1. Invest more in inbound marketing
With inbound practices – blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletter, SEO, social media marketing, etc. — brands „earn their way in“ to engage with customers; opposite to outbound practices —radio, TV advertisements, spam, email marketing, traditional advertising, etc. – which are simply a „buying your way in“.
HubSpot „2013 State of Inbound Marketing“ statistics show how inbound practices produce 54% more leads than traditional outbound and that the average cost to generate these leads is half than the outbound ($143 inbound, $373 outbound). (source)
“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing.
If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing”
Guy Kawasaki – author, speaker, investor and business advisor and one of the first Apple employees originally responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984.
2. Having a social media marketing strategy is a necessity, not a luxury
Not only social media is the #1 activity on the web (source), its audience is so vast in size and characteristics that it allows brands to effectively reach the biggest demographic groups or the tiniest special interest niche.
Therefor a social media strategy is a very important element of your 2014 plans in order to help you reach and engage with your customers. A good plan will help you turning more of them into brand advocates – individuals who promote, embody a brand’s core values and ethics – resulting in an engagement and sales boost.
3. A picture is worth a thousand words
Social media witnessed a consistent growth throughout 2013 (forbes.com), in which in particular brands have started to use more short-form content like Vine, Twitter and Instagram. Especially the visual content became a critical factor in the activation. By leveraging on humor and personality, marketers were able to generate a more honest, human-like conversation and ignite a deeper emotional bond with their customers and prospects resulting in a 20 to 40% increase in sales (Bain & Company).
For example Michael Kors performed an interesting communication stunt, being the first to launch an Insta-ad (link): Even though there was some negative reaction first, the statistics show that the brand gained nearly 33,000 new followers within 18 hours (Nitrogr.am).
4. Mobile geo fencing and location-based deals are keywords for effective marketing
189 million Facebook’s users are „mobile only“ and 25% of smartphone owners aged 18-44 can not recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them (source) – your customers are always reachable. Furthermore GPS-enabled mobile-phones and personal-preference information opened the world of flash deals based on user’s current location (geo fencing).
This offers a huge opportunity for both local and global businesses to drive more relevance in their communication. Brands are able to be more valuable to consumers by e. g. addressing specific contextual needs and motivations throughout the day or cultural trends like the „(still) made here“ / „from here“ preference (81% of millenials spend the vast majority of their money in brick-and-mortar stores around the corner – NPD Group Study).
In 2014 we will see more global brands using location-based marketing opportunities delivering a higher ROI (forbes.com).
5. Utility is a huge opportunity for marketing
Smart marketing is about sharing, informing, and helping, too.
For example Geek Squad, a computer maintenance company, created a Youtube channel featuring instructional videos on PC-related matters tips and guides. Business-wise this could sound controversial, but as the founder, Robert Stephens affirmed „Well, our best customers are the people that think they can do it themselves. But even if they can, someday they’ll be over their head, and who will they call for help? We’re betting it’s the company whose logo they looked at for 8 minutes when we gave them free video help.“(source)
6. Rank higher with quality content
This is less a trend than a necessity, a reminder to keep working on the relevance of your content. Remember that the ongoing changes to search engines’ algorithms will only support sites featuring relevant content that provides real value to users. Keep working on discharging your sites from long keywords lists and help users to invest less time to find the relevant information in order to rank higher on search results. (Search Engine Watch)
7. Hire a „director of content“
Forbes guarantees this to be the top marketing job title recruited and hired in 2014, as a consequence of the aforementioned points:
Content-marketing budgets are increasing and brand generated content volume will grow exponentially injecting the digital air with noise. In order to cut through the noise the director of content will help to develop an effective content strategy and deliver more valuable content based on insights framed by the surrounding communication landscape, customer trends and sentiments. Furthermore, this professional figure will be able to efficiently produce content and keep monitoring innovations in order to quickly assimilate shifts or changes in the target group. (source)