Like anything fashionable, the one thing that can be said with certainty about web marketing in 2014 is that things will change. It's the only constant in this dynamic field. After all, just a few years ago, we were posting on My Space and RSS feeds were the latest thing. Now, both are all but extinct. However, there are a few web marketing trends to watch for the coming year that we feel can help your clients entice and retain customers. Below are the top five we think you should keep your (and their) eyes on:
1. Mobile marketing.
According to a study by Pew American Internet and Life Project cited by CNN, more than two-thirds of Americans use their cell phones to access the Internet. That's nearly double the number of people who used their phones to surf the Web in 2009. In addition, the study found that more than 21 percent of consumers with a mobile device use that device in favor of their PC or laptop for Web browsing. That means that if your company hasn't taken steps to make its content friendly and easy-to-read by mobile device users, you're missing out on an increasingly large segment of the marketplace.
2. Geo-based marketing.
As more and more people use mobile devices (armed with GPS tracking software), more and more tech-savvy marketers will be showing them ads based on their current location. For instance, if you're approaching a city by care, you'll see restaurant and store ads for that city. Some companies are even targeting consumers inside a competitor's store with price-busting offers. According to one study cited by econsultancy, 62 percent of mobile web users are open to the idea of location (or geo) target advertising.
3. Content marketing.
Content is still king in 2014, even if businesses are using it somewhat differently. Rather than the keywork-heavy content strategy of the past, today's content marketing focuses on relationship building. Increasingly, consumers are looking to get to know a company or a professional before they make a buying decision. Content that answers their questions and presents your company as an expert in your field helps to build that consumer confidence.
4. Niche social media sites.
Another of the web marketing trends to watch for in 2014 is smaller, niche social media sites. Instead of mass marketing on huge sites like Facebook, where only a fraction of the site's more than one billion users may be interested in a company's product, marketers are opting to be visible on smaller sites that mesh with their product. The phenomenal growth of Pinterest helps to proof the value of this marketing strategy. In addition, relatively tiny sites like Good Reads (for book lover, publishers, authors and bookstores) or Ravel (for sewing enthusiasts and companies that sell sewing related products) are seeing more companies enter their ranks and interact with the membership. Although being visible on such sites requires more work than buying a generic Facebook ad, you know that you'll be reaching consumers who have already expressed an interested in your market. This is one of the web marketing trends that's sure to continue as more and more niche social media sites are launched.
5. More visual marketing.
According to one infographic by the Jenkins Group that's circulating around Facebook, only 30 percent of Americans have walked into a bookstore in the last year and 33 percent of high school graduates and 42 percent of college graduates never pick up a book after they graduate. Clearly, we are a visual, not a textual society. Marketers are finding increasing ways to entice buyers via videos and pictures. According to Jay Baer of "Convert and Convince.com," the use of images and videos has exploded over the past year." Look for that trend to continue in 2014.
Although there's sure to be one or two exciting and unexpected new web marketing products that emerge in 2014, watching and using the web marketing trends mentioned above for your clients' 2014 business plans can help them stay ahead of their competitors in the fiercely competitive Web marketplace.