One thing is abundantly clear. The pace of technology and buyer behavior transformation continues unabated. Assessing their impact on marketing strategies makes for tough annual planning on the right formula to connect with buyers.
From my point of view, three big trends will affect marketing planning in 2013. These trends changing the face of marketing once again:
1. Digital Marketing Gets Redefined and Matures
About five years ago, the term digital marketing began to appear. A phrase intended to identify the use of Internet related mediums to market to customers. As we head into 2013, it is taking on new meaning. More and more, well-informed marketing organizations will begin to view digital marketing through the prism of an ecosystem.
There has been a proliferation of tools and channels. We are only beginning now to see how the pieces begin to come together. What we have been learning is that disparate specialty in areas such as email marketing, social media, search engine marketing, mobile, and content marketing need to have a master plan.
An important step to take for 2013 is to bring these together into a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that best connects with your customers. Bring all the parties together and develop the master plan.
2. Branding Resurges
The power of brand will resurge in 2013 as a dominating force. With eyeball impressions and interactions the new precious commodity in the world of digital marketing, the brand must create an experience. Brand visualization, in the context of the digital world, will grow. The aim being that the brand communicates trust, influences, and leads to an action.
This is an important consideration: if your visual brand cannot communicate the essence of who your company is, all the content you write may amount to a dump in the digital bytes landfill.
3. Integrated Marketing Campaigns Take Center Stage
Campaigns can be costly. When they do not add up, this can be painful - in the sense that you have shot your allocated resources on the wrong channels. Look for more focus in 2013 on how to leverage different channels and integrate campaigns. When developing campaigns, how integrating social media, content marketing, mobile, web, and newer emerging channels into the campaigns will leverage cost yet yield more results becomes a key driver.
4. Fusion of CMO and IT
Powering the new engines of marketing, as we saw in 2012, is becoming big business. Oracle’s recent acquisition of Eloqua for $871 million puts the definitive statement on this trend. I am not sure what this means entirely at this early stage but it sets up a potential collision between the CMO and IT. IT related software and infrastructure needs for the new marketing engine are going to grow exponentially. There are bound to be tension points arising here on who has the final say on what funds go where and who owns the budget for IT improvements.
Here is a suggestion for 2013 - get this out on the table and start meeting with IT now. The use of technology will grow in marketing, there will be more merges and acquisitions, and look for more emerging SaaS end-to-end solutions in 2013. Get chummy with your CIO and figure this out.
5. Nurture Marketing Expands
We have seen a growth in 2012 in the concept of lead nurturing. The objective of course is to convert leads and opportunities into paying customers. Look for nurture marketing to expand in 2013. We will see new ways to explore the concept of nurturing across the entire customer relationship spectrum. Effective marketers will begin to see that lead nurturing alone is too narrow of a scope.
Retaining customers and creating long lasting customer loyalty is still one of the mother lode goals of marketing and sales. Look for marketing to play a greater role in – as well as assume responsibility for – top and middle of the funnel nurturing as well as post funnel nurturing strategies.
There is little doubt that 2013 will be another formative year of transition for marketing. These trends give a clue on how to stay ahead and make an impact. The roadmap looks like this:
Develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy and plan
Evaluate your brand for the ability to visualize what your brand is all about in the digital world
Develop integrated and cross-channel campaign strategies and plans
Go to lunch with your CIO and start working on ways to deal with the infusion of heavy IT into the state of marketing
Begin efforts to expand the concept of nurturing across the entire customer lifecycle.
As with many journeys, they are filled with detours, unexpected storms, places we want to linger at longer, and a multitude of surprises. The roadmap offered here no doubt have these elements. With that, I leave you with this ancient Chinese proverb:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”