The year 2013 was one of big data, branded content and mobile marketing. So, what will 2014 bring? Brand preferences will continue to erode, which will make the competition for their attention even more intense. Search, content strategy and inbound marketing tactics will continue to be the center of focus for marketers, while they look for ways to connect with their audiences through storytelling, personal connections and helping them solve problems.
Leaders at the marketing agency iAcquire offer 14 more predictions for content marketers in 2014.
1) Landing pages will cover for unsupported analytics
Regardless of the “not provided” keyword data in Google Analytics, marketers can still track their keyword referrals. iAcquire experts predict that the lack of keyword referral data will create a rise in landing pages. Why landing pages? The URL extension can easily be tracked in your Google Analytics dashboard. Digital marketing evangelist Avanish Kaushik suggests applying your organic search segment to a custom landing pages report, which, if done correctly, can convey data from the missing “not provided” keywords.
2) Intelligent content management tools and systems will proliferate
We will see more marketers emphasizing the creation of intelligent systems for managing content and serving unique content to users. Marketers will embrace content strategy with increasing zeal. Google is making it easier for us to access detailed segmentation for users, which allows us to dynamically serve content to users in more targeted ways. On the other side of that coin, proper taxonomies (and systems of metadata to communicate those taxonomies) will become increasingly important to categorize content to keep up with the segmentation of users.
3) SEO becomes more focused on consumer behavior
This is going to be the year when “big data” becomes the norm and not some magical buzzword that mega-sized corporations like IBM throw around in their TV commercials. In fact, with so many organizations investing in more refined techniques for gathering consumer information – like audience research and audience personas – big data will soon simply be known as the new way to do data.
4) Location-based marketing will flourish
According to imFORZA, one-third of searches in 2013 were location based. In 2014, consumers’ location-based searches will drive marketers to get smarter and savvier about reaching consumers based on their locations. Real-time location data collection through smartphones and wearable technologies will proliferate and will result in higher customer click-through rates on their mobile devices.
Age-old location-based marketing techniques like Designated Marketing Area (DMA), will also continue to be used with location-based marketing, reports eMarketer. Restaurant, retail and travel businesses lead the way in location-based marketing, and in 2014 other industries such as technology, goods, and other service-based companies will use it.
5) Brand marketers will get savvier with targeting ads through Twitter trends
PaidContent.org reports that The New York Times recently launched an advertising product called Sparking Stories that allows advertisers to insert ads into content that is trending on Twitter. The tool is based on a social media analytics tool theTimes has been using since 2011 called Cascade. In addition to geographic and demographic targeting, brands will be able to choose social advertising based on trending content topics. In 2014, other advertising networks and publishers will follow suit by adopting or creating systems where marketers can easily target content on social networks.
6) Brands will opt for inbound PR tactics
More brands will turn to in-house content creators to maintain and foster publicity on site. Coca-Cola, in fact, leads the way by vowing to kill the press release by 2015, Ragan reports. Smaller brands will also begin to house important news on their own sites. As companies become more comfortable with content marketing and produce their own content, from C-level executives to rank-and-file staff, taking ownership of public relations seems like a natural extension of content marketing.
7) Digital case studies will be primary drivers of engagement and leads
Not only are digital case studies a terrific resource for backlinks, but they also propel you to become a recognized authority in your field. In fact, a joint study by MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute (CMI) found case studies to be second only to in-person events as the most effective B2B content marketing tactics.
8) Google+ will grow
Google+ is becoming an increasingly recognized as a platform for brands to promote content. Google+ is the fourth largest social network in terms of unique monthly visitors (Facebook 800 million, Twitter 250 million, LinkedIn 200 million and Google+ 150 million), according to EBizMBA.com, which reports monthly Alexa global traffic ranks. The number of contributors who have registered Google authorship will more than double. Matt Cutts has said Google’s search teams are talking about author rank in the future.
Beyond proliferation of adoption of Google+ and other authentication mechanisms, many authors will begin to obsess over their authenticated post portfolio. There will be mounting awareness and concern for authentication spoofing of an individuals' name.
9) Brands that use semantic search will show up highest in search results
Keyword relevancy is being replaced with topical relevancy and authority. This shift coupled with Google encrypting search results and stripping keyword metrics further changes how search marketing strategies and content plans should be developed. Semantic search (Hummingbird, Google Voice, etc.) is oriented around user intent and conversations. Searchers have become more confident in using complicated queries, which raises the bar for what search has to do. Brands that use long-tail, semantic keywords in their copy rather than single or two-word phrases will rank higher on Google.
10) The rise in semantic search will necessitate advanced tools for long-tail SEO
We will see even more tools that allow us to understand semantic search and natural language processing, which will become smarter and more readily available for anyone looking to understand how Google looks at search.
11) Brands will use home pages to push editorial content
Throughout 2013, marketers recognized the value of high quality, relevant and original content. Blogs are no longer buried in brand newsrooms; they are highlighted front and center on home pages. Through 2014 the looks of traditional media and organizational home pages will mimic each other.
12) Marketing agencies will become digital universities
Agencies will serve as educational hubs, sharing trade secrets of the industry rather than restricting information. They will continue to create e-books, blog content and newsletters and host meetups and deliver presentations that give away the secret sauce. This will create a model of part publisher, part agency, pushing inbound leads and reducing the need for salespeople.
13) Enterprise SEO departments will continue to merge with marketing communications departments
There are three common silos in enterprise companies that impact digital relevance: SEO, marketing communications and public relations. As these once divergent roles overlap activities and goals, we’ll see more organizations merging these roles under a single business function.
14) Brands will leverage bite-sized content
Smart brands will start speaking to these customers in ways that emotionally engage them more deeply through short-form marketing channels like Twitter, Snapchat and Vine. Snapchat users share 400 million images a day, as the app surpasses Facebook photo uploads, according to Digital Trends. And Snapchat has had more photo uploads than Instagram since last May, but now Snapchat’s numbers dwarf Instagram, which reports 55 million uploads.
Taco Bell was one of the first brands to embrace Snapchat, sending its followers a snap of its reintroduced Beefy Crunch Burrito. Lowe's, Dunkin' Donuts and Target are other big brands that have embraced the trend successfully. Other brands will predictably follow suit in 2014.
Thank you to the following iAcquire leaders for their insights into future marketing trends: Tom Rusling, General Manager; Chris Luttjohann, Director of Marketing; Tom Harari, Director of Strategy; Devin Asaro, Manager of Content Strategy; Norris Rowley, Director of Market Research, Allie Freeland, PR Director; Amanda Gallucci, Associate Content Strategist; Peter Menchaca, Senior Client Solutions Advisor; Cindy Boynton, Director of Operations; and Masha Gaidouk, Social Media Strategist; Connie Chen, Social Media Intern; and Aaron Alexander, Sr. SEO Strategy Manager.
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