How is digital marketing changing? Two things to keep in mind in 2014.

digital marketing trends in 2014As a relatively young industry, digital marketing is going through developmental phases at such pace that it’s useful to sit back and take stock. In January, Adobe published its predictions for 2013, and fairly accurately predicted that 2013 would be “the year of content”. The industry made leaps and bounds from the clunky keywording of the past to a more differentiated approach, based on trying to engage a customer in a more ‘real’ way. This content-based approach meant that the link between SEO and marketers became blurred, and I am sure the distinction will continue to shrink.

But with 2013 behind us, it’s time to think about the year ahead. As with any attempt at futurology, predictions are often flawed; so rather than trying to pick specific things and play the stock market, these are more general predictions.

 

1)      Mobile

This one has been the ‘go to’ prediction of this kind of list of anyone working in anything tech related for about five years now. However, many reliable sources indicate that 2014 is the year where the switch is finally made: where the majority of computing worldwide is done on mobile ‘devices’. This doesn’t exclusively mean mobile phones either; by ‘mobile’ I also mean wearables, two-in-ones (laptop/tablet hybrids) and other light-weight computing devices.

This will have a very real impact on the world of digital marketing. For a start, a shift from stationary access to more advance smart phones will probably mean (maybe counter intuitively) that more people will have access to the internet. The rise in 3g and 4g in countries like India and China (where wired internet infrastructure is often poor) could mean a massive shift towards smart phones. This, combined with the fact that the conversion rate of mobile searches is huge (three times higher than that of a desktop of laptop) means that digital marketing may have to rethink a lot of its strategies; or at least begin to seriously invest in mobile-specific or at least mobile-ready pages.

This will have a profound impact on how digital marketers design digital content generally. Rather than one-size-fits all websites, PDFs etc, 2014 will probably see a shift towards responsive design and “snackable” content. For companies with large websites, this redesign could be expensive, and it could mean that start-ups wanting to get their foot on the digital ladder will be at an even greater disadvantage than before. Finally, it may mean that those working on SEO will have to rethink the way they phrase their pages for mobile-specific content.

mobile digital marketing

2)      Interaction

This article outlines a fundamental fear that the digital marketing community is starting to react to the fact: that paying for adspace doesn’t generate the sales needed to justify the investment. In an age where we all spend most of time online, disruptive messages and unengaging advertising campaigns are becoming less tolerated, or perhaps worse, wallpaper.  This means, that when you pay for premium adspace online, the investment may not equate to a good one as engagement, and the all-important conversion ratio, is often low online. One of the more important aspects of digital marketing is the ability to convert sight into interaction: and 2014 is the year where this will become ever more important.

But how does this really go about? Well, instead of pushing a one-way brand message, digital marketers are now really going to have to create relevant experiences to try and bring their potential customers in. This doesn’t necessarily mean games, although creating, for example, YouTube ads which allow for a choice creates intrigue and likely greater engagement.

What this ultimately means is that digital marketers have to think not as prolific creators on one platform, but keeping a reasonable eye on multiple platforms, making them different so as to allow their consumers to discover their brand on in multiple guises. By creating subtly different content for their potential customers for each website, you can fight the automatic apathetic response from a potential customer, and capitalise.

Ultimately, what this means is exciting times ahead for the digital marketers, as increasingly cohesive brands are woven in multiple guises, on multiple devices.

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