18 Digital Marketing Trends for 2014 You May Not Have Heard About
UPDATE: 2015 predictions blog post and podcast now live!
As a follow-up to this article we have written a post called '27 Digital Marketing Trends for 2015 - our predictions', plus recorded an accompanying podcast - click here to read and listen!
2014 is well under way (Christmas already feels like a dream, right?) and as us digital marketers are all back in the real world, thoughts naturally turn to what the rest of the year is going to hold. There are loads of articles floating about on the topic of marketing trends at the moment, so we thought it was time for us to throw our hat into the ring.
We’ve picked the brains of some of our finest digital marketing experts to find out what they think is going to be big in their field during the coming year ahead. Here’s what they had to say:
David Somerville, head of social media
1. Increased use of social media advertising
“A continued trend within social media for 2014 is the rise of social media advertising usage by marketers. It was reported by the IAB that spend in the UK for the first 6 months of 2013 grew by 53% to £242.5million, and it’s likely that figures for the back-end of the year will have increased even more.
“Much of this increase is down to marketers realising that they need to use paid social ads to supplement their organic activity. There was a notable decrease in the reach of most Facebook page posts last year, with many observers suggesting that this is the network’s way of forcing more brands to have to use ads to get to the same audience.
“Another reason for the rise in popularity is the fact that many of the platforms allow for better targeting options and reporting. Marketers are realising that social advertising, unlike some more traditional marketing channels, can not only allow accurate targeting across a range of demographics and interests, but also gives in-depth reporting to help demonstrate ROI."
2. Further development of social media advertising products
“Twitter’s roll-out of advertising for small and medium businesses recently is further evidence. This now offers companies with budgets of all sizes to be able to use the platform to target their customers. Social media platforms will continue to develop new advertising products throughout 2014, such as the auto-playing Video Ads from Facebook, which are being tested in the US with selected partners.”
If you’d like to find out about how social media advertising can help your business, download our free essential guide to social media advertising.
Ashley Hitchcock, senior web designer
3. The simplification of user interfaces
“Flat user interfaces will continue to be popular, with simple colour schemes and white space. Apple ditching skeuomorphism in favour of a flat user interface with iOS7 and the design of Microsoft’s Windows 8 have certainly contributed to this trend."
4. The growth of mobile-first design
“With the increase in popularity of mobile internet usage, mobile-first design is going to become more commonplace. More sites are going to be designed for mobile and enhanced for larger devices responsively, rather than the other way round."
5. More websites will be designed to be contextually aware
“The use of HTML5 is going to expand even further in 2014. Websites will be designed to be contextually aware – they’ll be able to deliver content based on a user’s geolocation. It will also be more common for sites to have offline functions too.”
Julian Erbsloeh, senior digital marketing analyst
6. 2014 will be the year of conversion rate optimisation
“In my opinion 2014 will be all about doing more with your traffic. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) was the buzzword in 2013 and we have seen many companies starting to get involved. 2014 will be the year where conversion optimisation really takes off. We have seen a number of our clients move CRO to the top of their priority list as one of the key building blocks for their digital strategy. And it makes perfect sense – as driving good quality traffic to your site becomes more difficult and more expensive, the value of each visitor increases. By ensuring that each visitor has the best possible experience, companies can improve the ROI on all their other digital channels like PPC, Social, SEO et al. CRO has been around for a long time at Fresh Egg but what really stepped things up a gear in 2013 was the technology that became available to the masses. Companies like Optimizely have really changed the game and we are very excited to be able to work with them so closely in this field."
7. Personalisation of content will set competitors apart
“I also expect personalisation to play a big part in conversion optimisation in 2014. Companies that understand their visitors’ intent, and are able to serve them relevant and engaging content, will set themselves apart from the competition."
8. Clean data will become even more important
“However, conversion optimisation requires accurate data. It is surprising how many websites we still come across that do not have the most basic visitor and conversion tracking in place. So if you want to get involved with CRO in 2014, the first thing you need to do is ensure is that you are tracking all the important conversions on your site and that your analytics software is configured correctly. Your data will help you to understand what really happens on your site and guide you to the sections of your website that are ‘leaking’ visitors and value. Clean data is the most basic requirement for an effective and scientific approach to CRO. So with that in mind, my third prediction for 2014 is that effective visitor tracking and data analysis will become more important to companies as they realise that good decisions should be based on good data.”
