Want to jump ahead and read the 2016 version of our ecommerce marketing trends roundup? Click here!
We’re all about festive cheer here at How to Win at Ecommerce, and to get into the Yuletide spirit we thought we’d give you an early Christmas present.
Nope, it’s not a garish technicolour Christmas jumper or a 6ft Monty the penguin replica, what we’ve got you is far better: we’re offering you a glimpse into the future.
While everyone else is getting caught up in the Christmas rush, smart ecommerce marketers will be getting one step ahead of the curve, planning for the year ahead. But what will be the big ecommerce trends in 2015? What represents the biggest opportunity for marketers to give their brand a competitive edge?
We asked 19 renowned experts from various walks of ecommerce life to tender their predictions for the year to come (spoiler alert: content marketing and data-driven customer communication still rule the roost, but some of these predictions that may surprise you).
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Ecommerce Trends 2015: Transcript
Pia Stanchina - Industry Manager, Fashion at Google
“If you think back a decade, you used to be either online – via a dial-up modem at a stationary desktop computer or you were offline. Today, consumers have a super computer in their pocket that allows them to do almost anything they might want to, when they want to and where they want to.
We forecast that 50% of UK retail-related queries will come from smartphones this Christmas, which is testament to the transition from the desktop era to the mobile era. Yet, it’s hard to attribute value to mobile the way we used to be able to with desktop as it plays a much more diverse and complex role in the customer path to purchase. So while this may sound like old news, the truth is that many retailers still under-index when it comes to adapting to the shift in consumer behaviour and I hope that 2015 is going to be the year when we see a lot of movement in this space with marketers taking a leap of faith and optimising the experience they offer the new connected consumer.”
Sam Mallikarjunan - Head of Marketing, Hubspot
“I'd love to say that the big opportunities are cutting edge tactics like personalisation, segmentation, and customer-centric business model innovation. However, most ecommerce marketers are still missing the boat with tactics as fundamental as closed-loop analytics and abandoned cart nurturing. Tactics that are simple to implement and that can have a disproportionate impact on revenue. Ecommerce has fallen behind the curve on innovation because innovation hasn't been necessary to its survival. Ecommerce as a whole has grown roughly 20% YOY for the last 10 years just because selling stuff online is itself a good idea -- and many ecommerce businesses are riding that wave right off a cliff (our 2014 State of Ecommerce study has data on this).”
James Gurd - Owner, Digital Juggler
“Paid social will take a greater share of budget for two key reasons. Firstly, the targeting options for look-alike audiences have improved, especially on Facebook, making it relatively simple to promote content to people who share similar profiles and/or interests to your target audience; for example promoting ads via Facebook to people who like complementary brand pages. Secondly, it's relatively low cost and very quick to set up. With a budget of £100 you can run a trial Twitter paid campaign for promoted tweets or accounts. By adding tracking parameters to URLs in the ads you can measure the impact both from an engagement point of view (impressions, interactions) and from a traffic point of view (visits, engagement, goals, conversion etc.).
The quick time to market makes it ideal for tactical campaigns, such as new product launches and events. You can spin up a campaign in a matter of minutes if you're organised and use the data to optimise ads on a daily basis. It's a great way to use micro budgets, taking small amounts of money to rapidly test marketing approaches and learn what works and this complements strategic marketing plans nicely.”
Drew Sanocki - Ecommerce consultant, drewsanocki.com
“I think the biggest thing is segmentation and targeting. I'm consistently surprised at the number (and size) of retailers that I work with that aren't implementing even a basic level of segmentation and target to 1) identify their best customers and 2) treat them well. Retailers that get this are able to experience truly epic growth and competitive differentiation.”
Mike Baxter - Ecommerce consultant
“2015 is going to be the year for mobile payments going mainstream - driven by digital wallets (e.g. Apple Pay) and payment enabling technologies (e.g. card scanning such as www.card.io).”
Eric Bandholz - Founder, BeardBrand
“I think that content marketing is the biggest opportunity as well as the biggest challenge for most ecommerce companies. It's very time consuming and challenging to create good quality content that gets regular eyeballs; but it also builds very loyal customers. We are pushing hard with urbanbeardsman.com and it's definitely a big hurdle.”
Alicia Navarro - CEO, Skimlinks
“I'm excited about Apple Pay and the future of payments on mobile devices. The easier it will be to transact on mobile (and to track sales accurately) the more the advertising and affiliate markets will expand, which benefits publishers, advertisers and ultimately users.”
Gabrielle Hase - Managing director, Soleberry
“The biggest opportunity for ecommerce marketers in 2015 is to create a lean, mean marketing machine. Marketers need to take a long, honest look at what is working and what isn't, and divest themselves of affiliates who aren't performing, email creative that no longer moves the needle, and SEO optimisation efforts that aren't delivering any noticeable returns.
Once they've gotten rid of the deadwood, they should partner with any number of interesting retail marketing startups to trial some new ways of getting incremental gains out of their marketing spend. Engaging on a trial basis is a win-win for everyone and can inject new thinking and insights into a marketing program that might be getting a little long in the tooth…”
Ashleigh Tennent - Marketing and Customer Experience Director, Wool and the Gang
“Opportunity lies in storytelling, not by the brand, but by its community. People will buy from people, brands will merely be there to help build the story and act as a facilitator. Smart brands will get their customers to create incredible content - that's far more believable and real. Over time you'll find that the content that converts at the highest rate will be created from within your own community.”
