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2014 Marketing Predictions That Every Marketer Should Know

Posted by Murray Sye

on Tue, Jan 7, 2014 @ 09:38 AM

What if you could look into the future? What would you change today to plan for tomorrow? In reality, the future can be predicted and the best marketers already have their destination mapped out. Why gaze into the future when you can look back at what worked and what will continue to grow and dominate every inbound marketing plan. What are they? Let's take a look.



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1) Campaigns Will Fade and Real-Time Marketing Will Be "In"

"The old model of marketing built on a company timeline doesn't work so well, but after decades of 'campaigns' planned way in advance, it's difficult for marketers to change a mindset based on speed."
–– David Meerman Scott, Best Selling Author and Marketing Speaker

Heading into 2013, David Meerman Scott predicted that campaigns as they're typically known would fade. Gone would be the days of promotions planned in advance with 'flight dates' bookended by moments of silence from the company as marketers planned and held post-mortems. It's simply not how consumers operate in today's economy based on instant everything and millions of choices.

At dmexco 2013 – one of the largest digital marketing conferences of the year – MediaCom's EMEA CEO Nick Lawson admitted that, while interest in real-time marketing continues to spike, execution and universal adoption has been more difficult.

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But, as Meerman Scott predicted, real-time marketing did indeed make huge strides in 2013. Oreo's infamous Super Bowl tweet reacting to the stadium blackout led to an explosion of conversation around the marketing tactic, while IBM's global report on the state of marketing showed that half of all marketers used real-time tactics on social media (with a number spiking to 71% among 'leading' marketers).

Real-time marketing, while it hasn't quite usurped campaign marketing, is most certainly in and here to stay.


2) Inbound Marketing Will Spread Enterprise-Wide

"The transformation driven by the customer being in control will weave its way into every aspect of organizations from marketing into sales and customer service, and the companies that win will figure out how to become an inbound business."
–– Brian Halligan, Co-Founder & CEO, HubSpot

HubSpot's CEO came darn close to a clean bullseye on this one. In the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing report, which surveyed over 3,300 marketers globally, more than 60% reported practicing inbound marketing of some kind to grow their businesses.

The lone issue holding this back from a true bullseye is the need for further education around the term 'inbound' – 20% of State of Inbound Marketing respondents said they were unsure whether or not their practices met that label.

But more than the simple adoption of inbound marketing across the enterprise, the principles of attracting consumers by adding value before asking for it has started to evolve and mold itself to new departments, with sales leading the charge. And it makes sense – consumers complete 60% of their buying decisions before talking to a sales rep, according to Corporate Executive Board, so sales – like marketing – is evolving to put the needs of the consumer first.

During 2013, HubSpot began investing heavily in free products like Signals intended to support this inbound sales style, and they anticipate even more adoption in both sales and customer support this year.


3) Email Will Live On

"The ability to segment email lists and personalize the content will help to maximize the effect of each email, resulting in more qualified leads."
–– John Bonini, Director of Marketing, IMPACT Branding & Design

In 2013, marketers sent more than 838 billion emails... about triple the number of stars in the entire Milky Way. That's plenty to disprove all those theories that email is dead: it's just not true based on volume alone.

But, let's take this one step further, as John Bonini did in his 2013 prediction a year ago: 74% of consumers say they actually prefer to receive commercial messages via email over other sources, and the improved technologies around email marketing and contextual marketing have shown huge returns for marketers. In fact, personalized emails (i.e. emails sent via segmented lists informed by a person's behavior or volunteered preferences and information) improve open rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% – enough to hint at an even brighter future for email once marketers stop sending catch-all messages for good.

Even Google's supposed assault on email with its year-end Gmail updates isn't quite as doom and gloom as the Chicken Little reaction from some industry pundits.

Say's HubSpot's email product manager Tom Monaghan, "The big pro of this is that Google is now moving from a default of not showing images to a default of showing images. This is a big deal. The reality is that under half of email apps default to showing images. Because of this, [measuring] open rates have always been a nice directional indicator, but nothing you could really hand your hat on."

The only thing keeping this 2013 prediction from being a pure bullseye is that, whether good, bad, or neutral, the longer term effects of the Gmail update remain to be seen. But one thing's 100% certain: email lives on and could be even stronger than ever thanks to personalization.


4) Content and Social Will Matter Even More for SEO

"For the past decade and a half, marketers have often thought of SEO, social media, and content as separate channels and segmented practices. But these barriers are crumbling."
–– Rand Fishkin, Founder, MOZ

Rand Fishkin nailed this one. Just take a look at all the updates from Google to its search algorithm from the past year. You'll find common threads concentrating on things like original content and in-depth articles, meaning the benefits of blogging continue to skyrocket.

Furthermore, a study from Searchmetrics revealed that social signals and recommendations account for seven of the top eight most highly correlated ranking factors in Google results. (In an eye-opener, the report ranks Google+s and Facebook Likes higher than backlinks).

Yup, 2013 was the year of the content and social, taking center stage in the SEO world, and the future should be no different. But, even better in my opinion, 2013 was the year of the humans winning on search – not the bots.

When Google made the decision in September to encrypt the bulk of its keyword data (to go along with previous updates centered on quality content, in-depth articles, and social recommendations), the underlying message was clear: don't try to be sneaky – focus on helping the people you're trying to reach.


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Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
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