As the end of 2014 is fast approaching, we asked the Mackman team what marketing trends we can expect to see in 2015.

It’s all about people – Paul Mackman, Managing Director

People are, and have always been, at the heart of marketing. After all it is the business function responsible for identifying and satisfying the needs of customers (in a profitable way). Marketing doesn’t really change any more than humanity changes. Where we do see change in our environment and technology is clearly a significant driver of much change.

“For the year ahead I urge marketers to remember that underlying principles of marketing remain the same. Use objective setting and planning to focus your tactical marketing activity and spend. Make the most of your existing data and look for measurement opportunities to assess effectiveness and calculate return on investment.” Paul said.

“Too often it can be tempting to seek a single solution that will be the answer to marketing success. But it rarely works that way, so a blended approach with consistent messaging across multiple channels is the way to go, and with so much emphasis upon digital marketing it is important to remember that it is just another channel. Engaging with people is still a central principle of marketing and will be very much a focus at Mackman for 2015.”

Value of data and measuring satisfaction – Amanda Ansell, Senior Researcher

The amount of data available to organisations these days is challenging and exciting. This data is valuable stuff and will become the key to understanding your customer bases, competition and successful business outcomes. 2015 will bring a further increase in the volume and detail of information available to companies through their online presence and a continued rise in customer interaction through online platforms.

“Research from the Institute of Customer Service has shown that customer satisfaction has continued to decline over the last year, but there have been some organisations who have managed to resist this drop. So what are the secrets to this success?” asks Amanda. “These organisations have demonstrated a constant relationship between high levels of customer satisfaction and trust, loyalty and likelihood to remain a customer. In 2015, it is recommended that companies continue to build sustainable relationships with their customers; suppliers and employees to ensure business growth, using levels of customer service as a predictor of future performance.”

Both the Institute of Customer Service and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research have highlighted the importance of employee satisfaction and the role of employee engagement in influencing performance. Regular staff feedback is vital and employers are advised to invest in the well-being of their employees on the basis of the likely performance benefits.

2015 will be about personalisation – Hannah Marshallsay, Client Lead

Many companies have now got to grips with using customer data to make their marketing messages more relevant. Segmenting customers into groups based on similar customer profiles and web personas is now a common exercise in the marketing place. Next year will see relevancy taken to a more personal level, where messages are tailored to individuals rather than groups.

Hannah said, “Data from social media and mobile usage is giving marketers insight into the behaviour of individuals. With tools that use cookies and algorithms, we can run automated and more personalised campaigns.”

Not only that, but there is the expectation from consumers that where something can be personalised, it will be. Whether it’s the homepage of a website a consumer regularly uses, or through the use of notifications or emails, it is now expected that marketers will get the message and the offer right.

“Those companies that are sitting on a wealth of customer data, and haven’t yet started using it to their advantage, are in danger of being left completely behind.”

Organic reach on Facebook becomes a distant memory – Sarah Nagra, Client Lead

“Facebook has spent a large portion of 2014 convincing customers and commentators alike that organic reach isn’t dying, but unfortunately the signs seem to be showing a different story”, said Sarah.

Organic reach on Facebook refers to how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting content your page. There is unfortunately a misconception that if you have 100 likes on your Facebook page, content on you share will come up on all 100 of those people’s news feeds. However, research conducted by PR firm Ogilvy (March, 2014) showed that potentially, only 6% of fans will see these posts. Facebook executive Brian Boland has also gone on record to say that most Facebook users could see up to 1,500 pieces of content when they login, but in reality will see around 300 based on their algorithm of the “most relevant content.”

“What’s also adding to this is the fact marketers today are under huge pressure to provide proof of a good return on investment, particularly in the social sphere.”

To do this, we can pay social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to promote content and advertisements, in return for metrics that show if a campaign has been successful in increasing likes, views or referrals and really show if it was worth the spend.”

