Happy New Year, everyone! Look how bright and shiny that 2014 calendar looks. We love turning the page on last year and starting again with a fresh, clean slate for all. So as we dream big and attempt to keep those pesky resolutions, let’s talk about our 2014 marketing predictions. (And feel free to debate us in the comments or to add ones we overlooked.) We’ll gather back here in December 2014 to see how close—or far off—the mark we came.
1. Mobile mania continues. And the term “mCommerce” goes mainstream. OK, so this isn’t a wild prediction at all. In fact, mobile mania has been in many prognosticators’ predictions for the last few years. But! It’s still important to mention it, and it easily deserves the number one spot.
More and more people will be engaging with you, your company, and your brand “on the go” using their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). “On the go” could mean that the person is physically on the move, but it could also mean the person is interacting with your brand from an unconventional spot, like their bed on a lazy Sunday morning. You need to make sure…
- That your website is mobile-ready. Read more about that here.
- That people can easily read your email communications on their mobile devices.
- That you’re at least thinking about mobile marketing options (such as QR codes) this year and possibly incorporating them into your marketing mix, if it makes sense.
2. More small businesses will experiment with pay-per-click PPC. Some folks have said that one of the reasons Google decided to encrypt all keyword searches was because Google wants to push more people to use Google AdWords. Whether that’s true or not, the reality is that we think more and more small businesses might experiment with pay-per-click ads, if only to see what keywords compel people to click.
3. Personalization will be everywhere (but only the savviest businesses will get it right). Everything is getting more personal, from Google searches to subject lines in emails. That can definitely be a good thing from a business perspective. After all, being able to deliver targeted, personalized content to individuals based on who they are and their past behavior (e.g. on your website) will help lead them down the sales funnel, as long as it doesn’t feel creepy. We bolded and italicized that last phrase for a reason. There’s a fine line between personalization and things feeling a little too Big Brother. The most successful small businesses are going to know where this line is with their customer base, and they’re going to honor that line.
4. People will be growing more suspicious of “open” review sites. Over the last few years, there have been media reports about companies and individuals—from hotels to authors—buying fake reviews or posting fake reviews on their own. We suspect people are going to still read reviews, but they’re going to do so with a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to the ones that read a little too enthusiastic or too punishing. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if people start focusing more on reviews that fall in the middle of the ratings spectrum in an effort to uncover the “truth.” At the same time, review sites that require a fee and that require some sort of identity authentication will enjoy greater enrollment.
5. Visual content will rule the roost. Facebook and Twitter might be the king and queen right now, but other social media networks, like Tumblr and Instragram, have been—and will continue—showing their muscle by proving how compelling and memorable a simple image can be. And these sites don’t take kindly to stock photos, either, which means we also think more and more small businesses are going to be thinking about how and who should be taking their photos. A small business owner might outsource certain tasks to a marketing person, web person, and copywriter, but we think “photographer” will be another person the small business owner will need to consider in 2014. It’s important to note that “visual” goes WAY beyond mere images. We’re talking video and animation as well.
Wild prediction: QR codes become relevant. We (along with many others) had all but written off QR codes, those weird little squares of black-and-white squiggly bits you’ve probably seen at some point (like in magazine adverts). But PayPal’s announcement in October that it will be using QR codes for mobile payments, Facebook’s QR code app for Android (which received some attention this fall), and the fact QR codes ARE successful in other countries (like China and Japan) has us thinking that 2014 just might be their year…or the year they begin a comeback. Hmm. Time will tell, right?
What do you think? Agree, disagree, have something to add? The comments are waiting for you below! :)