Happy New Year!
To kick-off 2014, we’ve gathered the thoughts of our industry peers to get their insight about what they understand as the challenges and opportunities for their digital agencies in 2014.
There appears to be boundless opportunities for agencies in 2014, as the continued growth of internet users in the UK [48 million in 2013] shows no signs of slowing. But the way consumers are viewing and consuming web content is changing and this provides both challenges and opportunities for the industry. Responsive web development, mobile strategy, and delivering different content for different devices is just some of the areas agencies will be focusing heavily on this year.
We asked: What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for your digital agency in 2014?
Luke Taylor, Front End Developer/ Director, Avalanche Digital
“With a plethora of varying-sized tablets, mobiles, laptops and e-readers already in circulation and touch-screen desktops, (capable) web-ready TV’s and pioneering technology such as Google Glass beginning to surface, one of the biggest challenges for 2014 is going to be to continue to deliver a great experience to all users, no matter what their device choice. For brands this means cross-device familiarity too. This challenge is also the biggest opportunity to agencies specialising in responsive web development.”
Andy Kinsey, Head of Digital Marketing, RedStar
“In 2013, at RedStar, we’ve taken bog standard SEO off the menu for our clients – we’ve helped clients to see and understand that SEO alone isn’t enough and that they need to look at the bigger picture of Digital Marketing, if they are to get the most from the web. It’s been a challenge but something I’ve relished and enjoyed.
Moving forward to 2014 and there are many challenges that we as an agency face, but there is also big opportunities to be had and taken.
The Challenges for 2014 revolve primarily around the growth of smart mobile devices and how we move clients away from the “desktop mentality” and giving them a focus on this huge growth market. The biggest two parts of this challenge will be how we deliver marketing solutions for mobile which are engaging, friendly and user aware but without a huge price tag to our clients. But if we can get our strategies right, this is also one of the biggest opportunities for RedStar over the next 12 to 24 months.
The second key challenge ties in with the first, though isn’t reliant on mobile, and this is the challenge of content and imagery. “Content is King” is something I’ve said for years as an SEO, and it’s completely true still today – but with recent Google updates it has become clear that my statement should be “quality content is king”. The challenge here comes not from the generation of that content but from the issue that content on one device won’t have the same engagement on another – for instance (what I call) “Deep Dive” articles, which look at a subject in detail, are great for desktops but view the same article on a mobile and you begin to have problems. I don’t know anyone who wants to scroll for 30 mins to finish an article – this is the problem we need to overcome, it’s a big challenge but it can be done for all websites (without the need for a separate mobile website. Another key aspect of the content question is how we make our content stand out from the crowd, social media is evolving and will continue to do so, email marketing is evolving for responsive devices, PPC / online advertising is changing and they will all continue to over the next few years – how we deal with this challenge for our clients will not only determine their success as a business but also our own.”
Richard Jaggs, Director, Resolution Design
“Digital marketing opportunities continue to expand. At Resolution Design our greatest challenge, and opportunity, is helping our clients understand the options available, which ones to choose and how to deliver. Working with our clients to create an effective online marketing strategy is central to this work, so that they don’t waste effort and money on things that don’t deliver clear business benefits. After all there’s no point having an excellent website that no one can find, or alternatively having great SEO if your website is poor at delivering enquiries.”
Piers Tincknell, Creative Director, Atomic Smash
“John Lewis is predicting that 2013 will see the UK’s first ‘mobile Christmas’ with traffic from mobile phones and tablets overtaking that from desktops for the first time on Christmas Day [Read Here]. This will resonate with retailers both large and small, hopefully kick starting all those existing online merchants who don’t have a mobile strategy in place to seriously consider making their site mobile friendly. This is a great opportunity for us as designers and developers to ensure that the next generation of websites can be served to all sorts of devices and in turn creating a better user experience for their customers.”
Gemma McGrattan, Director, Synergy Creative
“Companies will be looking to use social media channels in a more integrated way for their employee communications. Some of the challenges we’re hearing is that companies adopt a range of technologies then it’s a challenge to explain what each channel is best used for from the employee’s perspective. There’s a wealth of choice out there so selecting the right platform for the right message and use is still a concern. The key will be to focus on encouraging conversation and dialogue between colleagues, avoiding ‘broadcast’ out to everyone and letting good content initiative the conversation.
Engaging employees that work remotely without access to the latest technology tools is still a challenge and opportunity! Thinking about the best way to harness digital platforms (from kiosks, digital signage to mobile) for those that might not be able to access technology at their workplace is still key.”
Mark Probert, Creative Director, Newicon
“We believe more and more companies are waking up to cloud software. The days of a website just been an online brochure are gone. For businesses to keep up they must be agile and take advantage of the changing digital landscape.
We are seeing companies streamline their marketing effort and business administration using cloud software (web-apps) to great effect. Whilst native apps for tablets and mobile have their place, web-app solutions offer great flexibility and integration possibilities, without the burden of being reliant on third party operating systems. What’s more, web software is flexible and can grow with a business as it evolves, which is something no proprietary offering from the large corporate software companies can rival.
The challenge businesses face is adapting their mind-set and the way their operations function, to allow software to provide the time and cost saving benefits.”
Nicola Ellison, Director, Digirank
“2013 was an interesting year for SEO, as the Google algorithum updates tackling poor backlinks and content quality, continue to change the playing field for those working in SEO. The industry continues to evolve quickly, for all the right reasons.
We anticipate that in 2014, we will be building further on the techniques we have employed in 2013. Close analysis of backlink profiles, implementation of rich snippet, authorship and structured data, mobile compatibility, responding to the growth in mobile/tablet traffic and answer based search results, overcoming the challenge of ‘not provided’ Analytics data, and understanding how semantic search will change SEO, to name but a few.
High quality content strategies supported by robust social media outreach activity will continue to be at the heart of our SEO strategies in 2014. With competition from 92,000+ articles posted on the web each day, any piece of content has stiff competition to get noticed and gain the attention of its target audience. We also envisage a content strategy where content is created for specific media platforms.
Image & video based social media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Slideshare have gained huge momentum in 2013 and provide great opportunities for client’s 2014 SEO content strategies. Beyond Twitter, Facebook, Google+, we need to embrace these visual platforms to ensure that they are at the heart of all social media content activity.
Anticipating Google’s next move is always going to be a challenge for the industry, but those who do will see the biggest wins in 2014.”