Editor's Note: This post was updated on June 19, 2020 to update data and links.
Everybody wants to know what the future holds. Only a few of us go to great lengths - like fortune-tellers and oracles - for any hint at what's to come. We're not here to make judgements or snide comments, but no crystal ball can predict the future of the always-evolving world of digital marketing. In order to understand what the digital marketing world has in mind for the coming years, we must look at facts, data and trends. With our latest digital marketing infographic, we examined the writing on the wall and took a shot at foretelling the future of digital marketing.
The truth is, nobody knows what the landscape of digital marketing will look like this time next year. We can make speculations and educated guesses based on the marketing intelligence we are able to collect with the technological tools we have, but nothing is certain. What we can be sure of is that social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, and even old channels like email will continue to evolve.
At the end of the day, trying to predict which tactics and strategies will put marketers ahead of the curve (and their competition) is what sets the great ones apart from the rest. Maybe the future we foretell with this infographic will be accurate or perhaps it'll be way off base; either way, it's the effort and experience of trying that matters.
Content marketing will rule budgets, priorities and customer attention. If you've read anything at all about digital marketing in the last three years, then this shouldn't be a surprise. Content marketing is so hot right now. On a data-backed front, in 2015 71% of marketers reported getting an increased content marketing budget. These kinds of predictive stats are exactly what you're looking for if you want to define your digital marketing strategy based on what's likely to happen in the future. And it doesn't necessarily mean you have to load up on content marketing in the present.
Companies can and should use the same statistics to make different conclusions. For example, a content marketing company would use the aforementioned statistic to prepare for an uptick in sales conversations and meetings. On the flip side, a company whose competitors are already knocking it out of the park with content marketing might pivot toward a channel that's untapped in their industry. It's that old adage we're always talking about: it depends. The combination of tactics and strategies that works for one business may not be the right mix for other brands.
Personalization will earn you some serious cred amongst your customers. It is as important for customer retention as it is for lead nurturing. As a marketer, the one thing you should always be doing is listening to your customers, whether it is on social media, on chat forums, or in the surveys you conduct. You won't be able to please every customer and you shouldn't let a few disgruntled people dictate your strategy, but you should always listen. When reports say that 67% of consumers say it’s important for brands to provide them with a personalized experience, you should take notice. In digital marketing, how you use stats like these matter more than just being able to spout them off when somebody asks.
User experience on mobile devices will improve drastically. With the stats suggesting that ONE BILLION people will use their smartphone as their only form of Internet access in 2015, it's time to start thinking about mobile first and everything else second. This is a big shift, even for those on the cutting edge of digital marketing, so the sooner you can wrap your head around a mobile-first approach, the quicker you'll jump ahead of the competition.
Customer-centered Digital Marketing
Professionals everywhere will find and channel their inner marketer. A company's marketing material is a direct reflection of the company itself. If a brand's marketing is bland and too focused on self-promotion, customers will quickly realize they're dealing with a selfish, bland company. Tap into trending topics and listen in on the conversations around them to collect marketing intelligence and to focus your social media campaigns on what your customers truly care about.
These days, nobody wants to purchase from brands who are all about themselves. In fact, customer-centric companies gained 43% in performance ratings compared to a 40% decrease for companies who've neglected customer experience. That's a big deal. If your business hasn't had discussions on customer experience, make it a priority early in 2015.
Up-and-coming trend: it’s all about the digital best dressed list. If we've learned one thing about the rise of smartphones and tablets, it's that technology has the power to drastically change the digital marketing landscape in a very short period of time. When it comes to technology, pay attention, adopt and experiment early, and embrace change. It's the only way forward in our increasingly technical world.
Here's the full infographic and an embed code (please use this code if you plan to use or infographic on your site):
Even though we cannot see into the future of digital marketing, we know it is exciting and full of opportunities to grow your brand. WSI is the perfect partner with which to explore what that future holds, whether it is with social media marketing, mobile marketing, or content marketing. Explore all our services here.