Sarah Harvey, client services director
9. Areas of digital marketers’ expertise will grow
“As marketers have become more confident in their knowledge of executing digital marketing, the focus will switch to learning about new areas, such as CRM, digital strategy and content marketing, and how they can leverage ‘Big Data’."
10. Social media and email marketing will become increasingly integrated
“Email remains one of the best channels to engage customers and build brand loyalty. Social platforms will continue to further integrate with email; just look at Facebook, where you can include ads in emails that contain offer codes. Talking of emails, those who do not design their emails responsively as standard (it’s no longer good enough to consider this as best practice) will fall behind as more and more consumers increasingly use their smart phones to shop."
11. Online and offline marketing will continue to become better integrated
“The gap between ATL advertising and digital marketing will decrease as marketers further align and integrate their marketing efforts to deliver a more holistic approach. This will mean more departments and teams will combine forces rather than having separate digital and advertising teams."
“More and more shoppers will use their phones to check prices while shopping in-store. Those businesses which embrace this and come up with innovative technology to enhance the in-store experience (such as Links of London, Sephora, Jimmy Choo and Burberry) will stay ahead of the competition in 2014.”
David Sewell, SEO consultant
12. Continued improvements to Google Webmaster Tools
“Google Webmaster Tools has seen a greater focus and I’d expect improvements to continue in the following areas:
“One – an increase in the type and detail obtained within Webmaster Tools messages, helping webmasters pinpoint issues more easily. Some of these messages may become more personalised for specific issues.
“Two – Entities and relationships may become editable to a similar extent as sitelinks, in order to help Google understand the content on a site. For example, you may be able to break links between proposed ‘similar’ entities if the association is incorrect. This could help to ensure correct content classification.
“Three – A nominal charge may be made for Google Webmaster Tools, for an improved service. For example, speedier resolution of issues, reconsideration requests, and additional feedback.”
Nate Wood, head of international search
14. Further commercialisation of Google’s SERPs
“We’re going to see further commercialisation of the Google SERPs. Ads will have further extensions and be more image-based. We may even start to see more rich media formats being accessible to text ads. With the success of product listing ads (PLAs), the way forward has already been shown – increased use of imagery. The banner ad test in October 2013 showed that Google is very open to the idea of increased commerciality. One could even argue that it needs to in order to continue to drive growth, not forgetting that 96% of Google’s revenue comes from ads. Organic results will take more of a back seat, being pushed further down the page."
15. Further advances in ad targeting
“On the back of this, there are going to be further advances in targeting. The introduction of in-market data for display in Google and the demographic report in GA released in November will see that data being pulled into ad targeting for both display and search. This will be exciting, as we’ll be able to start understanding the funnel we’ve been talking about for ages and start delivering ads at different points along the funnel with greater confidence."
16. Improvements to Google mobile advertising
“Google mobile revenues are up, and continue to rise. I think we’ll see further improvements to the Google mobile advertising arm, perhaps with increased functionality in ads specifically catered to mobile strengths. Regionalisation and use of near field communications (NFC) is going to enable richer ‘out-and-about’ advertising to be delivered to phones. At the same time this is going to start to allow Google to pick up offline consumer intent, data that will feed back into ad targeting."
17. Continued growth of RTB
“Real-time bidding (RTB) will continue to grow throughout the year. It’s predicted that about 60% of publishers plan to start using supply-side platforms (SSPs) to manage inventory better, so we’ll start seeing more and better quality inventory open out to RTB advertisers."
18. Increased use of video advertising
“Video advertising hasn’t been in the news that much, it’s all been mobile, mobile, mobile. However, video ads saw a great growth in 2013 and I expect this to continue into 2014. Production accessibility is opening and I would expect more advertisers to give video a try in 2014.”
Looking for some help to get your head around these digital marketing trends and understanding what they mean for your business? We can help - please feel free to get in touch with the team today.