Trends can rapidly change. seemingly with the wind.

Good content remains an enduring cornerstone to digital marketing; that doesn't look to be changing any time soon. But within a content plan, the players seem to be shifting all of the time.

Which is why marketers need to keep up with the evolving landscape of digital. Our industry is young and exciting, but if you don't stay current, you may spend way too much time on failing strategies, while other new, successful channels go untapped.

To catch everyone up on what's performing well right now, here are a few areas that are still trending upwards.

1. Paid Social Media Ads

Recently, Snapchat CEO, Evan Spiegel announced that the millennial favorite app will soon include paid advertising, proving that social media remains to be a no-brainer when it comes to consumer engagement. While simple status updates can be an easy, free way to notify your followers and fans about deals, discounts or industry news, your post has to compete with zillions of other brands trying to accomplish the same thing.

For many businesses, paid advertising is the only way to stand out, as it more prominently displays your ad rather than just letting it disappear into the scrolling ether. While paid advertising isn't exactly a new feature, its presence has continued to consume more and more of users' feeds in 2014.

Like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Snapchat will allow brands to use the allure of the network to try and raise brand awareness and increase sales.

Content marketing is largely based on offering free content, but networks like Facebook have made it easier and easier for brands to advertise. A sponsored post on Facebook allows for a large visual display, which is instantly more compelling than a couple lines of text, and the social network lets you target the post to particular users.

The takeaway? Consider exploring paid social ads.

2. Mobile

According to recent data, smartphone users will reach 2 billion by 2015

, while mobile internet traffic increases 3.5% each month
. Those are astonishing numbers but not all that surprising (data is great, but you don't need statistics to know that just about everyone owns a smartphone now). Like social media, cell phones and tablets are becoming a ubiquitous presence in our lives, so it's no wonder that brands continue to invest in mobile marketing strategies.

If you haven't done so already, you should make your business's website mobile-friendly. Often, this means simplifying the layout of your pages to fit the smaller screen size of phones and devices. For example, conversion forms (i.e., places people give you info in exchange for content) should be limited to a couple fields or a single drop-down menu, so that people don't have to spend a lot of time typing.

As mobile usage only continues to grow, it's a good time to invest some of your marketing resources.

For many businesses, paid advertising is the only way to stand out, as it more prominently displays your ad rather than just letting it disappear into the scrolling ether. While paid advertising isn't exactly a new feature, its presence has continued to consume more and more of users' feeds in 2014.

3. Geotargeting

One of the big advantages of advertising on the web is the ability to target your content. Thanks to cookies and increasingly sophisticated analytics applications, marketers can actually track what users clicked and where their traffic came from. People may have mixed feelings about being tracked, but targeting is proving to be a boon for the digital marketing industry.

The newest current in this trend is location-based marketing. Leveraging the power of mobile, brands can advertise to users based on where they are at a particular moment on their cell phones or tablets. This provides value for both business and consumer. The consumer needs to find a specific store or location, and the business can answer his or her need in real time.

If you have a brick and mortar establishment, geotargeting is a trend you should explore.

4. Visual Content

For better or worse, the content on websites and apps is meant to be scanned. Consider your Facebook newsfeed. Do you stop to read every single post? Most likely, you skim while scrolling, stopping only for relevant headlines or for a compelling photo or video. Marketers have taken note of this and as a result, are now posting more visual-rich content than ever.

Whether you're posting across social media, or uploading a blog, keep in mind that content can yield up to 94% more views if an interesting visual is attached.

Pinterest has claimed the fourth most popular spot among social media sites. Meanwhile, Twitter has made itself more visual-friendly, no longer requiring users to click to view pictures in tweets, instead putting them directly into its timeline.

Every brand will benefit from figuring out a strong visual component to its internet presence. But that's not just limited to photos. With the introduction of Vine, Instagram's video function, and the always-growing YouTube, video has also come on strong. Consider adding it to your content strategy.

5. Re-marketing

The scannable, "just browsing" nature of the internet can seem like an insurmountable hill to climb for brands and marketers (after all, it's estimated that first visits to a website result in only 2% of conversions

). So how do you convert looky-loos into customers? More aggressive selling can be irritating and out of place in a landscape that uses free content for promotion. While no one's perfected the art and science of advertising online, some companies are helping brands break through to customers.

AdRoll is a company that's grown in popularity due to its re-targeting services. Using tracking technology, the company follows visitors to your website to other sites and shows them a display ad for your business. It's a new and compelling way to focus on potential leads rather than spending money on broad ad campaigns in one location, hoping people notice and remember you.

6. Testing

While testing your creative marketing strategies isn't necessarily a hot trend, it should be. Because digital marketing is still in its infancy, there are few iron-clad sure-thing strategies that work for everyone. The double-edged sword for advertising online is the ability to track, click for click, even dollar for dollar, what worked and what didn't. Transparency is great, but it means there's a lot of pressure to perform. If you spend tons of money on a campaign and it tanks, everyone knows.

Navigating the uncharted waters of digital marketing almost certainly guarantees failure on some level. But this shouldn't stop marketers from trying. No one ever achieved greatness without a little bravery and risk-taking. Businesses have to be willing to test strategies that might not be completely proven, and marketers need to be savvier about generating said strategies. Success will require keeping up with trends, implementing old ideas in new ways, and trying completely new ideas altogether.

Next Step