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7 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2015

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It is hard to argue that social media has changed the face of digital marketing, or marketing overall for that matter. The transformation is so great that the line between traditional and digital marketing has been blurred and a great many companies are finally accepting the fact that to win in marketing they MUST have a digital strategy and that strategy should probably include using social media.

So, it is no surprise that last year digital marketing accounted for 25% of all marketing dollars spent and that that number is expected to rise to 33% this year. It is possible that in just a few years digital marketing costs will be THE major expense item for most companies. Where is that money going? A good chunk of it is going to paid advertising on major social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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source: imgur.com

As we start off the year, it’s helpful to look at which digital marketing trends are likely to dominate the landscape in 2015. Following are my top 7 predictions for digital marketing trends in 2015.

1. Email marketing will need to become smarter.

Businesses who have been investing heavily in digital marketing over the past 5 years are already figuring this one out. In the past, offering a company newsletter via email was often enough to build and grow your list. But with website visitors becoming increasingly wary of handing over their email addresses, businesses need to become extremely smart about what types of email content they provide and how they promote it.

Using free eBooks or white papers that offer true value are great lead magnets that work well to entice people to join your list. As you continue to send highly relevant content to your subscribers, they recognize that you truly ‘know your stuff’, and are more likely to purchase your products or services.

In 2015, businesses will realize that sending MORE emails isn’t the key…it’s sending BETTER emails and creating more valuable lead magnets.

2. Brands that succeed at being human will win.

People buy form people and companies that they know, like and trust. Social media has made it easier than ever to establish personal relationships with large numbers of customers and prospects quickly and for very little cost. Brands that understand this and are investing in creating a more authentic and humanized marketing experience will be the clear winners in 2015.

This will involve putting relationships ahead of sales, and building connections rather than simply promoting products. Brands that focus on building community and providing amazing content via social media will be the clear front-runners. I believe this so strongly that I actually wrote a book on the very subject called Will The Real You Please Stand Up: Show Up, Be Authentic, and Prosper in Social Media.

3. Content marketing will (finally) become about true value.

This has been a popular talking point over the past couple of years, but I believe 2015 will be the year when content finally becomes about quality over quantity.

A successful content strategy should be about producing first-rate content, not just rehashing or compiling everyone else’s insights. Businesses will finally realize that blah, run-of-the-mill content does very little in terms of increasing search rankings or attracting followers. In fact, they will begin to see that producing low-quality content can actually be damaging in terms of SEO and building trust.

4. We’ll begin to see a decrease in the number of online marketing strategies businesses employ.

Yes, you read that right! Let me explain. Over the past number of years, we’ve seen businesses and marketers scramble to constantly add new and better strategies to their marketing mix. Marketers clearly find social media an exceptionally important element of their marketing, however where and how they use their resources has become increasingly fragmented.

Currently, around 1 in 3 marketers are able to calculate the ROI of their social media marketing efforts, and this number is only going to increase. I believe that as marketers get better at tracking and measuring the ROI of their efforts, we’ll see businesses allocate their time and money more effectively. Rather than being active on 10 social networks, for instance, they’ll increasingly realize that having a strong, active presence on 5 networks will result in an even higher ROI.

In other words, while businesses will spend MORE time and money on social media marketing overall, exactly WHERE and HOW they invest these resources will become more targeted than ever.

5. Brands who use social primarily for “pushing” sales will die out.

You know I am all about social selling. Unfortunately, many people who hear the term assume this means pushing their products or services on their social media followers. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Social selling is about building community, attracting leads, and providing valuable content…NOT about pushing a product or message. Brands that continue to use social media to PUSH rather than to ATTRACT will find themselves wasting a ton of time and money, and alienating their fans and followers.

For more on this, see my post The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Selling on Social.

6. “Mobile-first” will replace “mobile-friendly”.

We hear a lot about the importance of having a responsive or “mobile-friendly” website, however 2015 is when we’ll see a shift to a truly “mobile-first” mentality.

This means thinking about mobile when it comes to each and every piece of content you create – your blog posts, emails and social media posts. A majority of your followers and subscribers are likely to be accessing your content via mobile, and yet many businesses still aren’t creating and distributing their content with these users in mind.

Considering how and where your mobile users will be reading your emails and social media posts is key; for instance, do your social media links direct your followers to a mobile-optimized landing page? Do you use lots of images on social media, which are great for attracting the attention of your mobile followers? Have you optimized your content and headlines to catch the attention of readers who are ‘on the go’?

7. Content marketing will become integrated company-wide.

In the past, content marketing efforts have been restricted to a select department or individual. In many companies, the SEO department has been responsible for content creation and dissemination, while other departments have been fairly isolated and haven’t been involved in any way.

As businesses experience the significant benefits of their content, they’ll realize that content marketing needs to be done at the company-wide level; that individuals from all departments should have input into what types of content are created, and in how that content is distributed. Your sales team, for instance, will have the most relevant insights into customer questions and behaviors…so why aren’t we involving them in the content brainstorming process, at the very least?

