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2014, The Year of Online Marketing

The leaves are changing colors and that can only mean one thing – it’s time to start mapping out your digital online marketing efforts for 2014. Okay, well, maybe that’s not the first thing you associate with Fall, but it should be. Because, there is no better time than the present to consider online marketing trends and how to adjust your plan to get the most out of your marketing dollars.

Search marketing (SEO and PPC/SEM), content marketing, mobile marketing, social media, and email marketing will be taking a big bite out of traditional media in 2014. According to Forrester Research, interactive marketing will near $59 billion in 2014 (18% growth over 2013). So, let’s dive into some more stats and talk about six titan trends you should be planning for right now.

SEO Reigns Supreme

There is no doubt that searches can produce targeted traffic and sales conversions. SEO still comprises the lion share of spending among all other forms of online marketing. Committing to more SEO marketing can yield high ROIs and sustainable results as more and more people click the search button on their devices and desktops. If you’d like to know more about SEO, we offer a free SEO Analysis & Ranking Report tailored to your business.

  • SEO leads have a 14.6% sales close rate on average, compared to 1.7% for outbound leads. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
  • 6 out of 10 organizations plan to increase SEO spending this year. (imFORZA)
  • Contrasted with traditional marketing, which is expected to shrink by 2% in 2014, spending on search engine marketing will grow by 12% to an estimated 27.5 billion. (Forrester)

The Centrality of Content

In case you hadn’t heard yet, content is the way to your customer’s heart (and wallet). Content will continue its rise to prominence in digital marketing as a traffic generator. When it comes to online content marketing, you can make your dollars go further by repurposing the same “seed” content across multiple venues and marketing channels. For example, a single article can be used as a 1) blog post, 2) in an e-newsletter, 3) and bolster your SEO efforts. When considering your content marketing plan for 2014, it’s important to know your customers and create content that means something.

  • A little more than 80% of businesses plan to increase their content marketing in 2014. (2013 B2B Content Marketing Trends Report)
  • 71% of marketers state that content marketing has helped improve their site’s ranking in organic search, and 77% say it has influenced website traffic. (iMedia Connection)

Mobile Marketing Milestone

In 2014, it will be all about the mobile device. How to reach, market and advertise to the mobile user will take the forefront, because it will mark the first year that more users will access the web from their mobile devices than desktops or laptops. And, that number is expected to climb as Ericsson estimates there will be over 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Any online marketing agency worth its salt knows that, mobile marketing should be woven throughout everything from website design and content strategy to PPC campaigns and SEO.  Are you ready for the mobile age?

  • Marketers will increase their mobile ad budget by 69%. (Nielsen State of the Media)
  • When asked how their marketing strategies would change in 2013, 82% of marketers planned to increase their focus on mobile media. (eMarketer)
  • 95% of mobile users use their device for local search. (Nielsen)

Email Endures

Using email as a digital marketing tool in 2014 will continue to reap benefits. Reaching your subscribers via email marketing is still one of the smartest ways to market your brand. Establish a connection, provide the right content, offer special promotions and see your list grow.

  • 97% of marketers are using or planning to use email marketing.  (US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2009 to 2014)

It Pays to PPC

Pay Per Click is primed for additional growth next year, with conversation rate optimization becoming the favorite new thing in 2014. Utilizing a PPC campaign is really a no-brainer these days. And, although it isn’t a science, a PPC campaign needs research, commitment and patience for ultimate success. For more on this great marketing tool, please visit our series on “It Pays to Pay Per Click”.

  • From those surveyed, 63% have annual PPC budgets of more than $300,000. (The State of Paid Search, Hanapin Marketing)
  • 85% of PPC marketers plan to focus more on conversation rate optimization in 2014. (PPCHero Study)

Social Media’s Advance

Although still a small sliver of the average company’s total marketing budget, social media marketing is on an amazing growth trajectory. Consider the following stats:

  • B2B social marketing has a 490% growth rate. B2B marketers spent $11 million on social marketing in 2009, and that number will increase to $54 million in 2014. (Forester Research)
  • Between 2011 and 2016, social overall is expected to grow by 26%, second only to the growth rate of mobile marketing. (Forester Research)

Bear in mind that, due to the nature of social, the dollars being invested do not necessarily equate to activity. Although growing, by last year only 1/3 of companies were outsourcing social (HubSpot). Based on my and other expert’s observations, social media is often an afterthought, passed off to someone in-house who is already wearing too many hats. This of course means social rarely gets the attention or investment it needs. The approach of “doing it just to do it” often backfires, reflecting poorly on your brand and business. Successful social media should be purposeful and strategic. In other words, if you’re going to engage in social media, “do it right” or don’t bother.

Make 2014 an “Up Year”

As you plan your marketing and budget for next year, be willing to try new things backed by a solid strategy and a team of experienced professionals. For any company, forging into uncharted territory is never easy. But if you do, you will find that you are reaching your customers where they are in increasing numbers: online.  And as a result, this time next year, hopefully your business will be going the opposite direction of the falling leaves… up!

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