Seeing Into 2015: Predictions for Online Marketing

December 31, 2014 Olivia Mitchell

marketing predictions 2015

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it’s 2015 already? I can’t, either. Since this is the first week of the new year, it’s the prime time to predict what 2015 has in store for the marketing industry. Before we break out our tarot cards, let’s take a look back at our 2014 predictions and see how well we did.

Content Marketing

What Did We Predict?

  • Content marketing would be at the forefront of online marketing.
  • Businesses would create content that was visually appealing and easy to understand.

What Really Happened?

  • We were definitely right about the rise of content marketing. Ninety-three percent of B2B companies and 86 percent of B2C organizations actively use content marketing. 
  • We were a bit early on our second prediction. Although they’re excited about content marketing, marketers still find it challenging to produce engaging content. In fact, 94 percent of marketers are making it a top priority to create high-quality content in the coming year.


What Did We Predict?

  • Businesses would create mobile versions of their websites to enable mobile transactions and app purchases.
  • There would be a large increase in geo-targeting and other forms of location-based mobile marketing.

What Really Happened?

  • Given that 91 percent of adults confess that they can’t survive without their phones, you would think our prediction about mobile business sites would be a no-brainer. Not quite. Just over half (55 percent) of businesses have a mobile-optimized website, and only 28 percent of businesses have a mobile app.
  • We certainly saw a location-based mobile marketing this year. Location-based ad spending increased by 90 percent between Q3 of 2013 and Q4 of 2014. Much of this growth came from the automotive, retail, and consumer-packaged goods industries.

Social Media

What Did We Predict?

  • Social media platforms would proliferate and become more targeted.
  • Facebook would become a stronger force in the local search space and make its advertising more effective for businesses.
  • Businesses would devote more of their advertising budgets to paid social advertising than to display ads.

What Really Happened?

  • There were a few social networks that came to be known as “Facebook alternatives” this year. These include Ello, Tsu,, and This. However, the proliferation we expected didn’t quite happen, and even the ones that made headlines didn’t make a dent in Facebook’s user base. This base, by the way, still hovers around 1.4 billion.
  • We nailed this one right on the head. This year, Facebook launched its Local Awareness ads. These hyperlocal ads allow local businesses to target customers living within a certain radius, making it much easier to attract people who live right around the corner. This also means that Facebook users will see ads that are much more relevant to them. Who doesn’t love that?

Google+ Local

What Did We Predict?

  • The slow Google Places/Google+ Local merger will cause frustration for local business owners managing their information.

What Really Happened?

  • Sensing the amount of confusion that came from this merger, Google recently introduced Google My Business as the new conglomerate of Google+ and Google Places. So what does the Google My Business dashboard offer? A comprehensive way for local businesses to update their information, get insights on how users find them, host Hangouts with followers, and more.


What Did We Predict?

  • Apple Maps would continue to improve despite its failed initial launch.
  • Both Groupon and Livingsocial would continue to decline, and one of them would disappear forever.

What Really Happened?

  • Apple Maps is indeed moving in the right direction to distance itself from that disastrous launch. One recent step is its Maps Connect portal. This portal enables small businesses to edit their business information within Apple Maps, as well as update their social media profiles. 
  • While the majority of 2014 wasn’t good for Groupon, it fared far better than expected during the last quarter. Groupon’s sales from Black Friday to Cyber Monday increased by 25 percent from 2013 to 2014. Considering that the official verdict on Black Friday 2014 was an 11 percent decline in sales, Groupon’s numbers are pretty remarkable.
  • Unlike Groupon, Livingsocial struggled to the end of 2014. The year was nothing short of terrible for Livingsocial, which suffered from a customer hack, a site outage, and the release of its CMO over criminal charges. The company posted a $64 million loss in revenue during the third quarter of 2014. In November, the company laid off nearly 400 employees, which constituted one-fifth of its workforce. 

What’s Up for 2015?

Content Marketing
We expect to see that marketers slowly but surely publish the engaging content that they’ve prioritized this year. One way they’ll do this is with more emotion-based content. This will be especially true in the B2B world, where marketing tends to be more rational and fact-based. Sure, B2B consumers are business professionals, but they’re still people. This will be the year when B2B marketers embrace that and create content accordingly.

Another big content trend we predict for 2015 is the rise in original video content. We know that consumers’ media consumption habits are becoming increasingly more digital (think YouTube, Netflix and Hulu), but it will take more than video advertising to capture attention. Companies will foray into creating original content that engages consumers in a whole new way. 

We also expect to see a shift to persona-based marketing, which means creating hyper-relevant content based on the characteristics of the receiver.  This type of marketing is very effective, but it’s also very data-driven, difficult to scale, and dependent on a large amount of varied content.  Only the largest or most nimble organizations will be able to execute it in the short-term, but this also gives automated content syndication providers an opportunity to make a big play.

Mobile device usage will continue to grow in 2015. Thus, we predict that companies will make our 2014 prediction come true and finally create their mobile apps or optimized websites. It’s a bit surprising that businesses have been slow to progress in this area, but they’ll have to do this in order to keep up with the growth in their customers’ mobile activity.

They say the numbers don’t lie, and that’s why we predict that marketers will focus on being more data-driven in 2015. They will allocate more of their budgets to software and marketing partners that help them obtain consumer data more quickly so they can make more informed business decisions.

Social Media
A trend we predict for 2015 is the evolution of social media e-commerce. We’ve seen Facebook and Twitter test out ways to let users buy products right from posts. This is a great way for marketers to directly link social media activity back to sales. Considering the major focus on analytics that we predicted, social media e-commerce will become huge in 2015.

We predict that companies will prioritize personalized consumer experiences much more highly in 2015. According to a report from Wheelhouse Advisors, 74 percent of consumers get upset when websites present content that isn’t relevant to them. Consumers want to know that companies value them, so marketers will spend 2015 making sure that their customers get that personalized experience every single time.

Final Thought
We expect this to be an exciting year for marketing. We see B2B and B2C marketers preparing to focus more on giving consumers the relevant experiences they desire. Personalized marketing can be executed through just about every channel, and we expect that this emphasis will yield great results for companies. They’ll bring greater value to their customers and strengthen relationships for many new years to come.


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2014 has been a great year for marketing. Check out the predictions that came true, which ones did not, and peek into what we think is coming in 2015.

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