Think about which individuals in your company can offer unique insights or skills for content creation and dissemination. Not only does this lead to amazing, targeted content, it gets everyone invested in the process.

The post was published in http://www.huffingtonpost.com

By Kim Garst

16 Tips for Living a Happy Life Starting Right Now

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It doesn’t matter your age, how much money you have in your back account, your marital status or what you do for a living, we all want to be more successful in our lives. Of course, defining success is different for each us, but here are 16 proven ways that can make you more productive, happy and successful in life.

1. Be committed.

No matter what goals you have set for yourself in life, you have to be committed. It’s through commitment that you’ll continue to make the improvements needed to better yourself. Whether it’s taking a chance on launching a startup, getting a gym membership to improve your physical well being, or taking a cooking class because you want to become a chef, commitment is what drives us all to become more successful.

2. People care about you, not your success.

Let’s be honest. People don’t care about the expensive clothes you wear, how big is the house you own or the car your drive. That’s not to say that they don’t respect your achievements or possessions. Instead, they care you as an individual and they’ll support you no matter what — because they love you. Believe it!

Related: Embrace True Transparency, and You’ll Experience More Success

3. Be grateful everyday.

According to researchers Martin Seligman, Robert Emmons, and Michael McCullough, being grateful can result in feeling better about your life, more enthusiastism and more willingness to help others. Being grateful may even reduce coronary artery disease. Take the time to write down what you’re grateful each and every day.

4. Take action.

In an article in The Atlantic, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman share studies on the confidence gap between men and women.  The researchers discovered that confidence is just as important as competence. It was concluded in the article that “[T]aking action bolsters one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed.”

5. Money can’t buy happiness.

As The Beatles famously proclaimed, (money), “can’t buy me love.” You know what else money can’t buy? Happiness. Just because you’re earning six figures doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily content. Sure, money is obviously needed, and it makes some things easier. But, you should be focusing on your passion and not how much your paycheck is.

6. Don’t take rejection personally.

At some point we all face rejection. Instead of taking it personally, use it as a learning experience. Why did a VC reject your proposal? Maybe there wasn’t a market for your product. Perhaps you didn’t have a convincing pitch. Maybe the VC’s partner just called and said he’d spent their extra cash. Accepting and learning from rejection is one way to guide you to success.

With my online invoicing startup I get rejected daily, literally. I talked to 100+ VC’s before I got one that believed in my product. Learn from rejection and use it as motivation to make things bettter!

7. Have a backup plan.

You never know when the unexpected is going to happen, but when it does happen, you’re surrounded by chaos. Being prepared for the worst case scenario can at least make things a whole lot less chaotic. When my last business crashed, had I not had some cash set aside (that my wife kept away from me), we would have been in financial ruin. Having a three-to-six month nest egg will make the difference. I’ve found that having 12-24 months of cash to pay all bills just sitting there has significantly helped my marriage be more positive as well!

8. Improve your social skill.

After analyzing data from between 1972 and 1992, University of California, Santa Barbara, economist Catherine Weinberger found that “The people who are both smart and socially adept earn more in today’s workforce than similarly endowed workers in 1980.”

9. Travel.

As Yii-Huei Phang states on The Huffington Post, traveling is a great way to “develop a person’s character” and become more open-minded. Additionally, while traveling is a great way to get away from the daily grind, it also helps you appreciate what you have back at home.

10. Don’t multitask.

If you’re feeling constantly burnt out it’s probably because you’re doing too much at one time. Research has found that “when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 percent.” You’re also burning your reservoir of energy. Both of these issues decrease your productivity and prevent you from accomplishing tasks and goal.

11. Embrace a growth mindset.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck argues that we have two-mindsets; “fixed” and “growth.” A fixed mindset “assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static.” A “growth mindset,” however, “thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

12. Balance work and life.

When work interferes with life, it can result in employees getting burned out and decreases base morale in the office. While this may not be an option for employees, it proves that everyone needs time away from the office. If you’re able to spend less time in the office by working remotely or having flexible hours, you should be able to be productive in both your personal and professional life.

13. Don’t hold grudges.

There is really no need to hold onto a grudge. It can mentally wear you out and makes you miserable. And, doesn’t life seem to go a whole lot smoother when you’re not angry?

14. Stick it out.

After years of studying both children and adults, psychologist Angela Duckworth found that one of the characteristics of successful individuals is having grit. During her TED talk Duckworth stated, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

15. Live in the moment

You can’t change the past and you have no control of the future. Live in the moment and enjoy what’s in front of you right here, right now. When you’re busy making too many plans, you’re causing stress that prevents you from enjoying the present.

16. Take care of yourself, then help others.

According to Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota, “People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness.”

Additionally, helping others is beneficial for our health. But, how can you help others if you haven’t taken care of yourself first? Take care of your needs first and then begin to help others.

 

This post has previously published in http://www.entrepreneur.com

Contributed by John Rampton