Marketing Strategy Blog

14 Hot Digital Marketing Trends for 2014

2014 Digital Marketing Trends

The year is off to a frigid start – just ask the residents of Atlanta. But in the world of digital marketing, things are really heating up! Check out these 14 hot trends on which to capitalize in 2014!

1. PR, SEO, Content & Social Mash-up

It’s bad news bears for niche agencies focused exclusively on PR, SEO, content marketing, or social media alone. The days of specializing in any one of these areas are gone. This is the year of integration! The recipe for marketing success in 2014 includes synergistic strategies and coordinated execution of powerful content, responsive design, targeted outreach and social sharing. A marketing mash-up of tried-and-true methods that, together, will maximize your effectiveness and keep your brand moving forward.

2. Visual Social Mash-up

Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Slideshare, Vine. These social media darlings insert aesthetic visuals into our lives – one pin, post, slideshow, and six-second-video at a time. The move to a more visual, social web makes sense, as it’s in our nature to communicate visually and now we have the tools to do so easily. There’s symbolism all around us. Branding experts have known the power of the visual, well, forever. And now everyone else is catching on. While visuals have held more perceived value for B2C companies in years past, 2014 will see images being leveraged by marketers across the board.

3. Mobile Revenue Growth

The mobile revolution is upon us! Mobile advertising is powerful, and marketers are fully aware. Consider that seven-in-ten smartphone users in the US say they won’t leave home without their device (Source: ABI Research), and 80% of consumers have admitted that they plan to use mobile e-commerce this year.  It is no surprise that global mobile advertising revenue is projected to grow 400% between 2011 and 2016, ultimately reaching $24.5 billion (Source: Gartner Inc.). Websites not optimized for mobile will likely miss the mark – and the money.

4. Branded Content Explosion

What trumps magazine ads and is superior to TV advertising? According to a 2013 Spending Study conducted by the Custom Content Council, the answer is BRANDED CONTENT. It’s where marketers are spending 37% of their ad budget, and is today’s preferred channel for customer education and retention.

Who’s winning the branded content race? Red Bull, Coca-Cola, and Dove all boast first-class content marketing campaigns. But the bigger question is: Will this trend last? With 93% of B2B marketers using content marketing, and 58% planning to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months (Source: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs), we’d say so!

5. Sponsored Content Explosion

Sponsored content has taken center-stage as brands and publishers together drive mutually beneficial results like ROI and deeper customers connections for brands, and new revenue streams for publishers. In October 2013, a study conducted by IPG Media Lab and commissioned by Forbes Media found that sponsored content delivered a 41% brand lift, and indicated that readers were 41% more likely to share branded content read on vs. on a brand’s own website. It’s high time to add sponsored content to your marketing mix!

6. Video Explosion

If 2013 was the year of mobile, 2014 will be the year of video. YouTube is now the second largest search engine after Google. Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube – 50% more than last year – and the equivalent of 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Video offers a significant marketing impact, wherein consumers are 27.4 times more likely to click through online video ads than standard banners (Source: MediaMind). Consider that after 72 hours, a typical person can retain about 10% of text that they’ve read, 65% of an image they’ve seen, or 95% of a video they watched. Video is a slam-dunk for marketers in just about any vertical!

7. Real-Time Marketing

This year’s Super Bowl delivered – as expected – a bounty of real-time reactions to the game. We saw real-time marketing at its very, very best: @CoorsLight’s witty reaction to @JCPenny’s “drunk” blooper; @Tide’s on-the-fly Vine videos created in response to other brand’s TV spots. Given its success, don’t expect this trend to merely retreat until Super Bowl XLIX!

For B2B, it’s not as much about real-time funny tweets as it is about leveraging software to uncover real-time insights during the long B2B sales cycle for more sophisticated lead nurturing. Real-time analytics are springing up in every facet of business, whether website analytics, email marketing or integrated dashboards.

8. Radical Transparency

Social media has invited radical transparency by providing the public with a lens into the activities of companies both big and small. Yes, this will invite critics, but also new fans and advocates. It’s time for brands to embrace today’s environment of customer scrutiny. Let down your walls and open the door to new partnerships. In the end, authenticity will win your customers’ loyalty.

9. Omni-Channel Marketing

Omni-channel marketing aims to unite all available channels to ultimately produce a seamless customer experience no matter where the customer touches your brand. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer this year introduced the company’s new ad buying platform, Yahoo Advertising, which includes a comprehensive suite of web, mobile and video ad products, covering everything from search to dynamic creative to programmatic buying. Watch as others throw their weight into the competition, as well, and vie to deliver the next big omni-channel platform.

10. Design as a Strategic Weapon

Design is powerful. Your audience’s response is immediate and lasting. Winning design can be engineered continually. Think of Apple, who has not produced one failed design in the past decade, or Pinterest, which has engineered its success by allowing its 70-million users to personally design their own space. The B2B space is impacted just as much by design, as witnessed by the increase in beautiful, design-centric websites such as, and

11. Advertising Everywhere

5.3 trillion display ads were served in 2012 – up 1 trillion since 2009. This equates to 883 digital ads for every person on the planet. Whoa! In addition to the banner ad – which, contrary to popular belief, is not dead – marketers are expanding their online ad spend in 2014 to include more retargeting and social advertising. In fact, the trend will continue as social ad spend is set to explode to $11 billion in 2017, up from $4.7 billion in 2012 (Source: BIA/Kelsey).

Some companies, like Refinery29, have perfected the “advertising everywhere” approach by blurring the line between content, community and commerce. Their targeted formula has earned the site 800% revenue growth over a recent 2-year span.

12. Facebook & Twitter Monetization

Going public was a game changer for Facebook and Twitter, each of which has continued to evolve and shift its advertising strategy. Expect more intuitive marketing products to be released as the year progresses. Each will be deeply woven into the user experience, undoubtedly blurring the lines between organic content and advertising (e.g., Facebook ads moving front and center to the News Feed).

13. Email Marketing Will Remain #1

Email marketing has major staying power. According to MarketingSherpa’s 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, 92% of marketers surveyed believe that their email marketing efforts produce a positive ROI or will do so. In 2013, Oracle Corporation and revealed their top-dollar interests in email marketing by acquiring Responsys Inc. and ExactTarget, respectively. Their independent moves into marketing automation tell us that email still has legs to compete in this year’s fight for customers’ attention.

14. Analytics Grows Up

Check the stats: IBM reports that 2.5 billion gigabytes (2.5 exabytes) of data are created every day, and that number doubles each month. And, according to Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, there has been a 9-fold increase in digital information created and shared over the last five years. Understandably, Garter Inc. found that companies are spending more than 1/5 of their marketing budgets on analytics. However, IDC revealed that 68% of companies do not have a stated business intelligence/analytics strategy. The data is piling up and the finance department is on board – the time has come for organizations to buckle down and learn to better comprehend and leverage their data.