Online Marketing Movers and Shakers – 2013 Review and 2014 Predictions

January 9, 2014 Denise Southern

digital marketing in 2013 and 2014

Ah, the start of a New Year! While many of you have made your resolutions to eat healthier or exercise more, don’t forget that now’s the perfect time to be better online marketers too. To help you out, let’s recap what was significant in Online Marketing for 2013 and take a look into our marketing crystal ball to make our 2014 predictions.


What Did We Predict?

  • 2013 should be the breakout year for mobile website and app creation by businesses.
  • Smartphone usage should grow by about 15%, or 20 million users in the US alone.
  • The top three activities conducted will be mobile search, directions and shopping.
  • Mobile payments should become more mainstream with the help of Google Wallet.

What Actually Happened?

  • According to a report from Adobe, 45% of businesses still don’t have a mobile-optimized site or app, only 7% have built mobile apps and around 21% have implemented both a mobile-optimized site and a mobile app.
  • Smartphone usage grew 16%, from 56% to 65%. There are now more than 150 million smartphone users in the US. That’s A TON of eyes on small screens!
  • The #1 activity conducted on a mobile device was local search (95%), followed by shopping (75%) and entertainment apps (58%).
  • The number of app installs for Google Wallet is over 5 million and growing. Although some Americans seem to like the idea of being able link their credit card information to a merchant’s app to pay for a product or service, we’re nowhere near mainstream adoption due to security concerns and lack of interest. 47% don't want to transmit sensitive information to a merchant's device (40% in 2012), and interest in using a smartphone to process in-person payments instead of cash or cards has declined to 37% (44% in 2012).

Google+ Local

What Did We Predict?

  • Analytics
  • The ability to offer deals and coupons
  • Completion of Google Place page information migration to Google+ Local page
  • See some interesting applications from the innovative world, once a fully functional G+ API is available for developers. Right now, Google+ is just so bland.

What Actually Happened?

Unfortunately, we did not see any movement on the items above. Analytics are still poor, and businesses can't easily provide offers or specials.  The Google Place page information migration to Google+ Local page started in mid 2012, but continues to lag, and alas --  there is no further information as to when this journey will be completed. Unfortunately, business owners will have to keep checking their own local listing frequently to make sure there are no errors until the migration has fully taken place.


What Did We Predict?

The Facebook Nearby upgrade would have the ability to engage its users to see which places or businesses their friends liked or visited, generating a database of results that could be used for local search.

What Actually Happened?

We predicted Graph Search! Nearby became Nearby Places which is a local search tool, encouraging its users to browse categories and search for local places or businesses organized by their friend’s check-ins, likes or even recommendations. Unfortunately, it has low adoption rates. But Graph Search allows users to search for people, places (like restaurants), and things throughout their friends and connections, their “social graph” and from the main search bar. Since everyone’s social graph is different, each person sees unique results. With Facebook’s approximate 128 million daily active users, both of these features have made a significant dent in generating local search volume but have a long way to go to compete with powerhouse Google. Truth be told, we all rather get recommendations from people we know and trust rather than strangers, right?

Yelp and Foursquare

What Did We Predict?

Both of these location-based services should take a huge leap forward from just being used by the savvy few (less than 10% of smartphone users) to the mainstream masses. We also rolled the dice and bet that one or both would be acquired by Google, Apple or Facebook.

What Actually Happened?

  • Yelp: Approximately 60% of all searches on Yelp came from mobile devices. In addition, Yelp experienced an impressive 36% increase in its average monthly visitors - 117 million monthly visitors compared to 86 million in 2012. Not exactly a "huge leap", but still a significant increase. We’re not aware of anyone interested in acquiring Yelp just yet.
  • Foursquare: Overhauled their app in the fall of 2013 with a better user experience, more functionality and faster performance. Foursquare now has over 40 million users compared to 30 million in 2012 (a 33% increase). There was a lot of buzz on the internet that numerous companies such as Microsoft, American Express and Yahoo wanted to acquire them but Foursquare is still independent.

So What Will 2014 Bring?

We still think that there will be lots of movement in mobile, social media and Google+ Local during 2014, in addition to content marketing and a few wildcard predictions. Cue the drum roll…


91% of adult mobile phone owners have their devices within arm's reach 24/7, so it’s safe to say that these are not just phones anymore but more like personal computer substitutes. Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google also predicted, “Everyone is going to have a smartphone. The trend has been mobile was winning; it’s now won.” With the help of GPS technology, we’re going to see a huge surge in location-based mobile marketing and remarketing (also called geo-targeting). To ensure a positive user experience, we’ll also see more businesses optimize their website for mobile transactions and app purchasing functionality. Starbucks, Dominos, and Chipotle already do this quite well, allowing users to save their information within the app to complete transactions.

Social Media

As teens shun Facebook and gravitate more towards Instagram, Vine and Snapchat, we think that social media platforms will become more segmented and exist for particular groups. Facebook will desire to become THE preferred website so they will continue to improve its features and gain ground in the local search space with Nearby Places and Graph Search, but they still need to figure out how to make their advertising work.  A mid-year overhaul to streamline the ad programs has yielded very little improvement and we sadly lost one of our favorites, "Sponsored results". Businesses will also put more of their marketing budget towards paid social advertising and veer away from displays ads, which have been losing their power for years.

Google+ Local

We’re still wishing upon a star. There is no definitive time set for when the information transition from Google Places to Google+ Local will indeed be completed, if ever. Knowing Google, it’s a 50/50 chance it will be announced in a big way or happen behind the scenes. In the meantime, local business owners will still have to deal with a messy mixture of Google Places and Google+ when managing their information.  The introduction of the Google Places for Business mobile app could have some useful functionality, but until the Places/Plus merge is complete, users won't be able to use it.

Content Marketing

Businesses recognize that consumers are so overloaded with information so they will make sure their original content is more to the point, easy to understand all while incorporating more images such as infographics. Content marketing will continue to explode, driving SEO and web marketing as a whole.

Wildcard Predictions

Apple Maps will continue to improve in 2014. Since its initial launch was an epic fail (the user interface was counterintuitive because everyone had learned Google Maps first), they’ll still have a tough uphill battle for widespread adoption. We also predict that Groupon and Living Social will continue their rapid decline and one or both of them will disappear.

In Conclusion

The new year is a time for both reflection and planning. Looking back at 2013, we learned that mobile was very much at the core of all trends and will be even more important in 2014. From shopping to networking to searching for the tastiest local restaurant, it’s more important than ever for businesses to have a mobile responsive website design (or dedicated mobile website) in place and online features that cater to a mobile audience in order to remain competitive.

Happy New Year Fellow Marketers!  

Related Content: 
Landing Pages
Mobile Websites
Article Type: 
Exclude from Recent List: 
To follow our annual tradition, SproutLoud recaps online marketing trends for 2013 and looks forward, predicting new trends for 2014.

Previous Article
Local Marketing in the Weight Loss Industry
Local Marketing in the Weight Loss Industry

Once again, the #1 resolution for the New Year is to lose weight -- apparently very few people actually eve...

Next Article
Big Data for Distributed Marketing
Big Data for Distributed Marketing

It is practically a marketing proverb, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”  Peter Drucker had h...