With 2013 completely behind us, it's time to set your sights on upcoming digital marketing trends; some new, but others familiar and evolving.
Happy new year, everyone! With 2013 fully in the rearview, here are a few digital marketing trends to watch out for in 2014.
Simplification Becomes Cool Again
Over the past few years, websites have grown to include so much functionality that has nothing to do customers purchasing products. This might include virtual dressing rooms (I am guilty of designing sites with this feature), collaborative shopping tools, immersive brand experiences, endless ways to share/post about your shopping experience, etc.
In 2014, companies will take a hard look at what users actually want to do on their sites, and they will streamline the user experience to make those goals easier to accomplish without distractions. While a "bare bones" site that just makes it easy to find the product you are looking for and buy it seems like a retro idea, it's also leads to much higher conversions than a site that constantly pulls your attention away and feeds into consumer A.D.D.
The Web is So Passé
Websites are still the main access to the internet for older generations. They will continue to grow and become better. But until a game-changing paradigm makes the web interesting again, it's a pretty boring place to be.
Rarely is anyone breaking new ground on the web these days, because the gold rush (in terms of customers dollars but also features and user experience) is in other devices. Kids these days (say that aloud and pretend I am a grumpy old man) will first look to see if there is an app that accomplishes what they need.
There is better evidence of this seismic change than the companies that exist only in the mobile world, and don't conduct business via the traditional web. Companies like Uber and services like CitiBike don't really exist via the web. Uber.com lets your review your account and citibikenyc.com is mainly informational. Yes, these are companies whose businesses are based around transportation. But there more examples (like WhatsApp) that don't have a PC- or Web-based version of their system, nor do the myriad of dating services that come in app form.
Even old stalwarts of the web, like banks that feature online banking, have made much better mobile apps. Most of them allow you to scan a check and deposit it via their mobile apps, a feature that, while possible to implement, has not come to any web-based bank interface I'm aware of.
More and more companies use the web channel now to advertise their apps, which are their primary channel. That will only continue in 2014 as companies create more personalized services that cater to today's "consumer on the run."
The Continued Evolution of Personalization
Ironically, when I started to write for ClickZ in 2002, it was for the Personalization column, which no longer exists. It was all about websites that featured personalization, such as "if you bought this book, you'll like that book."
But now, personalization means something different, and it is at the core of so many new businesses. Mobile computing has opened up the dimensions of geography (where you are right now and where you are in relation to other people/businesses) and new companies are creating services that are "personalized" in that they cater to a user's need at that moment, in that geography, and on a device that js always on the consumer. This class of personalized application didn't exist before.
Happy new year!
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