7 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2014

Mobile Marketing 2014Mobile marketing is one trend with staying power.

The start of a new year is a smart time to reevaluate your marketing strategy, looking back on what proved successful, but also forward to what new trends look promising. Some marketing trends play themselves out in a matter of months, while others stick around for years. Text message marketing is a great example of a trend that faded as technology quickly moved on. Yet social media – not always taken seriously by businesses – has carved out a place in almost every marketing plan.

Either way, businesses that can anticipate where the marketplace is headed can turn trends to their advantage, whether for short-term profit or long-term growth. With that in mind, here are a seven marketing trends your business should consider as you gear up for 2014.

1. Mobile Takes Over

With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the last few years, it’s no surprise mobile is poised to become the dominant channel through which people access the internet. By 2017, 87% of internet-connected devices sold will be mobile devices, according to predictions by the International Data Corporation. That means businesses will need to either develop mobile websites, or ensure their websites are responsive – meaning they identify users’ mobile devices and adapt to suit the platform. Expect location-based marketing, mobile advertising and apps to grow accordingly.

2. Content Marketing Goes Mainstream

While content marketing has been around for a while, many businesses haven’t seriously invested in this tactic until recently. This year, Google rolled out a new algorithm called Hummingbird that relies less on traditional keywords and more on context – in other words it does a better job of identifying content that matches users’ needs. As a result, developing relevant and interesting content that meets customers’ needs – from blogs, videos and infographics to traditional content like case studies – will become ever more important in the coming year.

3. Social Media Influence on Search Grows

Social media has become the new word of mouth – people look to their social networks as often as search engines to learn about businesses. So it makes sense that search engines would use social measures to influence search results. There’s some evidence that social likes and shares affect your organic ranking. And this year Google has incorporated elements of Google+ into its AdWords ads, too. So businesses are paying more attention to Social Media Optimization and monitoring their online reputations. If you haven’t been actively managing your social media, this might be the year to start.

4. Segmentation and Automation Become Easier

By now, you’ve probably heard the term “Big Data.” It means there’s more data about markets and consumers available to businesses than ever before, and more technology to manage it. This makes it easier for businesses to segment their marketing messages and develop more relevant, personal messages for their customers. Marketing automation tools are also becoming more affordable, allowing you to automate tasks like email marketing and social media, while better qualifying leads and tracking response. The result is that even small businesses can launch broad marketing campaigns that are more productive and efficient. (Of course, you need good content to make it worth your customers’ time. See No. 2 above.)

5. Branding Is Still a Must

Thanks to mobile, search and social media, consumers today are more informed and have more control when choosing products, services and information that suit their particular lifestyles. At the same time, they’re bombarded with more marketing messages than at any other point in history. This means businesses must continue to work hard to truly differentiate their brands from competitors, while also creating an emotional bond that fosters brand loyalty.

6. Integrated Marketing – No Longer a Buzzword

In our interconnected world, integrated marketing has moved from a trendy buzzword to a marketing necessity. (Of course, we’ve been talking about the importance of integrated marketing for a while.) Your marketing message faces competition not just from competing businesses, but social media, mobile content, email, online photos and videos, games and a thousand other daily distractions. To cut through the fog, your business needs to be everywhere your customers are likely to be, while effectively communicating a consistent message. Keep the message simple, but tailor it to each channel to create a powerful and useful customer experience however they choose to interact with your business. (Different channels also provide different opportunities to gather information about your customers, giving you a more complete picture of their interests and buying habits.)

7. Marketing Paints a Picture

Photo sharing, viral videos, animated gifs – people are increasingly consuming more visual content. And this trend is informing marketing as well. Apps are dominated by simple layouts and large photos. Websites tend toward big images, too, with clean designs that are easy to navigate. Infographics distill complex data into pictures that are appealing and easy to digest. As new formats emerge – like the 6-second ‘micro videos’ on Vine – businesses are adapting their marketing to take advantage of consumers’ fascination with these visual mediums. (For instance, Kmart has tried to capitalize on the popularity of gifs in its new TV commercials.) Keep this in mind as you plan your 2014 campaigns and develop content to attract and inform customers.

What trends do you anticipate for 2014? And which ones will inform your marketing? Tell us in the comments below.

photo: jeff_golden via photopin cc


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