As we draw the curtain on 2013, it's safe to say that the year heralded more change in digital marketing than almost any year before. It saw the resurgence of adtech IPO's, a number of social networking giants moving aggressively to new models of monetization, and hundreds of new start-ups emerging in digital marketing space. But while for large marketers this year has been about growth and maturation, for SMB’s it’s been a constant whirlwind of both change and opportunity.
So let's review some of the most interesting developments of 2013 across various channels and how they may have impacted you.
- Mobile email: 61% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. Even if you have a mobile website, if you are not optimized for mobile-responsive email, you are behind.
- Google Tabs: Most of your marketing emails are now going to the Promotions tab instead of Primary inbox.
- Google auto rendering images in email: Images are now automatically sucked into Google's servers, checked for spam and then auto turned on. Great news for users, but big loss of tracking data for email marketers.
- Google Hummingbird: This update significantly increased the weight of reviews and local presence in SEO rankings. It is Google’s largest search algorithm update since 2001. The overhaul affects 90% of searches. If you want to be found - it's all about your online reputation now.
- Facebook: recent changes have significantly decreased the reach and visibility of organic content, now forcing advertisers to resort to paid ads to get visibility on Facebook. Non paid post visibility is seeing a decline by 44% on average, with some pages seeing declines as high as 88%. Great for Facebook Exchange buyers, not so great for dozens of viral marketing and influencer recruitment solutions.
- Twitter: Retargeting and custom audiences are now available.
- Pinterest: Sponsored Pins, available to a select few, have made a major impact for ecommerce brands.
- Possibly the most underutilized online marketing channel for SMB's - until recently only affordable and understandable to bigger advertisers but now increasingly available to all through tools like Perfect Audience.
What does this mean for you as a start-up or an SMB?
- Accept change as a constant - your online presence and strategy have much shorter shelf-life nowadays. If not totally outdated, they will definitely be less efficient within a year.
- To get the best ROI, you need to keep optimizing frequently.
- Increasingly shorter attention spans mean that the optimal digital strategy is likely to be multi-touch and multi-channel.
What can you do?
Whether you are an e-commerce retailer or a food marketer or home improvement service provider, you can embrace digital marketing as a fast moving and ever-expanding channel. And while you might not have the time to master the multitude of complex options, you can do the following:
- Become more proactive about monitoring the changes on a regular basis.
- Leverage tools designed to make it easier for you to keep up with changes and complexity.