We are knee-deep into the new year, and already a handful of challenging and essential conundrums have demanded that the marketing world pay attention. Looking for a definitive list of what to focus on this year for your marketing efforts? Look no farther than this comprehensive list of trends:
1. Get Targeted
Now is the time to become hyperfocused on who exactly you are creating content and products for, and therefore, who exactly you are marketing to. Niche sites are becoming all the rage, and this trend promises to explode this year. There are so many benefits to developing a targeted audience, from SEO (keywords are less competitive and therefore more impactful) to cost (advertising to a select few is less expensive than trying to reach a mass audience). Most importantly, targeting your site and marketing campaigns forces you to know everything you can about your ideal customer, and to in turn, produce the best content, products, or services imaginable for that customer.
2. Google+ Will Truly Dominate
If you’ve been avoiding the inevitable move to Google+ for at least part of your social media campaign, it’s time to take the plunge. Google+ now sees more than 1.2 million page views each month, and enjoys a hefty 1 billion registered users. You didn’t actually think Google would let its social behemoth fail, right? Not a chance. Their success is inevitable because Google as a search engine still reigns supreme. Marketers have begun to realize that in order to see maximum search engine results, integrating with Google+ is a must. If you publish content that doesn’t show up on your Google+ profile, you’re missing out on bonuses like author rank and added SEO clout. Because Google has so wisely made it an essential part of high rankings, Google+ will reach the tipping point this year and become a force to be reckoned with. Now is the time to join this trend.
3. Brand Ambassadors Hold the Keys to the Kingdom
It’s a social world in every way these days, and smart marketers are learning how to leverage their biggest online fans. This new niche, called “Influencer Marketing,” is a rather new tactic that involves a deep commitment to social connections, and crafty ways to incentivize your brand ambassadors to get in the marketing game with you. Why is this so effective and essential? Nothing is more powerful in swaying others to give you a shot than your own customers. Their word is far more credible than yours. So as you plot your social media presence this year, make sure to include your biggest and noisiest fans in the mix.
4. Say It With Images
With sites like Instagram and Pinterest positively exploding, image-centric campaigns are now fiery hot, too. Words are still relevant, but images may just trump language this year in terms of effectiveness and reach. Twitter and Facebook posts with images are volumes more likely to receive Likes and Shares; all this adds up to the necessity of gorgeous, meaningful pictures in your next marketing campaign.
5. Add Value, or Be Ignored
This year’s marketing-centric content must be oozing with value to every member of your audience. Each word, image, and video that you craft needs to keep your audience squarely in mind; in other words, no pushing your own agenda and assuming it will have mass appeal. Marketing expert Lee Gimpel states that, “Developing a pricing strategy begins with determining the true value of your offerings to customers.” The same is now true for creating marketing campaigns. If your content missives don’t offer clear value to your audience, you will be ignored. Don’t trust the archaic method of the hard sell; instead, flex your creative muscle and create true and lasting value in the lives of your customers.
6. Never Underestimate the Value of a Blog
Sure, it’s hardly a new trend, but great blogs continue to be one of the best ways to generate new business, and to engender loyalty with existing customers. Blogs are one of the best ways to tackle trend No. 5 above: They should never, ever be endless banter about your business, but should always instead shed informative light on topics relevant to your industry. If you’re mindful of smart SEO tactics and have the ability to generate intriguing and (here’s that word again) valuable content, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more effective marketing technique. 2013 marked the true birth of the significance of content marketing, and 2014 is the year this trend will absolutely dominate.
Simon Mainwaring, the award-winning branding consultant, sums up the challenges marketers must handle every day thusly:
Brands are faced with the daily challenge of massively scaling their outreach in order to build personal relationships. While this may seem like a contradiction in terms, it becomes much more possible when brands shift from push to pull dynamics in their marketing.
Remember that above all else, your efforts will only be successful if you keep the innate needs of your target audience in mind with every quality piece of marketing content you produce. You aren’t pushing your products and services on them, you’re showing them the actual value of what you have to offer. This kind of approach will not only be the most effective marketing viewpoint this year, it’s also the best way to cover acquisition and retention strategies with one targeted tactic.