It’s safe to say that marketing has probably undergone more changes in the last 3 years than it has in the preceding 100. Recent trends and developments have reshaped the industry (and digital strategy) as we know it, challenging and upsetting the status quo.
Staying up-to-date and informed of all of these new trends and technologies can be a daunting task for many of our clients. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of marketing trends that will dominate the marketing landscape in 2014.
Responsive Web Design Will Be Mission Critical for Businesses
Responsive websites are websites that offer an optimal viewing experience across a very wide array of devices (from smartphones, to tablets, to desktop computers and in rarer cases large screen televisions). A fairly recent phenomenon, Responsive Web Design first appeared on independent blogs and niche websites, before spreading out to businesses both small and large.
In 2012, sales of desktops and laptop computers have declined globally and continued to do so for the last 6 quarters. In many emerging markets, the first computing device for many families are an in-expensive tablet. For kids born in developed countries since 2010, most become fluent in touch and gesture based UI/UX (courtesy of iOS and Android devices) long before they ever touch a keyboard and mouse.
A recent survey released by International Data Corporation predicts that by 2017, 87% of connected devices will be smartphones and tablets. In another survey, one third of mobile users have confessed that mobile devices are the first and last thing they look at each day. This paradigm shift underscores the fact that a growing percentage of content that is created, shared and consumed, are being done so via mobile devices. Businesses (and their in-house marketing teams) have had to adapt to this massive behavioral shift by retrofitting or redesigning their corporate web presence to be responsive to all of the various device types that have flooded the market.
Having a website or content that is not mobile friendly in 2014 will be analogous to companies that didn’t have websites or email a decade ago.
Digital Marketing Integrates with All other Marketing Channels.
Any long-term marketing strategy will, for all intents and purposes, be a digital strategy if leaders want to get their message out amidst all of noise and clutter clamoring for attention. With the widespread proliferation of social media platforms, various mobile device types (Smartphones and tablets on the mainstream, Google Glass and smart watches on the niche end) content is becoming ubiquitous and brands everywhere are adopting new types of content strategies to communicate their messages and brand values to consumers.
Growth Hacking Moves from Startups to Big Business.
In recent years a new type of digital marketer have emerged in various technology startups; companies like Dropbox, Pinterest, Groupon, Instagram and Twitter all owe a large part of their explosive growth and widespread adoption to this new breed of marketers. They’re known as “Growth Hackers” in Silicon Valley. They are digital marketers who, initially, used an ad hoc approach of combining SEO, website analytics, content marketing and A/B testing and synthesizing them into low-cost marketing strategies that stands in stark contrast to traditional marketing and paid advertising.
In lean startup cultures where “Growth First, Budgets Second” is considered a sacred tenet, Growth Hackers have emerged as a new type of hybrid marketer, most of whom do not possess a traditional marketing background. Many come from the software development side. Unbound to traditional methods and best practices, many approach marketing with an emphasis on innovation, creativity, and user connectivity to build brands and drive business goals. Most will eschew traditional paid advertising and utilize social media and viral marketing exclusively to accomplish their goals.
Over time, many have connected with each other to share ideas and resources, and while, not quite mainstream as of yet they are rewriting the rules of how businesses can grow in the US.
For businesses with an emphasis on Cloud services, SaaS (Software as a Service) or single product startups, growth hacking as a marketing methodology will be most effective. With that said, with Facebook’s recent addition to the Fortune 500, growth hacking strategies is on the cusp of being adopted by mainstream marketers.
Additional Growth Hacker Resources:
Growth Hacker TV
Marketing Automation Gains Traction Among Fortune 100
“The right message to the right person at the right time.” This is the long held promise of marketing automation; software platforms designed for marketing departments to help automate repetitive marketing tasks that are prone to human error. Most marketing automation solutions evolved from enterprise level email marketing platforms, many are designed to move leads from the top of the marketing funnel to becoming qualified prospects towards the end. Most robust marketing automation solutions provides in-depth lead scoring, allows for behavior tracking and aggregates social data and provides marketing intelligence.
Platforms becoming popular with many large businesses are HubSpot, Oracle’s Eloqua platform, Marketo, and Adobe Marketing Cloud. Each is different but what most of them tend to offer are the ability to develop, manage and analyze marketing campaigns and provide analytical data and insights into customer data. Many will provide robust lead generation, nurturing, and scoring and offer sales intelligence and other measurement tools to help measure ROI.
Location Based Marketing
Social, local, mobile, or SoLoMo in some circles, is the recent confluence of mobile technology, social discovery apps (Foursquare, Instagram, Yelp, Google Now) and location sharing features that have allowed consumers to share in realtime what they are doing and where they are doing it at with pinpoint accuracy.
Local brands and small businesses quickly saw the obvious business opportunities of using SoLoMo tactics to take advantage of positive word of mouth and found ways to encourage customers to broadcast their consumption and/or endorsement activities in real time with a wide variety of social discovery platforms.
Social Media Marketing Will Diversify
Back in 2009 an effective Social Media Strategy could usually be summed up in three platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.
In 2013, 93% of marketers claim that social media is an integral part of their marketing mix. As platforms mature and the demographics along with it, new social media platforms have emerged to offer new means of expression and connectivity to individuals. As Twitter and Facebook become more dependent on paid advertising to provide shareholder value, more and more people will branch out to smaller social networks that are (at the moment) free of advertising and sponsored content.
Platforms brands should pay attention to in 2014 would be Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Snapchat.
Related: Digital Strategy for B2B Brands
In recent years, digital content consumption (the amount of time the average person spends consuming content via digital media) has experienced a phenomenal amount of growth. A result of this is the possibility of information overload and a clutter of unwanted information for many consumers. Over time, brands and outlets that offered curated content, content that has been filtered, rated and validated by trusted sources, have become very effective marketing platforms in that they offer relevant and useful content for a very specific niche or business sector.
The recent emergence of content curation stems in part from the formalized discipline of museum curators who select specific items to be included in a gallery show, but content curation also has its roots in the more humble practice of business professionals clipping out articles from newspapers and magazines and distributing xeroxed copies of it to their professional peers. The vast majority of corporate blogs for the most part function as content curation platforms that shares related industry news that would be relevant to customers, stakeholders, prospective and current employees
To integrate great content curation into your brand, please check out our helpful blog post here.
Video Will Become Even More Dominant
In 2013, virtually every person in the developed world will have the ability to create, send, and manipulate video in the palm of their hands. The ubiquitous spread Youtube, Vine, Instagram and Snapchat are testament to this. However many brands and businesses still lack the resources and wherewithal in-house to craft effective and meaningful video content to communicate their message. If a picture can say a thousand words, video can often multiple that effect by a factor of ten.
Video content is great in that, due to recent advances in encoding, compression and streaming, it can be endlessly repurposed across virtually any digital platform and device. And while the barriers to entry for traditional corporate videos can still be an obstacle for leaner marketing teams, the rise and acceptance of desktop (and now mobile) video production workflows allows for a more looser approach (Kickstarter is probably the epitome of this low-to-the-ground ethos).
For those with loftier budgets, the recent release of consumer and professional level equipment that can capture and display 4k resolution video footage allows for the creation of ultra-high definition content that offers stunning image quality and detail that delivers impact for global brands.