5 Results-driven Marketing Strategies for 2014

As you have seen throughout December, there are several major areas of marketing that will see exponential growth in 2014. Pay attention to the trends as these trends have the potential to become the biggest and brightest winning marketing strategies in the New Year. Creative content marketing, buzzworthy experiences, and dynamic social media will all see mega movement, and will be vital to your digital marketing plans. Additionally, there are two other areas that have the potential to be massive game changers in 2014: Mobile and Integrated Marketing.

Top 5 Powerhouses and Their Trends for 2014

Take a look at our three previous blogs from December as we share our thoughts on the latest marketing strategies for the New Year…

1) Content Marketing: Read more on content marketing trends.

2) Buzzworthy Experiences: Discover how to make your experiences buzzworthy.

3) Social Marketing: See how social marketing will be a game changer in 2014.

4) Mobile

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Mobile technology will be a huge trend in 2014. Mobile, however, is much more than a trend – it’s a full-blown marketing strategy unto itself. Creating a mobile version of your desktop site is a must in order to keep up with digital marketing. Users are not only searching online, but they are also purchasing online. (In 2012, Cyber Monday mobile site sales accounted for 13% of total sales that day – twice as many as the year before.) So you may want to explore adding a purchasing system to your mobile site. Additional, mobile payment systems will be even more robust such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts ability to pay using a scan-and-go code.

The important thing to remember with mobile sites is that less is usually more. You want your mobile site to be as condensed and organized as possible to create a more user-friendly experience with your most important information (most viewed pages) on top. Be sure to pay attention to your design elements as well. Broken links or buttons that are too small to click will frustrate your users. Finally, your mobile site should reflect your desktop site. Use the same color scheme, logos, etc. You’ll want one consistent look, feel, and message.

For additional information on how best to build your mobile site, click here.

5) Integrated Marketing

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Integrated marketing means creating campaigns with multiple touch points through a diverse usage of media. You want to integrate your branding message across all platforms – social media, outdoor media, print collateral, television, radio, live events, etc. Keep the message consistent throughout each media, or else you risk confusing, and thus losing your audience.

In order to successfully integrate your marketing efforts, you must develop a strategy for each media. This should start with a detailed audience analysis. Get to know them and what they want. Then, when creating your message, go for something DISRUPTIVE! Dare to shake it up! Create a buzz! Nowadays you can’t be too cautious or too conservative. You’ll blend in with the rest of the crowd – and in marketing, that’s NOT good. You want to stand out!

Going forward in 2014, it will be crucial that you link your offline messaging with your online messaging. The two must go hand-in-hand. Some ways to do this include printing your Twitter handle (@Sparxoo) and hashtag (#ChampionYourBrand) on your printed pieces and directing consumers to use both when tweeting. Also, be sure to use your social media accounts to advertise any offline events that you have planned. Play with both online and offline mediums back and forth. Use them in conjunction with the other to maximize your reach. And remember – increase the amount of times you connect with your consumers. One message a day is not enough!

Think of it this way: Let’s say you are advertising a live event that requires the customer to buy a ticket ahead of time. The customer hears your ad on the radio one morning as he’s getting dressed. Perhaps he’ll buy right away, but chances are he won’t. One ad will not necessarily lead to a conversion. However, he then sees your billboard on his way to work. While he’s conducting some research online, he sees a banner ad for the same event. Then, at lunchtime as he’s checking his Facebook account, he sees an event invitation, or better yet, his buddies are talking about the event. Each ad contained the same message: “Event ABC on This Date at This Time and you should attend because of X, Y, and Z.” That’s four different touch points and it’s only noon. He then repeatedly sees these messages over and over again. THIS is how you integrate your message into every marketing stream. THIS is how you get a conversion.

For additional information on to develop an integrated marketing campaign for your brand, click here.

