Here we go again – with 2014 in full swing, let's take a look at a few of the trends that helped shape online marketing in recent past.
Big Data View Downsizes
Massive amounts of data exists and tons more is being generated on a regular basis. According to one infographic, three billion people will be using the internet by 2015, driving the amount of data generated and shared online to nearly 8 zettabytes. The typical consumer creates scores of information without thinking about it, but it is the business community attributing to the most activity by far. What changed about this trend in 2013 is the notion that it's exclusively reserved for large companies with large budgets.
Juggling a mix of sources that may include email campaigns, social media interactions, and customer satisfaction surveys, small to medium sized businesses are generating information at the volume, variety, and velocity scale that defines big data. Realizing the impact of data-driven decisions, these smaller organizations are reaching out for technologies that enable them to unlock the value of their data. While analytics has long been common, marketers have just recently begun to look beyond standard tools like Google Analytics to aid in sorting, analyzing, and using data to fueling their marketing strategies.
Google+ Grows in Importance
For many companies small and large, social media is a key part of the marketing mix. By creating a presence in the social space, brands can reach a bigger audience, boost user engagement, and build the type of relationships that foster greater loyalty in their customers. Google entered the social media space in the summer of 2011 with Google+, but the social network saw its biggest growth spurt in 2013 by far.
The latest data reveals that Google+ has 300 million active users, up nearly 60% from the 190 million recorded back in May. This social platform was high on the list of emerging trends for 2012, and sure enough, businesses have responded by latching on. Initially, the appeal to Google+ was its connection to authorship, which is the mandatory step that must be taken to boost visibility through Google's Author Rank program. But thanks to updates that have improved media, Android integration, and the overall experience in general, it is now a core component in more social marketing strategies.
Mobile Still A Priority in Transition
Mobile marketing always seems to find itself in the discussion of annual trends, and this may very well be the case for many years to come. Although mobile is seen as a common luxury in our society, several businesses are still making the transition while draped in the traditional mentality. In fact, numerous marketers took some of those crucial steps this year by:
Creating mobile-friendly websites
At the very least, every business should have a website that treats the user to an optimal browsing experience from their mobile device.
Developing apps for business
Mobile apps offer a unique opportunity to increase brand awareness, engagement, and loyalty by leveraging a trend on pace to reach $26 billion this year.
Mobilizing email communications
With statistics showing that 48% of emails are opened on some type of mobile device, mobile email communications have become an ideal way to ensure that your marketing message reaches customers on the go.
Devising location-based strategies
Thanks to GPS and services like Foursquare, businesses can reach customers with timely, highly targeted content designed to bring them in the door and encourage spending.
Buying mobile ads
Businesses that know the landscape a bit are pitching their chips into ads that reach consumers through games, social media, and other mobile entry points. Recent data shows that mobile ads have reached more than $3 billion in the first half of 2013 alone.
QR Codes On the Rise
I wouldn't go as far as to say they're widespread, but quick response (QR) codes are slowly but surely catching on. The codes can be easily scanned by mobile devices and as far as applications, can be deployed in a wide variety of usage scenarios. JC Penny, for example, launched the Santa Tag, which is incorporated on gift boxes you can scan with your smartphone to hear a personal message recorded by the person who bought you the gift. The sky is limitless when it comes QR codes and to be honest, we haven't even begun to tap into their potential.
2013 saw quite a few trends that are sure to carry over into 2014. Which marketing trends are you bringing into this year?
Aidan Hijleh is a marketing expert and freelance blogger for Benchmark Email. An accomplished writer and former nonprofit organization liaison, he works with numerous top-tier blogs to deliver valuable intel to the small business owner. Some of the major blogs he has contributed to includes Search Engine Journal and DIY Marketers. Get more from Aidan on Twitter and Google+