Top 4 Online Marketing Trends of 2014

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Just call The Internet the consumer revolution.

Thanks to its affordability and accessibility, the ‘net as we love it is solely responsible for changing the way we shop, how we buy and where we attach our brand loyalty. Like any performance, when a stage shifts, then naturally so do the dancers. The way we market to consumers hasn’t just changed, but transformed. Instead of applying traditional outbound efforts, we’ve turned the focus (and dollars) towards inbound strategies, making older, traditional marketing approaches feel outdated and overly expensive. The result? Brand Asset Marketing is pulling full steam ahead as the number one way to appeal to consumers, without the ineffective hassle of embedding advertisements with external (and irrelevant) content.

As we approach the middle of the year, we have a better understanding as to which trends have helped Brand Asset Marketing soar in 2014 (and which ones flopped). Here are my top 4 favorite marketing trends for 2014, ones that I feel will see us through the end of the year and help us ring ’15 in with successful, share-worthy style.

1. Content Is (Still) King

Gone are the days or copying and pasting the same content off Google and hoping it looks   original. Savvy Internet consumers are looking for engaging, relevant content that allows them to interact with your brand, your product and most importantly your personal story. Brand Asset Marketing weaves together your narrative in a soft, friendly sell by using both digital components and personal story elements to entertain, engage and encourage consumers to buy and establish a relationship with your brand. In a nutshell, Brand Asset Marketing is an updated, more accurate and specific way of saying “online marketing.” Percentage of Companies That Outsource ContentWhile online marketing could mean anything you throw on the Internet, Brand Asset Marketing refers to effective and specific content and digital component strategies.

One of the largest shifts we’ve seen comes from in-house changes. Content creators can legitimately claim to be the fastest growing job title in marketing, with more companies recognizing the value in original content creation and hiring in-house creators. This means less outsourcing for generic content that often misses the mark. According to the chart at right, courtesy of contentmarketinginstitute.com only 44% of companies are reporting outsourced content.

This screams loud and clear that original, relevant content that is targeted directly to your audience works. We like to think of the new Brand Asset Marketing approach as a tailored dialogue between you and your potential consumer, rather than a screaming, hard (or soft) sell.

2.  A Picture Is Priceless

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than image-centric content is priceless. Thanks to merging the best of both worlds, image-centric content is one of the hottest and most effective marketing trends you can employ. It’s relevant, engaging and tailored to the way our brains naturally process information. According to a recent article posted on LinkedIn, a whopping “75% of sensory neurons in our brain respond to visual information.” The article points out some aha! moments for all of us to learn from. For example, visual elements are so critical in marketing because it’s one of the most effective ways we standout from the competition.

Dynamic, original content is vital in 2014 as we just discussed, but without a visual component our content can blend into our competition at first glance! People will read, sure, but they also want to view.

Visuals help tell your stories, stories help brand your company, effective branding builds brand loyalty. It’s all related!

Interestingly enough, LinkedIn’s article The Importance of Visual Content To An Integrated Marketing Strategy also points out that when the headline of an article is altered to include a visual component it has the potential to reach 10-15 times more views than text alone. One small switch that blows open the doors to potential new clients (and blows away the competition.)

While Forbes listed Content Marketing as their number one marketing trend to watch out for in 2014, Image-Centric marketing was just a few short steps behind at an impressive number three.  As Forbes points out, we have to pay attention to the trends on the social media scene to see where our visual trends lie. With the explosive popularity of sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Buzzfeed, we can gather that fast, engaging content paired with eye-catching visual components is what separates our content from the millions of visually propelled advertisements swamping the web today.

Even Twitter, for all of its 140-character goodness has felt the pressure to include advanced visual elements through their new photo collage feature. Hard, cold data itself has resurfaced as  Infographics, artistically and visually entertaining ways to report statistics (minus the dry and boring white papers). According to Search Engine Journal, infographics are making the biggest splash on social sites where they are easily shared and enjoyed by prospective and established clients alike. The best part? Customers retain and are entertained by relevant statistics about your product, without getting bombarded by multiple pages of information.

3. Content To-Go

With the advancement of smartphones and tablets comes the pressing need to take all our info on the run. Our content is more compressed and compact than ever, and so are our lives. If we can’t access it via iPhone, chances are we aren’t going to want to access it via laptop when we get home. Forbes gives a mind-blowing statistic that “87% of connected device sales by 2017 will be smartphones and tablets.” By refusing to pay attention to this trend and update our websites to be responsive (a.k.a mobile friendly) we’ve already lost out on a huge piece of consumer pie! Think shoppers only buy from home, comfortably situated in front of their laptop? Startup Nation gives us another staggering statistic that 1 out of 10 eCommerce dollars is spent via smartphone or tablet. Missing out on on this kind of cash carry-out means lost business!

4. Bullseye! Ad Re-Targeting Gains Momentum

Abandoned shopping cart blues? For all my years in eCommerce, this has to be one of the most frustrating snags I’ve seen for business owners across the board. According to StartUp Nation and simply put “ retargeting is a solution that utilizes cookies to track visitors after they depart your site.” In 2014 this strategy made a huge comeback and is projected to keep on soaring. Why? When you learn more about the sites your consumers frequent, what they buy, what advertisements they respond to you, you can re-advertise to these same consumers with a cleaner and customized strategy that will keep them engaged (and spending money) on your site.

By applying these four, slam dunk trends you’ll easily build brand momentum and establish authentic interactions between your business and future consumer. By engaging prospective clients as an authority figure on the ‘net, your network of loyal customers will organically grow into a web of loyal clients for years to come.

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The intangible relationship consumers build with your brand is a key influencer during the buying decision process. Digital Current understands these relationships and how a harmonious marketing strategy inspires brand engagement and delivers leads.

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