2013 Digital Marketing Predictions Summary

Last December we (Team Reload) made some pretty wild (Paul, I’m looking at you) predictions on where we see digital marketing going in 2013 so we thought now would be an excellent time to look back on those snippets of brilliance/misguidedness [delete as appropriate] and summarise what actually happened in 2013!

Paul Jackson

Social media integration in online strategies will increase, while the introduction of new platforms and the progress of newer, existing platforms will slow.

Social media integration has certainly become more widespread and common both on websites and also with other online marketing activities (e.g. social extensions on PPC ads) and offline marketing activities (e.g. hashtags used on TV ads and social media promotion on print ads).

Other than the launch of Vine and Snapchat, new social networks have gained little traction in 2013 and Vine’s initial momentum appears to be slowing in favour of Instagram video.

Google+ usage and importance will increase whilst the use of Pinterest, Instagram, Myspace, Foursquare, Socl etc will tail off.

Google+’s Vic Gundotra stated that 300 million people were active in the G+ stream every month, compared to 190 million in May – so things are certain on the up for G+. Meanwhile, we’ve heard little after the Myspace re-launch, nothing more than a few revamps and updates from Foursquare, and even less from Microsoft’s Socl.

Pinterest has plateaued and begun to decline as shown in the graph below, and I believe the addition of sponsored pins will be make or break – it could attract more businesses and more users who will enjoy their content, or it could deter the current user base who may not welcome the more commercial elements.

Source: ComScore

Instagram is the network that has beaten my prediction and the introduction of Instagram video has certainly given it a new lease of life and opened up a great deal of opportunities for users and brands alike. See our 2014 predictions for my thoughts on Instagram in 2014…

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn will become the primary focus again, incorporating a broader range of features and possibilities.

Other than the continued rise of Instagram, I’d argue that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn have secured themselves as the core channels for marketers in 2013, with Google+ yet to gain major uptake from brands – but I also think that this is all due to change in 2014…

Cara Whitehouse

SEO is going to change beyond recognition.

I think I was spot on here. Thanks Hummingbird!

Google’s latest update has fundamentally changed the way the Search giant understands user queries – and consequently the results it returns. More than ever, Google is moving beyond Keywords alone to identify the intent of a search query – giving a clear indication that it can understand the meaning of a website beyond simply the words on the page.

All this, of course, fundamentally affects SEO. And as I predicted, it throws even more emphasis on the fact that high quality content marketing must sit at the heart of any SEO campaign. You can’t just put together a page or a blog post that’s hooked around a few keywords on the assumption this will count for ‘relevancy’. It has to be truly useful and engaging content, because Google can now understand its meaning and whether it will answer the questions searchers are asking, rather than just the fact it has a keyword in its midst.

Again, reinforcing what I predicted last year, this means SEO requires more time, effort and creative talent in order to generate and market the content at its heart. None of these things come cheap, and SEO has become harder and consequently more expensive. The days of quick fix, cheap SEO packages are dead and buried. Google will find you out – and your clients will pay the price. And unfortunately, this is something we’re seeing more and more of, as people are coming to us to help them reverse Panda and Penguin penalties that their previous SEOers got them landed with.

eCommerce stores will jump onto the brilliant new Facebook Gifts format of buying.

Well, it was one good, one bad when it came to my predictions last year! Alas, I’ve not seen evidence of this taking off. Which is a shame, as it’s a brilliant concept. Perhaps it’s just ahead of its time – come 2015 I’ll be in “I told you so” mode… You heard it here first!

Rick Eliason

The visual content revolution will go into overdrive.

I think this one is hard to call. Many of those who “get” content marketing understand that people haven’t got time or inclination to read big text-laden posts and respond far better to content either broken up with rich content or fully integrated into visuals.

I have noticed that many of the more recent and popular posts on the Moz blog like this and this use lots of visuals and rich content compared to in the past. Likewise, heavy hitters like Neil Patel of Quicksprout has focused in extremely eye-catching and memorable visual content such as the Advanced Guide to SEO.

Others have recognised this trend too. Twitter released “cards” that help users embed rich content into their Tweets and a recent study by Buffer concluded that big images boost CTR, favourites and retweets significantly – the latter to the tune of +94%

The use of HTML5 has also become more mainstream in an effort to make sites more engaging and visually appealing – in fact Google themselves utilise HTML5 a lot with their microsites such as this and this.

SEO’s and online marketers themselves will need to adapt to changing business needs by expanding their skill set.

I think this one has been a bit of a slow burner. From a personal level I have certainly built better relationships with our partners in the PR and creative fields for the greater good but I don’t know whether this is an industry-wide trend.

I do maintain that SEOs need to broaden their horizons and get a better grasp of the power of social media (particularly Google+) and the importance of site usability and conversion optimisation. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

As the SEO/online marketing landscape continues to grow, services will become more expensive, potentially alienating smaller companies with smaller budgets.

This one is a work in progress but what I have noticed is a splitting of companies that focus on top-end clients with no real interest in “small fry” and on the other hand, specialists offering targeted services such as Local SEO for smaller businesses with a limited budget so for now it looks like everyone is covered.

With digital marketing companies taking on more facets beyond just SEO, and as SEO gets more labour-intensive one can only assume that costs will go up and DM businesses will be employed as an outsourced arm of the client rather than just a disposable service.

OK, so pretty good right? Not bad for our first foray into fortune telling, now read our predictions for 2014!

Rick Eliason

Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

Rick is Reload's most senior SEO expert, and started his digital marketing journey way back in 2007 as an in-house online marketing executive. Now with over three years under his belt at Reload Digital, he handles search and conversion campaigns for a wide range of clients from e-commerce and start-ups to large service-based businesses and not-for-profits.