What does 2014 hold for the digital marketing world? As another year comes to a close, the Anvil Media team got out its crystal ball and looked into the future to make our annual marketing predictions. It is a practice we’ve done for nine years now and one we’ve definitely come adept at. You can check out how our 2013 predictions fared in this recap.
CMOs Will Increase Spending in Digital Marketing - As consumers continue to turn to smartphones and tablets to interact with brands, marketers need to engage them directly. With Black Friday retail sales flat, but Cyber Monday sales up 30% in 2013, CMOs will need to increase focus on engaging the mobile consumer to get their attention and their dollars.
Cross-Channel Marketing Key to Exceeding Marketing Goals - No, this is not a new concept. Actually, it is quite old. As the volume of marketing channels continues to grow exponentially, cross-channel marketing strategies will become integral to business’ success. Utilizing the insights from search, social, and integrated marketing will allow companies to develop cross-channel content creation strategies.
Bottom line: cross-channel marketing, especially on mobile devices is a necessity
Search Engine Marketing
All Searches Will Become Semantic - The definition of “semantic search” will expand to cover nearly all search, in keeping with Google’s ambition to transform from a simple keyword-string-matcher to a machine that can provide meaningful answers to real human questions. Accordingly, the percentage of search results pages that satisfy the user without requiring click-through will skyrocket. Site owners will scramble to learn Schema markup and make prolific use of the Data Highlighter in order to attract whatever potential outbound clicks remain to be had, but it might be too late; Google itself is going to become the final destination for more searches than ever. Hummingbird will turn out to have been just the beginning.
Search Results Pages Undergo Transformation - Say goodbye to the days of standard search results with ten blue links. From local carousel results to the introduction of the knowledge graph, in-depth articles and authorship, the SERPs have undergone significant transformation in the past year or two. There are now countless SERP combinations and possibilities. Expect this trend to continue as Google evolves and add features in the name of creating a better search experience. How long until no two SERPs look alike? Brands must constantly stake claim on as much real estate in SERPs as possible for their most important branded and targeted keywords. Also, expect product listings and local advertising to increase Google’s ad real estate in SERPs.
PPC Quality Score Will Include Mobile Site Capabilities - Mobile advertising became the big thing this year with AdWords launch of enhanced campaigns. Due to the increasing use of mobile devices in search, mobile ready landing pages will play a key role in Quality Scores. Cross-device tracking and new mobile conversion opportunities will also be key to mobile advertising growth.
Bottom line: search result pages are shifting from traffic hubs to information hubs and mobile advertising has shifted from the exception to the norm
Social Media Marketing
Any Website That Isn't Posting Content on Google+ Will Die a Slow Death - Google+ has been growing in SEO importance since day one and to many digital marketers dismay, some brands still haven't jumped on board. For a year we’ve been saying “Get ahead, use Google+.” In 2014 we’ll be saying “No Google+? Sayonara.”
The Use of Micro-Video Will Rise – Micro-video sharing has already proven itself valuable for breaking news and viral events. Social media is increasingly being used for real-time sharing. Users depend on short snippets of text, photos or videos to consume information. For this reason, platforms like Vine and Instagram continue to be hugely popular. Instead of marketers putting all of their eggs in one :30 or :60 second basket, a series of shorter videos will be used to stay relevant with changing trends and seasons.
Facebook Will Lose The Younger Demographic - For anyone below 40, Facebook is old news. And for teens, it is where all the scary parents are lurking, just waiting for them to post an inappropriate picture or use a curse word that will get them grounded. Facebook is dying, and by the end of 2014, it will be the digital geriatric clinic sprinkled with brands, cheesy real estate agents, and car salesmen.
Apps and Social Platforms Will Have a Much Faster Lifecycle - As stated above, the new world order is: Kids flock to social network; Parents hear about said social network and sign up; Kids leave adults in the dust and move on to some newer, shinier social media toy. Expect this cycle to accelerate in 2014.
Social Customer Service Will Be a Necessity - Customers are continuing to utilize sites like Twitter and Facebook to air their complaints with a business. A growing number of these users expect a same day response. Since the voice of your consumers is only amplified through the use of social media, it is important to address these issues as soon as possible. A disgruntled customers’ savvy use of social media could lead to a much bigger problem for the reputation of a company.
Social Advertising Will Expand Beyond the Platform - As remarketing capabilities are expanded in Twitter and Facebook, the ability to target audiences within these platforms based on their behavior outside of them will improve. This will enable advertisers to more effectively target users based on their actions across the Web.
Bottom line: social media platforms and preferred content types will continue to evolve at a rapid pace
Web Analytics – Analytics will continue to evolve, improve and ingratiate itself with the C-suite. Enhancements and discussions relating to visualization of data, cross-channel tracking, predictive and convergent analytics will become the norm within the marketing departments by the end of the year. Companies that continue to measure visits and sales without factoring in outside data for context will miss opportunities.
Bing/Yahoo will Encrypt Keyword Data - With an increasing array of connected devices from Windows 8 tablets to Xbox One systems, it is possible that Microsoft may feel the need to follow the same belief of user privacy and encrypt search query data from its search engines. In efforts to calm marketers down, they could expand the tools and feature set of Bing Webmaster Tools.
People Will Revolt Against Location Services - Much like (not provided) has taken over our analytics keyword reports due to “security and privacy” concerns - location services will become a thing of the past. An uprising against the “computers” knowing where we are will cause people to fight against being seen and no one will be able to find the nearest coffee shop at the click of a button.
FTC Cracks Down on Data Brokers - The Federal Trade Commission (particularly Commissioner Julie Brill) takes a stronger position regarding online advertising and user privacy, putting even more pressure on data brokers (such as Axciom) and their practices. Consumer privacy becomes even more of a hot topic in media after data-traffickers reveal practices in wake of continued government surveillance leaks.
Bottom line: privacy is and will continue to be a key issue in analytics and digital marketing
That’s a wrap on our 2014 predictions. Share your thoughts below and check back next December to see if we hit the mark.