7 Social Media Trends for 2014

With each new year, social media trends turn themselves into powerful strategies. This year is no different; 2014 promises to deliver a complete array of trends that stem from the successful strategies that worked during 2013. From the continued growth of newer social media networks to pay-to-play advertising options, the social media landscape is changing, yet again. Are you onboard and ready to sail?

Less Facebook, More Instagram

This change is two-fold. The first is that younger generations, primarily Generation Y (Millennials) and their younger counterparts are gravitating more towards Instagram than Facebook. Facebook usage is down, while Instagram usage continues to rise, especially with Instagram’s newly released direct messaging feature and video capabilities. The second portion of this change is with advertisers themselves. More companies are starting to utilize Instagram as a viable advertising stream. You’re sure to see more of this come 2014.

Short “Teaser” Videos Abound

Don’t fret – viral videos will still play on in 2014. Who can resist a good laugh? Now that Instagram and Snapchat saw jumps in usage since instituting the ability to produce video clips, videos will remain a key player in social media strategies. Additionally, companies will utilize video clips to create smaller advertisements that they can easily share on their social media networks. So don’t be surprised if you start to see more videos ads on your feeds!

Snapchat Continues to Grow

This disappearing message platform is not slowing down. It processes approximately 400 million photos and videos per day. It recently turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook to purchase the company for cash. Some thought that was a crazy move, but was it? If this monster continues to feed, it has the potential to surpass $3 billion. Watch this one closely in 2014 as it continues to grow, and companies figure out how to monetize its usage.

Companies Increase Their Content Marketing Budgets

More companies are starting to see the value in organic content and will seek to grow their own programs. Those who can write blogs, newsletters, articles, etc. will be high demand in the New Year as companies realize that not only is the quantity of content important but now, more than ever, quality is key. Content drives site traffic, SEO, and social media. Without consistent quality content, your digital marketing efforts will suffer.

Continued Mobile Optimization of Brand Sites

According to a study by mobiThinking, 71% of smartphone users that see TV, press or online ads, do a mobile search for more information. However, 79% of large online advertisers still do not have a mobile optimized site! Brands will take a cue from social networks and continue to grow and enhance mobile versions of their sites. More and more people are turning to their smartphones and tablets to research brands, purchase products, and interact with those who use the same brands as they do. It would be wise for all marketers to automatically include a mobile optimized site for their desktop versions.

Pay-to-play on Facebook and Twitter

In order to be on top of the Facebook and Twitter advertising world, you’ll have to pay-to-play. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to gain consumer traction from these platforms without paying for ad space. In 2014, companies will have to cough up some dough in order to play by paying for sponsored posts and promoted accounts and tweets. The larger the budget, the better the outreach. You can still gain some new users and engagement with a smaller budget in the beginning of the year, but as the year progresses, you’ll have to increase your bids in order to compete with others in the market.

Target Niche Communities Instead of Casting a Wide Net

Gone are the days of casting a wide net just to gain followers. A more targeted demographic approach will give some marketers a big win in the New Year. The wide net approach may gain you followers but not necessarily qualified ones. In order to reach those who are qualified – those who will truly engage with a brand – marketers will choose select niche markets to target market. These niche markets will have commonalities, whether based on demographics or common interests that will make them tempting to certain brands.

As you can see, there’s a lot to look forward to in the New Year when it comes to social media trends. However, if you’re just starting your strategic planning now, you have a lot of catching up to do. 2014 is right around the corner. Spend some time planning your social media campaigns so that you’re ready for the most profitable quarter of the year!

Be sure to follow Sparxoo’s journey through our own social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

Buzzworthy Experience Marketing Trends for 2014

Creating buzzworthy experience marketing is more vital to marketing trends than you may think. Just putting your product or service on the shelf in 2014 will not be enough. You have to start thinking about creating a buzz around your product. You must get people talking and create excitement over your brand!

What Does It Mean to Be “Buzzworthy”?

