By almost any measure, 2013 was an interesting year. Jennifer Lawrence tripped at the Oscars, Justin Bieber’s pet monkey was confiscated, and Miley Cyrus swung into infamy on a wrecking ball. 2013 also brought some new ideas and trends to the world of marketing. I’ve compiled a list of five trends that you likely came across as you tried to market your way through the year that has just passed. While many of these trends didn’t emerge in 2013, they saw a significant rise in popularity.
Trend # 1: Content Marketing
Though it’s been around for a long time, content marketing was very prominent in 2013. The discipline, which aims to attract customers by providing valuable, non-sales oriented information, received a lot of buzz last year. Without a doubt, content marketing’s rise in popularity resulted from several widely publicized changes to the Google search algorithm that put the hammer down on SEO trickery and attributed more value to frequent, quality, and original content.
Trend # 2: Inbound Marketing
Like its sister-discipline of content marketing, inbound marketing isn’t new, but its popularity reached astronomical levels in 2013. Inbound marketing eschews traditional outbound promotional methods in favor of enticing customers to find companies on their own. Often, content becomes the means of discovery for a company’s inbound leads, which are then captured, nurtured, and converted. The success of several inbound marketing software platforms, most notably HubSpot, fueled the buzz surrounding this discipline in 2013.
Trend # 3: Real-Time Marketing
In a nutshell, real-time marketing is the practice of quickly inserting a brand into the unexpected social fray surrounding a real-world event. There’s a good chance that you had never heard of real-time marketing until Sunday, February 3rd when the lights went out at the Super Bowl. That’s when Oreo produced a quick and clever tweet featuring a simple image of a cookie and a caption—“You can still dunk in the dark.” With nothing better to do, football fans retweeted the message15,866 times. Even better, the simple stunt was picked up by every major news organization. Now, almost a year later, brands are always looking for their next opportunity to steal the show with a real-time marketing stunt.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn were already old news in 2013. But, some of their sister sites got a lot of new attention this year from marketers. Snapchat stole the show in terms of new platforms. The messaging app that allows users to set the duration of time their photo or video will be viewable by the recipient generated equal parts praise and horror from the public. Both Twitter (via its Vine application) and Instagram added video sharing capabilities in 2013. And, to the horror of many users, most mediums cozied up to the idea of in-service advertising.
In relation to other new mediums, websites have been around since the Stone Age. But even these old standbys got a significant update in 2013. Responsive web design is a method for programming sites to automatically adjust their content to fit the device and screen size of an individual viewer. Though the technology has been discussed since 2010, responsive design blew up in 2013. Much of this hysteria can be attributed to the unbelievable increase in the usage of mobile and tablet devices for web browsing.
If 2013 was any indication of what to expect in 2014, marketers (and pop culture enthusiasts) should be prepared for big things. As the media landscape and customer preferences continue to evolve, the discipline of marketing will continue to see big changes in the year to come.
Greg Lowe is a partner at Jibe Media, a Salt Lake City marketing and advertising agency specializing in branding, design, and social media marketing.