2013 forced digital marketers to realise that acquiring vast numbers of followers on social media platforms simply wasn’t practical or sufficient. Instead (with partial thanks to Google’s Hummingbird algorithm), greater focus was given to engagement and content optimisation to help grow businesses more meaningfully. So, what does 2014 have in store? Well, inbound marketing will increasingly take centre stage to advocate customers sustainably. Here are our top predictions:
Content is king
Editorial content is more desirable than ever, gaining increasing exposure on website homepages instead of simply being side-lined. With the release of Google Hummingbird in 2013, marketers have recognised the value of implementing high-quality, relevant, and original content in order to rank more effectively across search engines.
In 2014, brands using content simply to gain links will be penalised by Google – instead, marketers can succeed in gaining a combination of the best reach, discussion, and quality of links to further their SEO campaigns by producing great, genuine content.
Another strategy is producing engaging images and videos which have become effective as the go-to viral tactic. In 2013, we saw lots of content being produced with images -.gifs, infographics, and memes – with brands getting creative with the delivery of messages, and this is set to continue into 2014.
In the coming year, we’ll see brands take a greater interest in optimising the customer journey for their core audiences. One thing that is often ignored by agencies is to remember that brands are powered by humans! It is, consequently, important to show a human side wherever possible, be this via social media platforms, branding, web copy, or blogs. Consumers don’t respond to a corporate machine, but instead to a more relatable human voice with character. Personality is key!
Less is more
Design is pivotal to digital marketing in 2014. The fashionable ‘flat’ look that is currently flourishing lends itself to simplicity, which in turn affects user interaction. Less on the page is far more appealing to the user, and makes the page’s content much easier to digest. Watch out for an elimination of clutter on the page and more blank space, which is only going to become more apparent in the coming year. With smartphones and tablets taking over the world, a desire for simplified sites with large buttons that are touch-friendly are now in demand more than ever.
Thanks to the widespread use of mobile devices, in 2014, marketers will have to ensure that the brand experience is the same for consumers on a smaller screen. Location-based marketing is set to flourish, with real-time location data collection possible through smartphones. This kind of marketing provides an opportunity for brands to enhance their customer offering, with high street brands now able to deliver store-specific content and transport operators sending content in a quick and succinct way to passengers on the move. In 2014, mobile e-commerce is set to grow exponentially.
With Facebook and LinkedIn having both moved sponsored ads into the newsfeed in 2013, we can only expect to see a continued generation of ads attempting user engagement. In 2014, brands will invest even more money in getting ads displayed on social networks, and with Instagram’s recent introduction of ads, opportunities are ever growing. With an even wider range of platforms to choose from to promote their brands, social networks are an exciting way for companies to understand how they are perceived.
Real time engagement
Attention. That’s what companies are after. They’re always looking for methods to intensify their speed of interacting ‘in the moment’ as they aim to reach their consumers in a novel manner to stand out from the rest. Conversational posts on Twitter and Facebook full of colloquialisms and humour are an excellent method of creating conversation with audiences, and this is only going to increase. Visual influencing is also set to boom in 2014 with apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp vying for the top spot as the main communication channel for sharing moments.
In summary, 2014 will be the year of interaction and engagement in terms of digital marketing – offering personality and valuable information via content and social media will be the key to success.