Being buzzworthy means you have created an experience that people will remember and recommend to others. They will talk about it. Share their experiences on social media. It makes them laugh. It elicits emotions. It gives them interesting information. It’s something out of the ordinary, something different. It’s usually a more personalized experience whereby you are giving the audience something that they want.

Buzzworthy experience marketing can be used to announce a new product or service, an upgrade to your existing business, or a one-time only event that will be used to get your brand name out there.

So how do you create a buzzworthy experience? The following tactics will be ones to watch in the New Year. How do they fit in to YOUR marketing plans?

Social Media to Reach the Masses

What’s the best way to get people talking quickly with the most reach possible? Social media, of course. There are more than just a few ways to use this medium.

You can use social media networks to drum up interest in your brand:

  • Create a viral video that gets people laughing or is used as a “teaser” for your upcoming product or service release.
  • Use a “countdown” until the release of your new product or service.
  • Create Facebook event pages for a live event, release date, etc.
  • If holding a live event, use Eventbrite for tickets and registration purposes.
  • Advertise on LinkedIn (if appropriate).
  • Hold a contest through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram that involves your brand. Note: Make sure your giveaways and prizes are worth winning!
  • Develop a hashtag that will be specific to your buzzworthy experience and ask your followers to use that hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. (This is also a good way for you to track your social media reach.)

Mobile Messaging for Those on the Go

Ok, so believe it or not, not everyone utilizes a social media network. Nor does everyone have time to continually check those networks if they use them. That’s why text messaging will become a much more utilized method of disseminating information to the masses in 2014. Texts immediately reach their recipients. A study showed that 98% of all text messages are opened compared to 71% of tweets being ignored!

That being said, it’s important to use texts wisely. Most people still consider their phone numbers and texting to be a more direct and intimate line of communication. It’s a more intrusive form of communication vs. the user having to actively search through a social network feed. So be careful what you send. Make sure your texts contain something truly useful, something worth sending a text over, and something that they can only get via text and nowhere else. Examples include discount codes for use in-stores and online, contests with unique prizes, giveaways, or reminders about your live event with details on where to go.

Live Events for Brand Awareness

Use live events to draw attention to your brand and create brand awareness. Create a gala event to announce a new product line. Stage an event in the open (weather permitting) where people will see and interact with your brand. Draw people into your activation by using radio remotes, DJs, street teams, etc. Have your street teams circulate the area a few days prior to the event handing out promotional materials advertising the event and talking to locals to generate interest. Offer coupons and discounts for attending the event, and advertise any contests that will take place. Have Twitter walls or screens scrolling the live feeds using the specific hashtags you created for the event.

You can even hold smaller, one-on-one promotional events, perhaps directly where the consumer shops for your product, i.e. department stores, grocery stores, etc. Afford them the opportunity to sample your products. Provide trained spokespeople who are educated advocates of your brand to inform the public of the benefits and features of your products or services. Have your brand advocates direct people to tweet about your brand while at the event and encourage them to follow you on Facebook, Instagram, etc. (Click here for more tips on how to generate a buzz throughout all event phases.)

There are plenty of eye-catching, attention-grabbing effects that you can use at live events. The main point to remember is: MAKE IT MEMORABLE!

The beauty of making something buzzworthy is that you can keep it small and targeted, or go big and create a big splash! Either way, as long as your experience is memorable and gets people talking, you’ve done your job. Be sure to keep in mind the most effective ways to extend your reach. Even with a small experience, it could be something that’s so dynamic that it lights up social media feeds.

Content Marketing Trends for 2014

One of the most versatile and important marketing trends for 2014 that has the branding world buzzing is the idea of crafting a marketing mix that’s inclusive of content marketing. Content marketing trends can be used to educate, engage, and entertain. It can provide information while pushing new products. It can capture new leads and seed existing ones.

