The Internet is hungry. As marketers, we need to “feed the beast” as best we can. Yet, its diet continually changes based on innovations and trends in technology. With 2014 already a month old, I thought it best to start off the new year by predicting the changes that will likely affect you the most.
This will be the year of the creative. We’ll still have “Big Data” but, more than ever before, creative media takes on a larger, more dominant role in campaign effectiveness. On your website or within your social media, the use of content will determine the success of all your online campaigns. Companies that don't have a dedicated media production department or person will struggle to compete.
So with creative production a focus this year, let’s take a look at the five changes potentially affecting you the most:
As this year will be the year of the creative, design will experience a growth in importance. Whether in graphic, web or user interface creation, major growth in the design industry will happen. Why the sudden growth? It can be traced back to the introduction of the iPhone. Things no longer could be just functional. They had to be pretty. It took some time, but companies have been gradually adopting principles first employed by Steve Jobs and his team.
For a long time, Apple was the leader at combining design with functionality. Witness Google’s entrance into the smartphone market. Never a big proponent in design, it took them awhile to realize friendly user interface design. Now they’ve overtaken Apple in the market. Look for these two tech giants along with Samsung will continue to affect how we interface online.
In addition to hardware and UI design, graphic, web and software design will also experience growth. The difference this year is that the focus is less on the website and more on the web content. We’ve all possibly seen Infographics, the playful presentation of data and statistics. We’ve also possibly experienced “gamification,” the integration of gaming elements to previously bland tasks like account creation, form fill outs and more. This highlights the growing trend of “edutaining” your customers online through content and media presentation.
In a world where social media and mobile devices offer portable entertainment, actively engaging potential customers should be a focus when creating a content marketing/publishing strategy. By developing an editorial calendar to consistently release content, you’ll be able to effectively “feed the beast.”
Rather than designing two (or more) separate websites, one layout is developed that adapts to the device upon which it is displayed. Though more planning at the beginning is required, developing a layout that adapts to multiple displays leaves more time to concentrate on content production and marketing.
It’s also somewhat future-proof as the Internet will eventually be tied into almost every electronic device you use. With the wearable tech (iWatch, Google Glass), auto tech (Google driverless car, Tesla X) and other developing trends, we are becoming a tech integrated society. I’m sure none of us have yet to imagine what a website would look like on a watch. Largely driven by the Internet, web development trends reign and responsive design is leading the way.
BannerView.com recently updated their website to a responsive design layout. As mentioned, it did take a bit more forward thinking in the planning stages, but the switch to the new layout was probably the smoothest transition we’ve ever had.
Much like a website no longer can be just static and unchanging, the content within must now begin to evolve. Engage, Interact, Entertain, Inform, Own (EIEIO. Yes, Old MacDonald had a farm…). You engage the website visitor with interactive content, entertaining while informing them, owning their time while engaged.
New technologies in web development have provided ways to increase engagement with what was once static content. Live chat, surveys, interactive charts and videos all add elements of engagement. Even the aforementioned responsive design positions a website as an ever evolving entity, poised to develop predictive offerings based on specific actions.
The benefit of this technology is in the data we now receive. Rather than only seeing maybe some page visits and/or time spent on a web page, you now can see what engaged visitors on the page and whether it caught their attention. You’ll get better details on performance issues and how to better correct faulty presentations. Overall, you’ll provide a much more solid website user experience for all your customers.
I’m just going to come out and say “link building is dead” and be done with it. Google has all but confirmed this with Matt Cutt’s recent post about guest blogging being done. Now, with that being said, your SEO strategies should be more focused on earning links. How do you do that? Concentrate on building a media hub so attractive that people will automatically want to link to it.
The Internet is a great playground to create content and the tools to produce it are getting much more easier to use. The downside to this is an abundance of useless, repetitive and spammy content used to promote unscrupulous content to the top of the search rankings. To have links bestowed upon you, either from other websites, or from the search engines (specifically Google), create quality content.
Becoming an authoritative source for information takes time, but well worth the effort. As mentioned, developing an editorial calendar is a necessity for 2014. Whether you produce daily content or monthly content, a consistent schedule will streamline the production process. It’ll also help open up time to properly optimize content for the search engines.
The free ride is over. Just like link building is dead, free social media advertising is dead as well. Why? Because the networks have not figured out a way to get people to pay for their services. Hence, the need for paid advertising. If you’ve seen the effectiveness of your Facebook and Twitter posts drop, you’re not alone. Because of changes in news feed algorithms, only the more popular posts get visibility.
This trend will continue as these networks continue to need funding to maintain and grow their infrastructure. In fact, both social media and SEO tactics will need paid advertising to be effective. This morphing into SEO+Social advertising is the future, so we as marketers should begin to embrace it sooner than later.
The upside is the pricing is relatively low and very much under your control. Both Facebook and Twitter have added paid advertising offerings, along with analytics to measure your campaign’s success. The downside is, compared to Google’s Adwords, the effectiveness of their respective ad platforms is suspect. Hopefully, both companies work on improving their ad networks.
2014 looks to bring us a much more creative and engaging online experience. Prepare you and your company by building a media production strategy into your marketing plan. Be innovative in your approach and make each visit to your online properties memorable.
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