It's that time of year again! 2013 is on the horizon, so whip out your crystal balls, marketers -- it's time to make some predictions about what's in store for next year. Don't have one handy? That's cool. You don't need to be clairvoyant to make a prediction or two. In fact, how about we get the ball rolling.
In 2012, the world of marketing underwent some major changes. We saw the rise of Pinterest, several IPOs and acquisitions, an aggressive political ad war, Facebook’s 1 billionth user, and watched one Korean artist turn into a global phenomenon thanks to YouTube. So what’s on tap for next year?
We've compiled some of our most insightful predictions -- backed by several industry experts and thought leaders -- into our new guide, 20 Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 & Beyond. You can catch 8 of them in this blog post, and be sure to download the full guide if you're curious about what the other 12 will mean for your marketing in 2013. Now let's get to it, marketers!
Prediction: Social & Content Influence SEO
Over the years, effective search engine optimization (SEO) was all about knowing the tricks of the trade. The SEO of tomorrow will be less about having the right H1 tag or the right keywords on the page and more about creating really high quality, original content that is socially consumed and shared.
“For the past decade and a half, marketers have often thought of SEO, social media, and content as separate channels and segmented practices. But these barriers are crumbling. In the past 24 months, we’ve seen the overlap between search, social, and content increase at a rapid pace, spurred on by innovations from the search engines, and reinforced by the correlations of social sharing and linking/ranking behavior. In 2013, I expect to see many of the most successful marketers treat these practices not as disparate channels, but as optimizable elements of a whole.” - Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz
Overall, SEO will move further and further away from on-page SEO, and focus on the various components of off-page SEO, as Rand describes, that come together for a holistic and powerful SEO strategy.
Prediction: Email Lives On
No, email is not dead. And it won’t be in 2013, either (as much as some of us would like it to). In fact, email will continue to be an important part of the marketing mix. How it will be used, however, is what will change. Marketing emails will become less “batch and blast” and instead more personalized, relevant, and targeted based on real-time data. There will be increased importance in opt-in marketing instead of opt-out marketing, and buying lists will become a less used practice.
“With such a dramatic shift toward more personal, unsolicited marketing, 2013 will see much more targeted, segmented email campaigns aimed at delivering more relevant content to recipients. We’re all after the Holy Grail of online marketing: sales-ready leads. The ability to segment email lists and personalize the content will help to maximize the effect of each email, resulting in more qualified leads.” - John Bonini, Content Marketing Manager, IMPACT Branding & Design
Prediction: Marketing Becomes More Accountable for Revenue Generation
A recent Fournaise Marketing Group study found that 73% of executives don’t believe marketing drives demand and revenue. Ouch. In 2013, that will start to change. Marketing will play a more critical role in contributing to revenue generation. Marketing activities will not only be measured in terms of traffic and lead generation, but it will also further optimize processes that directly impact sales growth. And to do that, key performance indicators (KPIs) under the marketing department will change. Furthermore, marketers will adopt inbound marketing practices and technologies in order to drive demand and meet aggressive revenue goals.
“For CMOs, the pressure is on. CEOs are paying more attention to Marketing’s contributions and are holding them more accountable for revenue generation. Because of this, we’re starting to see a shift in how marketing is measured … to quotas and SLAs that are more aligned with sales goals.” - Greg Alexander, CEO, Sales Benchmark Index (SBI)
Prediction: Inbound, Not Automation, Becomes Priority
Just a few, short years ago, marketing automation was the must-have on every marketer's wish list. Unfortunately, the set-it and forget-it mentality of automation, while it may sound nice, resulted in an unhealthy process of churning a database of email contacts through a set “nurturing” process until they were spammed to death. The promise of marketing automation starts to fail because it is not supported by a solid inbound marketing foundation. Essentially, not enough leads enter the funnel to keep the automated machine running. This is called “Death by Marketing Automation.”
