I can’t believe 2014 is coming in a couple of weeks. A ton of things changed in 2013 including new algorithms like Hummingbird, more attribution in the Affiliate Channel and responsive sites becoming mandatory for user experience and somewhat for SEO. You have about two days left to prep for 2014 so now is the perfect time to work on your 2014 marketing strategies. Here are 18 marketing tips for 2014. Some of them you can do now, some you may want to wait until the new year.
- Affiliate Marketing
- Social Media
Marketing Strategies for 2014
In this section you’ll find marketing strategies and ideas for 2014 that you may want to think about adding to your own plans. A lot has changed with Marketing channels like Affiliate, Social Media and within the SEO landscape and you don’t want to fall behind this year. You have better attribution, a new algorithmic animal flying around and even old social networks coming back taking their place with relevant traffic that can turn into sales.
Affiliate Marketing Strategies for 2014
1. Coupon sites – Coupon sites are not bad by nature and coupon sites are not your enemy. Yes, people are on there looking for deals, but if you work on a solid strategy with coupons that increases your AOV, instead of offering discounts and lowering your margins, you can find ways that coupon sites add value to your affiliate programs.
By having them add robots.txt and no indexing on their sites and to pages dedicated to you, they will no longer rank for your trademarks or urls + coupons in Google. If they don’t use adware (couponware, reminderware, etc…), only run you on their homepage, in newsletters and high trafficked categories, you can get incremental sales from them and they can add value. Especially since no one is able to find the dedicated page in Google that was poaching your shopping cart.
Coupon sites can drive sales, but it will more than likely never be consistent since there are only so many times they can repeat the same merchants over and over before they drive their audience away from too much repetition. If they rank for your trademarks or trademarks + coupons then they will have consistent traffic and sales with small boosts on newsletter drops and their traffic and sales mimic your website traffic since they are just poaching your shopping cart. That adds zero value in my opinion and can hurt your company financially for numerous reasons I’ve written on this blog. Evaluate each site and create a coupon marketing strategy for 2014 that can add value, grow your company and stop the poaching by ranking for your trademarks. You may also want to do an audit to see who is using toolbars that can steal from you and take credit for sales or customers they didn’t send, refer or earn. If you want an example of a great coupon site that can show and prove added value, try PocketYourDollars.com.
2. Loyalty sites – With the same strategy above, loyalty sites can be amazing performers. Just make sure they don’t have or use toolbars (adware, BHOs, loyaltyware, etc…). Loyalty sites often have forums and communities that can drive nice boosts in traffic. By working with them you can sometimes get stickies on high trafficked and viewed posts or even a dedicated deals forum for people to comment and respond on. If you want a loyalty site that adds value and is not using adware, try sunshinerewards.com.
3. Adware – With attribution it is easier to find adware activating and taking credit for sales that specific Affiliates did not earn. Look to see when the cookie is set and if it is on your site or anything that doesn’t follow a real referral from a content site (place a couple test orders through content sites and PPC partners to see what a real normal order looks like on your attribution time line), and if the adware affiliate isn’t following the same patterns (cookies are being set after arriving at your site or on your site, near the end of the sale, after a click from SEO or PPC, etc…) then you may want to look into it in more detail.
4. Attribution lines – Attribution will play a bigger part in 2014. Many new networks like Impact Radius are offering tools and many conferences are having sessions about attribution. This will play a huge part on knowing who a merchant should pay and who they should remove from their programs, what you be given as an Affiliate and which channels should get a larger budget and whose budgets will start to shrink.
5. Recruitment strategies – There are tons of Bloggers abandoning their sites, website owners feeling entitled to free products and ridiculous advertising fees to get on their sites. The standard spammy pitch that some Affiliate Managers use won’t cut it anymore. You now need to show why your program is a fit for their site and take time to really evaluate the partnership.
