What marketers should not ignore in 2014

As we begin the year, a couple trends stand out that marketers should consider in their practices. By now, it is fairly obvious (maybe cliché) to say that marketing is undergoing a constant state of disruption, but it is true. Taking note of evolutions in technology, practices and user behavior is a paramount and vital task for the contemporary marketer.

2014 marketing tips

The following trends are noteworthy and merit consideration by both digital and traditional-leaning practitioners.

Content is at the heart of digital marketing.
Content is (still) king. Social Media Today reported that 78% of CMO’s feel custom content is the future of marketing. It is a significant resource for marketing that helps at each stage of the customer relationship. Content is the lifeblood of marketing, and warrants serious consideration and investment. Many brands and businesses (including non-profits) should adopt the traits of a media company. Characteristics of media companies include 1. content production 2. increased relevance 3. story telling and the 4. ability to move quickly and adapt.

Inbound marketing uses powerful laws of attraction rather than disruption.
A marketing philosophy championed by Seth Godin, Hubspot, MOZ, Google, and practiced in some way by nearly 60% of those marketers surveyed by Hubspot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing. Hubspot refers to Inbound as a “proven methodology for the digital age.”

By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time. –Hubspot

Marketing automation helps connect the dots.
The ability to offer the most appropriate content to customers, prospects and leads will help you gain favor and have more successful relationships. Marketing automation tools can provide a slew of capabilities, including behavioral targeting, alerts, email segmentation and deeper insights into the activities and interests of your contacts. Marketing automation can help close the gap between marketing and sales–making the enterprise more successful.

Lifecycle Marketing takes a bird’s eye view of customer interaction.
People go through stages as they interact with your company. By defining and creating a strategy for this lifecycle progression, you can deliver a better brand experience. Marketing automation helps with this task by offering greater relevancy and identifying a contact’s progress through these lifecycle stages.

Mobile is shaping the way we think about: content, data, design and messaging.
Did you know that more emails are read on phones than on computers? A new report by Return Path, Where, When and What We Checked Emails On This Holiday Season, shows that mobile had a 51% of email open rate this last holiday season, and this rate is only increasing. Marketers cannot afford to ignore mobile. A mobile strategy should also point to a brand’s website as well. A study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) explained that very few company’s websites are designed and coded to be mobile responsive. In fact, the study UK study stated that 11% of the highest spending advertisers had mobile optimized websites. Mobile responsive design is an easy way to embrace mobile communications.

Embrace niche communities & be authentically social.
Social media is fragmenting and many web users are exploring new platforms and communities using their desktops, tablets and mobile devices from morning to late night. In 2013 there was a surge in popularity for new networks like Pinterest, Vine and Instagram. Professionals flock to Linkedin Groups, Meetup.com and smaller social communities for reasons spanning from professional development to entertainment. Social media has become apart of everyday life. As brands and marketers experiment with tactics in social media, it is important to remember authenticity. Be a great community participant. Create content and share things that are meaningful, relevant and make people happy.

For some marketers, past mistakes may creep up on them. 
Many brands have seen penalties for past mistakes in blackhat or greyhat SEO and are now paying the price. We have seen websites fall off the map in organic search because they have legacy issues from long gone SEO schemes and link experiments. The effect of a Google penalty can be radical organic ranking drops or a notification in Google Webmaster Tools as a “manual action.” Don’t worry. All is not lost. It is possible to recover from a Google ranking penalty.  Going forward, it is a good idea to not take short cuts. Always remember user experience, and create great content that actually helps people.

Engagement is more than a buzz word. 
According to a study by StrongView, email marketing is positioned for increased budgets in 2014. But the survey also explained that list building will not be a top priority with email–engagement is. Many of the items above take engagement to heart. Content, in whatever form, needs to engage users. This is also true of email communications.  About 44% of marketers surveyed in the StrongView study have identified subscriber engagement as 1 of their top 3 priorities for the year ahead.

Programmatic advertising will continue to grow.
Programmatic online advertising in 2013 points to increases in 2014. Studies by eMarketer show that advertisers have spent 75.3% more on programmatic advertising in 2013 than they did the previous year, and this will continue in 2014. The study also predicts that $4.66 billion will be spent on programmatic advertising in 2014.

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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.