Over a series of five blog articles, we are going to explore the emerging trends for 2015, and ways to implement new methodologies on existing marketing disciplines. You can read trends 1 & 2 by clicking here, and learn more about trends 3 & 4, on permission-based mobile marketing and "social CRM" by clicking here. Here are trends 5 & 6:

5. Recognition software grows by leaps and bounds, thus reinvigorating print marketing

Tide Fire Button

Amazon came out with some replicable, but game changing, technology in 2014 with the Fire Phone and the “fire” button. What this technology does is to use recognition technology to identify an item and cross reference that item in the Amazon database for future purchase. On the surface, this is a retailer’s nightmare, as it makes the process of “showrooming” that much easier, but as discussed in Trend 1 on “wearables,” it also presents an opportunity for in-store conversion. 

What remains to be seen is the impact that this sort of recognition has on print advertising, direct mail and magazine/newspaper. The limitations of QR codes and augmented reality so far are the ease-of-use factor. These programs immediately become cumbersome because you have to unlock your phone, find where your scanning app is buried on your phone, open it, scan and wait. With emerging recognition technology and native integration, like the Fire button, any printed piece can immediately turn into an instant conversion.

Rather than putting an awkward QR code on your mailpiece, marketers will instead rely on the designed landscape to trigger recognition software to redirect to a video, website or product purchase. Downloadable coupons integrated with applications like Apple Passbook (or Apple Pay, for that matter), can essentially attach the printed piece to the mobile device, and thus append an additional touchpoint to the customer’s profile.

6. Gamification goes beyond badges

Traditional loyalty programs have been around for years – whether at your grocery store or at your favorite electronics store. 2015 looks to merge many of the facets of loyalty programs with gamification elements, introducing multichannel competition that also organically enhances branding. Starbucks is already doing a phenomenal job with their loyalty program, integrating gamification, seamless payment, and social sharing and gifting. Additionally, expect advantages like "seamless loyalty" integrated with wearables - making you never have to dig for that grocery discount card ever again!

Think of integrating gamification for businesses like this. Take user views/rights in database – not every “user” has the same access, and the groups within the system would only see what other similar users would see. Just as the Fitbit and other wearables bring competition and social sharing to exercise and fitness, expect to see gamification in banking, shopping, and insurance.

Retail would see lots of benefits, with shoppers competing to be a “guru of fall fashion,” while also gaining the social clout of being respected for their knowledge. We live in an era of “Experts,” with people banking social currency in niches of all sorts. Turning this phenomenon into revenue dollars, while gaining essentially free social media advertising, is a win-win for businesses of all types. Anything you can get people addicted to is good for your business, whether you are creating virtual scavenger hunts, badge rewards, or in-app accolades for your customer.