Online marketing is off to a flying start in 2014 with nine out of 10 business leaders increasing (or maintaining) their marketing budgets, according to MarketingCharts.com. So, what are business owners spending the cash on, and more importantly, is it working? Below are five growing industry trends for you to consider adopting in the second quarter of 2014.

Diverse yet targeted social media marketing.

According to Pew Research, 73 percent of adults use a social networking website. While Facebook is the most popular social networking site across a broad demographic range, other social networking sites have specific demographic user profiles. No longer limited to only Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, businesses are now targeting specific demographics through the social networking sites their specific audience uses most. For instance, Instagram is more popular with younger, urban dwellers while Pinterest is more popular among women. Knowing where to target your advertising makes it much more effective.

Mobile-friendly marketing.

Consumers are increasingly shifting away from desktop computers and even laptops in favor of mobile devices. In fact, International Data Corporation predicts that by 2017, 87 percent of connected device sales will comprise of tablets and smartphones. Responsive web design or, at the very least, creating a mobile version of a company’s website, is critical to avoid losing customers to competitors who have already embraced this trend.

An emphasis on security.

Both business owners and consumers face security challenges. Even the most trusted websites can (and have been) compromised, resulting in a scramble for increased security and identity theft protection for customers. However, business owners are taking even more precautionary measures to keep their customers safe such as investing in up-to-date SSL certificates and server software. Also, a trust seal next to your website in the search results is a visible cue that can help inspire consumer confidence and trust.

Content, content, content.

There’s still nothing like using quality content to establish authority and gain trust. However, it’s necessary to be strategic by using the right type of content in the right setting. Text-based content is still relevant, particularly for website articles, e-newsletters and case studies. However, image-based content is extremely important, especially for image-centric social media websites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Buzzfeed. Content with an emphasis on images is much more likely to go viral than a text-centric article or blog post.

Ad retargeting.

This is a fancy new name for a very old strategy: exposing a customer to a brand over time to build familiarity, hopefully evolving into brand loyalty and sales. Ad retargeting works by showing people ads from websites they’ve recently visited. (This is made possible with a web browser’s tracking cookies.) While there is spirited debate over whether or not the two to three percent conversion rate is accurate, there is almost universal agreement that repeated exposure to a brand increases the likelihood a consumer will make a purchase. While this might not result in an immediate sale, it will keep your business and brand in the consumer’s mind. When the consumer is ready to buy, your product or service will be their first choice.


*Average of tablet and smartphone percentages, found in the table under 2017 Market Share