With 2014 finally closed, it is time to look towards the new year for digital marketing trends and developments that will shape online sales across many different businesses and verticals. While it can be easy for a business to simply stick with what has worked in the past, online marketing is a constantly changing marketplace—one that demands constant innovation and evolution to keep attracting new customers. Here are five digital marketing tactics to seriously consider adding to your strategy to increase sales and brand recognition in 2015:
1. Go Responsive
For the last few years, people have discussed the importance of a mobile-optimized digital presence. While many businesses took note, a lot of them still thought of it as an added bonus for a website instead of an absolute necessity. As the number of mobile users continues to grow, your business needs to stop thinking about how cool it might look to have a responsive website and realize that very soon a majority of users will be on mobile devices and need to have an experience that is tailored for their specific device. Getting ahead of the curve with mobile by building out a responsive or adaptive website should be a top resolution for your business in the New Year.
2. Update Guest Posting Practices
When Google changed its SEO guidelines during 2014 to include "guest posting," many industry experts suggested that it might be the end of guest blogging as a whole. This turned out to be not quite true. While the practice has fundamentally changed to become something that should be done with exposure in major publications in mind, as opposed to just a way to build links, it is still an extremely powerful SEO tactic when done correctly. If you were thinking about cutting out guest posting entirely from your brand's digital marketing strategy, you should seriously rethink. Instead of cutting it out entirely, make a point of creating well-written, thorough guest posts that are featured in industry—relevant authoritative sources instead—the SEO value is still good, but more importantly it will help generate brand recognition and referral traffic as well.
3. Take Website Speed Seriously
As more multimedia becomes common on websites, and SEO best-practices continue to change, an easy element to optimize in your digital marketing strategy is the speed of your website. As mobile continues to garner large audiences, website speed needs to be a serious focus in order to make sure users can interact with your website and make purchases without having to work hard to do so. A great first step to taking website speed seriously is to run your images through image optimization software. Cutting down file sizes is one of the main issues plaguing websites across all industries, and you'd be surprised by the results you might get from image optimization. Faster speeds generally lead to more website conversions, and there are few ways that are more straightforward that can make your website perform better.
4. Add Schema Mark-Up
Getting the most out of your organic search rankings is a must for all online businesses. For most business owners, this means one thing: ranking in the number one position for a specific keyword. However, in a search marketplace that has become absolutely inundated with content, this can be easier said than done. A great way to remedy this problem is to make sure that, if you're not going to have a top spot in an organic search ranking, people click on your search result instead of ones higher up the page. The best way to do this is through schema mark-up. By adding this to things on your website like videos, recipes, prices, dates and more, you can add snippets of these elements directly to your website's search engine results and make them more appealing to click on than other search results that might be above them. As an added bonus, recent studies have shown that websites with schema mark-up tend to rank four spots higher in search results—so adding schema could also move you into the coveted No. 1 spot for a keyword. If you don't have schema on your website, it should be an addition in 2015.
5. Allocate More Resources to Content Marketing
Throughout 2014, the focus on content marketing was almost obsessive. While most businesses now understand that they need to take content marketing seriously, many are still struggling to do it correctly. If your business has a blog and is putting out 250-word blog posts about your services twice a week, you need to seriously rethink your content marketing and invest the resources to take it more seriously. In order to really get ahead with content marketing in 2015, you need to stop producing short, uninspired content, and start treating each piece of content that you put out as a stand-alone representation of your business. Add advice that is unique to your business or publish studies that only you have the data to create. Making something that is unique and really groundbreaking can be the difference between a piece of content no one sees and one that actually generates sales for your business.
Make New Year's Resolutions for Your Digital Marketing Practices
While there are many other things that will evolve in the world of digital marketing in 2015, what remains consistent across all channels is a need to constantly update and refine your strategies. While adding or making changes to adhere to the five tactics we've laid out above is a good start, there might be other, still unidentified, digital challenges to your business that will become clear in the coming year.
If there is one thing you should take away from this article, it is that you need to do a full audit of your existing digital marketing strategies and identify what needs an overhaul. The New Year is the best time to take a step back and really understand where you need to focus in 2015, take advantage of it and address potential problem areas before they affect your bottom line.