2012′s Biggest Marketing Break Throughs

18 Marketing Experts – What Stood Out For Marketers

2012 was an evolutionary year for marketing.

Trends that had been growing outside of the main focus of social media, search and digital, moved to the center of marketing driven by the expanded offering and ownership of smartphones, tablets and other content consuming devices. (Here’s the research and charts.)

Here’s what stood out for eighteen marketing experts.

  1. 3D printing. While still in its infancy, it went from being the talk of a small subset of hobbyists to something top of mind with many of the world’s most important media outlets and brands. David Berkowitz – 360i, @DBerkowitz
  2. Nike went from being an apparel company to a fitness technology company. Their introduction and continued rollout of Nike+ products changes the game for the entire fitness industry. Plus they are rocking on the marketing and content sides as well. C.C. Chapman, @cc_chapman. Author of Amazing Things Will Happen
  3. The biggest break-through to me was the book Marketing in the Round by Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston. It’s the first book I’ve read that has actively preached the importance of busting silos and integrating social media with other marketing tactics.  Marjorie Clayman – Clayman Marketing Communications, @MargieClayman
  4. The expanded ownership and constant use of smartphones as an always-on device and to a lesser extent tablets have created a four-screen world where consumers are constantly taking in information from a screen, whether it’s a computer, smartphone, tablet or television. As a result, content marketing which also supports social media and search took center stage in 2012 because customers trust content, they need pre-purchase information and it’s cost-effective relative to other forms of marketing. Heidi Cohen – Riverside Marketing Strategies, @HeidiCohen
  5. The biggest break through of 2012 was visual content. The explosion was driven by Instagram and Pinterest, but was adopted by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with cover photos and embedded rich media. Companies can no longer count on fans reading every word of their carefully worded copy. They need to halt the scroll and the scan with compelling visuals. Gini Dietrich – Arment Dietrich, Inc.@GiniDietrich. Co-author of Marketing in the Round
  6. Ever since Google Plus was launched back in 2011 the coffin-maker has been in the backyard banging together a wooden box. But most lately, we’re seeing that Google seems to have a bigger game plan in motion.  Communities, alone, has brought people back to the platform, while at the same time, Facebook’s increased inline advertising has helped to encourage that migration.  Ric Dragon – Dragon Search, @RicDragon. Author of Social Marketology
  7. Content marketing. In 2011, it was something forward-thinking brands were embracing. In 2012, content marketing became the heart of marketing. Ann Handley – MarketingProfs, @MarketingProfs. Co-Author with C.C. Chapman of Content Rules
  8. The technology divide among generations continued to be blown to pieces. My proof – the fact that I got a text message from my 83 year old mother-in-law who wanted to know how to get Angry Birds on both her iPad and iPhone. Jeff Hasen – Hipcricket, @JeffHasen. Author of Mobilized Marketing
  9. The biggest breakthrough of 2012 was the remarkable growth of Pinterest, signaling the rise of the visual social web. Pinterest grew, not from kids, college students, or tech nerds, either, but from women across our heartland. Dave Kerpen – Likeable Media, @davekerpen. Author of  Likeable Business and  Likeable Social Media
  10. The biggest breakthrough in digital marketing across the board? That would rapidly become an apples/oranges comparison?  What I’m interested in watching right now are the technology products emerging around native advertising. From the New York Times Ricochet to One Spot to inPowered, turning content into ad units is becoming a white hot area of marketing.  Rebecca Lieb – Altimeter Group, @lieblink. Author of Content Marketing and The Truth About Search Engine Optimization
  11. Consumer curated commerce. Its not up to just the ‘experts’ anymore.  Jon Mandell – 1-800-Flowers.com, @JonMandell
