Inbound Marketing Trends & Digital Developments for 2014/15

To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.

It seems as if Google used Winston Churchill’s famous words as guideline in 2013, thereby creating a roller coaster ride for digital marketers. Google’s many changes in algorithm created shifts in demand for certain marketing activities on one hand, however many opportunities for creative, new strategies on the other.

Which raises the big question – how can we adjust to these changes and what are the inbound marketing trends and strategies to follow in 2014 & 2015?

I scanned some of the latest industry reports and articles on trending marketing activities including Moz’s industry report, research by shopaholics, stats by IDC, PEW surveys and a couple of my favorite blogs. Here is a short and sweet version, translated into English to keep the “geeking-out” under control.


Trend 1: OAO – online audience optimization

Content will stay king in 2014 and due to the changes in Google’s algorithm and now restricted data on keywords, OAO will be the answer to many questions that were previously answered by SEO or keyword strategy. Demand for content creation increased by 70.94% in 2013 and this trend is to be expected to continue throughout 2014. You can learn more about OAO in my previous post – How to evolve from SEO to OAO

Trend 2: Brand Mentions are the future of link building

For quite some time there has been speculation on how Google measures “brand authority”. What we know at this point is that brand building is the best strategy for long-term organic visibility. But how can you measure brand authority with a complex formula or algorithm? According to Moz a patent filed by Google could give us some interesting answers. I won’t bore you with the exact patent-wording, since +simon penson did a great job interpreting what it means in his article “The Panda Patent”, which I can recommend if you are interested in learning more details.

Bottom line is that it suggests that there will be a shift in how links are weighted and how relevance is measured – the two key ingredients of search. The patent suggests that nofollow links and brand mentions will have a bigger impact in the future. How can we implement this knowledge into our marketing strategies in 2014 & 2015? As suggested under Trend 1 – OAO and creative content will be key. Building content that people are more likely to share will drive mentions and build the brand.

Trend 3: Tracking, Retargeting & Analytics

No big surprise here since other trending marketing activities such as social media or automation are result-driven. The good old times on Madison Avenue are long over, sorry Don. Last year analytics was the second highest in demand, with an increase of 64.46% – this trend will continue in 2014 & 2015, also driven by higher spendings on intent & retargeting.Understanding targeting and allocating budgets towards activities reaching predefined target groups will be key for successful marketing.

Trend 4: Marketing Automation

According to ExactTarget Marketing Automation tops the list for where most Marketers plan to increase budgets in 2014. If you are interested in learning more about Marketing Automation and why it does not necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg, check out my previousarticle on automation and growth hacking.

Another great resource that does a fantastic job explaining everything you need to know about automation before making the financial commitment is Hubspot’s great learning guide, and I strongly encourage you to read it; even if you aren’t planning on adding it to your mix of tools this year.

Trend 5: Trending Social Media Channels

Facebook is still the social network of choice for most internet users, but many suggest it has reached or passed its peak usage from the younger demographic. However Facebook continues to have the highest frequency of site use with 63% daily visits. (Source: PEW Research Center) Let’s also not forget that Facebook offers the highest volume among all networks. In 2014 it will be all about knowing where to reach your audience. When looking through most of the research, one thing in particular caught my eye – people forget about LinkedIn and YouTube. LinkedIn (and Google+) drives the highest quality traffic. (see Shareaholics latest research below) YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, but also a social network with great tools to engage the audience. (most articles and research do not feature YouTube as social network)


Trend 6: Responsive Design & location based services

According to IDC sales of tablets will outperform laptops and PC’s in the last quarter of 2014. Based on that fact the need for responsive design will continue to increase. By now we know that location based services convert and it will be interesting to follow location based services such as Foursquare or Momentfeed over the course of this year.

I personally thought +Michael Stelzner hit the nail on the head with his view on marketing trends: “A little bit of selling here and there is great, but those marketers who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, are gonna get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by consumers and prospects. Get cracking folks, it’s time to actually care. That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track, like answering customer questions and providing more value online.”

I am certain there are other developments some of you would like to see featured in this article. If so, please leave a short comment or shoot me a tweet @global_trend.


About the author: Nicolas Ullah

Nicolas Ullah is a L.A. based, fash-tech marketing strategist and currently Director of Marketing U.S. at, a leading Trendforecasting Agency with offices in London, New York and Los Angeles. You can find more on his digital marketing approaches on his blog Tonic Marketing

Click here to read more about Nicolas on SMBR.


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