Over the past year, I’ve seen some of the biggest shifts in consumer behavior than ever before. And it’s thanks to people like me. You know…marketers. Marketers ruin everything. Remember how you used to love getting email until brands started blasting the shit out of your inbox with offers? That’s what I mean.
Luckily that changed a lot in 2013 as social media became a staple with people of all ages. For the first time, brands can engage the consumer in conversation.
Based on growing social media and mobile usage, here are the 5 digital marketing trends that I believe will most impact 2014:
1. Location-based marketing
Advanced marketers have been communicating with customers based on their location for years, more recently via checking in on Foursquare or Facebook, and previously via proximity technologies such as Bluetooth.
But consumers don’t have to check in for marketers to target them; we can do so based on their location via GPS. Google does this extremely effectively via AdWords. Radius targeting allows you to target your advert to customers within a certain distance from your business. A local pizzeria would be crazy to target the keyphrase ‘pizza’ but foolish not to if that person is on a mobile device and in the local vicinity.
Just yesterday, I launched a website for a client called Indy Pocket Pass which gives its cardholders geo-targeted discount offers at places around them based on their location. The app iteslf is still pending approval, but will be an amazing location-based marketing tool. For example, consumers can pull up the mobile site or the app and quickly find out which restaurants in their vicinity are offering a discount deal. Restaurant owners will also be able to send push notifications based on location.
Apple has taken this a step further with iBeacon, an ‘indoor positioning system’ enabling an advertiser to tailor messaging to a customer based on where they are inside your shop, office, stadium etc. The options are endless, from informing customers in which aisle to find a product to providing navigational advice to their seat in a stadium and more.
The real power is when you overlay this technology with demographic and customer information. Not only do we now know where this customer is but we know who they are and what they like, so we can target them more effectively.
Take away: Bricks-and-mortar stores need to embrace location-based marketing. Your search campaign should use radius marketing and if people are in-store, you need to be up-selling and cross-selling them via proximity technologies.
2. Image and Microvideo marketing will explode
Google started this when it launched ‘Universal Search’ back in 2007, introducing images into its search results. More recently the search giant took it a stage further with the release of Authorship, allowing authors to link content they publish on a specific domain to their Google Plus page and have their picture appear in the search results. If you’re blogging, you need to be using this technique as it maximizes visibility, increases click-through rates and provides a competitive advantage.
The huge growth of Instagram and Pinterest over the past year had further reinforced the fact that pictures are more engaging. Pinterest is the fastest-growing platform for online content sharing, outstripping both LinkedIn and Facebook. The increased use of infographics provides more proof that image-based content is key.
Take away: Content has always been the king. But in 2014 content will be fueled by 3 core pillars: Creativity, Context and Care. There will be rise in Visual Story-telling by increased use of Micro-videos and Infographics.
3. Mobile Becomes Even More Important Than Ever!
This entire blog post could be written around mobile. The facts don’t lie and I’m sure your own mobile habits will support the fact that mobile use will surpass desktop computer usage this year. And when I say that you need to start using mobile to promote your brand in 2014, I don’t mean a mobile website. Because that’s something you should have already had a long time ago and I’ll assume you do. (If not, you’re already being punished by the search engines for failure to provide a proper mobile user-experience.)
2014 is the year of Mobile communications in the digital age. With increased use of Instant Messaging and chat-based social networks – Whatsapp, Wechat, Snapchat, Line and others. As these one-to-one chat platforms migrate into a one-to-many platform, this will be the new and dominant way to target and communicate branded content with your audience!
Take away: Mobile website, mobile apps, push notifications, texting, mobile check-in, geo-targeting… Forget print mail, emails, billboards and all of those other way-outdated forms of marketing. People aren’t paying attention to you, to your emails, to your letters or even to the damn road. They are paying attention to their phones. Whatterya gonna do about it?!
4. Short storytelling will drive audience attention
If you want to connect with audiences, especially younger ones, create engaging and bite-sized stories. The growth of Pinterest and its crisp and simple layout proves people want simple. Google understood this before anyone else – is there a homepage less cluttered or more uncomplicated than Google’s? In 2014, marketers must be able to tell their story as succinctly as possible.
As consumption of video on mobile devices continues to grow in 2014, short video storytelling will become paramount. Twitter’s Vine service, which allows users to upload 6.5 seconds of video, boasts just under 14 million registered users and has featured as the Apple app store’s most downloaded app. Most exciting of all, my favorite author/speaker/entrepreneur launched a talent agency for Vine stars recently called Grape Story and represents some of my favorite talent.
Take away: The exponentially increasing volume of content being published on an ever-increasing number of platforms, available in an increasing number of formats, is driving a need to filter more easily. The current trend is to make things as short and punchy as possible.
5. Hashtags will become a leading search tool
Everybody knows what a hashtag is, and it has become a part of contemporary culture. Hashtags are an efficient way to find content relating to specific topics, as well as the people talking about those topics. Just as searches are conducted on platforms other than Google, Bing and Yahoo, search also happens on social platforms. Every day, people search on Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms using words and hashtags with success. As a sign of things to come, Google has increased the visibility of hashtag searches on its search engine as well.
Take-away: Hashtags still seem kind of silly but when you see Google make moves to incorporate it in search, you better start paying attention.
So there you have it. Now wrap up that 2014 digital marketing strategy and make sure you include these items!