Last month, Matt wrote a great post on just about every web design trend you are likely to see in the new year. As a follow up, I’d like to discuss my outlook on digital marketing trends for 2014. While a beautiful and innovative website design is great when it comes to presenting your brand in the right light, using the latest online marketing techniques is essential to driving quality traffic and converting those visitors. Not every tactic mentioned will be right for every industry or every company, but here are some ideas of what you’ll see and what may be worth looking into when examining your internet marketing strategy for the year to come.
2014 Digital Marketing Trends
Conversion optimization is quickly becoming a buzzword in the industry, and for a good reason. It is incredibly more efficient to convert more of the traffic you already have than it is to funnel more traffic to your website. The idea here is to increase the percent of visitors coming to your website who become a lead or a customer. For most industries, conversion optimization tools like Crazy Egg, Bounce Exchange, and Optimizely provide invaluable insights and are worth every penny. If you aren’t quite ready to make that investment, free tools are available through Google Analytics to help get your conversion optimization feet wet.
Along the same lines of converting more people who come to your site, live chat systems allow you to engage in real time conversations with your visitors and answer their questions immediately. You can then make a personal connection with each prospect, making it easier appeal to their specific needs or even develop a more long-term customer relationship that will pay off in the future. Social media makes users to expect personalized content and social interaction online. Including a live chat option on your site can be a great way to appeal to those expectations and close more sales in doing so.
In the digital marketing world, a bounce can be one of two things: a visitor comes to the site and leaves without clicking on any other pages or the visitor clicks around, leaves intending to make the purchase later and never comes back. In the case of bounce prevention, I am referring to the latter. This idea relates to conversion optimization in that it emphasizes capitalizing on the traffic you have as opposed to driving as much traffic as possible, but there is a specific distinction. The key to bounce prevention is developing a connection with the visitor to build brand awareness and keep you on their mind. A lightbox prompt to sign up for your email list or download an ebook is a good opt-in method while remarketing ads can be a good supplement for getting your brand and your message out to these visitors. With bounce prevention, it’s all about reducing the number of people who find you, love you, and forget about you anyway.
Social proof relates to the idea that people are influenced by those around them, and more specifically, by those we know. It’s a psychological phenomenon that has been around since before the dawn of the interwebs. But social media brings an entirely new meaning to the term. Facebook and Twitter have allowed digital marketers to utilize social proof through like, share and tweet counts for a while now, but Google+ is taking it to the next level by integrating +1s and circles (their version of “friends” or “followers”) into search results. In 2014, social proof will play a role not just through social plugins on your site, but its role in how people get to your site will only continue to expand.
Speaking of Google+, I am also anticipating an increase in the use of Google+ by digital marketers over the next year. It has been a “must have” for SEOs for a while, but it can often be difficult for marketers to justify putting effort into media where your audience isn’t. That being said, it is quickly becoming a necessity in many industries to have a Google+ presence if you want to be visible in search results. Additionally, Google+ offers an excellent medium for extended discussions and building connections that isn’t comparable to other social networks.
Website and social media integration
Integrating social media with your website goes along with social proof to some extent, but it goes further into the idea of ensuring your marketing channels work with each other in order to provide the most value to your customers. Users are coming to expect a cohesive brand experience across all devices and all platforms. This means it is up to you to create seamless transitions between your Facebook presence and your website, your Twitter profile and your print materials, and more. Using Facebook comments for your blog, adding social media buttons throughout your website or integrating Facebook login with your app are all ways to do so.
Social media advertising
Compared with traditional advertising, social media ads offer unmatched targeting and are invaluably measurable. The ability to pick and choose who you want to see your ads and when you want them to be seen along with the ability to review what consumers do when they click is something that cannot begin to be tapped by traditional methods. While search ads offer some similar benefits, the reason I am predicting an increase in social media advertising relates to the profiles attached to them and the potential for remarketing to users.
