The online world moves fast. It’s part of what makes doing business online so exciting. We asked our Marketing Services team to give a recap of the biggest online marketing changes in 2014 and here were their top 10.

Top 10 Ecommerce Marketing Developements

1. Bing returns to comparison shopping.

“2014 saw Bing’s return to the comparison shopping game after a lengthy hiatus. The Microsoft-owned search engine launched their revamped Bing Product Ads (BPA) program as a direct competitor to Google. While Google Shopping is clearly still the king of feeds, the landscape is primed for exciting changes moving forward. If you are ready to branch into Bing Product Ads (which also powers Yahoo Shopping), I recommend this article at CPC Strategy.”

- Adam Kirsch, Search Marketing Specialist – Comparison Shopping Engines

2. Facebook’s organic reach virtually disappears.

“Sayonara, Facebook Organic Reach! The number of people you can reach for free on Facebook through unpaid posts dropped drastically in 2014. Though some small business owners will see this as a frustrating loss, they shouldn’t. Facebook targeting has made some big advancements, resulting in more effective ads. Businesses should budget for an increase in Facebook ad spend in 2015.”

- Mikkayla Casey, Search Marketing Specialist – Social Media

3. The trend toward better user experience continues.

“I used to know a guy who would constantly complain about how “arrogant” Google was when it came to trying to ‘outsmart’ SEOs by changing up their algorithms, banning bad practices and putting a stop to attempts to manipulate the search results. Constantly. You know what? That guy wasn’t very good at his job. The truth is, any SEO worth his or her salt won’t be running around pushing the “Emergency Stop” button every time there’s an algorithm change. With regards to SEO, Google is on the side of the user; they just want to deliver the most relevant search results they can and present the highest-quality, most useful sites so people don’t all jump ship and set their default search engine to Bing. It’s not a conspiracy against SEOs, but it’s probably not so fun for the people who came into the industry because they want to play games for a living. Those of us who came into marketing because we’re creative and have some empathy for what people want and need, on the other hand, are set.

Pro tip: It’s extremely important for SEOs and business owners to read industry blogs and stay on top of trends, but beware the Sour Grapes Google-Complainer. Google has a job to do, and it’s the same one as ours: Keep the user happy.”

- Meaghan Nanson¸ Search Marketing Specialist – SEO

4. Google increases flexibility with paid search bids.

“Bidding strategies have made a huge impact on paid search. In the past, we saw campaign managers manually optimize bids at the ad group and/or individual keyword level. While the strategy was effective, recent changes in Google AdWords’ Flexible Bid Strategies now allow for more in-depth bid management based on targeted goals such as driving more clicks, focusing on CPA and even return on ad spend. Utilizing these tools allows the Volusion team to help our clients reach their goals while maximizing the online advertising experience.”

- Chelsea Cepeda, Search Marketing Specialist – PPC

5. Conversion optimization becomes a central part of ecommerce strategy.

“Conversion optimization finally became a primary player for all levels of marketing experience in 2014 and will continue to be imperative into further years. Business owners are starting to consider this combination of analytics, design, communication and human behavior into to their marketing strategy to ensure their website reaches its full potential. Humans naturally have a short attention span, so optimizing for conversion means giving customers what they want, quickly and naturally. This keeps customers on the buying path and will benefit all channels of marketing.”

Natalie Stambro, Marketing Consultant – Conversion Optimization

6. Social media advertising comes into its own.

“Advertising and payment on social media is on the rise. With options to advertise in new ways on networks like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, it has become increasingly important to dedicate some of your budget to taking advantage of this space. In order to get more visibility in less competitive markets, many small businesses are taking to niche social networks like PolyVore, Wanelo and Houzz to reach the perfect audience.”

- Allison Smith, Search Marketing Specialist – Social Media

7. Google launches paid ad sitelink extensions.

“Google brought advertisers enhanced ad sitelinks this year. New site links such as the callout and dynamic sitelinks allow ads to own more real estate on the SERP and have increased room for messaging.”

- Jacob Ehrnstein, Search Marketing Specialist – PPC

8. Google PLA campaigns transition to Google Shopping.

"Google sunset Product Listing Ad campaigns and transitioned to Google Shopping in August of 2014. Google overhauled the entire campaign creation process and said goodbye to AdWords Grouping and AdWords label attributes. Custom labels, taxonomic campaign structures and greater bid flexibility now allow advertisers to make the most out of the data and information they're pulling in."

- Sean O’Connor, Search Marketing Specialist – Comparison Shopping Engines

9. Google rolls out Universal Analytics.

“As someone who values data when making decisions about how to increase sales, I very much appreciated Google’s upgrade to Universal Analytics — from tracking visitors across multiple visits and devices, to more detailed shopping and purchasing behavior. And it’s still a free service!”

- Josh Pruett, Marketing Consultant – Analytics

10. “Not Provided” workarounds make for stronger SEO.

“Anyone who used to rely on checking their organic keywords in Google Analytics can probably give you an earful about all the “Not Provided” keyword data Google gave (or didn’t give, as it were) to us in 2014. This makes it harder for SEOs to track which keywords are delivering on the goods and bringing people to the site. However, it has been fun to find workarounds and notice what other people are doing to make up for a gap in this previously sought-after data.

At Volusion, I’ve seen a trend toward focusing on individual product performance, landing pages and overall organic conversion data to give us some insights that are quite similar to those that were previously provided by the keyword data. As an eCommerce SEO, I’ve been much happier using these metrics and delivering them to the clients on our behalf. I find that it keeps the focus on the bigger picture – in our case, revenue and conversions – and mitigates the problem of people zeroing in on a few specific keywords and forgetting to see the forest for the trees.”

- Meaghan Nanson¸ Search Marketing Specialist – SEO

Bonus Design Development! Website design evolves to capture visitors from all devices.

"Commerce on mobile devices, like smart phones and tablets, is gaining ground every year. In most instances, the best way to serve those mobile shoppers is transitioning to responsive design. Responsive means planning your site to adjust gracefully to all screen sizes, and it's the way forward in making the web more accessible to mobile users. An incredible amount of consideration goes into designing for responsive, and it is best to make your site as simple and intuitive as possible when catering users on any size device."

- Camri Hinkie, Designer

Questions? Comments on your 2014 experience? Share them below!

Want to enlist our ecommerce marketing experts to be part of your team? Visit our Ecommerce Marketing Services page or call 1-888-750-3996 for more information on SEO, Shopping Feed Management, Paid Advertising, Social Media Management, Google Analytics implementation and Conversion Consulting. Also, be sure to check out all of Volusion’s free and paid responsive design templates. The right responsive design will reinforce your brand and capture mobile traffic more effectively.