2014 Review of Communications Trends

Posted Dec 25th, 2014 in Social Media, Digital Marketing

2014 Year in ReviewIt's hard to believe 2014 has come and gone.  Looking back to review this past year in the world of communications, it seems to have been a whirlwind of change.  And yet, in the midst of it all, there are some constants that we can be sure will continue into 2015 and years to come.

Communications Trends and Tips  for 2015

Technology is driving change in the way we communicate, and it is changing at a rapid rate. Can we keep up with all the changes? What technology is worth adopting? The cost to implement can be high, but the risk to not implement new ways of communicating can be costly as well.

The question we must always ask, is “Why?”: why this (technology), why now. The reasons businesses want to communicate will never change. They want to get the right message, to the right people, at the right time. They want to promote their products and services, but also build relationships with the people that make a difference to the success of their organization. People want honesty, transparency, and respect. They want the opportunity to get all the information they need to make a decision. They want a chance to speak up, and someone to take the time to listen, respond and address their needs. These basic needs in a relationship, no matter what target audience you have.

These are the basic needs of all people, and this will never change. These fundamental needs are the building blocks of all communications best practices. Your business will evolve and the landscape of our economic environment changes. New technologies are being introduced faster than people can learn how to use them. Set goals, measure, and have frequent milestone review sessions. Put systems and processes in place to be able to redirect your strategy when necessary.

When you are considering a new tactic or technology, always ask, "Why?". Why should you consider redesigning your website, introduce a new social media management tool, building a mobile app, designing a new print brochure, expanding your pay-per-click (PPC) budget, etc.....?

Here are a few trends and tips to help you answer the "Why" behind some of the marketing and communications initiatives that you may be considering for 2015.

1. Stay Agile

Speed of doing business will continue to increase. Companies will need to respond and adjust their strategies more frequently. Agility will be key to success in 2015.

Measure with a Purpose
We have more information available to us now than ever before. Big Data has been and will continue to be, a trending topic of conversation in 2015. We have only scratched the surface on understanding the full impact all this information has on our society, and how best to use it to build our business. Information helps us make decisions, but too much information can be overwhelming. How to you access this information? What information do you need? What statistics should you collect? What does this information mean? Before you establish what data to collect, ask why you are collecting it. Target the metrics that are relevant to the goals you have set. Then look for the right tools to collect this information. Review this information at each milestone meeting and track it over time. Don't get caught up in the individual metrics, but watch trends and use that information to adjust and refine your communications strategy.

2. Digital is on the Rise; Traditional is on the Decline

Communications strategies need to be 'Integrated'. What that means, is both digital and traditional forms of communication (materials & methods) should be considered. Criteria should include, but not limited to, target audience preferences, current assets available, resources available (time & money), and how well you can cross-promote across various platforms for the greatest impact. How do your target audiences prefer to communicate?  More people are reaching for their mobile devices, their tablets, and their computers first for information. They are going online to purchase, and many are starting to reach out online for customer service. Traditional methods of communication, such as magazines, newspapers, television, and radio will need to adapt to justify their place in future communications budgets. The future is in 'integration' to promote interaction. Signs of this have already started. Television newscasters promote their Twitter handle so they can interact directly with their audiences. Live Twitter conversations show across the bottom of the television screen, bringing social media conversations together with real-time TV shows. Magazines are offering online subscriptions with embedded videos. Flipboard lets their readers read articles from their favourite newspapers and share with others on Social Media. Print brochures have their website address to direct their readers to view more information about their company online. QR codes on print advertising let the reader scan and be directed to online information.

3. Mobile is a Must

New mobile devices and an increase in their capabilities, are an upward trend that we saw this past year, and will continue to rise in 2015. What has been particular notable, is the innovative way that companies are now interact  with their customers. From easy search, click & call right on your mobile phone, to streamlining the path to purchase, to fun-gaming-incentive programs to keep customers coming back, mobile is on the rise. A recent study found that half of consumers who conducted local searches via smartphone visited the store within a day, and 18 percent of local queries on smartphones led to a purchase. How much do you need to consider mobile for your 2015 budget? Depending on your audience and business, but at the very least your website should be mobile-friendly.

4. Social Media & Content Marketing

2014 has come and gone, if you are you are still asking yourself whether you should have a social media strategy, consider yourself left behind. Moving forward to 2015 the question to ask is what social media will look like for your business. There are so many platforms available, how do you choose? Social media is still primarily used for marketing, but some companies have adopted it across other business units into HR, Customer Service, and Public Relations.  As companies start to expand their use of social media and spend more time building content, no matter how big your organization, there is more of a need now than ever before to have a plan. You need to have a plan to ensure you are targeting the right audience and managing your time wisely to get the best return on your investment.  Always make sure it is part of your overall communications strategy, and not an after-thought. Content is still king.  

Social Media is the accelerant; content is the fuel.
Build your digital content wisely. There is no excuse to know what works and doesn't work with all the available metrics (hard metrics) now available to social media managers.  However, it is still difficult to tie the ROI of sales directly to social media efforts.  But, Executives need to look at the big picture of the importance of Social Media and Content Marketing.  Consider your goals and build content to support various stages of your sales cycle. Add it to your website, and then share it across various social media platforms. Content marketing is not new, but as companies continue to build their online portfolio and develop their social media strategies, content marketing will become more sophisticated and get better results.

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