Experts provide their insight into the year ahead - Part I

Digital marketing evolves, changes and grows year on year and 2015 will be no different.

Now is the time to start developing your strategy and thinking about how your business can grow through digital this year. But what can we expect to see happening across the industry?

For this two-part article, we've consulted key players in digital, industry leading clients and our own thought leaders about what we can expect to see. Here's what you should be looking out for…

Stafford Sumner, Director at Jarrang

Another year is upon us and I always find January is the perfect time to look ahead to what the coming year might hold and consider how we can stay ahead of the curve to consistently deliver for our clients.

I look to inspiration from my friends, my colleagues and some of the many partners we work with. They always offer fantastic insight into the industry and the developments we can expect to see. So that’s why we’ve pulled all their thoughts together in the hope it will inspire you too.

For me, the coming year is going to be about greater personalisation of content and a further movement away from the 'batch and blast' approach to marketing campaigns that has often been used in the past. Websites will continue to grow to be more intuitive in terms of the content displayed on them while the best email marketing will be highly relevant to the individual who receives it.

As things progress, and we better utilise wider and deeper data sets, we can expect to see even more advanced personalisation in email, and on websites the personalisation of web content itself.

Technology will help us to do this and automated customer journeys in email marketing will continue to gain momentum this year, with the convergence of data from multiple systems brought into a single output.

This will help improve the integration of different campaigns and different channels, something that is slowly taking effect but is yet to come to complete fruition. We need to break down the marketing silos in order to reap the rewards of a full digital harvest. This isn’t just true of the channels we use but the devices we use to consume information on.

Relevance is, and always will be, key. This perennial advice is as true today as it was fifty years ago: keep it relevant. Marketers need to produce more tailored pieces of content and target their audiences more precisely to cut through the noise that is caused by the plethora of channels and mis-directed messaging that in turn creates ‘prospect fatigue’.

As the UK economy becomes more buoyant, we are starting to see increases in budgetary spend to reflect this growth. Expect to see an increase in international competition entering the UK domestic market place in some sectors, especially from Europe and Asia, as they look to balance their economies via increased exports.

There will also be the unexpected. Every year brings with it something no one saw coming and 2015 will be no different. This is the most exciting industry to work in and I’m sure the year ahead won’t disappoint.

Rob Edlin, Managing Director at Niddocks

Online Advertising, Marketing and Analytics – looking back at 2014 and forward into 2015.

2014 was a great year of change and evolution in the world of Google

We saw massive improvements to AdWords Product Listing Ad campaigns as they evolved into Google Shopping campaigns, offering e-tailers more control over promotion of products on their ecommerce websites.

Universal Analytics came of age in 2014 and was released publicly in Q2. This was a major advancement and the biggest since Google launched the Analytics product over 10 years ago.  With Universal Analytics comes the ability to track anything you like. We are now no longer limited to tracking online/website traffic and we’re already seeing organisations track weather, markets, footfall, offline sales, in-app usage and surf conditions to mention just a few implementations.

Although launched in 2013, Google Tag Manager really took hold in 2014 and is now considered the operating standard for controlling tagging on websites and mobile apps, offering marketing and advertising professionals more control over the code and tracking configuration on their websites.

Mobiles, tablets and, during the latter part of the year, wearable technology started to gain massive ground. As 2014 came to a close, just about every sector saw more mobile and tablet traffic on their sites than laptop and desktop – a trend that continues to grow.

2015 has the makings of another great year too; we’re going to see many advancements. Here are my predictions of what is likely to be hot:

Wearable tech

2014 really was the year for early adopters, but 2015 will see wearable tech become mainstream. Certainly when it comes to smart watches, I’m expecting to see massive growth and adoption of this affordable technology.

Programmatic buying

As the online advertising landscape becomes more complex, we’ll see programmatic buying take hold. So rather than having to micro-manage campaigns we’ll be able to automate campaigns, and manage and monitor from a more strategic viewpoint.


As features such as the Google Analytics Realtime API and Prediction API mature, we’ll be able to automate many advertising tasks and take advantage of scripting features in AdWords. This does mean that we’ll be more reliant on JavaScript skills too, so now’s the time to start reading up.

Integration and detail

More and more detail is available to us now and we’ll see this increase throughout 2015, allowing us to take advantage of much more targeted and relevant advertising throughout the funnel from discovery to conversion. We’ll advertise on much broader terms to a much more targeted audience, and we’ll appreciate, respect and educate this audience at the right time, in the right places.

Adaptive, responsive and relevant

Still in early 2015 we see an unacceptable number of websites that do not adapt and respond to all devices. Added to this it is now possible to allow your website to respond to the behaviour and characteristics of the user across multiple devices, we really do need to see more organisations adopting this technology.


Click costs will, as they always have, increase, but expect conversation rates to increase and cost per conversion to fall as you target your customers more wisely.

As always, my advice is to embrace change, learn more and get excited about the technology that is going to help you be more profitable in 2015.

Vaughan Denny, Co-Founder at Upgrade Digital

The online travel market continued to grow at a healthy rate in 2014 as the rebound continued.

While OTAs continue to be important for ‘reach’, independent hotels and resorts are upping their game.

High commissions mean that the quest for direct bookings is accelerating and becoming increasingly affordable. At the same time TripAdvisor has grown in importance with reviews driving an increasing proportion of bookings. Travellers want to be able to book wherever they are, on whatever device they are using – and “mobile first” means that many direct websites will need to up their game.

2015 will see hunger for direct bookings continue as destinations seek better margins.

This means that the importance of hotel websites has never been greater; is your site as quick as Does it work on a mobile? Is your branding fresh? At the same time, expert agencies focussed on delivering this revolution in direct booking are often hampered by restrictive backend technology that they have to integrate with.

For this reason we think that 2015 will be the year when marketing teams come to love the acronym API (Application Programming Interface). Better APIs will empower agencies to update your website without changing your PMS (Property Management System) or even booking engine. If it isn’t broken then don’t fix it; however, if the integration between your website and PMS doesn’t give you the flexibility that you require then a new API may be the answer.

Who hasn’t heard of big data?

2015 will see this change from buzzword bingo to real world relevance. Booking data will be put to work enabling more targeted marketing. Linking campaigns directly to bookings data allows you to personalise your message and sell more rooms more profitably.

Look out for part two for more insight from industry experts, and tips on making content work for you from our Head of Content, Tommy Tonkins.

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January 8, 2015
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