2013 was an eventful year for digital marketing. Google released Hummingbirds and Penguins upon the world; there was an absolute explosion in mobile platform advancement/interactivity; and search engines continued evolving their algorithms to include more and more conversational speech elements. This has left many businesses unsure of the best way to communicate with potential clients in the New Year.
With that in mind, here is a short list of what is hot and what is not for 2014 as it relates to digital marketing:
Hot: Responsive/mobile website design
Not: Unresponsive, flashy and outdated sites that look like a train wreck on a phone or tablet.
Responsive design allows a website to be shrunken down and resized to fit multiple platforms without requiring a separate site or template. This has been a major factor in web design for some time now, but as the explosion of mobile interactivity continues to grow in our society, so will the need for responsive design within websites. People don’t always want to download an app to access a website’s contents, so it is important that business make their content as easily accessible as possible within as many platforms as possible.
Hot: Engaging content that encourages social shares and linking
Not: Excessively wordy content focused on using as many keywords as possible.
Content has always been king in the digital marketing world, but in 2014 we will continue to see a shift to more fun, engaging and visual content rather than multiple-page blog posts that put the average reader to sleep in the first two paragraphs. The use of info graphics has exploded in recent years, along with the use of fun, easily digestible top-five lists. The attention-span of our online community can be measured in nanoseconds, so it is important to draw them in with simplicity and interest, and then keep them there with depth and relevance. One side note on using videos in your digital marketing strategy: always include a transcript of what is stated in the video. Search engines have not yet reached the point where they can understand photos and videos well in terms of assessing content quality for search rankings, so it is important to provide that default text backdrop for them to index.
Hot: Google+ and +1’s
Not: Facebook Likes
Google released Google+ in hopes that it would eventually dominate the social media market, and as many of you know, this has not been the case. Many people don’t have the time or energy to transfer their lives over to a new social media platform and because of this, Google has used whatever leverage they can to try and influence people over to G+. Though they vehemently deny it, SEO research has time and again shown that Google gives more weight to +1 shares on G+ than any other social media metric when calculating search rankings. So, it doesn’t matter how you feel about the platform, if your business is not actively using Google+, you are doing yourself a great disservice.
Facebook, on the other hand, seems to be losing steam quickly. Unlike +1’s, Facebook Likes get split up between liked comments and shares when deciding importance of a post. Couple this with the fact that businesses now need to pay to “boost” their posts in order to reach the maximum amount of potential customers. The goal of businesses should be to generate content that people want to share on whatever social platform they are utilizing. The youth of our society is no longer on Facebook exclusively, and businesses must pursue these other social avenues.
2014 will continue the explosion of innovation and diversity in marketing and search. It promises to be a year of accessible, real-time/interactive marketing that reaches consumers in ways previously thought impossible. This, of course, will force businesses to be flexible and multi-dimensional with their marketing plans to remain on the cutting edge.
Businesses that capitalize on this opportunity to try new techniques will reap the rewards of their innovation, while the companies that refuse to evolve will be left behind. Don’t let this be you.
Matthew Janik is the owner of Vancouver-based Fringe Digital Marketing Agency, https://fringewebpro.com.