Editor’s note: View an updated version of this post for 2017 here!
2014 was an innovative year for marketing, but let’s face it: a lot of trends didn’t pan out. In the interest of cleaning our slate for 2015, it’s time we review these failed strategies and tools that are at risk of losing relevance.
Mobile app usage is at an all-time high. Time is precious and competition is too fierce to maintain marketing strategies that don’t work (TWEET THIS). Here are four formerly popular trends that flopped in 2014 and won’t be making a comeback anytime soon.
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1. Unsupported QR Codes
QR codes are going to be a meaningless time sucker in 2015 because the majority of mobile users don’t have the immediate capability to scan these codes. In 2013, only 19.1 percent of consumers had ever scanned a QR code, and these numbers have not increased significantly. The issue is that mobile users must download a specific app just to scan these codes. It’s an unnecessary stumbling block that hinders your call to action and frustrates your audience.
The only viable solution to this problem would be preloading QR code-reading technology on smartphones. Apple and Google’s Android alone make up 93 percent of the smartphone-platform market, so unless both companies make that decision, QR codes are effectively doomed.
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2. Automated Cross-Channel Social Posting
We’re all guilty of this. When we’re pressed for time, auto-posting makes it quick and easy to post the same message across all of our social media networks. However, each social network serves its own unique purpose and attracts a unique audience. The same message usually doesn’t work on four or five different networks.
To keep your content relevant, you have to tailor it specifically to the network we’re posting to. To stay current on all of the latest trends and customs on each network, it pays to subscribe to Social Media Today, Buffer Social and other blogs to see what’s in vogue. You can also check out some of these studies that describe the demographics of each unique social-media platform to help you better plan and target your posts.
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3. The “Viral for the Sake of Viral” Video
A few months ago, you may have seen this video of strangers kissing for the first time. It probably cluttered all your social media feeds.
What you may not know, however, is the ulterior motives of this viral video. Did you know that all of the “strangers” in this video were actually actors hired by Wren Studios?
The original video racked up over 41 million views in just three days, so you would think this is the epitome of a successful viral video. However, when Wren Studios released a follow-up video with CEO Melissa Coker, revealing that the video was an advertisement for the new 2014 collection, it was seen by merely 100,000 people. The tweet sent out by Wren Studio announcing the video got just 450 retweets.
If you asked a random person if they ‘d seen the video of strangers kissing for the first time, they may have seen the video, but few of them will make the connection with Wren Studios. A million views of an entertaining but otherwise irrelevant or uncompelling video aren’t going to translate into ROI for most organizations.
The moral of the story: unless your viral video is extremely well executed and tied to your brand, it’s not worth your time, money or effort in 2015.
4. Over-optimized but Underdeveloped Web Content
Search optimization is going to be as important as ever heading into 2015, but stuffing as many search-worthy words and key phrases into your blog post or website will no longer land you at the top of every search engine.
Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms and the old “filler with no substance” method will no longer cut it. Nearly 90 percent of all queries were affected by Google’s new algorithm, nicknamed “Hummingbird,” and future changes may have an equally dramatic impact.
The new approach is to focus on conversational queries: the questions that consumers want answers to. Think about potential questions your customers could be asking and concentrate on answering those specific questions in your web content instead of trying to fill your posts with keywords.
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Digital marketing is moving fast. A foolproof strategy two years ago may lead you to disaster today. Are you sure you’re keeping up with the demanding pace? If your digital marketing team is still recommending outdated strategies, you’re at immediate risk of getting left behind.
It’s time to dump the trends that failed in 2014 and embrace what awaits us in 2015. Trial, error and time have shown us what works and what doesn’t. Bid these trends farewell, and free up your time and budget for innovations worth pursuing.