Each January brings a certain sense of excitement about what the coming year will bring. For many columnists, it is also an opportunity to pontificate about the trends we will see in the new year. So I would be remiss not to partake in this tradition with a few predictions of my own. Three of the channels I believe will see the most change for relationship marketing in the coming year are social, mobile, and display. So here are my 2013 predictions:
Leveraging social signals and intent becomes a growing focus. Marketers move beyond listening and responding to customers and begin to parse listening data and check-ins for additional social signals including purchasing intent. Intent data will be tied to CRM systems and display retargeting programs to help seal the deal at an accelerating rate. Check out Walgreens and the growing list of retailers that experimented with testing similar programs last year.
The social data cloud emerges. Social platform experimentation gives way to selection, consolidation, and standardization. While it's not uncommon for a major brand to have three to four social media platforms with similar functionality (listening, campaign management, apps), the added complexities and pain associated with managing multiple platforms, users, and data (i.e., data silos) starts a wave of consolidation along with the emergence of the social data cloud. Watch as a number of leading brands implement a social data cloud strategy to standardize and consolidate social data collection for use in cross-channel campaign development company-wide. You'll also see a fewer number of social media management systems (SMMS) implemented as brands streamline their social media solution offerings and internal processes.
Facebook leads the social ad innovation push. They say history repeats itself. It was around 2000 to 2001 when a handful of companies including CNET, where I worked at the time, joined forces with the IAB to develop and implement a series of new ad units that remain the standard today. Look for Facebook to take the global lead on building new social ad units in 2013 to help improve performance and engagement metrics as well as to help maintain their display advertising leadership over Google.
Responsive design takes center stage. Something profound happened in 2011 - global smartphone sales blew past PC sales according to IDC. In addition, tablet sales are expected to exceed 100 million in 2013 - potentially topping notebooks. Add to this the fact that more and more emails are being read on mobile devices and you can quickly see why responsive or adaptive web design and content optimization across media will take center stage in 2013. Responsive design allows marketers to detect device and create a great experience for the consumer no matter what screen the content is viewed on. It's no longer a nice-to-have - it's a consumer expectation. That makes responsive design a top priority in 2013 for brands looking to hang on to valuable consumers and optimize revenue generation in the new year.
Digital wallets become widespread. The stats are staggering for both adoption and usage. Visa's V.me digital wallet has now signed up more than 50 new partner financial institutions and PayPal recently reported a steep year-over-year rise in Cyber Monday purchases made with mobile devices (up almost 200 percent). The fact is digital wallets continue to gain momentum and, as my good friend Ron Shevlin predicts, expect everything that financial institutions, retailers, and merchants do in the area of shopping and banking in 2013 will fall under the banner of digital wallets. Get your smartphones ready!
Push-pull mobile marketing and orchestration. SMS, push via apps, and location-based services and offers allow marketers to create highly targeted messages and experiences. The best apps and experiences will tie to other content and subscriptions to further customize the experience (e.g., Live Nation pulling from your iTunes library to alert you to artists playing in your area). Watch for leading marketers to not only implement the channel capabilities but to pay closer attention to the timing of these cross-channel messages to optimize conversions and reduce the possibility of overwhelming and potentially annoying the consumer.
Mobile advertising mandate. Mobile search and display advertising grows dramatically in 2013 as more and more marketers realize the performance benefits. Mobile search and display is also a relatively uncluttered marketplace that offers a brand an enormous opportunity to stand out and get their messages seen, heard, and responded to. Look for several brands to embrace this opportunity by investing big in mobile search/advertising in an attempt to differentiate themselves and own the mobile consumer.
Preference management becomes more prevalent. More markets, more channels, more messages, more clutter, more regulations. Leading brands looking to create great experiences will pay closer attention to empowering consumers to control what messages they receive in what channels or device at what time. Add to this privacy laws and regulatory requirements that may vary by country (e.g., the United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority, etc.) and it's easy to see the growing popularity of multi-channel preference management and compliance solutions. This consumer-friendly solution not only provides consumers with more control than ever before, but helps global marketers remain compliant as well as perfect their ability to orchestrate these messages based on the consumer's behaviors and expressed preferences.
Local hyper-targeting and long-tail. Local advertising continues to explode across search and display particularly as smartphone usage rises. In addition, these programs will become increasingly coordinated and micro-targeted as marketers find new tools to help support these efforts cost-efficiently. As the tools emerge, marketers will increasingly take a programmatic approach to adding coordinated multi-channel efforts, i.e., display retargeting to highly segmented efforts to generate incremental lift and revenue.
Analytics anarchy. Analytics and business intelligence tools, investments, and usage grows to fever pitch as marketers look to analyze interactions across channels, measure attribution, and grow relationships. This big data job will make analysts and statisticians an even hotter commodity than they already are and become the number one recruitment challenge for HR departments across the world.
The trends are telling and for marketers the key to success in 2013 is clear - think globally but act locally. Relinquish control and empower your customers. Streamline data collection and solution offerings and perfect cross-channel marketing and orchestration. Focus intently around creating great experiences. This is particularly critical as consumers increasingly spend more and more time on smaller mobile devices - be it their smartphone or tablet. Happy New Year's!
Michael Della Penna is senior vice president of emerging channels at Responsys. His responsibilities include spearheading the overall strategic direction, partnerships, and solution offering across emerging channels including social and mobile for the company. Michael is a seasoned marketing professional with a long, proven track record of launching successful marketing, branding, and sales strategies for leading public and private companies. Most recently, Michael founded SuiteDialog, a full-service email and social CRM agency that helps brands ignite conversations and cultivate relationships with customers across the social web. Prior to SuiteDialog, Michael founded Conversa Marketing, a social CRM company that was acquired by StrongMail Systems in 2010. Before branching out on his own, Michael served as chief marketing officer for Epsilon, a leading provider of multichannel, data-driven marketing services. Michael's other key marketing leadership roles include CMO at Bigfoot Interactive, VP of strategic development at CNET Networks, Inc., and VP of marketing at ZDNet. Michael received a B.B.A. and an M.B.A. from Hofstra University.