If you aren’t being specific to the person’s site and giving examples of where your program is a fit within your recruitment efforts, your recruitment will not be anywhere near as effective,,,unless you have a huge budget and can buy a lot of ad space and be willing to pay out commissions, network fees, etc… on top of the ad spend.
6. More and More Auto Monetization Tools are Coming – More and more auto monetization tools are popping up. They can give you an awesome reach into blogs and forums that would take you weeks and months to write to and they can provide value and drive lots of traffic.
They provide an easy way for Bloggers to not have to constantly change out links and they can find spaces and keywords to monetize your site you didn’t think of. The problem is that they can potentially work as a back door for Affiliates you cannot work with because of Nexus, you don’t know where all of your links, ads, etc… are so if there is no disclosure, you could be in trouble. Some of these tools can also work as a backdoor for adware and sites that you removed or didn’t want in your program. Because some of them can turn direct links into Affiliates, they can cause damage to your SEO and make you pay for traffic you either already paid for, are paying for through a media buy and now have to pay affiliate commissions on, possibly network fees on, etc… What will be interesting is if they can come up with a non Affiliate model to work with vendors on a click basis to help prevent SEO damage, advertising disclosures and nexus.
Social Media Marketing Strategies for 2014
7. Make your product, landing and category pages responsive. If the end user is coming from a social site, there is a good chance it could be on a mobile device. If your page doesn’t respond to the device in size, styling and appearance, doesn’t give them an easy way to convert or to sign up for your newsletter so you can market to them again, you could lose sales because of a bad user experience. Look up the amount of users on social sites like Facebook on mobile devices vs. computers and you’ll see why responsive landing pages and sites will be more important.
8. Images – Social Media is all about imagry. Facebook is showing huge images instead of small thumbnails and the image is centered with the top and bottom cut off. Pinterest is only pulling large images and using tagging to fill the topic or what it is about and Twitter is even showing large images now. If your images aren’t branded, descriptive and enticing, and you have’t labeled and tagged them right, you will fall behind with social media marketing in 2014.
9. MySpace – It’s still a huge traffic source and I believe is growing again. If they have your target audience, try them out. They are back and their users may be ready to shop with you.
10. Facebook algorithms – Facebook may have made it harder to deliver a message to your fans, unless you spend money, so use the tools they give you in the insights section to increase your effectiveness. I am running a few tests right now using the tools. Right now it is showing an increase in reach and activity by making a few small changes to the way I was posting. I’ll share the post and what I did in a few weeks. Use the data from insights and let it help you grow your Facebook sales for your social media marketing strategies for 2014.
11. Stumbleupon is alive and well. Don’t forget to submit your posts, lists and other quality content. They can drive a lot of traffic, be used to curate content for your other social channels and if you get the right audience coming through, drive revenue for you and your site.
SEO strategies for 2014.
12. Make your site responsive – Even Matt Cutts has made a reference that it may be better SEO wise and I highly recommend it for 2014. If your canonical isn’t set up right (which is very common if you have a new site design, categories, products, mobile vs. regular versions, etc…) then work on that, but make sure your site is responsive as a priority as well. Responsive sites could be better for your visitors coming from social sites if your mobile site is not as user friendly or was built a long time ago.
13. Focus content, architecture and design on user intent – Hummingbird is live and in order to make it happy, think about the intent of the user and what the goal of your website is. If you want to increase impressions, create an engaging user experience where the person is baited to look at and stay on more pages (not to mention this makes you a resource they will want to come back to). If your goal is to give directions, give them, but also provide a map, directions and instructions to drive foot traffic. Look through the structure and architecture of your site as well to make sure it becomes a resource for the end user to solve their needs. By having your pages built to fill the needs of the intent of the person and supplying them with a format, navigation and architecture that helps them to easily meet their goals for a conversion on your website, you may be able to help hummingbird see your site as a resource and send more traffic.
