Take advantage of 2014 trends that impact customers

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It’s hard to believe, but 2014 is here. For most of you, planning for the upcoming year is underway with marketing budgets being drawn up.

WebDAM, founded in 2005, is a leader in digital asset management. Both marketers and planning teams have come to rely on their research as to what drives consumers and supporters in an ever-changing marketing landscape.

In November, WebDAM aggregated several reports and predicted a number of key trends to watch for and develop strategies toward in 2014. In a nutshell, WebDAM predicted that digital budgets will see robust growth and social networking will more likely be paramount.

Here are a few trends that you in our community should build into your market plans and budgets, along with easy-to-integrate recommendations to get started.

1. Social media marketing budgets will double beginning in 2014 and double again in five years. If you have not introduced social media into your marketing and promotional tool box, now is the time. So add a line item in your budget, and if you do not have in-house expertise on how to use the benefits of social media, then there are a number of local firms that can assist.

2. 67 percent of B2B content marketers consider event marketing the most effective strategy. B2B is “business to business” marketing. For those who target other businesses as customers, I suggest you take advantage of this trend; seek opportunities to participate in activities that you can sponsor or set up a company display or both.

3. 73 percent of reporters think press releases should contain images. What should you do? Be sure to add an image or two with each news release. Remember the adage: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Most complex ideas in this digital age can be conveyed with just a single image. Also, a photo can easily be moved into social media by Facebook, Pinterest or other popular venues. Press release distribution services for photo uploads: PR Web, PR Log and SB Wire.

4. Emails with social sharing buttons will increase click-through rates by 158 percent. When you use direct email marketing to reach potential customers and supporters, simply add the social media icons with the click-through schematics integrated. Most popular direct email programs such as iContact, Constant Contact and Benchmark have an easy add-on feature.

5. 52 percent of all marketers found customers via Facebook in 2013. This number is expected to increase in 2014. Bottom line: Start your Facebook page now! There are no upfront costs. Having a social media expert as a partner who understands this platform is a smart leadership move to improve results.

6. Videos on landing pages will increase conversions by 86 percent, as 65 percent of your audience are visual learners. Having a video that explains your product, service or cause helps grab visitors with short attention spans. In 2012, the average attention span online was eight seconds. Videos are a quick, memorable way to make an impact on your audience and help provide viewers with the information they need to make an informed decision to buy or support.

7. Customer testimonials will continue to have the highest effectiveness ratings for content marketing. The current 89 percent is expected to climb. If you aren’t using testimonials in your marketing and advertising, 2014 is the year to start. “The power of referrals and quotes from customers can mean the difference between success and failure,” according to the Small Business Administration. You can find guidelines on how to use endorsements at sba.gov.

So why not add these tips to your New Year’s resolutions for 2014? Integrating digital trends by consumers is a smart move toward business or nonprofit success.

Michael B. Perini is owner of Perini & Associates, a full-service public relations and marketing firm in Woodland Park. Reach him at mike@periniassociates.com.