As proven by this year’s holiday shopping season, technology is reshaping the way customers find and purchase products. And research indicates those trends are likely to continue. So they should be reflected in your marketing plan for the coming year. Here are some related predictions about where marketing is headed in 2014.
Native Advertising Grows
Traditional forms of advertising rarely draw in customers in the Information Age. With new information inundating us daily, forms of advertising such as display ads only average a 0.1% click-through rate, with 85% of clicks delivered by 8% of the online population. However, native advertising, in which content is integrated into the user’s online experience, is much more successful. IPG Media Lab and Sharethrough found that when compared to display ads, consumers looked at native ads 53% more frequently. Additionally, consumers were 18% more likely to purchase the advertised product with native ads.
So what are the different types of native ads you can invest in? One popular subset is content marketing, in which businesses produce relevant branded content that consumers actually want to read. These include blogs, articles, and white papers. 90% of customers consider this type of content useful, and among B2B businesses, 93% plan to use content marketing in 2014. Forbes predicts that content marketing in 2014 will be more strategic and professional, so be sure to invest the necessary time and money for a well-planned content marking initiative.
Another type of native advertising is promoted tweets, trends, and stories on social media. As advertising on these sites becomes more prevalent in 2014 and beyond, it will be harder and harder for businesses to promote themselves for free. This expense might be difficult for small businesses on a limited budget. However, this strategy does work. A recent study found that promoted Tweets increased brand conversation and drove offline sales.
Image Marketing Matures
While the big social media sites (Facebook, Twitter) have a mixture of text and image content, the new sites on the rise (Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Buzzfeed) are almost entirely image-based. And businesses are increasingly marketing on these new sites. A study by Simply Measured found that “71 percent of the world’s largest brands have adopted Instagram” – and that number is only predicted to grow in 2014.
Why the rise in images? Well, for one thing many people learn visually, so images are the best way for them to process new information. But the reason for the recent surge probably has more to do with the ease with which photos and videos can be optimized on mobile devices. In fact, video now accounts for 90% of all Internet traffic and 50% of mobile traffic. And search engines now reflect this shift, with Google highlighting image search results to the top of the page. So to attract consumer attention, you need to integrate visuals into next year’s marketing strategy.
Still not convinced of the power of images? A mom and her teenage daughter started a local teen trend website, and they received 10,000 visitors in a month just by posting a single image to Pinterest. Now that number is up to 120,000 average visitors per month. Huffington Post has the details on this story and how you can better leverage Pinterest for your organization.
Mobile Traffic Becomes Critical
Mobile traffic is increasingly important in business marketing. According to the Walker Sands Quarterly Mobile Traffic Report, 28% of website traffic now originates from mobile devices, and that number is only predicted to grow in 2014. So it is more important than ever that your company’s website be optimized for mobile viewing – whether that means creating a separate mobile version or investing in responsive web design. The Search Engine Journal has these great tips on how to make your website mobile-friendly if you want a good kick-start.
But its not enough to have a functioning site, you should be investing in mobile-centered marketing initiatives. For example, mobile geo-targeting, which allows companies to send relevant messages based on their location, is predicted to account for one half of mobile advertising dollars by 2017. And it’s well worth the investment. Geo-targeting can help you target your advertising within a specific area, and perhaps more importantly, help you determine the interests, shopping habits, and demographics of your potential customers.
As these trends demonstrate, customers have numerous platforms and devices by which to interact with your brand, so you have to be cross-pollinating and compatible with all of them. Business Insider reports that perhaps the biggest challenge for businesses in 2014 will be to find a way to track customers across all of these channels. But once you figure out the best strategy for your company, you’ll get a fuller picture of customer shopping habits and see more effective marketing results in the long run.
Customers go mobile photo via ShutterbugMore in: 2014 trends