How is it already 2015? Here we are, gearing up for another year of new marketing opportunities.

In 2014, the field of marketing experienced some major paradigm shifts. CMOs redefined the role of marketing in the business ecosystem, repositioning customer engagement and acquisition teams from brand-builders to revenue engines. Mobile became an even larger part of the customer engagement equation, with Facebook starting 2014 as a mobile-first company and Twitter introducing its first-ever mobile advertising product. Companies finally began to understand and quantify the ROI of their social media marketing programs.

Now more than ever, marketers are striving to truly understand their audience base and forge deep relationships with customers and prospects. Content-driven campaigns have transitioned from customer acquisition novelties to the new norm. Companies are prioritizing storytelling above selling, and CMOs are scratching the surface of their long-term analytics.

These dynamics create a wealth of opportunity -- and significant competition. Here are some key trends that will set the tone for 2015:

1. The competition for audiences will become even more cutthroat

With content marketing being the new norm, virtually every brand is producing content. But consumers still have finite time in their days -- and limited bandwidth to absorb anything and everything that is out there. As companies ramp up their content marketing budget, they’ll need to pay attention to two strategic elements (1) quality and (2) distribution. In other words, your content needs to be awesome, and you’ll need a plan to drive visibility to it.

That’s where personalization technologies comes in.

When you understand your audience, you’ll be well-positioned to create content that meets their exact learning goals and business pain points. You’ll also be able to target them at the right point in their research and buying journeys.

2. Social media technologies will play a larger role in the sales conversion funnel

With so much information to process, how will consumers know where to direct their attention?

They’ll seek guidance from the same resources that they’ve trusted for years -- friends, family, and trusted peers.

Word of mouth is a force to be reckoned with -- and has been the defining characteristic for some of the world’s most loved brands. Thanks to social media, many of these conversations are now happening online.

As consumers are bombarded with more information than they can handle, they’ll increasingly rely upon recommendations from their peers through crowdsourcing -- and even more subtle techniques of observations.

We’re all, at least tangentially, in tune with what’s happening among our networks. Social media provides the touchpoint to (1) find the most trustworthy information, (2) as quickly and directly as possible.

The brands that succeed in Q4 and beyond are the ones who harness these natural conversation dynamics to build a more impactful presence.

3. Marketers will become technologists

According to the ‘growth hacker’ movement, the best marketers are the ones who are also proficient in writing code.

What we mean by ‘technologist’; however, is different.

To reach audiences on a 1:1 level, learn from trends, and effectively monitor data, marketers will need to rely on technology to implement their big plans -- to choose between technologies in real-time marketing and personalization, for instance.

The most successful holiday campaigns of 2014, will -- as a result -- emerge from a strong technology vision. Marketers will not need to write code necessarily, but they will need to understand how to design and implement the technologies that bring their plans together.

Final Thoughts

By the end of the year, marketing leaders will be able to run their programs with a greater sense of confidence and structure. If 2014 was about identifying and defining the technologies that help marketing teams achieve their goals, 2015 will be about putting these big plans into action.  It’s this laser-focus that will drive marketing programs for years to come.