The Year to Come in Digital Marketing

If 2013 was a breakout year for digital marketing – a year when brands finally entered their comfort zone and pulled off some memorable wins, 2014 promises to take the sector to new heights as marketers refine the lessons they’ve learned and find creative new applications for last year’s emerging technologies. Among other things, consumers can expect campaigns to become more focused and tailored to their individual buying habits and are likely to encounter brand messaging more frequently when on the go.

Here’s a list of the top five trends to watch for in 2014:

Mobile Marketing 2.0

With Americans increasingly favoring their connected devices for accessing the Internet, fluency in mobile technology and its marketing potential will continue to be an essential component of the marketing toolkit this year. According to the Walker Sands Quarterly Mobile Traffic Report, 28% of website traffic now originates from mobile devices, and that number is only predicted to grow in 2014. But as marketers become more comfortable operating in the mobile arena, and mobile campaigns become more ubiquitous, the platform itself will recede backstage as the spotlight shines more and more on the new devices and innovative marketing applications the technology fosters. This includes new ad formats and new mobile marketing initiatives from social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Marketing on Location

As more retailers embrace in-store Wi-Fi and location-based marketing emerges from its developmental stage, brands will find increased opportunities for geo-targeting consumers with relevant messaging. According to Balihoo, 74% of smartphone owners use their device’s geo-locating technology, and 18% “check-in” from restaurants, bars and other locations. Meanwhile, grocery chains including Safeway and Giant Eagle, and retailers such as Macy’s are using Apple’s Bluetooth iBeacon technology to pinpoint users within a store and send deals, rewards and grocery-list reminders.

Big Screen, Small Screen

The rise of gigantic digital retail walls and tiny pocket touch screens top the list of 2014 digital screen trends, writes Keith Kelsen, author of "Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage." His two-part top 10 trends story also points out the need for interactive marketing and gamified systems that give consumers a way to participate, and the demand for high-quality content that keeps them engaged. “The combination of big and small screens in the new retail environment is the key to brick-and-mortar brand survival in the digital world,” he writes.

The Age of B2B Video

With C-level executives embracing social media, business-to-business marketers are finding that digital video provides measurable benefits by allowing them to track the effectiveness of their campaigns with metrics such as click-thru rates and attention span. According to Bruce McKenzie, as marketers look beyond Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, LinkedIn will emerge as a natural home for business-to-business video content. McKenzie advises B2B marketers to use their company’s LinkedIn profile as a tool to tell a story and embed videos up top to catch a viewer’s eye, improving lead generation and promoting conversations offline. Including video “will make it easier for prospects using LinkedIn for research to do business with you,” he writes.

Keep it Simple

With more brands entering the digital and mobile space, marketers can expect to compete more aggressively for consumer attention in 2014. To create a lasting impression, ads need to be engaging enough to garner attention yet basic enough for end users to remember and pass along through social media channels. Brands are finding that simple, concise digital interactions with their customers often have the longest reach. And brands that create clean, modest and unobtrusive marketing messages will find their campaigns have the most stick this year.

Which trends are most important to your strategy this year? What other trends have you noticed that companies should be taking advantage of? We want to know! @annalect #MarketingTrends2014

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