I already mentioned the fact that consumers are demanding seamless experiences across different platforms and devices. The most important aspect of this is mobile accessibility. Mobile visits, conversions and sales have a huge potential to increase over the next year, but it is up to you to optimize your mobile presence in order to attract the most traffic and give visitors an optimal experience. Best practices such as responsive design and click to call functionality should be a priority for all web marketers who are serious about growing their online presence in 2014.
Visual and multimedia techniques
Rankings will matter less
When a searcher is logged out, Google uses more than 60 different signals to determine the results that are seen. From the device you are using to your location to your search history and more, Google is always personalizing your results based on its perception of what you are not only explicitly searching, but also its interpretation of the implicit factors involved in a search. Combine that with Google’s near 100% transition to keywords (not provided), and digital marketers are quick to see that keyword rankings are not the KPI they once were.
Implementation aside, I’m predicting inbound marketing will be a huge buzzword for 2014. The idea of creating marketing content that drives traffic to your website has been gaining a lot of momentum in recent years, likely because it can be highly effective when done right. Inbound marketing specifically refers to the development of an engaged community of content consumers. This methodology is build upon the idea that the right content created for the right audience will capture attention, convert users and create promoters for your brand.
Email marketing has been a popular method of communicating to customers for quite some time. And while email marketing isn’t a completely passive marketing channel (it does require recipients to sign up), the strategy of most email marketers has been to bombard subscribers with messages, deals and coupons, a similar tactic to what is seen in traditional media. In 2014 however, the marketers who will be successful with email won’t be those stuck in the ways of email marketing but those investing in email outreach.
Tactics for community building in 2014 will reach beyond the email outreach highlighted above into the development of digital platforms that encourage social interaction and the development of engaged, dedicated consumers groups. Marketers are quickly realizing that consumers make the most effective marketers, an idea that can largely be traced back to social media, and the way that digital marketers can harness this phenomena is through the creation of valuable content, engaging experiences and communal discussions. Websites that effectively build community in 2014 will undoubtedly succeed in the world of internet marketing.
Real time conversations
Engagement is huge when it comes to building communities, and one of the best ways to engage your target audience is with real time, virtual events that bring people together online. Webinars have been around for a while, but Google+ hangouts and the ability to stream them live via YouTube has opened up a lot of doors. Additionally, Twitter and the hashtag make it easy for anyone to contribute to conversations that are happening both at actual conferences or virtual events. I think the ability to bring people from all over together in one digital location has huge potential for marketers in the coming year.
What can I do?
Start with your website
Driving traffic to an outdated or visually unappealing website will cause visitors to leave your site before they read a word on the page. If you are serious about investing in your digital marketing strategy for 2014, a fresh design and innovative branding is essential to your success.
Develop a focused strategy
What does your audience want, what are your competitors doing, and where are they falling short? The answers to these questions hold the key to the missing piece you can invade when it comes to your digital marketing strategy. If you don’t know who your audience is or what you want them to do, you won’t get the results you are looking for.
Invest in great content
The need for unique, quality content only increases over time. And the longer you wait to join the bandwagon, the more you will have to make up once you do. Take a look at your overall marketing strategy and the stages of the buying process for your audience. With that knowledge, you can create content that will not only drive traffic but also build community and a following for your brand.
Push for email subscriptions
Email campaigns are highly measurable and incredibly effective when done right. The ability to personally connect with your target audience in their inbox is huge, and the knowledge that comes from knowing what they click on, where they go, and what they purchase is invaluable.
Find your social media niche
If you aren’t on social media yet, now is the time. Do your research and know where your audience is, then do what it takes to build a presence there. Social media drives conversation around your brand whether you are there or not, so involvement in those conversations can mean the difference between a positive brand image and a negative one. Here are some beginner Facebook and Twitter tips to get you on your way.
A final note on marketing your website for 2014
There is a lot going on in the world of online marketing and keeping up isn’t easy even for us! Don’t be shy about getting in touch for some help with a strategy for marketing your website. We do this every day, and we are always glad to provide custom insights for growing your online presence. If you’re looking for the help of a few well-trained online marketing eyes, contact us!