This is part two of a two-part series on what today’s marketers learned in 2014 and what tactics, tools, and strategies they’re looking forward to for 2015. Read Part One here.

You’ll notice that there are a lot of differing opinions in this piece, which is a good thing. It goes to show that no marketing lesson or tactic is one-size-fits-all. If you haven’t already, make 2015 the year for testing different tactics tried by your peers as well as your own new ideas, and iterate until you find what gets you closer to your goals, and more importantly, your customers’ needs.

matt fMatt Federighi @ DriveHQ

Matt is the Marketing Director at DriveHQ, an enterprise cloud IT solution provider.

Matt’s top lessons of 2014

Do: Integrate SEO into your digital strategy.

SEO is not dead, despite the countless articles that claim it is. Instead, it has merged with other digital strategies in order to create a new area of expertise: Content marketing, where shares in social media, mentions from authoritative websites, and content that is easily recognizable by bots will lead to higher page rankings.

Don’t: Engage in blackhat SEO tactics.

Many old SEO practices are considered spammy and no longer work, but as long as algorithms for user search queries control search engines, SEO will continue to play a large role in digital marketing.

Do: Remain consistent throughout your marketing efforts.

Our branding strategy was not as effective as we hoped it would be in 2014. We are going through some major technological advances and dedicated much of our resources to these changes. This is great. However, it created flaws in our content marketing strategy, which could have been detrimental in our attempt to build a brand, especially considering the importance of consistently providing content to an audience. The lesson: Remain consistent throughout your marketing efforts, even if your company is undergoing major advances.

Don’t: Let content fall to the wayside as you make internal shifts and changes.

Do: Things that don’t scale.

With the amount of marketing tools available and the numerous case studies out there, it can be easy to lose sight of what truly matters: YOUR audience.

As a digital marketer, sometimes you have to step back and reevaluate the basics, making sure you truly understand your target market. This means dedicating time and resources on difficult things to track, such as customer questions and concerns. By allocating resources to understanding our audience, our team can address concerns before they are even asked.

Don’t: Take so much advice from others that you forget the needs of your own audience.

2015 is for…a strong content marketing strategy

In 2015, I am looking forward to unleashing a strong content marketing strategy. With low barriers to entry, the cloud computing industry is a fierce market with many players, all of which claim to be better than the other. Our goal is to release compelling, informative, and transparent content consistently in order to attract our audience and influence action.

This means going back to the basics, reevaluating our audience, determining what it is that they truly need, and making sure our team provides that to them on a consistent basis. I cannot stress consistency enough, because when someone visits our site or blog, we need to provide a complete user experience with content that matches our overall service. The ability to do so will help our team build rapport and develop a loyal audience.

Matt’s tools for 2105

With the amount of digital tools available, marketers can really get freaky with analytics, infographics, paid advertisements, and other avenues. My plan is to take a step back and remember the basic tools that marketers may overlook.

Words: Content Marketing is on the rise and here to stay, so marketers need to understand that words are money. Our team needs to provide informational and engaging material to our audience on a consistent basis, across all channels. Creating visual stories that spark interest and inspire emotion will enlighten our audience, influence actions, and improve our brand awareness.

Community: Marketing is ever-changing and there is an incredible amount of information widely available. Strong communities like GrowthHackers allow digital marketers to bounce ideas off each other, share insights, ask detailed questions, and get feedback from some of the most experienced marketers in the industry. Not taking advantage of this would be a huge mistake.

andy rosenbergAndy Rosenberg, Marketing & Branding Strategist for startups

Andy is a marketer for startups, who has worked with industry leaders such as The Meatball Shop, Cover, and Fitocracy.

Andy’s lessons of 2014

Do: Always be current.

What works this week very well might not work the next week/month, etc. Always be current with any campaign.

Don’t: Lose sight of industry and world trends.

Do: Focus on long-term growth.

There is no instant fix to building an audience or customer base.  Any growth tactic should be applied within a long-term strategy that addresses growth over a longer period of time.

Don’t: Expect quick wins to be any more than a quick win.

Focus on growth tactics that also help with retention to help reach sustainability.

Do: Focus on good, concise messaging.

