Emerging Online Marketing Strategies for 2014

As 2013 comes to an end, marketers are thinking about trends and strategies that have made an impact and show potential for the coming year. We followed some global marketing gurus online to get insights on the approaches that are going to be important in 2014.

These are the suggestions for the future:

Focus on “social” as the new marketing mantra

There is a shift in the way marketers are achieving their goals. According to the 2013 CMO Survey, there has been 28% increase in emphasis on diversification strategies, the most important of which is organic growth. This explains the expanded focus on social media. Organic growth requires wide, viral reach and few other marketing techniques offer it to the same degree as social.
Kohl’s Facebook page skyrocketed to well over a million fans with their promotional campaign asking them to vote for schools to give out $10 million in charity.

 

Kohl's facebook campaign

Marketers in all sectors except for B2B products (B2C products/services and B2B services) plan to increase spending in 2014 but will decrease funding for traditional marketing and advertising. In fact, within five years, social media is expected to be an average 22% of marketing budgets. Right now social media accounts for 8% of marketing spending and, in twelve months, it is expected to account for nearly 12% of marketing budgets.

Prioritize the sharing of great content

There’s great content marketing and not-so-great content marketing. What matters most in is the perceived value delivered. So companies need to change their mantra from “always be closing” to “always be helping.” As Ted Williams says, “Speak to the dog, in the language of the dog, about what’s in the heart of the dog.” In other words, your insights should be driven from connections, engagements and commonalities. We don’t need more content. We need more relevant content and here’s how you can stay true to this purpose:

  • Keep an eye on shifting trends, seasons and news events to produce in-the-moment content that is consistent with the larger brand message.

When the Red Bull Stratos space jump was postponed last October due to bad weather, Kit Kat took advantage by posting an ad showing a Felix Baumgartner character sitting in a spacesuit and watching TV with the strapline: “It could be a long wait Felix . . . Have a break, have a Kit Kat”.

 

Kit Kat ad

 

  • Research and plan content that can be used when there’s nothing special happening or you have a blank in the calendar.
  • Be directly involved while investing a minimum of time. Follow conversations around your brand/products and services. Answer inquiries, take note of suggestions and provide quick feedback.

If you experience more referral traffic and/or social engagement then you know you’re doing things right.

Ride the mobility wave

Mobile is quickly becoming one of the main means of engagement between consumers and brands. Here are some facts highlighted by Pew Internet Project’s research related to mobile consumption:

As of May 2013:

91% of American adults have a cell phone
56% of American adults have a smartphone
28% of cell owners own an Android; 25% own an iPhone; 4% own a Blackberry

As of September 2013:

24% of Americans ages 16 and older own an e-reader
35% of Americans ages 16 and older own a tablet computer

Mobile is a key business enabler and brands need to catch up quickly to understand and adapt to technologies while adapting them to meet the specific needs of their customers. One of the blog posts on Forbes discusses five pillars that need to work together to maximize the benefits of the mobility wave:

1. Unique, branded mobile apps: By their very nature, mobile apps are proactive, vibrant and personal. Businesses should strive to make apps sufficiently compelling to ensure regular use once they are downloaded to build personal relationships with the customers at all times.
2. Redeemable deals: One of the most critical features of mobile marketing strategy is the ability to identify targeted customers and to provide them with unique and personalized mobile deals that are redeemable directly from their devices.
3. Event notifications: In addition to notifying the right prospects, the mobile platform should allow customers to signify whether or not they are going to attend directly from their phones when receiving event-related reminders.
4. Loyalty: Since most people have their phones with them most of the time, mobility is an ideal vehicle for loyalty programs. This also protects you from the cost and risk of theft through counterfeiting.
5. Customer referrals: A mobile customer referral program builds naturally upon the strengths of the mobile platform–it is personal, readily available and takes advantage of the contact information that is already stored on the phone.

Use Responsive email formats

In their analysis of more than five billion marketing emails in Q2 2013, Yesmail found that, while more consumers are opening emails on mobile devices, marketers aren't optimizing so that consumers will click to open emails.

Almost half (49%) of all email opens now happen on mobile devices, but the number of consumers clicking on emails after opening is just 11%--half the click-to-open rate on desktops (23%). This suggests marketers aren't providing consumers with the mobile email experiences they want.

Businesses can implement three major changes:

  • Design mobile friendly emails: These emails are the same width as other emails, but have large headlines and call-to-actions on the left side, which makes important take-aways get attention, since that side of the screen is initially loaded on mobile devices.
  • Optimize emails for mobile: These email formats also include clear, large headlines and call-to-action buttons but they also tend to be smaller than emails designed for desktop. Their sizes range between 480 and 560 pixels.
  • Opt for responsive emails: Responsive emails are designed to automatically re-format and re-size themselves to optimize for whatever screen size your recipients use. These formats hide non-essential elements of the email from mobile readers, making sure the main calls-to-action of the emails are easily found. Other elements of emails can change, including text sizes and colors, background images and background colors. Responsive emails should always be backed up with good mobile experiences. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, it’s worth the time and effort to optimize first and then come back to update your email program for mobile.

Retinadore is a provider that helps its customers design responsive email templates.

 

Responsive emails

 

Integrate print with online channels

There are tons of innovative ways that brands are combining the digital and physical. Personalization aside, consumers still enjoy the physical nature of print. But it is becoming essential to use print marketing tools to lead consumers to a more personalized and updated communication in online and mobile channels. For example, brochures, postcards, flyers, etc., should lead prospective buyers to the next steps in their paths to purchase, which usually means getting them to visit websites or landing pages.Shelf Reliance shares its URL on brochures to draw visitors to their website and help them learn more about the company and its purpose.

 

Food store brochure

 

By implementing strategies that transition people smoothly from print materials to websites or social media platforms, marketers create better connections and provide more reasons for potential customers to come back and buy.

What other online marketing strategies do you plan to implement in 2014 to improve your reach and provide buyers with better experiences?


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