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The digital dozen: 12 digital marketing trends for 2012

1st Dec 2011
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In this series of Smart Insights Best Practice Advice, Dave Chaffey of shares tips on best practice to get better results from digital marketing. This week, Dave outlines his predictions for 2012.

At the turn of the year, it’s always worth reflecting on the opportunities and challenges ahead to help shape priorities for marketing.

I talked about some of the main trends as I see them at AdTech London recently and wanted to share them here. I hope these 12 trends prompt some ideas and I’d like to hear what you see as the main opportunities or challenges you face at the moment.

You can see the 12 trends I presented in the Slideshare I’ve embedded at the end of the post. Here I’ll highlight some of the main opportunities and challenges.

My main idea across all the 12 activities to be managed was for a unifying engagement strategy. As I said at the start of my talk:

“The importance of developing an engaging, shareable brand increases each day : algorithms (especially Facebook, Google, LinkedIn) and people FAVOUR THE MOST ENGAGING BRANDS”

To create this engagement needs a solid content marketing strategy and relevant goals and KPIs for content marketing and I’d urge companies who don’t have sufficient investment or process for content marketing to make this a priority in 2011.

I wanted to make my talk practical, so many of the approaches I mention are possible already and early adopters are using them as we’ve shown in the blog during the course of the year. So, these trends are more tactical than my previous posts on marketing trends, but you’ll see they get more tactical towards the end.

OK, more than enough pre-amble, these are the 12 opportunities:

1. Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Despite all the interest in social media marketing, the data on what drives visits shows that search still drives a significant proportion of traffic, so smart marketers use a deeper approach to SEO others.

With Google’s major Panda update in 2011 there’s opportunity in thinking how you can develop unique shareable content.

2. Social media optimisation (SMO)

As we discussed in our post on the definition of SMO, SMO provides a framework to take social media marketing to the next level. Many companies have a presence and are active on the social networks. The next stage is to develop a social media strategy and optimise how content is shared and how it supports customer journeys through to sale. There’s also a need to look at how content is shared through key influencers and developing an approach for influencer outreach as part of social media monitoring.

3. Content optimisation

Content optimisation is closely related to SMO and developing a content marketing strategy. To succeed needs a deep understanding of customer preferences; analysis of what works for competitors and then development of your findability and shareability for content.

4. Content aggregation

With the incredible amount of content generated every 60 seconds online getting cut-through is a big challenge for the marketer and as a consumer of content, finding the important developments that make a difference is a challenge too. Content curation and aggregation is how we try to help and you can use tools to tame the social media firehose too.

5. Gamification

There was a lot of interest in our post on gamification. It’s an interesting new approach to engage online audiences, but we’ll see how widely it can be applied.

6. Video marketing

We’ve had a lot of interest in YouTube marketing too and this suggests many marketers are going to “up their game” on video marketing. Remember that You Tube is the second most important search engine in many countries.

7. Ad network innovation

I think there’s growing awareness that there is value in display advertising beyond the click, for it’s value in building awareness, encouraging searches on a brand or category and subsequent visits to a website. There’s also a lot of new approaches to target, for example Google’s Remarketing and new display formats too which integrate content marketing and social sharing. This is an area I’m interested in covering more on the blog, so watch this space.

8. Privacy compliance

With compliance for the new privacy law required by May 2012 how companies interpret the ICO advice is sure to be an issue for all marketers who manage website in 2011.

9. Cross-channel optimisation

Since we specialise in digital marketing innovations, we naturally focus on digital approaches, but these are only part of the broader multichannel customer journey in many cases, so this is an area that warrants better understanding and optimisation of the customer touchpoints.

10. Mobile marketing

As we saw in our recent post by James Bott, there are many mobile marketing strategy options.

Of these options we have seen lots of interest on the blog this year in QR code marketing and this fits the increasing consumer usage of QR codes which seems like it is nearing tipping point.

11. Website performance optimisation

The last two approaches have been around for a long time, really possible since the first websites, since log files were available for analysis, but with the new features of Google Analytics v5 and Google Website Optimizer which we have a discussed a lot this year, hopefully their usage will increase.

12. Performance marketing

But there’s more to driving better results through analytics than having the right tools in place. People, process and setting the right KPIs are all important to. We’re sure to be discussing those on Smart Insights in the year ahead too.

All the best for 2012 (and the remainder of 2011). It should be interesting!

Here’s the presentation: 

Dr Dave Chaffey is CEO at Smart Insights (Marketing Intelligence) Limited, a digital marketing portal and consultancy who provide advice and software to help businesses succeed online. He is author of five bestselling books on Ecommerce including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice and has been recognised as one of 50 marketing gurus worldwide who have shaped the future of marketing.

Replies (2)

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By novius
01st Dec 2011 12:32


Your 12 for 2012 are all very worthy but if effective marketing is really a dialogue, the list should include some reference to listening to customers and the market.  We have a natural model for communication possessing as we do two ears and one mouth.  Is marketing's role in engaging customers only about talking more and in more different ways?


Dave J


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By areeshay222
27th Jan 2013 15:51

nice post keep it up

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