2015 offers an exciting year for marketers. Critical masses of consumers are adopting technologies that allow us to target and engage them throughout various moments in their lives. And marketing intelligence and ad network advances allow us to track single users across devices and channels to optimize content and focus spending at an unprecedented level of sophistication.

With the exponential rise in digital and mobile it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a single marketer to stay on top of the multifaceted evolutions in the industry. Strategic partners and specialists are needed. But even with a team by your side, it remains incumbent upon marketers to keep an eye on what’s trending in order to best inform your over-arching strategies.

Without further adieu, here is our “Marketers Must Know” trends list for 2015:

 

1. Specialization is a must.

Some humility is in order. It’s important to know what you know and admit what you don’t. With smartphone penetration pushing three-fourths of mobile users in the U.S. (Nielson shows it’s more than 85 percent of those age 18-34), digital marketing is the clear path for marketing to the masses, one user at a time. But marketing specialization within the ranks of digital is required for full effectiveness. Be sure your organization and strategic partners include a stratified team with experts deep in the areas of digital that are important to your brand. Collaboration among these experts presents a challenge and some risk, but it’s less risky than trying to get by on generalists alone.

 

2. Content is still king, with a bigger, more valuable crown.

For consumer or business segment audiences, content-based marketing remains critical to be visible, create relevance and engage prospects to become and remain customers. In 2015, marketers will need to begin investing more in online ads and SEM to drive content that may have previously been counted only as earned media. This need is a result of both more content noise and Google growing ever better at serving up relevant content that answers online searches within the confines of their search pages. Still, there are other options versus just buying your way into online engagement. Google is also getting more sophisticated with their algorithms to distinguish good content from junk. Longer word count, for example, is typically indicative of worthwhile article optimization. Explainer videos continue to grow in importance and use. Social pages, e-newsletters, blogs and articles are all key gateways to creating good, optimized content.

 

3. Metrics are more powerful and connected.

Key moves, such as Facebook combining the powers of Atlas (their cross-platform tracking software) and Audience Network (their mobile ad network) are making cross-device and cross-channel metrics more readily available. This connecting of the disparate digital dots will make ad targeting and ROI measurement more available and trustworthy. Tracking the path to purchase back to your online content or media spend is imperative. These metrics will drive media spends and inform an agile targeting strategy that will let you place, measure, adjust and optimize content throughout the year.

 

4. Personalization is the new mainstream marketing.

The new utility of big data allows for single-user targeting across devices and networks. Thanks to a critical mass of smartphones, proximity technology is edging closer to becoming a targeting strategy marketers can’t ignore. iBeacon and other Bluetooth technologies create content delivery opportunities based specifically on geographies, down to the store-aisle level. Consumers and marketers are going to give and take their way into creating new behaviors that seek and allow these location-specific interfaces this year.

 

5. Staying focused is more important than ever.

Some things don’t change. Brand building is still rooted in strategy. It should be led by simple customer insight and focused on overcoming the primary hurdles to the business objective. Marketing leaders should steer clear of shiny new objects that don’t fit the strategy. Odds are you don’t need an augmented reality app, even though they’re fun to play with. Marketers need to keep their campaign and messaging consistent and focused, while being simultaneously agile and allowing for some experimentation. Optimizing earned media and social channels, for example, requires consumer control and social currency. This in turn commands flexibility within the confines of your strategy and campaign.