5 of Today's Marketing Trends Include Refurbished Classic Techniques Today's marketers are dusting off old ideas like sweepstakes and finding new ways to use email and podcasts.

By Charlotte Nichols

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As director of marketing for UGallery, an art ecommerce company, I subscribe to a lot of emails and news alerts. I like to keep a pulse on what other marketers in the space are doing and spot emerging trends. Read on to learn about the five marketing tactics of 2015 that are taking ecommerce by storm.

1. Thought leadership

Last year, we called it content strategy, but this year it has gone next level. Product and service companies are cleverly positioning themselves as experts in their industries. If you're known as the thought leader in X, Y or Z, then people will come to you first when they are ready to buy.

Who's doing it well? Casper

The mattress company knows that not everyone needs a new bed right now. So rather than fill your inbox with nonsense twice a week, they decided to become the experts on sleep -- and their target audience just got a whole lot bigger. They recently launched Van Winkle's, "an independent editorial venture" that covers everything from the benefits of reading before bed to the science behind dreams. And when you do finally need a mattress, who better to buy from than the expert? Honorable mention to Harry's men's razor company for their digital magazine, Five O' Clock.

Related: How Thought-Leadership Content Can Help Your Company Attract Funding

2. Podcast sponsorships

Podcast listenership has nearly doubled since 2008, and advertisers are starting to get the hint. An estimated 46 million Americans listen to a podcast every month. Advertising on a podcast is much like working with radio stations -- the host does his or her own reading of the script, making it less of an interruption than display or video ads.

Who's doing it well? Audible.com

The audiobook company hit the podcast market early and often, and they couldn't ask for a better platform to reach their demographic. These listeners skew young, tech savvy, affluent and educated -- perfect for a category which is enjoying massive growth amongst millennials. Podcasts are downloaded on devices or streamed online, similar to audiobooks. The product / channel / consumer fit is undeniable and effective. Can you name the number-two audiobook provider? Me neither.

3. Personalization 2.0

Personalization 1.0 was when a computer algorithm presented results catered to your interests. Personalization 2.0, in my opinion, is when a person curates a product selection for you. Time will tell if this strategy is sustainable and scalable, but it certainly is appealing from the eyes of a customer.

Who's doing it well? Trunk Club

The personal stylists offer just that -- a person. When a user signs up, they have an introductory phone call with a stylist who gets to know their budget, tastes and wardrobe needs. Boxes of hand-picked clothing are delivered to the client with free shipping and returns. With feedback over time, the stylist is able to optimize the boxes, thus increasing the purchase conversion rate beyond what a computer-generated we-thought-you-might-like feature could achieve.

Related: The Future of Ecommerce Will Focus on Creating Experiences

4. Email marketing

It sounds unfathomable, but email marketing is making a comeback. According to Silverpop, average email open rates are on the rise, growing from 19.7 percent in 2013 to 21.0 percent now. This is largely attributable to mobile, the growth of ecommerce and optimized content. First, mobile has increased our capacity to consume, from the grocery store line to the car wash -- we are always checking email. Second, an ever-growing number of people are buying products online. Emails are the new front door to a store. You don't browse a shopping mall anymore, you scan your promotions tab. Third, content and design are improving, making emails inherently more consumable. Gone are the days when we read emails, now we view emails. Consumers spend only a few seconds on a message, and companies are taking note with sleeker designs, simpler messaging and focused calls to action.

Who's doing it well? MyDomaine

The media company offers a daily digital portal to home decor. Each email follows an effective template -- intriguing subject line, headline story, links to four product recommendations and plenty of visual images.

5. Sweepstakes

What gained popularity in the 1950s is having a resurgence amongst millennials this year. Today's digital marketers measure metrics like website traffic and email list size, and collaborating with other brands on a sweepstakes is a quick tool to grow both. Every week, I see companies joining forces to give away a makeover package or a trip to Mexico, for example. They each promote the giveaway to their followers, sometimes tripling or quadrupling the number of people who see the contest. When consumers enter these contests, they opt-in with their email address to multiple brands who hope to woo them later. Although the unsubscribe rate can be high after the contest ends, the boost in brand awareness is notable.

Who's doing it well? TheSkimm

The e-newsletter participates in sweepstakes collaborations regularly, growing its email list astronomically as a result.

Whether it's dusting off old tactics like sweepstakes or finding new advertising channels like podcasts, this year's marketing trends are all about tried and true methods. What other tactics have you seen come on the scene?

Related: You Win When Using Giveaways to Grow Your Social Audience

Wavy Line
Charlotte Nichols

Director of Marketing at UGallery

Charlotte Nichols is director of marketing at UGallery, an online art gallery offering curated, original art for sale from mid-career and emerging artists. Previously, she was associate marketing manager at General Mills.

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