The new year is here. 2013 saw many changes to the online marketing landscape that presented a whole new set of opportunities and challenges. Are you geared up to avoid the challenges and take full advantage of the new opportunities before you in 2014? Here's what to expect this year and how you can face it with confidence.

Good Content is Still Your Best Bet

Content marketing has acquired more urgency as Google implemented search encryption in 2013. This update took away keyword insights which was crucial to search marketing. The safe bet, as always, continues to be in creating articles that your audience finds valuable, regardless of whether they are keyword optimized or not. There is no substitute for good content that not only informs but entertains your audience. Such content helps build trust in you as an authority in your field. Trust translates to loyalty (repeat visits) and responsiveness (visitors take action that you recommend).

Consider Context and Relevance for Better Impact

What is it that will make your content “relevant”? Content that speaks to the audience's experience, needs, desires etc, delivered in a familiar tone and style makes your content relevant. Don't bore your audience with the same generic style and language that everyone else uses. If you don't have any new information, offer new or interestingly different perspectives on current knowledge. Look for entertainment value even in the most theoretical subjects. Infographics, for instance, reduces complex ideas into graphical representations that make them easier to understand and more compelling.

Diverse and Smart Social Media Marketing

Social media sites like Pinterest, Google +, Tumblr and Instagram have gained popularity as they provide new options in social media marketing. You can now produce engaging content in many more forms of media, enabling you to build your audience across more channels. Businesses and non-profit organizations can branch out and experiment with multiple social media networks. There is no doubt that this diversification builds brand equity.

Social media advertising will attract more customers. It will help you make the most of your marketing budget by giving you finer targeting options. Context-specific ads delivered to targeted audiences are outperforming generic advertising by a large margin.

Here are some of social media networks that have reached critical mass:

Instagram is a social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos and share them online.With instagram, you can post cool looking pictures of news about your business instantly and with little effort.

Pinterest facilitates users to create and manage events, interests, activities and hobbies which are theme-based collections of images. Browsing other pinboards for images, liking photos or 're-pinning' images to their own pinboards are the features which are beneficial to the users.

Google+ has been working on Circles, Events and Hangouts and the intention is to make sharing on the web similar to sharing in real life.

Tumblr allows you to share photos, gifts, videos, chats, links and text, view and reply to messages and manage multiple blogs. The advantage of Tumblr is that you can post anything from anywhere.

Images Grab Attention and Invite Visitors to Read more

Generally, readers on the net have short attention spans. Heaps of text content tend to bore them. Images help you draw them in and hold their attention. Illustrations, pictures of products, images with emotional content (Kittens, babies, beautiful people, awkward moments), all are more effective and grab attention, so long as they are used appropriately.

The success of Buzzfeed and Pinterest is testament to the power of image based content. While search engines give more weight to text-based content, image based content or content that includes images tend to be more persuasive, once visitors get to the page.

Complex information can be presented quickly and clearly with information graphics or 'infographics' which are graphic visual representations of data or knowledge.

A video is Worth a Thousand Pictures

Video content consistently outperforms blogs and other text-based content.

A speaking face, voice, emotions and movement all add a psychological component that helps draw audiences to video making videos a very effective marketing tool. Interesting videos get quickly shared across the web enabling you to reach an unpredictably large audience.

The power of video can transform the way you communicate with your customers and stakeholders.

Video Marketing can be made easier by posting your videos on YouTube and Pinterest. Pinterest is now the fastest growing social network. Pinterest is all about inspiring content and visuals. Pinterest boards now generate more revenue for retailers in comparison to posts on other sites.

Keep Your Marketing Messages Simple

Here is a simple formula for creating an effective marketing message:

Find out what problems your target market is struggling with. Explain how you can help solve these problems. Show proof of excellent results you have already delivered. Testimonials can help. Finally, it is important to explain why your customers should choose you over your competitors.

Formulate a message that speaks to the problems, fears and preferences. Make it compelling and believable. If you do it right, it will pique your audience's interest in you and what you have to offer. Once you get your marketing message right, use it consistently in all your communications.

Mobile-Friendly Content: Extremely Important!

More people than ever before are researching their purchases and even making purchases on their smartphones. Widespread use of smartphones has made it necessary for companies to create content that is accessible to mobile users. Website traffic analytics can reveal what percentage of your visitors are reaching your site via their smartphones. Here are the key takeaways:

Mobile search is the starting point. Instead of going directly to a site or app, 82% of shoppers use search engines for browsing product information while in-store. 8 in 10 smartphone shoppers use mobile in-store to help with shopping. Frequent mobile shoppers spend 25% more in-store than people who only occasionally use a mobile phone to help with shopping. These statistics from Google show that even brick and mortar stores are not immune to the influence of smart phones. So, it behooves businesses to be proactive about making their website and other online content mobile-friendly.

Ad Retargeting will increase effectiveness

You may have noticed ads to sites that you have just visited following you to other sites. Some of them even show you the products that you had looked at. This is called Ad Retargeting. This is an effective marketing strategy available with pay-per-click advertising.

This technique is effective because only a very low percentage of web traffic converts to a sale on first visit. Ad retargeting works to increase the overall conversion rate by reminding customers of the product or service they viewed.

SEO and social signals

When people interact with and share the content that you create on social media, each such interaction is called a “Social Signal”. Sharing your content on social media sites, posting comments, Likes, tweets, etc are all social signals. Google keeps tabs on how many social signals are generated by your audience. Google then uses this information when determining the relevance and popularity of your content. More relevance and popularity helps your content gain higher position on organic search results.

We hope 2014 turns out to be your best year yet with online marketing.

As always, we would love to hear from you, if you need professional help with developing and executing your online marketing strategy. You can write to us or call us at 610-856-0011.


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