Top 7 Marketing Trends of 2012 [Research / Charts]

21 Marketing Tactics You Need for 2013

In terms of marketing, 2012 was a year that showed that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The forces behind 2012’s top seven marketing trends were the same as those of 2011; the difference was that their impact increased.

Here are the top seven marketing trends of 2012 and what they mean for your 2013 marketing plans. Included are 21 marketing tactics you can use to meet the challenges they present.

1. Social media goes mass market. Social media platforms matured as revealed by shifting participant demographics. This means men and women are more evenly balanced and there’s a wider range of ages active on those platforms that have been around longer.

  • Integrated social media approach required. A Facebook Page is no longer sufficient. A real social media marketing plan is needed.  (Here’s a seven step social media strategy.)
  • Businesses must be prepared to respond to customers on social media. Companies must understand that if you’ve got an entry to your business on social media, you must be staffed to respond. (Hey’s it’s the one thing 70% of firms do wrong!)
  • Social media activity is a significant factor behind the growth of Big Data. With increased, trackable activity and engagement on social media, the amount of prospect and customer information has exploded. To select and manage those actions that generate leads and sales requires strong data analysis.
  • Social media needs to prove its ROI. Social media is beyond the point where it’s something you play with on the side. Requiring real resources and budget, social media must show it drives bottom line results. The best way to do this is to incorporate a social media call-to-action. (Here’s some expert input on social media ROI to help you.)

2. Content takes a seat at the marketing table. After years of having to explain what content marketing is, it’s finally taken its position at the marketing table. Driven by social media, search optimization and purchase support, content marketing is a necessary component of an integrated marketing plan. More importantly, customers trust content not advertising.

  • Companies need an integrated content marketing strategy. Place a robust editorial calendar at the heart of your content marketing plan. (To better understand the content marketing landscape, check B2B trends and B2C trends.)
  • 2012 was the year of the photo. Easy-to-take on any type of cellphone, photographs dominate social media and content marketing. Think Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. Facebook is the largest library of photos (not all marketing related)
  • Businesses can supplement original content with content curation. Since marketers’ biggest challenge is creating enough quality content, add content curation to extend your offering. Understand that humans are required for content curation!
  • Surprise! Consumers pay for content. While readers have developed advertising blindness, a segment is willing to pay for content in a variety of formats to fulfill different needs. Unfortunately for traditional media entities, these options may vary and don’t yield as much revenue as print and television advertising. 

3. Connected we live. 2012 was (finally) mobile’s year, but it was not just smartphones. It was an array of tablets in different sizes. Further there are now three major platforms to deal with: iOS, Android and Windows8.

We live in a four screen world. Devices now go everywhere including the bathroom.  (Here’s how we consume content now!)

  • Businesses need to provide mobile options. This means you need a streamlined mobile website and a mobile app since consumers use both alternatives equally. Consider the type of information your audience will seek on these devices.
  • Mobile search is a must to be findable. Since consumers use search to navigate the mobile web and mobile search is separate from web-based search, you need to have a separate budget to present to management. Further, optimize for terms consumers use on-the-go.
  • Responsive design is useful. It enables your website to adjust to the user’s screen size. In 2012, a wide variety of tablet size options were introduced.

4. Skip the mall – Commerce is everywhere. With connected consumers you must respond with a connected marketing approach. In today’s multi-screen world, buyers use different devices to gather information at different points in the shopping process. (Here’s data on how social media drives shopping.)

  • Mobile commerce. Leverage the power of smartphones to gather information at retail and share it. Don’t underestimate the power of text, talk and photos of product.
  • Couch commerce. Tablets enable consumers to learn the latest styles and get purchase inspiration from the comfort of their own couch. You must reach your customers where they lounge.
  • Showrooming. Consumers examine merchandise in a bricks-and-mortar retail establishment, then buy it online, often at a lower price or better deal from another merchant. Marketers must be prepared to go the extra distance so as not to lose these sales. 
  • Social commerce.  Realize that people to shop with friends and others and engage with them over shopping related content. 

5. Search remains a force. Despite Panda and Penguin, marketers must be visible on search. This translates to quality content and social presence.

  • Quality content required. High quality content in a variety of formats helps build search rankings.
  • Social media presence helpful. Have outposts on various social media platforms. Be where your customers are.

6. Television is alive (but it’s often viewed as a side course of content). Television viewing remains relatively stable but how and what we view is different. Business Insider’s Henry Blodget thinks the television market is prime for disintermediation.

  • Television becomes background noise. Concurrent use of computers, smartphones and tablets continues to grow. Television viewing is no longer appointment based; it’s time shifted. Interestingly, age is a factor in how different audiences use concurrent devices. (via Nielsen.)
  • Over-the-top television programming continues to grow. Cable and satellite firms beware. The services consumers favor base their appeal on age. 

7. Email is no longer sexy but it still closes the deal. While everyone’s buzzing about social media, the bottom line is that marketers more efficiently convert email registrants over other forms of social media.Social media drives 3% inbound traffic

  • Marketers need to continue to build their house email file. Understand that every email list has attrition over time.
  • Targeted emailings help maintain house file health. Send members of your email list information they want and need. Don’t push promotions.

2012 was a year when many trends such as social media, content marketing and mobile, matured. As a result, marketers need to continue to improve their related marketing and ensure their strategies show a return.

What else would you put on this list and what is your rationale?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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