Current trends and updates in the digital marketing industry.

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Top Digital Marketing Trends of 2014

Now that we’re a few months into 2014, I thought might be valuable to share some trends we’re already seeing in the ever-changing realm of Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing. As the Digital Marketing Manager here at Paramount Consulting, it is most interesting to me how fast the sometimes forceful winds of digital marketing blew trends in and out 2013. Nevertheless, its 2014 now, Google is further honing their ranking requirements and the following patterns seem to be emerging already as dominate. The best news: most of them are tried and true – not really affected by any of the algorithm changes Google may implement as they settle into their role as dictator of everything relevant and authoritative online.

1. Content will remain King.

If you know anything about SEO, this adage is pretty cliche, but the evidence is in the massive amount of success content generation had in 2013. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the the trend has been moving toward eliminating the fluff. If search engines are in the game for their users, and marketers are in the game for their clients, then innovative marketers that earn the most “user experience” points will win the game. Genuine, relevant content (as always) will be necessary to compete.

In Sum: If you’re not dedicating a budget toward content development, it’s time to do so.

2. SEO and SOCIAL MEDIA will become inseparable.

Okay, social isn’t the heavy hitter inbound strategy has been when it comes to search engine friendliness, but it is still a major “Pillar of SEO” and everyone knows it shouldn’t be ignored. Even though social media is most definitely a vital piece to a well-rounded online presence, the fact remains: social media is it’s own animal entirely. The past couple years, search engines like Google have recognized the uniqueness of social signals, and moreover their increasing impact on consumer decision making. Because of this, search engines will use social signals more in 2014 to factor the overall authority of a site.

If businesses have involved social media platforms, with relevant, original content, that demand audience interaction, they will find themselves showing up more often in the search engine in 2014, no longer just for their site, but for their external social and blog content. Social interaction and “shares” have become the internet’s proverbial “stamp of approval”. Search engines will sort social content by these stamps and trust signals just like they do when they determine authority for websites. This enhanced focus in 2014, will ensure original content, posted on social media, is showing up more often in your every-day search results, and may even outweigh inbound links by the end of the year.

Conclusion: Social media is no longer the “should have” product of 2013; its now the “must-have” product of 2014.

3. Higher demand for “Mobile-Friendly” content.

This is about user accessibility: plain and simple. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit the current disconnectedness of the modern world, disguised by “connectedness” sometimes disheartens me. But the truth is: we are on our devices and phones SO often, because they are just THAT cool. I mean, think about it, the future of our childhood has quite literally arrived. Almost limitless accessibility, boundless discovery, and do-anything applications at our fingertips have officially changed the way we access and process information. It feels kind of like Star Trek. Now, the evolution of Mobile browsing has unearthed “responsive” web design, which is fast replacing “mobile-friendly” as the norm on new website builds.

Forbes predicts that, by 2017, tablets and smartphones will be 87% of connected device sales throughout the world. With the affordability and user friendly interfaces of the newer tablets, more and more people have been able to gain a personal access point to the internet that could not afford one previously.

Point Is: Good luck in 2014 if you’re not at least “mobile-friendly”. And NOTE: If you’re looking at investing in a new site, you might as well go responsive, because mobile friendly won’t be enough to stay competitive by the end of the year.

 4. Simplicity will drive a new age. 

The best, most innovative marketers will strive to have less of the marauding flashiness that dominated the online advertising space of 2013, and develop campaigns with honest messaging, presented simply. Successful marketers will know their users are getting sick of all the sensory stimulation. We all still love having the access to information at our fingertips, but we don’t need it to scream at us if its truly relevant to our needs or desires.  And though simplicity is easier said than done; less will truly be more when less hype equals more genuine engagement from users in 2014.

As the market becomes more educated on the potential of advertising online, the hype of the digital marketing industry itself will deflate and we will see the lazy marketing tactics that have begun to cloud the industry slough off like dead skin, and a new age of competitive high design will emerge into the online advertising space.

In Summary: Neon is dead.

5. Video Marketing: “Multisensory Impression”

Videos can be obnoxious and turn users away, if they’re produced wrong. But when they’re done right, videos are potent online marketing tools.  Videos have the ability- with captivating imagery and relevant music- to actually embody a marketing message. Text certainly can’t do that, and even the best photography often falls short. In no other media can we really talk directly to the user in multiple ways.

I know I just got done saying that we are all sick of the sensory perception. But a well produced video, with honest messaging, can be your best sales person in this online age.

My Suggestion: Get your business in front of a good video camera, with someone who knows how to use it, ASAP.

 6. UX will become a key factor in search ranking.

UX or “User Experience” is a bit harder to measure for return on investment than some other methods like keyword ranking. Nevertheless, Google’s Panda updates focus on content quality measured by click-through (does the user select the page from the search results?), bounce rate (does the user do anything on the page?), and conversion (does the user indicate that their information need has been solved?).  But really, just like with mobile friendly and responsive design,  this is about getting your user base where they want to go on your website and doing it efficiently and with as little difficulty to the user as possible.

Relevant user experience data points from most site analytics programs, like Google Analytics, would be: unique visitors, their social actions, the number of pages visited, the average time on page (exclude the bounces), bounce rate, exit rate, top content and top landing pages.