Good messaging trumps all. The very first thing that should be done with any strategy is figuring out what the value proposition to the consumer is, and then the most effective, concise way to express/deliver it to potential customers.

Don’t: Only write about your product.

Rather, write about the problem your product solves.

2015 is for…creative work

I’m actually most excited to rely less on online targeting and more on effective creative. Finding customers online is no longer the struggle, getting them to engage with content is. I’m a firm believer that marketers will be challenged even more in 2015 to provide strong creative that has an emotional appeal.

Just look at the impact of “MailKimp” in Serial; it was smart and clever creative delivered in a type of old school method in the form of sponsorship. It didn’t tug on the heartstrings perhaps, but it was catchy and probably got you to laugh.

Andy’s tools of 2015

I see the strategic partnership as a vital tool for growth. I think Product Hunt is a great way to spot marketing trends and create potential partnerships. Merging like audiences is a fantastic way to grow, but going about unorthodox methods to combine brands is even more exciting. A shining example of this is Carmelo Anthony’s participation on Product Hunt.

Additionally, I’m looking forward to seeing how products such as SocialRank, evolve but also hope that native applications (i.e. Twitter Analytics) will become more powerful and give marketers a thorough amount of info upfront.

yannis_workableYannis Christopoulos @ Workable

Yannis is the Marketing Manager at Workable, a beautifully simple tool for advertising jobs and making better hiring decisions with your team.

Yannis’ lessons of 2014

Do: Test. Always.  

“Always be testing.” It has become a cliché, but my marketing experience in 2014 could be summed up by this mantra. Assumptions are good and case studies around the Internet are even better, but in the end, you have to see for yourself what best suits your marketing efforts.

Don’t: Assume something that works for others in your industry will work for you.

We thought that Facebook ads could deliver for us, like many experts on the field do, but after almost a month of experimenting, the numbers showed the opposite.

Do: Invest in quality.

Invest in quality, not quantity. In 2014, we created and distributed our first two eBooks, shifting focus and resources away from our blogging efforts. Two eBooks in a year may sound like a very bold move when every tech company out there strives to produce tons of content on a weekly basis. In our case, it worked out really well, building great awareness, thought leadership, and even bringing in some high-quality leads.

Why? Because we decided to focus on content that tackles major pains of our customer base. For example, tips for writing job descriptions or a hiring guide for startups is ‘evergreen’ content.

Don’t: Lose sight of quality for quantity.

Do: (Really) get to know your customers.

Get to know your customers. I bet that every marketer out there thinks he/she knows their current (and prospective) customer base like the back of their hands, but it’s not very uncommon to have a distorted vision. Towards the end of 2014, we decided to go through all of our client base (yes, all) and use the findings to create a set of customer personas. The whole process really helped us building a deeper understanding in whom we are talking to and more importantly, how we should really be talking to them.

Don’t: Skip on creating customer personas. 

2015 is for…experimenting with content

We’re looking forward to produce more content in different shapes & sizes, so the challenge will be to figure out the optimal ways of distributing it and reaching as many people as possible out there. This is why email marketing will be part of our focus this year.

It’s also highly possible that we’ll experiment with some more ‘traditional’ marketing approaches such as radio and presence on industry events.

Yannis’ tools of 2015

Mention: We’ve been using Mention everyday during the last year and I can’t see that changing during 2015. We want to be present whenever someone tweets, posts, comments anything about our company. It’s also a great way to find out what people in your industry talk about, discover great content to share with your followers, and as we’ve seen in Workable’s case, find high-quality leads for your business.

Buffer: It’s fast, easy-to-use and reliable. A huge time saver for managing your company’s presence on social media and with some very interesting performance analytics to go with it.

Invision: One could argue that it’s more of a designer’s tool, but it has turned out to be an invaluable solution in optimizing our marketing efforts. From a simple Twitter card to a newsletter template or web page redesign, Invision helps our marketing team stay in sync and avoid excessive feedback loops via email or things slipping through the cracks.

Over to you!

What are your marketing dos and don’ts of 2015?

dos and dont's 2015

Shannon Byrne is the Content & PR Manager at Mention where she crafts words, creates strategies, and recruits loyal advocates. She’s based in New York. Get in touch with her at @ShannnonB.

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