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  1. Marketing Predictions: The 5 Biggest Things of 2014 


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    What’s going to be big in 2014 online marketing? What actions do you need to take to keep your marketing strategy relevant?

    This article will tell you. I’ll give you the five things which are going to be more important in 2014 than they were in 2013, and why. I’ll also give you 3 top tips to remember during your 2014 online marketing strategy sessions.

    Let’s get the ball rolling.


    1. Visual Content


    2014 will see a rise in visual content, and a decrease in the reign of heavy text-based blog articles.

    I’m not even going to mention that 2014 will see another increase in content marketing budgets - hopefully our readers know that content is king. If you’re not putting a sizeable share of your marketing budget into content marketing you need to re-evaluate your business plan. Of course content marketing will grow. I’m saying it’s going to grow in a particular direction, and that direction is toward visuals.

    Photo editing tools are getting more accessible (I, for instance, used PhotoShop to make the awesome dinosaur header image above). A little bit of time and energy (or an awesome graphic designer) can put together the same statistics, facts, and writing skills that you use in a blog article and put it into a visually appealing format.

    Visual content is shared more, gets more engagement on social, communicates information quicker and easier than text, and, as a result, is worth more in SEO. Because of this, visual content has the best ROI currently available to content marketers.


    What it’s going to look like:

    Video:

    Whether it’s embedding a Vine video on your Facebook page (did you know you could do that?), using a 45 second marketing video on your business’ landing pages, or doing everything you can to go viral on YouTube, video marketing will see a surge in 2014.

    SEO rewards videos. They’re shareable, and - if you do it right - they could be a huge boon for your business. Test a video on your website’s homepage or product landing page, as they’ve been shown to increase conversion rates by 86% and more.


    Infographics:

    If you don’t have someone on your marketing team who dabbles in graphic design you need to hire them, or learn yourself. Infographics are everything awesome about visual content. They’re simple and straightforward, visually appealing, and palatable in a few moments. They take all the information from a blog article and condense it into one simple-to-understand, shareable, saveable, downloadable piece of content.

    Oh, and businesses who market with infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don’t.


    Slideshare:

    Slideshare is going to be big in 2014. We’re going to see it becoming more mainstream for online marketers as the year progresses. The ever-growing audience, and their very reasonable pricing structure (I’ll bet you whatever you’d like that we’ll see their PRO plan rates increase by June) are irresistible. I’m talking lead generation at less than a dollar/lead - check it out.


    2. Emphasis on Social for SEO


    Even before Google’s Hummingbird update, we were seeing the Google search algorithm switching emphasis to social interactions. Social shares are currency, and Google has decided (somewhat unsurprisingly…) that its own +1’s are worth the most. As in, more than link building, more than keyword optimization, more than page name, length, images, url - the most.


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    But other social shares are also climbing. In Moz’ search ranking factors (above) you’ll find Facebook comments and Likes higher than total links to the page.

    What does this mean, though?

    Basically this means you need to be focusing more than ever on integrating your business with social platforms:

    • Ensure you have social share buttons on your pages

    • Provide sharing options on every single piece of content you produce

    • Ask for social interactions not only within your Facebook profile, but on your homepage as well

    • Run contests which not only increase your social profiles, but generate traffic from those networks to your website.


    3. Influence Marketing


    Influence Marketing will become mainstream, standard practice for online marketing in 2014. People will start catching on to the fact that the right influencer can have a huge impact on your brand’s success on both social and the web in general.

    If you’re wondering what, exactly, Influence Marketing is, and why it’s going to take up more of your time in 2014 than you’d thought, check out this four part series from Wishpond’s Krista Bunskoek:

    The strategy in Influence Marketing which will grow the most is the understanding that there are certain thought leaders out there (many of them are brands in and of themselves) who can make or break your business with a single sentence. They may even be your customers.

    For example, let’s say you’ve developed a Wordpress plugin that’s awesome but your reach is struggling. With Influence Marketing you can make contact with one of the powerful individuals who make it their life’s work to find the next big wordpress plugin.

    For instance, how affected do you think your little plugin’s success would be if you’d made it onto this list?:

    Jeff Bullas’ 10 Must-Have Wordpress Plugins of 2013 Every Blogger Should Know About

    The article alone has almost 1000 Tweets and 500 +1’s. Bullas himself has more than 200,000 Twitter followers, 24,000 Facebook Fans and 16,500 people in his Google+ circles.

    And he’s just one of many. Reach out, read Krista’s articles, and see what impact Influence Marketing will have on your business in 2014.