Danny Richman - Founder, Richman SEO Training
“In 2014, Google finally won the war against artificial manipulation of their search results. As organic search visitors are 5 times more likely to purchase than a social media visitor, the brands that invested in legitimate SEO are now reaping the rewards. In 2015, the biggest opportunities will go to those with the most SEO knowledge and creativity, not just those with the deepest pockets.”
Ira Wichmann - Ecommerce and product development, Swoon Editions
“It has to be having a single customer view. First understanding the source the customer originally came from vs. the source that drove purchase and what behaviour looked like between the two to optimise the acquisition budget. Then collating post-purchase behaviour from multiple channels into a single destination to optimise CRM activities and lifetime value. Getting this right ends up increasing efficiency AND improving customer experience. Not bad.”
Anant Sharma - CEO, Matter of Form
“The biggest shift over 2015 will be in how marketers communicate with their audience. The implication of increased transparency at a macro level means business can no longer hide behind brand. Marketing, PR and advertising will converge within a single narrative. Storytelling will continue to be key, and represents an opportunity for smaller brands.
At a broad level brands must continue to adapt messaging based on channel, and at a sales level on their personal relationship with their consumer. Most of all, brands must work to define how Insights will be used not only to help sell to consumers, but also to inform their own product development strategy."
Jamie Merrick - Digital commerce strategy, Demandware
“The biggest opportunities for ecommerce marketers in 2015 are: 1) The better use of data. Understanding and processing data into actions that are realistic to accomplish and will provide a relatively immediate impact to top and bottom lines is key and 2) International markets. Accessing new markets in relevant ways is not new but actually doing it at scale will likely provide significant returns.”
Liam Patterson - Founder, topLAD
“I'm excited by the intersection of content and commerce: never before have we been able to target so precisely a customer audience as through social. If the messaging is right, the customers will instantly become brand ambassadors, sharing with friends. A well-managed campaign can generate high volume of interactions at low cost and at a great ROI. Social is, in my opinion, the most undervalued channel in ecommerce.”
Dan Barker - E-business consultant
“There are too many opportunities for retailers to really pick one, but if I was going to pick three I'd say:
1. Process. A deeply boring answer, but having simple, light processes to optimise things can reap massive rewards. From regularly paying attention to stock levels and reacting through to competitor monitoring through to responding to feedback.
2. Tying things together. For example social media is important, content is important, conversion is important, but making the links between those things is equally important: Your social media activity can brings users to your content, that content can support conversion, those conversions can nudge users toward sharing on social media. Looking at the way your different activities can support each other can bring better results for relatively little additional work.
3. Doing things well. Again, it's a boring answer, but a very good blog post can bring 100,000+ visitors to your site; an average post can bring a couple of hundred. The difference in results between ticking the box and maximising can be astronomical.
And, of course, get all three of the above right and you're building a nice foundation to ongoing better results.”
Elisabeth Ling - Digital marketing & product management consultant
“This year’s winners will stand out thanks to a complete alignment of all their departments: buying, merchandising, online marketing, fulfilment, customer service,... When all teams coordinate seamlessly, take actions fast, ground their thinking in data, and deliver a consistent customer experience, the competitive advantage is robust and delivers very strong results, sometimes much more rapidly than expected. Ecommerce executives need to relentlessly promote an integrated culture, check that team KPIs are harmoniously aligned, and lead by example with a strong and fully joined-up management team. There is no longer time for internal quarrels when the external competition is so fierce.”
Michel Koch - Ecommerce Director UK and International, Maplin Electronics
“Here are the three top opportunities for ecommerce marketers, in order of importance
- embracing multi-touchpoint analytics and attribution modeling to improve campaign efficiency, by identifying the best performing journeys across channels and devices and the right timing to push the right message to the right customer.
- leveraging mobile in a multichannel environment, providing customers with timely information and services wherever they are (home, stores, on the go).
- leveraging the power of video (product and how to videos) and user generated content (photo and video curations) to differentiate the brand and increase visibility across channels and devices as well as improve conversion.”
Josh Michael - Email marketing manager, Magazines.com
“I would say that the biggest opportunity in 2015 is to add value for your customers beyond what they have purchased. Simply buying items of the web has reached a state of maturity and brands that can differentiate themselves by going above and beyond the transaction will have the upper hand.”
Ivan Mazour - CEO, Ometria
“2014 was the year when the ecommerce marketing manager became data-driven - they set up the tools they needed to get the information they wanted, but then they realised they weren't really sure what they should do with it. 2015 will be the year when that data is no longer scary, no longer incomprehensible. The marketing managers of next year will be able to easily understand, and act, because the software available to them will be smarter, more intuitive, and more automated. Communication strategies will finally be truly data-driven, and truly personalised, created based on the experience of the marketing manager, but automated based on the intelligence built into next-generation marketing platforms.”