It isn’t all doom and gloom, Facebook’s advertising options are varied and can be low cost and effective. As well as allowing you to extend your reach beyond your current fan base to others with similar likes, behaviours or geography. However, as 2014 comes to a close, it might be time to say goodbye to organic reach on Facebook. Watch this space.

Quality and durable design for 2015 – Bruce Burgoyne, Head of Creative

The true changes for design in 2015 will be in the way consumers respond to design. During a tough few financial years for many businesses, design has previously been focused around resourcefulness and cutting back on marketing spend. For 2015, recent predictions suggest consumer spending will be at its highest for seven years, and although we all love a bargain, the design of even basic ranges are starting to mirror higher end products.

“Our forecast for 2015 is all about quality and durability. Whether creating a brand or packaging a new product, the consumer needs to feel they have bought into something that will last. Design will not just be for tomorrow but for the future of the business or product.” said Bruce.

Raising the bar for what great content looks like – Natasha Clarke, Communications Manager

“It certainly feels like more organisations have been making noise about the importance of content this year, but appear to have adopted a ‘more is more’ attitude when it comes to getting their content out there. However, this increase in output hasn’t necessarily positively impacted the bottom line for a number of people. And that’s because what’s being produced is simply not good enough.” Natasha said.

The increased emphasis on the production and delivery of content this year has affirmed one of the key developments for 2015 for our Head of Communications. “It’s not about message volume…it’s about message quality and its smart, considered delivery,” Natasha explains.

“Customer profiling enables us to design meaningful messages that can be delivered in an integrated and measurable way. Producing more content isn’t the answer for 2015. Organisations need to understand that it is the strategic creation and distribution of great content that will make a difference in a competitive market place. As technology and our ability to personalise become more sophisticated, the standard of the message we distribute will have to keep pace. Otherwise, it won’t matter how you segment your customers, or integrate your channels – because if your core content isn’t of the highest possible calibre, it won’t have the results we want to see.”

Take a look at our content writing guide for ideas on how to make your content stand out and improve the quality.

Is it the year for mainstream acceptance of wearable technology? – James Royce, Head of Technical

“I was going to talk about the ‘internet of things’, but that’s more a gradual evolution rather than a revolution and whilst we will see movement in this direction in 2015, I don’t think it’s going to be a game changer (yet).” said James.

Our technical team think that it will be the release of the Apple Watch that shakes things up.

Why? We know that so called smart watches are not new by any means. James said, “I owned several now classic Casio DataBank watches back in the 80s to which it would not be unreasonable to label ‘smart’, and there are already a multitude of Android based devices available.”

However, historically, it was only after Apple came to market with the iPhone, and later the iPad, did the smartphone and subsequently the tablet become the mainstream ‘must-haves’ they are today. “Whilst 2015 won’t see a smart watch on everyone’s wrist, it will herald the start of mainstream acceptance of these devices. Not having to rummage around for your phone to check your email or even just the time will further increase the immediacy and availability of information.”

We already have the answer to almost any question you could think of just seconds away via our smartphones but to have this ‘beamed’ to a device which we are wearing will open up whole new avenues. We are very used to smartphone apps which carry advertising so we shouldn’t be surprised when their smartwatch counterparts start to do the same.

“How long then before these adverts begin (with your permission first I’m sure) to be context aware and to further personalise their offering to you and your surroundings?”

“We will in many cases willingly accept this minor intrusion because, in return, we’re getting something we think is pretty cool, for free. Will we mind, or even consciously notice, if we glance at our watch to find that the time and date have been wrapped in an advert placed on your device by the shop you’ve just been to? Only time, ironically, will tell.”

Our hopes for the New Year

One thing is for sure, 2015 will undoubtedly bring new marketing challenges. It is how businesses deal with these changes, accepting them and applying them where appropriate to the marketing for their own customers which will determine their success.

Trends are important, and it’s essential to identify where our audience is going. However, it’s also important not to just jump on the band wagon. It’s not about trying to appeal to the whole modern audience, but to communicate effectively with your specific customer and what they need.

Come on then 2015, let’s see what you’ve got.