shortage of ideas and suggestions on what the big trends will be, but I am particularly interested in what’s going to be important for small businesses. So here’s what I think are some of the top trends to watch in 2015.
- Reviews dominate consumer decisions: Last year I predicted the increased importance of consumer reviews. With more than 75% of consumers reporting they check reviews online before they buy, this is no longer a trend, but a fact of life. Look for more niche review sites and even some specialized feedback applications like Peoplocity to make a splash in 2015.
- Online booking – Consumers have discovered it is significantly easier to book appointments and pay their bills online, than over the phone. They can handle the transaction on their timeline not yours. If it is 2:00 a.m. and they wade up and remember they need to schedule an appointment with the dog groomer, they can hop online, make the appointment and go back to sleep. There’s no waiting, no on hold music and no telephone tag. Look for more industry specific scheduling tools which easily plug into existing websites to be popular next year.
- Goodbye cash – Paypal blazed a trail years ago, getting consumers comfortable with the idea of storing their credit information in one application. This has laid the groundwork for acceptance and wide spread use of products like Google Wallet and Apple pay. Look for pressure on retailers to accept these alternative types of payment which provide higher levels of security and protection for the consumer and the merchant.
Content Marketing, Social Media and SEO
- Pay to play – After years of building communities on social media for free, it is time to pay up. Facebook has lead the way by essentially hiding business updates from timelines unless businesses buy advertising to boost posts. Twitter and LinkedIn have also dramatically expanded their advertising offerings. Businesses are starting to invest causing prices to begin rising. We expect to see a narrowing of focus as smart firms pick one platform and begin advertising key messages.
- Instagram is hot – While Facebook may be losing some of its luster, their photo sharing tool will be the platform to watch as companies figure out how to use hashtags to connect, follow and create trends.
- Content is the new SEO – With the latest rounds of Google updates, we can finally say goodbye to random link building and keyword stuffing strategies. That doesn’t mean strategic SEO is dead but it will only be effective if it’s backed by a solid content and conversion strategy. SEO will settle in as just one more tool in a comprehensive online strategy.
- Responsive design required – Tablets are smaller, iPhones are bigger and some people are even checking the internet on their iWatches, challenging web designers to make sites more and more responsive. You can’t predict or control how your consumer will try to connect with you online, so you need to be ready when they do. Responsive websites and emails programs will be required in 2015. With this shift we can expect to see more streamlined and simplified designs. Say goodbye to clutter, hello functionality.
- Marketing will reach out and touch you – The “the internet of things” is blurring lines between devices making it easier for merchants to connect with consumers when they need a product or are ready to buy. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the growing series of applications which allow communication between the devices and/or between the devices and humans. For example, smart electronics built into your car which tell you when it is time to change your oil or if your tire pressure is low. My Fitbit automatically syncs with my smart phone and lets me know when I have hit my goals. The next logical step will be for these devices to send messages to merchants alerting them of your need for a product or service. Look for applications which allow your customers to sign up for reminders and alerts for all sorts of products and services.
Looking for more predictions?Just hop onto Google and search predictions for 2015. Then come back and share your favorites here.
Marketing changes every year. That’s why the team at Roundpeg, and Indianapolis Content Marketing Firm is constantly staying one step ahead of the trends.