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    As 2014 comes to an end, we need to start thinking about the state of digital marketing as we head into the new year. Sure, there’s a lot of buzz about the exciting stuff that surfaced in 2014 like  Snapcash, Apple Pay, or Facebook Dark Posts, but 2015 will be a time to re-think your foundational marketing pillars such as research & strategy, e-mail marketing, video production, and SEO.

    Research & Strategy

    First and foremost, understand that persona and audience research will lead the future in digital marketing for most companies. It’s no longer a game of attracting the biggest audience, but rather targeting the most relevant audience.

    Because of this, content strategy will play a bigger role than ever. In 2014, businesses really starting seeing the benefit of great, well thought-out user experiences. In 2015, they’ll continue doing all they can to simplify and give their unique audience exactly what they prefer.

    Audience and persona research won’t just influence design and the user experience though. It will be the catalyst for change on all other digital marketing channels as well, even when taking into account resurgence in nearly extinct practices like SEO and e-mail marketing.

    Email Marketing

    I’m not referring to newsletters or company updates; those will still be boring.

    With the increase in hyper-targeted content and persona awareness, people once again want to receive e-mail alerts from their latest favorite podcast, new music from their favorite artists, and content curation from niche industry leaders they respect.

    The days of mass e-mail marketing are over; it’s a hyper-targeted game where you’ll need to earn your list. A small list of true fans will always be more valuable than a massive list of fickle readers. I highly recommend Kevin Kelly’s short paper,  1,000 True Fans. Kelly is the co-founder of Wired magazine and an all-around interesting guy. To get to know him better, listen to this  3-part interview with him by Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Workweek.

    Video Promotion

    As the revolt against cable companies continues, more people will use Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services. This will push more radio and TV ad dollars toward podcast and online video advertising.

    As for video and Google, video thumbnail results will eventually make their way back into web search results, but I have a feeling it will still give preference to YouTube over other platforms. It’s not all bad though; YouTube is already the second largest search engine and reaches more 18- to 36-year-olds than any single cable TV network.

    Today, video marketing is cluttered with talking heads who fail to excite or give their viewers a reason to come back. In 2015, those who put in the effort to stand out from the crowd will offer drastically improved video and audio production quality. Business-to-Business (B2B) viewership and online television options will be the place everyone goes for both entertainment AND education.

    SEO

    Keyword targeting will become a thing of the past. Topic modeling, semantic distance, and TF-IDF will direct how we attract the most organic search traffic. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read this and this to catch up.

    We still won’t have great keyword information in 2015, but it won’t matter. Using the above practices will assure each web page is laser-focused on one specific topic that covers both long- and short-tail phrases. It’s taken some time, but companies will finally stress less about broad-match keyword position and more about the quality of leads they’re getting from the long-tail.

    Additionally, analytics data and customizable dashboards have put the traditional traffic data of the past on steroids, allowing us to clearly define user behavior, content preferences, and design preferences.

    The biggest keys to making search-marketing work in 2015 are content creation and distribution. In order to stand out, businesses need to become mini digital publishing companies and drastically step up their output. Quality is key, but quantity will be just as crucial going forward.

    Another rule-of-thumb that will be mandatory is to spend as much time promoting (i.e., distributing) your content as you do creating it.

    The biggest challenge with this is learning whether such a time-intensive investment is worth the payoff for your business. For many businesses, the answer is no, steering them toward lean or guerilla marketing methods, which will likely be more creative than anything we’ve seen before. Can’t wait!

    Share Your Predictions with Us

    There’s a lot more to discuss around digital marketing in 2015, especially with mobile and social media marketing. What’s the best bootstrap marketing approach? Will Google+ finally go away? What will Yahoo do with Tumblr? Leave us a comment with your predictions below.