Five Marketing Predictions for 2014

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Steve BallmerPrognostication is a risky business. Remember this one?

“I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.“—Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and inventor of Ethernet, writing in a 1995 InfoWorld column.

Or this one?

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.”—Western Union internal memo, 1876.

And, not least:

 “Everyone’s always asking me when Apple will come out with a cell phone. My answer is, ‘Probably never.’“—David Pogue, The New York Times, 2006 (Read more predictions that missed the mark)

So while I’m well aware of the limb I’m going out on, I can say with certainty that in marketing, the drive for the last few years has been straight to buyer empowerment. Keeping that thought foremost, here are my predictions for marketing in 2014 (in no particular order):

• Mobility will continue to drive real-time location-based marketing.

Real-time location-based marketing will become a more important marketing strategy as more businesses adopt this form of mobile communication. Geo-targeted promotions and notifications will be added to the marketing mix as companies begin to see the benefits of real-time marketing based on GPS location, and customer targeting based on physical location by stores, restaurants, and events. Social media networks will be the main channel for real-time location-based marketing, and serve as the key advertising platforms for businesses looking to target customers with location-based offers. Close to $3 billion was spent on mobile ad campaigns in the first half of 2013, and we can expect that figure to increase substantially in 2014.

• It’s not just about content creation; it’s also about content curation.

Companies need to adopt both creation and curation strategies in 2014 in order to stay relevant and compete with the vast amounts of content being produced and shared online. Companies don’t have to always create unique content and new stories. It is just as beneficial to curate content in a cherry-picked fashion, selecting the best content for a specific audience. This is not aggregation; in curation, you add your own value by presenting curated content in a meaningful way that’s organized and follows a theme, and drawing your own conclusions. Look to have an executive weigh in on an already published piece of content or create a “point-of-view” piece as it relates to third-party content. We will see an increase in the ratio of content disseminators to original content creators in 2014. We foresee this strategy to be particularly popular amongst mid-market companies who do not have the resources to create a broad range of their own original content.

• Marketing automation will be deployed beyond acquisition.

Marketing doesn’t stop as a business function once you convert a buyer into a customer. Marketing automation can go beyond customer acquisition, lead generation, and lead nurturing to support retention and loyalty programs. Just as you nurture a prospect through the buyer’s journey, you can nurture and strengthen your relationships with existing customers — resulting in upsell and cross-sell opportunities and converting customers into advocates/fans. In 2014, we predict companies will deepen their knowledge and usage of marketing automation by applying its functionality across all lifecycle marketing functions.

• It’s not going to be about big marketing data, it’s going to be about the right marketing data.

There will be a change in sentiment toward the term “big data.” Companies will want to address the right, most actionable data that answers their specific questions and helps them more effectively drive their business forward. After all, not all data matters; a lot of it is just noise.

• Despite the rise of new marketing channels, email will remain the bedrock of the marketing mix.

Email is the backbone of a company’s marketing and communications efforts. Companies may have a broad mix of marketing activities, but all will map to programs that provide marketing reach, staying power, and structure. Email is one of those things, and will continue to be a cornerstone of marketing campaigns in 2014.

These and other trends will converge in 2014 to impact the direction of online marketing and how B2B marketers influence buyers. Our key objectives, as marketers and salespeople, must be to educate and help – not just sell.

Agree? Disagree? Have a few predictions of your own to share? We’d love to hear from you.

Titanic Sinking engraving by Willy Stöwer: Der Untergang der Titanic

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  • Boris Palanov

    Agreed on all fronts Atri…as a pioneer in the local sales automation space, we’re finding automated programs and email marketing to be more and more effective ways to target small business owners. And everyone is trying to go local. Every week hundreds of new Companies spring up….they’re all struggling to find the right data and offer easy to use marketing technologies to target geolocally. Looking forward to a great 2014 helping them do so and thanks for the Blog post.

  • Jodi Romano-Besket

    Great article. The content marketing section resonates with me. Content marketing is becoming increasingly difficult with everyone vying for customer attention. Having an executive weigh in on content seems like a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone who sees the big picture take a look instead of those who are deep in the trenches. Keeping content brief, relevant, and useful is key. A focus on the subject line and writing with a human, engaging voice can help click-through rates and client advocacy.