December 17, 2013 by
As a consultant, it is my job to distill web strategy information and to help businesses integrate this distillation. Part of this is determining marketing hype, the excitement of bleeding- or cutting-edge techniques and real-world information that has a present and future value to my clients and the projects I am hired to develop.
2014 strategies are forming common themes; Content, Responsive Designs and Social Engagement. Here are some concepts that I will be actively engaged in when developing a new project OR watching develop in the new year:
- Responsive Web (Re)Design
- Content authoring/distribution/management
- Deeper Social Engagement
- Claiming your Content
- Simpler Designs
- Customer Advocates
- Real Life Stories
- Google+ Post Ads
Where to focus your web strategy attention
Responsive Web (re)Design
Many business have already developed or re-developed their website to be responsive. 2014 will see the majority of the remaining small businesses who actively rely on their website marketing efforts to convert to a responsive design. At the same time, these businesses, if they have not already, will deploy their website on a CMS so they can manage their content in-house.
Authoring, Distributing and Managing your Content
2012/2013 saw businesses getting used to the idea of “blogging”. Those who were successful created a great deal of content. Those that profited the most from this were the ones who created the most engaging content and strategically distributed that content.
Most business should now realize that in order to be competitive, to remain relevant to their markets, they must provide fresh, engaging and creative content. “Content Distribution” and “Managing your Content” will be mainstream buzzwords in 2014
Organizations will need to allocate the resources to research, write and distribute their content frequently. Social Relevance as a signal to search systems like Google will look for this content, they will look for “mentions” of this content throughout the social web. Keep your audience AND search systems engaged with your content!
I have been recommending this strategy for some time now. Mobile devices AND their ability to serve content based on location will be deepening the requirement for businesses to include a location-bias content strategy. This will be fairly easy for business drawing on local customers and more complex for organizations competing on a larger scale.
It is worth noting that mobile devices often receive different Google search query results then desktop searches. You will see this trend grow significantly.
Video as a Primary Content Type
We live in a visual society…more so everyday. Video is a content type that is growing by leaps and bounds. 2014 will see a large swell of video content. With the advent of inexpensive equipment and software, business can afford to produce fun, informative and engaging videos. This will have a greater impact as you distribute this content across multiple channels. Make it quick, creative and engaging!
Claim your Content
With all the content authoring going on, make sure you claim your content by connecting it to your Google+ profile and to a larger extent Google’s knowledge of who you are.
2014 will see simpler web designs. Less focus on complex graphics or eye-candy and more focus on great and accessible content. Creativity will be in the content not the design!
Let Users Advocate for You
Social Engagement or Social Media is broadening in scope. It’s not all about having a Facebook or LinkedIn page anymore. Everybody has one. The key here is to SINCERELY ENGAGE your followers. Time allocation can be tough here for many small business but it is a necessary resource that must be funded monetarily and creatively. A happy and engaged customer has the power to reach out to their friends. This is powerful advocacy for a business.
My Gut Feelings for 2014
Real Life Stories
2014 will see users connecting deeper with your product. Rather than hiring an agency to design an ad, use your customers…real life stories, real life examples. Shoot a video of them using the product, interview them, write a blog article about them, highlight them on the home page of your website or a status update in your social channels. Incentivize your customers to tell you their story. Make it real, make is sincere!
SEO and Social Engagement, A Love Affair
SEO will be as much about social engagement as it will be on on- or off-page optimization. Online business success will be largely about how engaged users are to your content and how that content is distributed and shared. Sure, keywords are still important but more so is the content you wrap those keywords in…and the strategy to distribute that content. A business will find it harder and harder to rely solely on favorable page ranking based on a well-optimized webpage. The more relevant your content (mentions, shares, likes) the greater visibility your website will have.
Google+ has been a bit lackluster in my opinion for certain business sectors. My sense is that Google+ is going to see an increase in the social market share this coming year. I would begin placing more focus around this marketing channel. Start building your circles!
Here’s What I’ll Be Watching in 2014
Google+ Post Ads
The end of 2013 saw Google rolling out their Google+ Post Ad program. In a nutshell, this is a paid program that allows a business to promote a particular post from their Google+ page. What is interesting here is that the cost of these is “per engagement” rather than “per click”. In other words, the post will show up regardless but the business only pays if the user actually engages by commenting on the post or otherwise. This should be of interest to many businesses currently using AdWords and the like.
So There You Have It!
A look into 2014. Some may already be on the 2014 trending bandwagon while others will just be getting started. Let me know how I can help you design your next website or help with your web marketing strategy. Let’s get to work [phone text only]!
I wish everyone the best of success in the coming year!