With more than 1 billion smartphones shipped worldwide by the end of 2013, it’s not surprising that digital marketing in 2014 will require a sound mobile strategy to succeed. Today I want to talk about the key mobile trends to watch out for this year.

The “Mobile-First” Strategy

Mobile marketing has become so important that marketers will be placing it at the top of their priorities for 2014. Users will come to rely on social and mobile channels as their first point of contact with brands, and businesses need to keep up with this trend by creating strong mobile campaigns and optimizing their websites for mobile users. Failing to prioritize mobile could make your business miss key opportunities to promote its products or drive sales.

Increased Showrooming Behavior

Many of today’s mobile users rely on their smartphones for product information, even when they’re inside an actual store. In his Zero Moment of Truth ebook, Bob Thacker, former OfficeMax CMO, says: “Pre-shopping before buying has become a huge, huge part of customer behavior. In the past, it was pretty much confined to big-ticket items like cars, or expensive electronics or homes. Now people engage in discovery before shopping on very small things. It’s crossed all categories of shopping behavior. It’s just the way people buy today.”

Mobile marketing comic by Tom Fishburne

This type of behavior is not going to go away, and smart marketers will find ways to embrace and use it to their advantage. Creating apps that provide exclusive offers to mobile users who are buying products in-store is a good way for brands to leverage showrooming behavior in 2014.

More Personalized Mobile Experiences

The introduction of Apple’s iBeacons could be a revolutionary development for retailers in 2014. The iBeacon allows mobile apps to provide personalized, location-based notifications using Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology. For example, if an iPhone user walks past a store that uses an iBeacon, they can receive notifications about special promotions or coupons.

Estimote, the company that pioneered this beacon technology, created a video to highlight all the benefits beacons could have for retail businesses:

This technology can help brands successfully integrate the physical and mobile aspects of their customers’ shopping experience in 2014.

Mobile Payments will Become More Popular

Payment through mobile platforms such as Google Wallet, Paypal, MasterPass, or PayWave has become increasingly popular, but technology like iBeacon could develop it even further. Paypal is uses iBeacon technology for their Paypal Beacon, which allows users to make hands-free payments through their mobile devices.

Mobile Real-Time Bidding (RTB) will Continue to Grow

RTB for online ads has been around for a while now, but buyers were slow to adopt it for desktop advertising. Twitter’s acquisition of MoPub made mobile RTB go mainstream in 2013. 30% of mobile ad buys last year happened through RTB, and based on data from AdExchanger, this could increase to 45% this year.

Investing in mobile in 2014 is no longer just an option – all marketers have to do it or risk missing key opportunities to promote their brand and get sales. If your clients haven’t put a lot of effort into mobile or have not optimized your website for mobile users yet, you should help them get started now.

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Clayton Wood

Clayton is the Marketing Director of SEOReseller.com and managing partner of numerous successful online brands offering white label SEO and other online marketing services.