  12. By far the biggest breakthrough of 2012 was mobility.  Did you notice I didn’t say mobile?  For the past five years we have been saying today is the year of mobile.  In 2012 it all finally happened only it is about more than just activating mobile marketing as a channel.  Mobility is about acknowledging behavior changes as a result of having a computer less than a foot away 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  This year we began to see brands adapting products and services specifically with this in mind.  Take UPS as an example.  The company has for some time empowered shippers and receivers to track packages.  Now, with UPS My Choice customers can avoid missed deliveries by getting advance text or email messages from UPS that alert them the day before a package is scheduled to arrive. Customers also can reroute or reschedule delivery for a different day. Since its introduction in October 2011, two million people have registered for UPS My Choice and the majority are managing their deliveries from a mobile device.  For a $40 annual fee, a “premium” member can instruct the UPS driver mid-route: put the package behind the potted plant; drop it next door; deliver at a different time or bring it to my office.  Not to be left out, FedEx has been late to this game and is just launching a similar service with an added benefit of offering evening or “by appointment” deliveries.  These services are just one example of how brands are adapting to living in a world where mobility is prevalent.  Daina Middleton – Performics.  Author of Marketing in the Participation Age
  13. LinkedIn…we are watching this once forgotten social networking site become a dominant marketing force for the long-term. Joe Pulizzi – Content Marketing Institute, @JuntaJoe. Author of Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers
  14. Bing and Google endorsed responsive web design (RWD) in spring 2012 was a much needed breakthrough across SEO, UX, mobile, web design, and content management for marketing. Instead of building multiple websites for different devices (an inefficient and costly route that complicates SEO), more and more companies have been building one smart website that leverages CSS, media queries, and JavaScript to adapt website content, layout, and design based on screen size, touchscreen functionality, phone capability, etc. as needed to optimize the user experience. Expect responsive design to grow significantly in demand for 2013.  Books to read: Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte, Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski, Adaptive Web Design by Aaron Gustafson.  Angie Schottmuller – Search Engine Watch, @aschottmuller
  15. Using real events as marketing in a non-marketing way, like Red Bull. Peter Shankman –Shankman.com, @PeterShankman.  Author of Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World and Nice Companies Finish First
  16. Smartphone adoption rates have reached nearly everyone and this means we will see a ton more mobile marketing opportunities on the near horizon.  Michael Stelzner – Social Media Examiner, @MikeStelzner. Author of Launch
  17. I think the smaller tablet size was a good call. Personally, I like my full-size iPad. But in my work, I really have to accommodate websites for the right target audience, and that means understanding the devices and software they use. So I do have to program, code, write, design, optimize, etc. for all sorts of devices and software. Not everyone can afford the larger tablets. I think having less expensive alternatives with the same high quality features was a good call.   Shari Thurow –  Omni Marketing Interactive, @ShariThurow. Author of When Search Meets Web Usability .
  18. Visual content came into its own. We’ve been talking about mobile and social forever but this year consumption habits finally forced a lot of marketers to re-think formats. Video’s ceased to be a ‘must get onto that.’ Micro visual content went mainstream.  Todd Wheatland, @ToddWheatland. Author of The Marketer’s Guide to SlideShare

It’s interesting to see that many of the respondents considered mobile (including devices) and content marketing to be the dominant marketing break through of 2012. This is an important tipping point, not just for the sales of devices but also for how and where marketers must deliver their marketing-related content. (BTW, you may also be interested in the biggest marketing surprises of 2012 and the biggest marketing #Fails of 2012.)

What do you consider to be the biggest marketing break-through of 2012? Why do you think so?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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  • http://twitter.com/cksyme Chris Syme

    Great collection of thoughts, Heidi. Thanks for putting this together. It got my brain in gear.

  • http://www.webspiders.com/ Anthony Weiner

    Wow! It always great to hear what experts have to say about such crucial topics. I think not only has it been a breakthrough in marketing or any specific industry per say. It has been a great change in every domain this time, and such effective changes have made lives of people so much more easy and self-dependent, that any person could find solutions to his problems in no time. Technological advancement has reached a great peak and is still considered to be in a booming phase. It is commendable to see what people have experienced in the past few months, be it in any field.