30 cutting-edge digital marketing tools and techniques to help grow your business
It’s my favourite time of blogging year, where we look ahead to what will be the major trends in digital marketing in the year ahead. I find there’s a real thirst for knowledge amongst marketers about the latest trends in digital marketing and Ienjoy reviewing the latest marketing techniques and technologies. For the past few years I have given my recommendations on the trends as I see them, based on reviewing innovation in marketing technology through the year, plus crowdsourcing what Smart Insights readers see as important for them.
Update for 2016 Digital Marketing Trends
Well, that's us nearly into 2016, so we have a new series of updates looking at the latest 2016 Digital Marketing Trends and we have been adding to our coverage of the latest trends:
What are the most important online marketing trends for marketers?
In deciding on the most relevant trends for marketers I don’t just look at what’s “Hot” or “Cool”, but instead I focus on what make the biggest difference to marketers, from a commercial sense, since most of us are working in marketing to get better results for our companies or our clients. Here are the digital marketing trends we identified last year. This year we again asked readers to take a poll where we asked...
Which single digital marketing technique do you think will make the biggest commercial impact for you in 2015?
So, what were the results of the poll? Interesting! Content marketing topped the poll for the third-year running and in fact was even further ahead compared to previous years since mobile marketing and social media marketing have declined in importance as marketers have implemented these changes. It's close for second, third and fourth position. It's significant that 'Big Data' is still in second position although the hype has receded. I think this shows the potential for companies to implement more data-driven marketing techniques in 2015, which will likely be closely related to marketing automation which is in third place.
In the later parts of this post I review different types of analytics and reporting tools - perhaps not 'Big Data', but certainly to support data-driven marketing in 2015.
Many thanks if you have voted, read or shared this post. I will update it at the start of October with the results of the poll and more commentary.
Trends in Digital Marketing Tools and Technology
In my discussion of trends in previous years I have explored innovation and trends in the use of digital marketing techniques at a top level, like content marketing, search, email and web development. But if I’m honest, the leading techniques don’t change that much. There is a problem of describing the “usual suspects.” So this year, when I’m presenting trends I have been taking a look at tools and services to help digital marketing.
These data-driven tools are again all focused on those that can potentially make the biggest difference. They cover a wide range from analytics tools to retail ecommerce, but the first few tools relate to content marketing since this is where I’m seeing the most useful and interesting collection of tools.
I have a full Slideshare deck featuring these tools at the end of this post.
10 key digital marketing technologies to use in 2015
Many of the trends in digital marketing involve marketers applying new services, platforms and software to plan, manage and optimise their marketing, so in this part of the post I take a look at the technologies that I think will fuel digital marketing in 2014. I recently presented these at the Smart Insights Digital Impact marketing conference and at a talk at the Brighton Digital Marketing Festival. These tools include:
#1: Content Curation Tools
With micro and visual content giving the highest impact, tools to manage the creation and publication of this content from different sources become important to fuel the content marketing machine.
#2: Content Recommendation, Personalisation, Retargeting and Effectiveness Review Tools
Even if you have won the battle to create outstanding content, site managers still have the challenge of connecting audiences with the most relevant content. Dynamic recommendations of the most relevant content for a visitor can assist here.
Site personalisation technologies have been used for a long time for targeting products and offers to visitors to customer sites, but these have not been used so widely outside the Ecommerce setting. New tools make this possible.
Here content distribution means organic and paid sharing via social networks. The tools featured here focus on organic distribution
There are surprisingly few tools to help advertise or remarket across social media. AdRoll is one of the best known featuring remarking via Facebook, Twitter, plus mobile and media sites. Do you have other recommendations in this area?
#4: : Integrated SEO, Content and Social Media Management?
There is a question mark here since this is an, as yet unachievable goal. The tools I recommend here originated as SEO told for reviewing keywords and back links, but are now expanding into social media and content management. They’re also featuring more management tools and workflow for multiple people in a tool. Analytics SEO is a leader in this area.
#5: API service integration and Hubs
APIs are integrations between different platforms. They are a key consideration in any type of tool you purchase here. No examples of tools in this section, rather efforts made by platform vendors to integrate other services to add value to their own tools. CRM services are particularly strong at this as are analytics tools such Adobe Analytics (formerly in Omniture).
#6: User Engagement and value optimisation
Most businesses use a web analytics services to track visitors to their site, with Google Analytics most popular as a free, but very powerful service. While they can tell businesses the number of users, their source and their journeys through the site, their limitation is that most data is shown in aggregate for different segments. They’re not designed for understanding individual user behaviour, repeat behaviour by groups of customers (e.g. cohort, RFM and lifetime value analysis) or behaviour across devices (although Google’s latest Universal analytics makes progress in this area). These tools, which have been available for several years now offer a user-based, value-based focus which Google has been applying.
Mixpanel (Mobile focus plus web)
Chartbeat (Publisher focus)
#7: Actionable Analytics and intelligent analytics
Google Analytics and the other analytics services mentioned under #6 have another limitation. They require a good deal of experience to know HOW to apply the data they present. Users have to know the right questions to ask, how to customise the tool for their business, e.g. to show goals, find the right reports and then interpret highly complex multidimensional reports. Only skilled analysts can really mine actionable insight. Tools that present data more clearly to novice and management users and integrate action can help here. Google hasn’t evolved its Intelligence service, but new tools are becoming available including a new dashboard and recommendations service that will launch from Smart Insights.
Google Analytics Intelligence and Alerts
#8: From Conversion Optimization to Experience Optimization
We are long-time advocates of structured AB and multivariate testing at Smart Insights. But these tools tend to focus on single pages in the journey rather than overall customer journeys, but they have increased hugely in their ease of setup and use recently. Tools that support analysis across customer journeys and channels are evolving:
Most popular AB testing tools
* Visual Website Optimizer
Customer Journey Tools
Content management systems are now improving in their facilities to personalise and test.
* Adobe Customer Experience Manager
#9: Digital Channel Sales Optimisation
Ecommerce management platforms tend to focus on the serious business of getting merchandising right across home, category and product pages as described in our Ecommerce Design Bible. Clavis Insights is a relatively new, but expensive tool that presents commercial insights to retailers and brands so their can optimise their merchandising.
#10: Wearables, Augmented and Virtual reality
Finally we come to what’s cool and Hot in technology. I’ve kept this ’til last since I suspect it will make the smallest commercial difference to most companies. All of these are due to be launched in 2015, so watching the popularity of mainstream adoption and marketing applications of their apps should be fascinating!
I hope you find it useful to check out these tools, do add via the comments any other categories of digital marketing tools or examples of tools which you see as important for your business or your clients in 2015 and I’ll update the post to include them.
By Dave Chaffey
Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights.
Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.
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