2014 is going to be an exciting year for web marketers. Already six months in, we’ve seen some spectacular wins and fails in social media, experienced cutting-edge new tactics, and have gotten a real sense of what the world of search will look like in the coming years.
Some of the old digital marketing and social media techniques are on their way out, thanks to a more experienced crop of web users who’ve become wise to cheap marketing techniques. With new trends like Instagram skyrocketing in popularity, it’s important that web marketers stay on top of what’s happening and develop strategies to stay ahead of the curve.
Here are five 2014 marketing trends that will take your business to the next level. Trust us – if you’re not working these into your strategy already, now is the perfect time to start – it’s never too late.
1) Content Marketing Isn’t Going Anywhere
Each and every year, some marketing guru will run a “the sky is falling”-type article telling marketers that the era of content marketing is over and that targeted blog posts, e-books, press releases, and the like are a thing of the past. No matter what hype you might hear, ignore this. Targeted blog posts and valuable web content is still an invaluable way to market your product. However, things have certainly changed in the past five years or so.
These days, it’s important that your content isn’t just a cheap grab for a higher search engine ranking, but that it provides real and interesting information for your readers to enjoy. Furthermore, it’s key that you create content that can easily be shared on social media and start worthwhile dialogue. When it comes to content, make sure it always meets these three criteria:
- It’s valuable, educational, or entertaining.
- It’s easily accessible and shareable.
- It’s dynamic and aesthetically pleasing (i.e. multimedia, Pinterest-friendly images, and video is your friend!)
2) Instagram is the New Twitter
Twitter has become saturated. While Facebook can still be a useful marketing tool, Twitter has become the place where bad online marketing campaigns go to die (not always, but usually). However, Instagram is a powerful and effective tool that is sadly unused by so many web marketers. Upload photos and video clips that are extremely sharable and compelling. You’ll be shocked at the amount of shares you can get in a short amount of time, especially when compared to the paltry amount of shares you’d be lucky to get on Twitter.
3) Buying Ads is on the Rise
In the old days, web marketers scoffed at the concept of buying ad space, insisting that they could DIY their marketing campaigns with some good, old fashioned SEO. Unfortunately, in a saturated marketing arena, buying ads is actually becoming one of the easiest ways to stand out from the crowd. However, avoid banner or image ads. Instead, buy sponsored ad space on social media platforms or sponsor content that’s designed to reach a targeted and engaged audience. These ads are rising in clicks and conversion rates, whereas savvy web users are learning to ignore banner and text ads on websites. (P.S. – Did we mention all of the ad blocker apps available on browsers nowadays?)
4) Controversy Sells
We live in a world where viral videos are a dime a dozen and where any polarizing topic can yield thousands of blog posts in a web search. In 2014, you’re going to have to be a little shocking if you want to stand out. This doesn’t mean that you have to be offensive, but you need to stop shying away from a fear that you’ll put customers off by creating content that could potentially be a bit polarizing. Take a definitive stance and put your support and content behind it. Remember: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
5) The End of Black Hat SEO
In the old days, web users could easily be tricked, and unethical SEO could yield fast cash results. Those days are officially over. Maybe it was Google Panda, maybe it was the fact that even older web users have become savvy and wise to what’s an ad and what isn’t. Either way, those who attempt to make a quick buck using shady and unethical SEO practices can no longer expect to find any success in the web marketing world. For those who were trying to scam the system, that’s bad news. However, for those honest marketers who were sick of swimming in a sea of sharks, this is fantastic. 2014 will be the year where real, valuable marketing content and campaigns rise, deservedly, to the top.
What have you seen so far in 2014 in terms of marketing trends? What are your predictions for the next six months?