    4. Google+


    Officially the second-largest social media platform, Google+ will continue its rise in 2014. And not just as a social networking tool. It’s going to be the go-to platform for online marketing as well. Already 67% of social media professionals say they prefer Google+ more than Facebook when it comes to sharing content, interaction with audience, and overall engagement.

    The user base is primarily tech-related. It’s about 70% male (though this is balancing out) and predominantly middle-aged. We’re talking professionals and CEO’s - people whose engagement is worth something valuable to your business.

    Communities allow you to engage with a specific niche market, and the easy communication makes involvement with influencers, peers, and customers straightforward and intelligent.

    It’s backed by the world’s most influential brand - a brand that will only continue to grow in the coming year. Would you really bet against it?


    5. Online Advertising


    Online advertising is growing exponentially - and a lot of platforms have started to host their own ads (Instagram being the most recent). Here are the two that will be most important for marketers in 2014:


    Facebook:

    Facebook Ads have seen a definite upsurge in 2013, but 2014 will be the year when people get the most out of them.

    They are the most-targeted online ads ever - and, if done correctly, can have huge influences on your brand. They’re PPC and can generate awesome, half-nurtured leads for an email marketing campaign or an immediate sale.

    You can target your Facebook Ads as specifically as ‘users who recently sold a used car’. You can target by an audience of your previous customers, or an audience of Facebook users similar to those previous customers. You can use a conversion tracking pixel to track Facebook users from a click on your ad to an individual page on your website and back again.

    I’ve taken a pretty serious look at Facebook Ads in the past few months - talking about optimizing the for lead generation, creative best practices, A/B testing, conversion tracking implementation, and much more. The articles were compiled into a comprehensive Facebook Ads ebook which can help you learn everything you need to get the most out of advertising on the platform.


    YouTube:

    YouTube ads are more difficult to succeed in than any other advertising avenue out there. But (and it’s a big but), if you do find success on the monster video site, you can find it big time.

    If you’re going to give it a go, here’s a few things to remember:

    1. Make sure you tap into emotion: All of the top 10 most successful YouTube ads in 2013 featured a strong pull on the ol’ heart strings (whether through inspiration, humor, or excitement)

    2. Focus on being human. Do not focus on your own products for a YouTube ad. Focus on the awesome things your brand is doing (see Chipotle’s Scarecrow, Westjet’s Christmas ads, or Evian’s Baby Me)

    3. Tell a story: Youtube users like ads with the traditional story structure - rise and plateau, conflict and resolution

    4. Take your time: 70% of the top ads of 2013 were more than 60 seconds

    Note: I didn’t include Google Ads into this list of big things of 2014 because it’s not going to grow, or be any bigger in 2014 than it was in 2013. YouTube and Facebook Ads will.


    3 top tips to keep in mind in 2014


    1. Different social platforms are different: Not only does this mean you shouldn’t post the same piece of content in the same way on Facebook and Twitter - it means you need to assess your rationale for being on both Facebook and Twitter, and any other social site.

    Yes, social media is the present and future of online marketing. It’s hugely influential, and that aint gonna change, folks. But some businesses will be better served putting time, energy, and hard-earned cash into Pinterest than they are investing in Twitter. Some will find Google+ a huge boon in the new year, while others may see awesome results from Facebook Ads.

    Do your research, read a few of Wishpond’s articles on the different platforms, and let this knowledge frame your 2014 marketing strategy.


    2. Content can be recycled: This is easy to forget. Newcomers to the content marketing world will see the colossal amount of content available and try to catch up. Don’t. Be smart about your content. Think about your well-written, well-thought-out blog article as a Thanksgiving dinner.

    What leftovers can I make with a great blog article?

    • Slideshare presentations (think about going Pro this year for lead generation)

    • Infographics

    • Social media posts

    • Statistics for future articles

    • Intelligent comments on influencer’s blogs

    Etc, etc, etc!


    3. You should learn to code: This should, maybe, read ‘we should learn to code’ because I’m still working at it. But, as marketers in 2014, we need to focus up in, people. We need to make it our New Year’s resolutions to learn how to code everything from wordpress to interactive infographics (those are going to be big as well, by the way).

    CMOs are all set to put more marketing budget into digital, and if you’re stuck begging a hard-working developer for a hand placing a Facebook Ad conversion pixel on your checkout page you’re going to have trouble selling that raise you’re looking for in 2014.


    Conclusion


    Hopefully this article has given you some insight into why these things will be big, not just that they will. Unsurprisingly, this list includes the basic ideas of ‘learn to code’ and ‘learn to be a graphic designer’. But that’s what an online marketer is, right? We’re still going to wearing as many hats as are necessary. You thought 2014 would be different?

    Did any part of online marketing surprise you in 2013? Are there any predictions you’d add to this list?


    By James Scherer @ Wishpond


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