In 2013, CMOs and senior executives will allocate more resources to creating a strong inbound engine -- generating interest, traffic, leads, and conversions -- to support the demand generation engine. The graph below, provided by Google Trends, show that over time, more marketers will be searching for solutions and best practices to inbound marketing over marketing automation.
Prediction: Marketers Will Know Thy Customer
Smarter marketing means understanding our customers beyond demographic information. In the future, we’ll be looking outside our CRM system to collect a unified view of customer behavior. According to David Raab, contributing analyst at Gleanster, web behavior data as well as data from other sources, such as accounting or order processing systems, will become easier to integrate in 2013. Over the next year, it will become an increasingly important initiative for CMOs to invest in technology that compiles customer data in a way that is more easily measurable and actionable. As a result, customer analysis will become the hot new feature for marketing automation providers.
“Marketing automation systems will provide more unified customer views across channels and systems. The goal of not merely importing data from multiple systems, but of integrating that data so interactions of the same individual are combined even when they take place in different channels will be increasingly realized. This is a critical capability since all analysis is based on this unified customer view.” - David Raab, Analyst, Gleanster
Prediction: "Campaigns" Fade Out, Real-Time Marketing Is In
The notion of campaigns has been around since the golden age of advertising. Marketing campaigns are a defined series of activities, tactics and channels that often revolve around a common theme. And yes, campaigns have been good to us. But here’s the problem; their structure is often times rigid and can’t keep up with changing customer behaviors and rapidly changing technology. Campaigns are generally short-lived and not triggered based on real-time actions or data, which can put the marketer at a disadvantage.
“In 2013, we’ll see many more marketers take advantage of the power of real-time communications to grow business. In 2013, buyers instantly engage with brands on their websites, talk back via social media like Twitter and Facebook, and follow breaking news in the markets they are interested. The old model of marketing built on a company timeline doesn’t work so well, but after decades of “campaigns” planned way in advance, it’s difficult for marketers to change to a mindset based on speed. Clearly, the opportunities to grow your business in 2013 and beyond mean real time is key. Success comes from engaging your buyers when they’re ready, not when it’s convenient for you.” - David Meerman Scott, Best-selling Author
As David states, in 2013, we’ll start to see best-in-class organizations utilize more real-time events and triggers that are based on inbound marketing activity and not push marketing, or outbound campaigns.
Prediction: Context Is Content's New Best Friend
To do marketing better in 2013, marketers will need to go beyond simply creating content to creating a personalized experience for their target customer that’s seamless across multiple interactions. These experiences will leverage context to make a company’s marketing jive with
the searcher’s proclivities -- the things you’ve learned about your leads over months and years of talking with them. The things they do, the things they say, the sites they like, the products they purchase, their happiness level with your company -- all to have deeper and more meaningful relationships and better results.
Prediction: Marketing Technology Evolves
In 2012, we saw a lot of acquisitions, IPOs, private rounds of funding, and the emergence of new startups. As the marketing industry heats up, we can expect even more action. This is great news for the marketing industry. In 2013, we will see two major changes in the technology landscape:
- More investment in technology solutions that solve for inbound marketing, social media management, and marketing measurement, attribution, and ROI . More importantly, software and services that are integrated and unified with other channels, departments, and databases is key. In fact, Gartner predicts that CMOs will outspend CIOs by 2017. Specifically, marketers will spend more on unified, integrated technology solutions that eliminate data silos.
- As more widgets, gadgets, and devices enter the market, marketers will need to figure how to use each platform in the best and most appropriate way. Applying an old advertising model to new technologies won’t fly.
“New technologies (mobile devices of all shapes and sizes, and location based services) will continue to grow, but the best marketers will realize its not about how to jam more ads into new platforms -- it's about how to use the new technologies to enhance your inbound powers of attraction.” Dharmesh Shah, CTO, HubSpot
What other predictions do you have for marketing in 2013? What new trends will shape the industry? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Image Credit: pasukaru76
Originally published Dec 4, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013