With the new year fast approaching, there’s no better time than now for small business owners to plan their marketing campaigns for 2014. Rather than looking back at the previous 365 days and analyzing each piece of data with a microscope, you should look to the future. The internet continues to grow and expand at an ever-increasing pace, and business owners who aren’t able to keep up will get left in the dust.
Smartphones and Tablets
It’s no secret that smartphone industry is booming with popularity right now. Apple released its eagerly anticipated iPhone 5S; Google released its CDMA/GSM-compatable Nexus 5; and even Microsoft is battling their way into the Android/iOS-dominated market with the acquisition of Nokia earlier this year for a cool $7.2 billion.
And the tablet computer industry is equally as hot as smartphones. The second generation Google Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX, and iPad Air are just a few of the top selling tablets to hit the market this year.
Along with the advancements in actual smartphone and tablet technology, carriers are now offering customers better service – including more 4G speeds. This means users are able to access and browse the internet from their smartphone or tablet computer more easily and in less time. Perhaps you can download and watch your favorite YouTube video in seconds rather than waiting around 5 minutes or longer for it to load.
SmartInsights.com recently performed an analysis of traffic share by device in the first quarter of 2012 and compared it to that of the first quarter of 2013. There were three main categories for device traffic: traditional (desktop, laptop, Mac, etc.), tablet and smartphone. They found that tablet and smartphone use nearly doubled from 11.37% to 21.02% in just a year.
So, what does this mean for tablet and smartphone use in 2014? We’ll have to wait and see how the cards are dealt, but all of the evidence supports a strong shift towards internet use with these devices next year. Consumers are given more freedom and mobility with their smartphones and tablets, so there’s a good chance this trend will continue in the years to come.
Google+ is another trend that small business owners and webmasters should look for in 2014. While the search engine giant’s social media networking site has been around since the summer of 2011, they’ve amped up efforts to draw more users.
Last month, Google rolled out a new layout design for users’ Google+ pages. Rather than using the traditional single-column layout, users were now automatically switched over to a 3-column layout. The header image sizing was also changed to improve usability across all devices (another hint towards more tablet and smartphone internet users).
While it doesn’t have the same reach and scope as Facebook (currently over 1.1 billion users), Google+ is still a leading social networking site (440+ million users) that shouldn’t be overlooked. Small businesses should take advantage of this by incorporating Google+ into their 2014 social marketing campaigns.
Quality Web Content
One of the most obvious online marketing trends that we’ll likely see next year is more of an emphasis on quality web content. Google has made countless changes to their ranking algorithm in an effort to weed out websites trying to ‘game’ the system with poor quality and/or duplicate content.
Most webmasters are aware of the search engine giant’s Panda and Penguin updates, but more recently Google rolled out the Hummingbird update. The company named their most recent update “Hummingbird” due to its swift response and effect on website rankings. Unlike the previous Panda and Penguin updates, the goal of Hummingbird is to learn the user behavior through search queries and relate it to the content on a webpage.
Whether it’s Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, or any other zoo animal update, it’s obvious Google wants to provide its users with quality web content. Trying to achieve high rankings through shady ‘blackhat’ techniques isn’t a long-term solution to running a sustainable website. Focus on providing your website’s end user with quality web content and the rest will follow.
YouTube receives over a billion unique views per month, which is far more than any other video sharing website. IT analysts and professionals were skeptical when Google scooped up YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006, but it turned out to be an incredibly mart move for the search engine company. YouTube is now available in 61 countries and languages, with 80% of its traffic coming from outside the U.S.
Some business owners may turn their head at the thought of trying to produce a video, but it’s actually far easier than most people realize. Using something as simple as a screen capturing program while talking into your laptop’s microphone is all it takes.
You can check out our previous blog post for more tips on how to produce effective marketing videos.