What's the most popular sport in the business world this time of year? Predictions, of course. Surveys lead to analysis and then to the inevitable annual forecasts about trends and emerging hot topics for the next year. Leading the way in this regard is marketing, as usual. What are the pressing issues for big company Chief Marketing Officers and their stakeholders? Are they any different from last year's pain points or are we asking the same questions year in and year out? Here's my take.
Last Year's Top 10 Trends in Digital Marketing
According to CMO.com:
- Emerging Markets (Outside U.S.)
- Social Media (Finally) Grows Up
- Mobile Marketing For Real Now
- Email is not Dead
- Reputation Management (Social Media)
- Content is King
- Bar Codes (Next Generation)
- Interactive TV
This Year's Emerging Trends (The World According to John)
- Marketing Automation
- Lead Intelligence
- Closed Loop Marketing & ROI
- Sales and Marketing Alignment
- Content Quality & Sourcing
- BIG DATA
- Integration (Apps, Databases, Legacy Systems)
- Cloud & SaaS
Why Such a Big Difference?
Well, for one thing the questions asked are/were pretty different, but I think they're telling. Just a year ago we were asking about new digital marketing technologies and tactics that were seen as game changers, such as mobile and social. I'm not reading or hearing about these so much anymore. Now it seems that with the economy on the mend, albeit slowly, CMOs are being asked a different set of questions—like when are you going to fix our sales and marketing process to make it work better? The tools are still important, and they are changing rapidly to be sure, but technology itself is only part of the conversation. Putting initiatives into place to solve problems is the bigger goal and driving force behind needs assessments and budgets these days. It seems that Marketing is finally being asked to support itself financially, and CMOs are working hard to make that happen.
What Will Enterprise CMOs Be Working on in 2013?
I think you will see a quick assessment of digital marketing capabilities in 1Q, followed by investments in marketing automation and cloud-based intergration in 2Q. This will be a year of "get-er-done" rather than "talk about problems." Most of the largest companies will stop wondering about the role of blogging and social media and just put these mainstream tools to work with human and technology resources. By 3Q we'll be talking about quantitative analysis of KPIs and predictive analytics at the lead-to-customer level, rather than platforms and market trends. This next year we will focus on results and performance metrics, and CMOs will be asked to report on the ROI of their digital marketing initiatives. I don't think we'll be talking about inbound vs outbound marketing. Instead, the conversation will revolve around which channels deliver the highest conversion rates on a campaign-by-campaign basis.
So 2013 promises to be different from previous years in the rapidly changing world of online marketing. The watch words will be accountability and implementation, and CMOs and their teams will be on the hook to deliver the goods in a big way.
That's my take. What are you predicting?
Photo credit: katerha