Content marketing will not just be a marketing trend for 2014 – businesses will build entire strategies around it. They will create a marketing mix chockfull of content objectives. But what is content marketing? What type of content do you use and where do you use it? And what are the content marketing trends for 2014?

5 Content Style Trends that Grab Attention

  1. Blogs and articles. Present yourself as an authority in your field by continually writing blogs on hot topics that interest your customers. Discuss industry news, the latest trends, compare products…the topics are endless. You can keep them short. Blogs don’t need to be novels!
  2. White Papers. Conduct a study on an issue or problem that exists in your industry. Present the facts and figures, Discuss options to solve the problem. Make sure you do your due diligence when writing a white paper – get your facts straight!
  3. Case Studies. What successes have you had with clients? Write case studies on your biggest wins. Explain the client’s needs, and then highlight how you analyzed and fixed the problem. This is your time to brag about yourself and your business!
  4. Infographics. Everyone loves infographics. They are quick, succinct, and easy to read. Infographics are a great way to get out lots of interesting stats without it being a dry read. Use a designer to create a fun look. For more information on how to create infographics that stand out, click here.
  5. Short videos. You don’t have to post a 6-second Vine videos, but now that Facebook allows videos to play right in their application, this opens up a new way of attracting attention. The videos are easier than ever to view – and you should capitalize on this by uploading your own quick vids. Demonstrate your product, create something useful, or even something fun and viral.

Other forms of content marketing can include newsletters, webinars and podcasts, social media posts, and e-books. You should choose several content styles to give your content marketing some diversity.

So now you have the content…where do you put it?

  1. Your website. First and foremost, all content should be uploaded to your website. Post your daily/weekly blogs, case study portfolio, etc. Then, use that content to drive traffic to your site by posting the links throughout your social media networks.
  2. Social media. Use content marketing to engage your followers. Post content that incites discussions and is interesting enough for people to share with their network. You should post content that both drives traffic to your website by sharing links, and also proprietary content to that specific social media network. Meaning? Post an infographic picture directly to your Twitter feed – not just a link to your website. This will allow people to view the graphic right there on the platform instead of linking out. It’s a quicker way to get your information to your followers. Waiting for a link to load on a mobile device may take more time than being able to view a photo directly in a social media app. (See how you can ignite your social media in 2014! Click here.)
  3. Email. Create a newsletter that links to your blog posts and other content on your website. Email this newsletter on a monthly basis to your client-base. Be sure to include content that is unique to your newsletter. Also, emails can be used to keep your customers engaged throughout their lifecycle. It doesn’t always need to be a newsletter – you can send along other interesting facts and news.

Content Marketing Trends to Use to Your Advantage in 2014

Go Mobile. Design content that is easily transferable to a mobile environment. With more people using tablets and smartphones than ever before, this trend will likely continue until mobile usage overtakes desktops. So be sure that your content is capable of being scanned over quickly in a digital format.

Devise a Strategy. Your content marketing objectives should be thoughtfully planned out. Create an editorial calendar based on platforms. For example: Map out the content for each blog, newsletter theme, video, infographic, etc. and when you plan on releasing it. Granted, industry news may dictate your content, but having a good idea of where you want to take it is beneficial when starting the New Year.

Guest blogging. Start building your network of industry peers and influencers. Offer to write blogs for their sites and, in turn, you’ll post some of their writings. Additionally, you could offer up a quote or tidbit of info for one of their upcoming articles.

Content shift from pure information to “how to”. Readers of your content will become more interested in how the information that you’re disseminating can help them. Use industry news and growing trends to support how your business can fill your consumers’ needs.

Now that you know the 2014 trends, above all, the most important thing to remember in content marketing is that you are GIVING information to your clients, not ASKING them for something. You are providing information, not asking for a sale. If you start overtly asking your clients for sales, they will think that your content is nothing more than a sales pitch and you will have lost them for eternity. Be mindful of this and the rest of the trends and you’ll find your content marketing is rockin’ it in the New Year!