Don’t Forget:  You’re website needs to flow

Now, this is of course not ALL the trends we’ll see in Digital Marketing in 2014. Each year brings it’s own surprises, but these 6 trends will be worth paying attention to, that is sure. Remember, If you have questions about Digital Marketing, just give us a call. We love this stuff.

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Digital Marketing 101 – Part 1 – An Introduction

What is Digital Marketing? It has many names, a multitude of strategies and it looks good on every brand. But Digital Marketing isn’t the riddle it might seem to be. This is Paramount’s Official Introduction to Digital Marketing. Prepare to be informed.

SO What is Digital Marketing?

Very simply put, Digital Marketing refers to the application of marketing principles and techniques via electronic media and more specifically the Internet. The terms Digital Marketing, Internet marketing and search marketing – and even “SEO” – are frequently interchanged, and can often be considered synonymous.

Digital Marketing is the process of marketing a brand using the Internet. It includes both direct response marketing and indirect marketing elements and uses a range of technologies to help connect businesses to their target customers.

By such a definition, Digital Marketing encompasses all the activities a business conducts via the worldwide web with the aim of attracting new business, retaining current business and continuing to develop and evolve its brand identity.

Why is Digital Marketing important?

When implemented properly, the return on investment (ROI) from Digital Marketing can far exceed that of traditional marketing strategies. Not to mention, the data and analysis that come as a result of digital marketing efforts help businesses make intelligent business decisions.

Whether you’re a “brick and mortar” business or an organization operating purely online, the Internet is a force that can no longer be ignored. It is now an almost limitless means to reach literally millions of people every year. Digital Marketing at the forefront of a redefinition of way businesses interact with their customers.

The benefits of Digital Marketing over traditional marketing

Reach

The nature of the internet means businesses now have a truly global reach. While traditional media costs limit this kind of reach to huge audiences, Digital Marketing opens up new avenues for smaller businesses, on a much smaller budget, to access potential consumers from all over the world.

Scope

Internet marketing allows the marketer to reach consumers in an incredible variety of ways and enables them to offer a wide range of products and services. Digital Marketing entails, among other things, information management, public relations, customer service and sales. With the range of new technologies becoming available all the time, this scope of what’s possible with digital marketing can only grow.

Immediacy

Internet marketing is able to, in ways never before imagined, provide an immediate impact.

Imagine you’re reading your favorite magazine. You see a double-page advertisement for some new product or service, maybe Mercedes’ latest luxury sedan or Apple’s latest iPhone offering. With this kind of traditional media, it’s not that easy for you, the consumer, to take the step from hearing about a product to actual acquisition.

With Digital Marketing, it’s easy to make that step as simple as possible. Within a few quick clicks you could have booked a test drive or ordered the iPhone. And all of this can happen regardless of normal office hours. Effectively, Internet marketing makes ANY business hours 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for every week of the year.

By closing the gap between providing information and eliciting a consumer reaction, the consumer’s buying cycle is speeded up and advertising spend can go much further in creating immediate leads.

Interactivity

Whereas traditional marketing is largely about getting a brand’s message out there, Digital Marketing can actually facilitate conversations between companies and consumers. With a two-way communication channel, companies can feed off of the responses of their consumers, making customer service standards more dynamic, adaptive and fulfilling.

Demographics and targeting

Generally speaking, the demographic possibilities of the Internet are a marketer’s dream. Internet users, considered as a group, have greater buying power and could perhaps be considered as a population group skewed towards the middle-classes.

Buying power is not all expansive demographics can provide though. The nature of the Internet is such that its users will tend to organize themselves into far more focused groupings. Savvy marketers who know where to look can quite easily find access to the niche markets they wish to target. Marketing messages are most effective when they are presented directly to the audience most likely to be interested, at the times they are most likely to engage with them. The Internet creates the perfect environment for niche marketing to targeted groups.

Adaptivity

Closed Loop Marketing requires the constant measurement and analysis of the results of marketing initiatives. By continuously tracking the response and effectiveness of a campaign, the most innovative and adaptive marketers are able to be far more dynamic in accomplishing client goals.

With Digital Marketing, responses to various strategies can be analyzed in real-time and campaigns can be tweaked continuously. Combined with the immediacy of the Internet as a medium, this means that there’s minimal advertising spend wasted on less than effective campaigns.

Not to mention: Maximizing marketing efficiency from Digital Marketing creates new opportunities to seize strategic competitive advantages.

The combination of all these factors results in an improved ROI and ultimately, more customers, happier customers and an improved bottom line.

NEXT UP IN THE DIGITAL MARKETING 101 SERIES:

Having now identified the “why” of Digital Marketing, Part 2 in the Digital Marketing 101 series will look at the “how”. We’ll be exploring some of the weaponry in the our Digital Marketing team’s arsenal, and looking at how these tools should be used to target customers.

SEO, SEM, PPC, DA, BR… – the acronyms are never far behind. We’ll take a brief look at each, defining what they are and giving some guidance in terms of which tactic to use in a given situation to ensure optimum ROI on advertising spend.

Later on, we’ll examine each of these tactics more closely and see just how they are used to produce results.