Other Marketing Tips and Tools for 2014
There are a ton of other things you’ll want to think about. Because each channel now requires more work to be successful, you need tools to help you focus your time more wisely, because end users are more tech savvy and because we have more insight into how and why things work, here are some other things to think about when creating your marketing strategies for 2104.
14. Tools to help you save time and grow your business. Last year I wrote a ton of posts about two of these tools and the third one is an older one that I usually recommend. Each of them has a free trial or a free option and I highly recommend you at least give them a try. I use all three of them daily and they all help me grow my business and my clients companies.
- Viewbix – This lets me add custom players to any sharable YouTube, VimeoPro, website, etc… videos with clickable calls to action, interactive apps and a full analytics suite. I love it and use it on my own sites. They have a free version and I highly recommend you try it out. If you’ve ever posted a YouTube video on your site, Facebook, Twitter, etc… and you didn’t use them, you just missed out on a ton of opportunities to grow your business.
- Raven – I have a link for Raven in the author bio of this blog for a reason. I love the tool, use it across channels from Social Media and PPC to Affiliate Management and SEO. They have a free 30 day trial and if you really want an awesome collection of tools for online marketing, you’ll sign up for the 30 day trial and then go through the courses on how to use them.
- Hootsuite – I use Hootsuite to schedule and line up posts for my clients on their social sites. They have a free version and a paid version, optimizers, tracking and analytics. Although they haven’t made a ton of upgrades from what I can see, their tool is still easy to use.
15. Try groups in addition to Fanpages – One thing that may start to become more popular with Facebook is to use a group instead of a FanPage. You can open a group just like a Fanpage and you can set posting limitations, empower super fans to be moderators and actually deliver your messaging to the entire audience. Instead of hoping your post on your FanPage makes it to your fans newsfeeds, groups leave a message on the top right icon, leave a number on the left hand side of the screen, post to newsfeeds and can create a lot of engagement. You can also use them to plan events and local meetups for fans of your site, company or service, etc…
16. Branding vs. measurable metrics – If your site relies on freebies and sponsored posts and you are not measuring sales, click throughs and revenue; you can expect that more brands will begin to pull their advertising dollars this year since attribution, sales and revenue generated are all over marketing and news sites. There will always be giant brands that have tons of money and nothing better to do with it, but for the massive amounts of Bloggers and websites that can’t drive sales and traffic, the amount of money for the smaller and mid sized companies will become more competitive to get access too. Now is the time to start measuring your site’s reach, audience and ability to drive revenue. You should also begin adding it into your media kit. Here is a guide on building a media kit to show branding and building a media kit to show to show ROI.
17. Mobile to Computer and Multi-device tracking – People are checking their newsletters on their phones, but waiting to shop until they get home through their computer. Because the device changed, you now lose the sale if you have cookie based tracking. You need to find a solution since mobile devices are more and more popular. Device changing can mean more lost sales and commissions for you, your channel and misattribution. There are a few solutions out there, but each depend on your internal capabilities. I have a few posts on here how to do it. Use the search box for terms like mobile to computer tracking, etc… and it should bring back some relevant posts.
18. Heatmaps – I did this post on heatmaps and think that they could play a huge part in successful marketing campaigns in 2014. By using heatmaps to tell the different browsing and shopping patterns of your mobile and tablet vs. computer shoppers, you can start to figure out how to better tweak and split your landing pages and site designs. Many of the companies I talk to that don’t split this traffic miss out on large opportunities. The shopping patterns and user experiences are different for both, especially if you are not using responsive sites, so you should provide them with custom experiences based on what they are using to view your site.
There are a ton of other things I am doing differently in 2014 and I am very excited to see some of the new technologies coming out. Affiliate Networks, tracking solutions and tons of vendors are finally launching and I’ve gotten to beta test a bunch of these platforms. It is going to be an awesome year for advances in marketing and I cannot wait to introduce all of my clients and you guys to some of these new tools and marketing strategies in 2014.