5 Breakout Marketing Trends for 2015

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Times Square New Years Eve Ball

It’s that time of year again, time to make wild guesses about what’s to come in the year ahead. There are two general approaches folks use to predict the future. The first is the blatantly obvious; it’s been the year of mobile for about 3 years now. Content marketing is still pitched as a new thing, even though it’s as old as SEO.

So how do you find legitimate, new stuff to pay attention to? You look at the data! There are tons of data sources online that you can mine for breakouts, for things that have had sudden, unexplained upswings in popularity that stand out. Let’s take a look at 5 of them that I picked out using Google’s AdWords Traffic Estimator.

Green marketing

Green marketing, or greenwashing, is the bonding of your marketing to environmental causes. This can be as simple as making environmental statements about your products, or as complex as changing your entire business. Apple, for example, has been making strong pushes into green marketing in the manufacture of its technology. Some metals are no longer used. Many scraps in manufacturing get recycled.

How can you make use of environmental practices you already have in place? Can you change your business to be more green in a meaningful way?

Privacy marketing

Target. Sony. Michaels. St. Joseph Health System. These are just a handful of serious, significant data breaches in 2014. Combine that with increasing awareness of surveillance and targeted advertising, and it’s no wonder customers are thinking privacy. Privacy matters. Security matters. Giving consumers more control over their data and how you use it will be a differentiator and competitive advantage. At a minimum, it’ll put you ahead of inevitable government legislation about data practices.

Few things convey your legitimate care for the customer as well as how much control you give them over their data. How can you add that to your products, services, and marketing in the coming year?

Societal marketing

Traditionally, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been a red-headed stepchild, often handed to the public relations team to handle. Societal marketing is marketing’s reclamation of this role, using modern marketing techniques and tactics. This past year saw the Ice Bucket Challenge as the most prominent example of societal marketing, a meme that spread like wildfire across the Internet.

It’s well past time for marketing and PR to sit down at the same table and figure out how to work together on the CSR role of your company or brand. How can you make your efforts more integrated, use more modern techniques, and measure results more effectively?

Mobile content marketing

It’s beyond obvious that mobile is a thing. It’s beyond obvious that content marketing is a thing. What’s not obvious yet, or not well defined, is what content marketing is working specifically on mobile devices. For the most part, marketers are approaching mobile content in the same way they approach traditional content. For example, an infographic renders differently on a mobile device than it does on a tablet or desktop. How would you change this to be something more mobile-friendly? Google did a great job of an interactive infographic in the form of their Primer app this year that showcases what’s possible.

How can you rethink and re-imagine your existing content marketing as content specifically for a mobile user? How can you port and translate from text and images to apps and video for mobile? Add these questions to your 2015 marketing thinking.

Marketing strategy

This last term surprised me in my analysis. Marketing strategy is as old as barking and busking in the town bazaar of millennia past. How is it breaking out as a search term in late 2014? The answer – I suspect – is the same reason as why I wrote Marketing White Belt. A lot of people have flooded into the marketing space in the past few years, armed with a handful of specialized tactics around social media or other digital niches, but with no marketing foundation. Now that they’ve been in practice for a little while, they’re realizing that their knowledge base has some serious gaps and are looking for strategies, frameworks, and roadmaps to better organize the tactical and technique-driven knowledge they have.

If your marketing meetings seem like you’re throwing things against a wall to see if anything resonates, then chances are you’re looking for some strategy. If you’re doing things without any sense of where you’re going or what synergies you should be looking for, then you’re probably looking for marketing strategy. As you roll into 2015, take some time to read up on strategy. If you need a starting place, start with any marketing MBA textbooks, or David Maister’s excellent Strategy and the Fat Smoker (Amazon affiliate link).


These 5 trends aren’t necessarily the most popular or the ones most talked about. That’s why they’re breakouts – in the data, they show anomalies, unusual and sustained changes in search volume in the last month or two that can’t be accounted for seasonally. Will they continue to be the hot thing? Time will tell, but they’re certainly worth thinking about.

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One response to “5 Breakout Marketing Trends for 2015”

  1. I like this list very much but would add that there is probably going to be a lot of confusion in the greewashing area because of so many people claiming to be “green.” I recently observed one of the biggest polluters in the world touting their “eco brand” which strains reality! I’m not sure eco will be an effective idea any more because who knows what to believe. As you know, the privacy/security marketing idea has been percolating with me for some time but anybody stepping out in that way also puts a target on their back!

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