Recently I was asked the question, “what trends should I be paying attention to in planning my 2014 marketing strategy?” And I answered that question in my newsletter that came out earlier this month.
Below is my answer:
1. Segmentation and Data
I believe that 2014 is the year that the smoke clears on big data. To this point, its been little more than a buzzword. And to those of us with smaller budgets, merely a pipe dream. But with the amount of money being thrown into data and customer personas, it will soon be something even the smaller companies will be able to take advantage of.
So what does this mean? It means getting to know a lot more about your customers. It means knowing what they do online, where they shop, what they do for a living, who they spend time with, and what they want to get from you. It means more ability to segment your marketing into buckets and target the messaging, design, and offers to individuals or small groups, rather than showing everyone the same thing. That will lead to a greater response, and more efficient marketing.
Take a look around during the budgeting process and find some companies and marketing agencies in your area that are already involved with data and market research. Chances are they can begin to help you define, segment, and target your marketing better than you are doing currently.
A pain point for me over the last year is the separation of marketing into tiny buckets. By this I mean treating email marketing, social media, content marketing, mobile marketing, and everything else as it’s own, independent area or channel. It’s not. The old cliche, the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, is true of marketing plans as well.
I believe that 2014 is the year we turn the corner, at least the smart companies do. We will create campaigns that incorporate all the individual channels and manage them together, as one unit. All of the pieces will support the larger goal of connecting with more consumers and generating more sales. And we will measure these campaigns as a whole as well, instead of trying to separate out the response generated from each component.
When planning your 2014 budget, don’t think about email marketing or anything else on an island by itself. Should I increase my email budget or decrease it? Instead, think about the high level campaigns. Who do I want to reach and why? Then plan the best ways to reach them.
3. Social Media
I’ll start by saying that social media will always have it’s place in marketing. Having said that, I do believe we are in a bit of a social media bubble when it comes to marketing budgets. I know that I just said not to treat social media as its own individual area, but I think we’re due for a snap back to reality in the next 12 months when it comes to the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and the like. Twitter is going public, which will mean more ad options. Pinterest and Instagram have already launched their first ads. Social media is driving hard towards monetization, and there is bound to be some push back from consumers.
What does this mean? Not that social media is going away. But the time for spending money in social media just because its the thing to do is over. It’s time to really look at how your activity in social media channels is affecting the bottom line of your business. It may mean that you find areas where you should be investing more time and energy. But it may mean refocusing your time and money in fewer places where you are having the greatest impact on your business. And it may mean pulling out of some areas altogether.
Start by thinking hard about how you’ve been using social media to this point. Get a fresh set of eyes to look at your business and help you understand what’s working and what’s not when it comes to social.