Digital Marketing Predictions
I think we’re in for an exceptionally interesting year – with its fair share of exciting innovative trends and ideas.
More specifically I think the strongest influences will be content and data. I see analytics and data taking the lead in marketing decision making and content increasingly becoming more visual.
But let’s look at some of the detail.
1. Content marketing marches on
Content as a marketing discipline has long been exploited in the b2b sphere. But I think in 2014 we shall see b2c following that lead as marketers embrace content marketing to encourage consumers not only to buy more products and services, but also to become brand evangelists.
Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners expects 90% of marketers to make more content in 2014. This is clearly an exciting opportunity, however marketers will focus more on the importance of measuring ROI. Although content marketing may be a new channel for you to tell your brand story in, it must encourage your audience to interact with your brands.
Marketers will want a clearer picture of how much traffic each piece of content marketing can drive, time on page, topic of interest, pages read. Understanding the metrics will tell you if your content is adding value to your audience.
2. Influence marketing
For b2c brands, ‘influence marketing’ means rewarding ‘brand loyalists’ or ‘brand connected consumers’ (BCCs for short). Such consumers are massively valuable because they post pictures and videos of products they like online and spread the word on social networks.
Connecting with these shoppers can be particularly important when marketers are launching a new product or service and it will be interesting to see how brands try to reward this influential group.
For b2b companies, influence marketing is not least about engaging with relevant industry leaders, thus positioning the organisation as an authoritative industry voice in its own right. But it’s also about increasing creative activity on social media platforms, as well as establishing digital and face-to-face communities of brand advocates – an essential element of any successful company’s digital identity.
3. Visual marketing
In 2014, we will see brands using more imagery, infographics and interactive videos in their online communications. Look at successful brands like Red Bull Racing, Icebreaker or b2b businesses like Arcelor Mittal; they are investing in visual content to improve brand interactions. Your customers might not have time to read your 700-word article or white paper but an interactive image will catch their attention.
It is no surprise that visual content marketing will be a trend this year. The human brain is designed to response 60,000 times quicker to images than to text and 90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual. The rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Polyvore and Snapchat is testament to this. With their hundreds of millions of users effectively using images to communicate with each other, brands must maximise the opportunity to reach customers by producing more creative visual content.
4. From big data to smart data
Big data was an overused word in 2013, without a data-driven marketing strategy, a huge amount of data can sometimes be more daunting than it is helpful. In 2014, marketers will need to start with a clear vision of what they want to get out from the data collecting process. Marketers will want to answer the questions about whether their data will help to increase customer spend, increase customer visit frequency and reduce lost customers or other numbers to support marketing goals.
I believe that in 2014, we will see increasing demand from marketers for intelligent software to help consolidate and integrate data to create strategies and campaigns. Data analysis will also become a vital skill-set for marketers and members of management teams.
5. Simplifying marketing processes with software
Looking retrospectively for a moment, one of the biggest obstacles I’ve seen for marketing is in organisational structure and process management. A large or decentralised marketing team without the right structure and processes can lead to lack of communication, collaboration and trust meaning marketing expenditure, effectiveness and consistency is negatively affected.
My forecast for 2014 and beyond, which supports Gartner’s prediction that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on technology than the CIO, is that marketers will increasingly look for better, more centralized technology solutions. Of course, many software platforms are already in use by marketers to manage different parts of the marketing function – marketing automation for email comms and website analytics, content marketing and social media platforms, and many others.
I think we will see a need to integrate these software solutions to further reduce operational and capital expense as well as improve process efficiency. At Brandworkz we refer to these as Marketing Management Platforms, but essentially they will facilitate management and sharing of the digital assets which feed all your marketing activity, simplify marketing processes, automate repetitive tasks, improve internal team communication, enable sharing and collaboration, and ultimately deliver campaigns faster.