Marketers have their eyes peeled for the brand new year, offering immense possibilities and an online landscape that is getting tougher by the day. Every day is a new learning with new tools being thrown in the game. Businesses are playing hard to catch up with their new and existing customers while trying to keep competition at bay. So, which technologies and trends will beat the rest and call the shots this year. I have been reading up opinions of industry experts and wanted to share some of those with you. Let us see which online marketing strategies are the veterans betting on this year?
Win with perfectly ironed out content marketing
According to infinigraph.com’s Chase McMichael, “2014 is all about going beyond experimenting, to full content marketing integration and executions.” 2014 will be the year where those who don’t have their content marketing strategies ironed out will be left in the dust. In a blog post on Search Engine Journal, if 2013 proved anything, it was that quality content is now the name of the game and that social shares and user engagement are the new benchmarks of a brand’s success. What does this mean for advertisers and publishers? It means that in order to stay relevant in the near future, marketers must be able to create and share original and compelling content that customers (or potential customers) are likely to read, comment, and share with their networks. Simply put, performance marketing in 2014 will be all about earned media.
David Spark of Spark Media Solutions opines that most brands will realize that paper-thin content offerings such as infographics and listicles only generate vanity metrics and don’t ever truly deliver value to the business’ bottom line. And herein lies the challenge of content marketing—publishers post pieces of “content” such as memes, viral videos, infographics, etc., and see a lot of user engagement via comments, likes, and shares, which is currently being equated to a successful, revenue-producing campaign.
Optimize for multiple screens
According to an article on Forbes, Nielson reported in June 2013 that of all mobile phone users in the U.S., 61% use smart phones. That is a 10% increase since early 2012. The study “Why We Don’t Buy: Consumer Attitudes on Shopping Cart Abandonment,” by Bronto Software and Magento said that 54% of people who buy online daily or weekly own a tablet and 64% own a smartphone. Businesses can’t afford not to have a mobile friendly website in 2014.
For optimal success of marketing campaigns, Google recommends “responsive web design.” In which the website design adjusts the layout or size of the website according to the screen or window size of whatever device or web browser is being used to view it. So whether your website users are using an iPhone, Android, tablet or desktop PC, the HTML code used to render the page is the same for every URL. This eliminates the need to host separate mobile sites at a different location than the main website. Essentially, the main website is the mobile website as well.
A responsive website design has dual advantages; while on one side it provides the best user experience with an optimized page for all visitors irrespective of the device they are using to view your website, on the other side, by showing the same URL to searchers on all devices, it strengthens your brand recall as well as search engine ranking value. Therefore, it is the need of the day to use a responsive website design to better reach users on different devices.
Bring focus on campaigns with paid social ads
Against all hopes of social media putting an end to the era of paid advertising in the online marketing world, many businesses have seen great results from paid social ads due to the deep user engagement and more sophisticated targeting tools on social media, so I expect this trend to accelerate in 2014.
According to Adroll, news feed ads on Facebook generate 49 times more clicks than right-hand side ads. Meanwhile, LinkedIn offers Sponsored Updates, and Pinterest is currently testing Promoted Pins. If these programs show the same effectiveness as Facebook’s, other channels may see this as a great opportunity to cater to business accounts, and smart marketers could use this avenue to effectively promote their top products and services.
Share visuals to attract more visitors
Visual content consistently outperforms blogs and other text-based content. Pinterest boards now generate more revenue for retailers than tweets or Facebook posts. David Langton and Anita Campbell have explained some great practical points in their book Visual Marketing. The book wakes you to novel marketing ideas using pictures, charts and infographics that could be very effective in growing small businesses. One study shows the retention rate for visual information can reach 65% versus 10% for text-based information. It’s hardly surprising, then, that visual media will grab more attention in the coming year.
Visual content is the best way to market your business on social media platforms as it draws audiences by sharing value with pictures of product offers, brand events, training programs, and employee engagement activities. Pictures give a personality to your brand and create real differentiation in the eyes of potential customers. Visual marketing is your chance to stand out, particularly if your company is not popular yet in your niche. And visual content is a great way to share your message in some new and engaging ways.
What other marketing strategies do you think are going to make a difference this year? I shall look forward to hear your ideas and plans.