What will be the future of the Internet and online marketing in 2015? This is a question asked around this time every year. Most of the answers coming from the "experts" are often either vague or completely obvious. So what's a marketer to do?
Because you have so much riding on your website, I wanted to do better for you this time around and give you some concrete ideas you can actually use and plan for in the coming year. And so, without any further preamble, here are my seven boldest online marketing predictions for 2015:
1. We'll see a website unemployment crisis.
Facing budget crunches across the board, business owners and executives will realize they pay more to their websites than a lot of employees, despite getting few results. Pink slips will be issued, and a lot of pretty but useless websites will suddenly find themselves out of work.
2. Underfed blogs will go to a farm "up north."
Upon not being fed new content for weeks or months at a time, thousands of blogs will be taken to "the big farm up north" or just mysteriously run away, never to be seen or heard from again.
3. Google's "Who Cares" algorithm update will make big waves.
Google will take things a step further and force webmasters to prove to spiders, via an automated link, that someone somewhere will bother to read their new content before indexing it. Hundreds of SEOs will fold overnight.
4. Nineteen trillion memes will be viewed per day, resulting in one direct sale for 2015.
Unfortunately, that single sale will later become a return. The disappointed customer will admit "I was looking for something else and clicked this by accident." Many marketers will vow to double their use of memes and stop allowing refunds.
5. Cat pics will replace actual headlines in mobile search results.
Unwilling to adequately shorten their headlines for mobile web users - who now make up roughly half of all Internet traffic - marketers will simply start substituting cat faces for actual headline text. Mobile clicks on search results will go through the roof, especially on #caturday.
6. Restaurants will discover a new take on social media.
High-end restaurants will offer a new premium service where customers can simply pay a fee to have photos of the food they would have eaten posted straight to your Instagram account, complete with appropriate hastags, such as #foodporn, #ohchocolate, and #baconbacon. As a result, gourmet eating establishments and pizza delivery shops will experience record profits.
7. An organized crime ring will flourish around Yelp and other local review sites.
Fearful of what a single negative review might mean for their business, owners will start forking over copious amounts of "protection" money to Mafia-style organizations who stop patrons from leaving less-than-stellar feedback.
A Bonus Prediction...
In what's probably the least interesting prediction of all, I foresee that online marketers will find themselves falling into two groups: the kind that adhere to basic best practices for attraction-style inbound marketing activities, and the kind that keeps seeing dwindling returns from following the same stale interruptive tactics from before the Internet.
Generating leads from your website isn't something that happens by accident. Predictions, gimmicks, and shortcuts are fun, but they often distract us from the real work of creativity and engagement... the things that lead to actual bottom-line results.