2015: THE YEAR OF…?

To be honest, I don’t put much stock into New Year’s.

For revelers, New Year’s Eve is amateur night and, save for college bowls, this time of year for me is pretty much like every other week. The work on my plate at the start of 2015 is pretty much the same as it was at the end of 2014, and both myself and Leverage are as psyched about what’s in front of us this calendar year as we were in the past.

The new year does, though, provide a good opportunity to look forward.

Listed below are a handful of predictions for 2015 and possible trends to watch out for, in and beyond the digital marketing strata. While some of these are more likely to come to fruition over others, I think it will be interesting to see how each of the scenarios below pan out 12 months or so from now.

  • Marketers in the U.S. will spend more on mobile search — both PPC ads and SEO – than on desktop. According to a new report from digital research firm, eMarketer, less than a quarter of search spend went to mobile last year, and by 2018, the tables will turn. Mobile is expected to account for 76.7 percent of search spending by then.
  • The first of the new “Star Wars” trilogy will break box office records.  The original three will still be the best.
  • Magento will continue to outpace other shopping cart solutions.  Last year, they had 26% of the market share and increased by 34% in the Alexa top 1M sites. Magento’s percent share is projected to increase even more as the number of ecommerce sites balloon and other carts also increase in size.
  • Adele will put out her first album since “21.” Five million people will purchase it, yet and it will be deemed a failure.
  • Ghost buttons will become more prevalent on certain types of websites, especially designs featuring full width images on the home screen and sites using full screen videos.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks will, for the third time in the last five years, bring the Stanley Cup to the Windy City.
  • Google will experiment on mobile with more left and right swiping motions on SERPS and increasingly novel UI. They will also try and find new ways to expand the paid presence on the mobile SERPS.
  • “Better Call Saul” will be no “Breaking Bad.”
  • Journalists will rebrand themselves as Content Marketing Specialists.
  • Above the fold will become less important than ever as people continue to scroll.  If the content works and is engaging, they will scroll.  The younger generation has been scrolling on iPads and other devices for years and this is becoming a de facto standard.  Having to click to get information can be considered annoying.
  • Hillary will run.
  • Chris Christie won’t.
  • eCommerce advertisers will make Shopping Ads and CSEs the backbone of their online search marketing. This will upstage Classic text.
  • Cards design, which is increasingly being adopted by Google, Apple and Microsoft, will become more prevalent. Cards design is designed to present content, images and video in a clean, concise manner.
  • “Mad Men,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Two and a Half Men” will end. The internet will be littered with complaints about their finales.
  • Expect more search marketers to have to diversify their skill set and thinking more like display marketers. Personas and behavioral targeting will increasingly layer on top of the typical keyword based targeting.
  • Courtesy of new coaching staffs, the Cubs and the Bears will reign supreme in 2015.

How to Stand Out from the Content Marketing Crowd in 2015

Here’s a frightening statistic: more than 2.73 million new blog posts are published every day. On a positive note, this shows that the overwhelming majority of businesses now recognize the power of content marketing to increase brand awareness and generate leads. Unfortunately, this also means that there’s a glut of not-so-great content, and making your voice heard over the clangor can be challenging. So how do you make an impact when it seems like everybody’s using the same basic content strategies? Try these five tips to stand out from the crowd this year. Read more

Breaking Away from Tradition: New Uses for SEO Research

I may catch flak from some quarters for admitting this, but last week, I got drawn in to an episode of “The Newsroom.”

For those out of the small screen loop, “The Newsroom” chronicles the trials and tribulations of the anchor and staff of a fictitious cable news show and is the brainchild of Arron Sorkin, who created “The West Wing” as well as hit movies such as “A Few Good Men” and “The American President.”

It wasn’t the subject or its creator of “The Newsroom” that caught my interest: it was a heated argument between the news show’s president (played by Sam “Jack McCoy” Waterston) and the young, new owner of the station over the direction of the show. Waterston’s president is an old school newsman, preaching integrity, accuracy and a sturdy moral compass, while the owner wants to make new technology from on-the-street witnesses and on-the-spot reporting – checks and balances be damned – an integral part of the reporting process.

The divide between old and new marketing strategies may not be as vast – or as ethically debatable – as that between Edward R. Murrow and a tweet, but what was once an innovative means for companies to reach out to their clientele or consumer base has become old hat.

Convincing the CEO or marketing head that embraces the old school means of communication to give organic marketing and SEO a serious shot is usually no small feat. The reluctance to embrace the long-favored, yet increasingly antiquated mediums remains common in 2014.  Yet other companies have switched sides, putting their digital marketing plans for the year front and center in their annual plan at best or investing that chunk usually reserved for print, radio or television into digital and lessening their concentration on one of the old school means of communication.

Consumer behavior speaks for itself; whether they’re shopping at the local car emporium or Target, consumer online research has been the rule and not the exception for years. It’s estimated that 90% of potential customers will turn to blogs and social media sites, as well as the company’s pages, before setting foot out the door or clicking “buy.”

Companies that now rely on marketing tactics such as keyword targeting, content optimization and pay per click ads are also doing their homework. They consider the data and reports that come from these practices (which we put into play for many clients here at Leverage when it best suits their needs), but also use it as an indispensable resource for future marketing and sales campaigns. Market research that can be conducted through Google Trends/Insights and Adwords reports can help you see if the market for your product is growing or declining and also forecast seasonal trends for that product. Entire industry trends can be analyzed along with the activities of main competitors.

Additionally, SEO is moving beyond of the sales and marketing realm and is now being used by some smarter companies for other purposes, such as product research and development. Rather than inventing a product and then figuring out how to market it to the masses, Google and other search engines can give companies insight into what the consumer is looking for and create that product, upgrade or add-on based on consumer queries and other behaviors.

These are some of the reasons why Leverage Marketing can provide such powerful insights to its clients and use digital marketing and advertising to boost their business and their bottom line to the next level.

I can’t think of any print ads, TV commercials or non-digital PR tactics that provide these kinds of resources…