About this time every year, something happens. No, I'm not talking about people celebrating holiday festivities, nor am I talking about your boss' crazy leftover budget spending. I'm talking about those marketing predictions posts.
You know -- the ones that try to guess what the next year will bring for all of us marketers ... even though there is no way that anyone really knows what will happen. (And yes, we've been guilty of writing these posts, and we'll probably write them again.)
Sometimes, these types of blog posts can be great. They can be super insightful, shine the light on a trend or two that maybe haven't been on your radar, or introduce you to some brilliant person in your industry that you might not have followed otherwise.
Other times, they can be repetitive, jargon-filled wastes of time. Usually this happens when the same insights get repeated year after year on blog after blog so that all the "insight" of the prediction gets turned into uninteresting mush. Yuck.
So this year, we decided to do something different. Instead of trying to guess what the next year will bring (and probably missing the mark on them), we decided to revisit 7 predictions we've heard over and over again. Some have come true already yet are still being predicted. Some are just outrageous claims that are used to get pageviews. And some are nowhere near becoming true -- at least not in the next year.
Regardless, they're all predictions that we are just sick of seeing touted as these huge revelations for other marketers. Somewhat ironically, we hope you're better prepared for next year because you will know what to focus on -- and not focus on -- in your own marketing. So let's get to it!
1) Next year will be the year of mobile.
Maybe because thought leaders have been proclaiming each following year "The Year of Mobile" for the past five years, 2014 will be the year that the trend has finally caught on.
According to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, global mobile traffic now accounts for 15% of all internet traffic ... so it's pretty safe to say that the mobile "trend" is already here.
People are already reading your site on their phones. They're already purchasing products on their phones. They're already getting frustrated when people have non-mobile optimized or non-responsive sites.
If you're one of those companies that hasn't jumped on this trend yet, it's not too late. Check out this introductory guide to learn how to get your marketing mobile-ready.
2) Customers will have all the control in your business relationship.
This is another "prediction" that has already happened. Customers as a group have always had the control in the relationship with your business -- that's pretty much how supply and demand works.
What's changed is that now individual customers can have a bigger impact on your bottom line because of new technological advances. One rogue tweet could instigate a crisis or skyrocket your company into wild success. Access to information has enabled in-depth pre-sale research that your sales team has no control over.
Though more individuals will impact your business now, customer control in your business isn't really a new trend sweeping the world of marketing.
3) Social media will be all about engagement.
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but engagement isn't the only thing that works on social media. You've got to switch up your tactics if you hope to grow your following and drive traffic back to your website -- not to mention justify your time to your boss.
While engagement certainly can indicate success in all three areas, focusing all of your time and effort on it won't make your metrics move. So make sure you're finding a balance between broadcasting messages, generating leads, and actually engaging with your social media followers.
4) SEO will die.
Hearing predictions like this makes me sad. Just because Google encrypted keywords and changed its algorithm to focus on topics and not specific keywords doesn't mean that optimizing for search is going to become a forgotten pastime.
People will still use search engines to actively find answers to their questions. And because marketers will want people to find them and their businesses, they're still going to need to create marketing that's easy to find through search engines -- in other words, search engine-optimized content.
Really, this trend is just one that people postulate because it brings in the pageviews -- so feel free to ignore it for now. Until people stop wanting to actively discover new things, search engines are going to be around -- and don't forget that social media is included in that search discovery, too.
5) More marketers will focus on visual content creation.
People have always loved visual content -- heck, it's even hard-wired into our brain to process it faster than written information when it pops up on our computer screen. It's been important since before the beginning of the internet. It was important last year and this year. Thus, I'm gonna guess it will be next year, as well. But this isn't some revolutionary prediction -- it's something that's been growing for years.
If you're struggling to create or source visual content creation for your brand, check out these 55 free templates and these 10 free tools to help make it a painless process for those without access to professional designers.
6) Marketing departments will become publishing departments.
While we all aim to become prolific content creators for our marketing departments, I'd venture a guess that there's a big gap between a marketing department and a publishing department -- and that gap is definitely not going to close in the next year. It all boils down to resources: Most companies don't have huge content teams or budgets to behave like a publishing department.
According to the State of Inbound Marketing report, only 10% of companies have a dedicated content marketer and 9% have either a full-time SEO expert or blog lead. On top of that, over 80% of companies have fewer than six people on their inbound marketing team.
When teams are small and members are juggling other roles in addition to creating content, there's a slim chance that marketing departments everywhere will start to transform into publishing departments, though they may adopt more of a publishing mindset than in years past.
7) CMOs will finally buy into social.
Most CMOs have already bought into social media: 90% of business executives say that social media tools are important for brand awareness and company reputation.
So the real problem isn't buying into social media -- CMOs really just want to make sure their company is spending its time in the right places so they can maximize the ROI of social media.
If you have closed-loop analytics, which is basically marketing software that'll track people's progress throughout your entire marketing funnel from the first tweet they click on to the last page they looked at prior to contacting sales, it's really easy to measure social media ROI. If you don't, you might have to do some hacking and advanced Excel reporting, but the desired goal will be the same: to prove to your CMO that you're spending the right time in the right places on social media.
To be completely honest, none of us can predict the future. Who knows? Maybe all of these predictions we hate hearing will actually come true and I'll eat my words. Just be sure to take any prediction with a grain of salt and keep an eye on your own marketing analytics -- they'll be more reliable than a crystal ball.
What other marketing predictions do you hate hearing? Share your least favorite with us in the comments!