Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2012

Customer Strategy
Each year we put a stake in the ground to identify trends that marketers should pay special attention to. This year we see these on the horizon:

Each year we put a stake in the ground to identify trends that marketers should pay special attention to. This year we see these on the horizon:1. The customer is still king. This one is left off many of the lists out there, but as good marketers we should remember that the customer is behind all of these other trends. We have to get rid of our "campaign mentality" and learn to think about engaging customers every day with meaningful dialogue and relevant, timely information.

2. Big data is getting bigger. The line between technology companies (those who can deal with "Big Data") and marketers continues to blur. We've all heard that the amount of digital data is doubling every two years. What's important is looking at these customer interactions over time. But it doesn't have to be just big technology companies that can harness the data and use it for marketing. New technologies and cloud computing have opened up all sorts of possibilities for smaller marketers, as well.

3. SoLoMo - a new and powerful combination. You might think I'm being overly inventive by getting social, local ,and mobile combined in one trend. Google's Matt Cutts coined this term, but it's probably better explained by an example from Black Friday in 2011. The New York Times reported that advertisers lured customers away and stole competitor sales while they were waiting on line to make a purchase--an awesome combination of social, local, and mobile all being used together.

4. Cloud computing helps marketers, too. Cloud computing helps marketers by giving us more accessibility to new technologies, reducing costs of marketing infrastructure (like servers and storage), easier scalability, and low barriers to entry, which enables a more uniform playing field.

5. Show me the money. Dave Frankland of Forrester Research recently called the tight budgets we're seeing "post-recession austerity." I look for this trend to continue in 2012 as marketers continue to face tight budgets and increased demand to show ROI. That's especially true with emerging media like social, which has matured and now needs to be evaluated for return on investment just like other channels.

6. Email's death has been greatly exaggerated. Spam filters and the threat of an opt-out registry haven't dampened the growth of email. In a recent interactive marketing forecast, Forrester predicted that email spending will continue to grow by 10 percent during the next several years, but marketers will focus their campaigns more using analytics.

7. The world has gone app crazy. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has made us go app crazy. And it's not just applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Angry Birds; people are using business applications, too. Forrester CEO George Colony recently proclaimed that the Internet was dead and that applications are taking over.

8. Attribution is the Holy Grail of marketing. Attributing success to the right channel or channels is essential to the effective use of marketing dollars (especially with more and more multichannel campaigns), their eyes light up and the quest for more how-to information on attribution begins. In a recent study by Unica, marketers said their top two priorities are "turning data into actions" and "attributing success to marketing."

9. Content marketing takes off. We've known than relevant content has always been important to drive Web traffic, but blogs, case studies, and white papers are now being considered an essential part of the marketing mix. As social media matures, marketers will need to provide visitors to Facebook or Twitter with meaningful content to get fans to return.

10. Right touching - right time multichannel marketing. Conversations and customer interactions that are taking place in social media are being harvested by social listening platforms. These dialogues are being turned into campaigns that drive the right offer to the right buyer at the right time.

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About the Author:Kenyon Blunt is the CEO of SIGMA Marketing Group. Connect with Kenyon on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.