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Digital marketing trends in 2013

7th Jan 2013
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Dave Chaffey from Smart Insights forecasts the marketing trends in 2013 most likely to bring the best potential for commercial growth. 

In this review I will focus on the major trends which we think will be significant in 2013. What’s "significant’? These are marketing activities where we expect to see the most increased investment and focus in 2013. The activities will gain the funding since they will have the biggest impact in creating additional leads and sales and strengthening brands. 

1. Mobile marketing

The importance of mobile marketing varies dramatically by sector. It’s incredibly important to sales in some consumer markets where there is a sweet spot of mobile use to sales. In other types of business, the proportions of tablet and smartphone access are lower, less than 10% in some cases, but they’re only heading in one direction. The debate continues as to whether mobile access will exceed desktop by 2014 or 2015 (see our mobile statistics post for the latest). 

The examples from the start of this presentation like Betfair, Autoglass and Dominos show the impact mobile commerce is having already.

2. Content marketing

We rate a focus on content marketing as more important to marketing success today than social media since successful content creation and amplification supports leads and sales generation and engages existing customers across a wider range of digital channels than social networks. Content marketing supports SEO, Pay-per-click, landing pages and conversion rate optimisation, social media marketing and social media marketing.


3. Branded niche or vertical communities

Interacting with customers and prospects via social networks has the benefit of increasing promotion and awareness about brand through sharing and it gives an alternative to email marketing to broadcast promotions and content to customers that don’t favour email marketing. However, social networks have many limitations compared to communities developed on a brand site including the need to use paid advertising (Facebook EdgeRank), limited direct sales from social networks, limited options for creating tailored experiences, limited data capture and personalisation at an individual level). So we expect to see more medium and large companies growing branded communities on their own site alongside their social presence.

Here are some examples from across different sectors.

4. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)

We have featured many articles on [CRO processes[() and [CRO examples] in the past year. We believe it often doesn’t get sufficient budget compared to driving traffic to sites. CRO isn’t only important for Ecommerce and transactional sites. Every site should have conversion paths to marketing outcomes which contribute to the business. This area gets more important when tactics and techniques centred around social and content marketing are used to increase leads, since the ‘quality’ of leads generated can start to vary, which also leads us on to the next point, number 5. See this article for detailed guidance on conversion rate optimisation process.


5. Increased use of marketing automation

We have given several examples of the power of targeted email sequences during 2012. Once the preserve of larger companies. While not new and possible for many years, we are seeing more triggered emails such as welcome sequences. Increased adoption is made possible through low-cost email systems like Aweber, MailChimp and Office Autopilot. These platforms are moving quickly to enable, automated, multi-channel customer centric communications previously only available via Enterprise systems such as Marketo, Eloqua and Genius/Salesforce.

6. A move from #bigdata to #smalldata

Big data hype cycle

As Alan Mitchell explained in our briefing on big data, in many organisations…

“Big Data is actually customer data: data about customer behaviour. This is something that organisations collect about their customers in order to do something like offer them a product or send them a message. It’s all about helping organisations do more, more efficiently.

We think there are bigger gains in connecting and using customer data using social, transactional customer data and with digital analytics to refine marketing through approaches such as social media outreach, conversion rate optimisation and marketing automation. Some say we need to exploit #smalldata before worrying about #bigdata.

7. Contextual targeting through ad networks

2012 has seen more use of the relatively new Adwords Remarketing technique and we can expect to see this increase in 2013.

8. Search personalisation including Google Search Plus Your World

Google has always been about increasing relevance; it’s based its success on this. Over the last several years, Google has been increasing its ability to tailor results for the individual. The advent of social recommendations in Google+ and Google Authorship favours brands with the biggest engagement who do more than simply promote through social media, but take customer engagement seriously.

Digital technology adoption trends

If you’re looking for more data summarising trends in technology adoption I recommend the annual Mary Meeker report published on the 3rd December. Meeker, a former securities analyst works for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB).

For me the two most telling technology trends from this compilation are again around mobile marketing where we can see the rapid adoption of Tablets and Android compared to previous compilations. Supporting users on these platforms must be a priority in 2013.

Tablet adoption trends after launch

Smartphone adoption trends after launch

We hope you find this look at the major trends in marketing useful as a prompt for what to include in your digital strategy and roadmap for new developments. We will follow-up with a more detailed post looking at innovation across the other areas of RACE and how they impact on ecommerce.

What are your priorities in 2013?

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.


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