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February 26, 2013

Digital Marketing Trends in 2013 – 5 trends you need take very seriously

by Tom De Baere
Digital Marketing Trends

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Last week I attended a marketing event which makes a descent attempt to provide insight into marketing trends of tomorrow.

Although many of these trends are relevant, sometimes they remain a bit fuzzy of what to do with these trends as a marketer…

What do you make of these as a marketer?


As usual, some of this stuff is hype, other stuff is over the top, other stuff is real.

But, if you ask me, these are the trends you DO must take VERY, VERY seriously in 2013:

Digitalization in communication becomes even more important

No surprise to serious digital marketing strategist, but I think the current state of where we are today is just the beginning.

  • Traditional communication methods like advertising will remain, but they become linked to digital, and form a pass way to the digital world.
  • When every channel is digital, every action is digital, and everything gets recorded. We’ll be able to interchange our marketers gut feeling with hard data.
  • With this move to digital comes the need for a human voice in your digital world, something which needs to be embedded deeply into your brand communication.
  • And lastly, we shouldn’t forget that in many case, 50% of your target audience isn’t digital. We marketers tend to be “polarized” as we are faster than the average “Joe” in becoming a digital native. We marketers need to remain to have attention to regular people who don’t live their live ‘online’, especially in B2B.

Real time advertising is the “buzz” of 2013

David Scott Meerman wrote a whole book about this subject. But I like think of it as going away from resource intensive large campaigns. Towards agile and fast reactions to market circumstances and happenings. As I wrote recently about the decreasing importance of campaigns, increasingly fast reaction to market circumstances and happenings is needed.

For this, “lean campaigning” must be embraced by marketing departments. Instead of lengthy preparation of campaigns, quickly develop prototypes in your communication, test them, and optimize. Your analytics team is at the centre of these future operations.

Data-driven marketing is the new marketing / Information is the new oil

“Information is the new oil”, say Peter Hinssen in his book. The way companies treat information will decide if they remain or become successful. It should come as no surprise that big data and business intelligence will gain in importance.

In line with “lean campaigning”, start developing dashboards, analytics, A/B testing, CRM and data-analysis. When marketing changes from an art to a craft, your needs for IT systems will grow. Your marketing budgets for IT solutions will increase. Often said these days, your budget becomes larger than the budget of the IT department.

Although the budget will remain part of the IT budget, it will be under control of marketing. With this move to more IT marketing environments, the need for more marketing “IT profiles” is needed. Technological marketing knowledge becomes necessary.

Automate, if you dare

Another trend is the move to automation. I believe the challenges that can be solved with automation are the following:

  • Marketing departments still have a lot of manual handling of data, taking away efficiency.
  • Marketing departments have difficulties to show how they contribute to the overall business.
  • Marketing departments have no idea how their marketing funnel looks like, and how they can influence it.

In line with the previous trend, the data-driven marketing trends, this other trend is a trend towards automation of how we measure, act upon, and react to customer interactions. You need to understand data-driven marketing in the first place, but work your organization to better integrate the link between the marketing funnel and the sales funnel.

Having this complete cycle visible, with data, you will now better understand which early, mid or late marketing actions are influencing your bottom line the most.

The gained efficiency within the marketing team will give extra time. Time that can be used on tasks where human intelligence has a greater impact.

The challenge will be to keep insight in when human interaction or intervention is needed.

Content marketing becomes inevitable

Businesses become smarter in their buying process:

  • Businesses and consumers have all the data (cfr Google Glass, Amazon Mobile for iPhone), making them smarter.
  • The explosion of content and channels drive end-users to niche platforms and niche products. People will go back to the core of their interests.They’ll start filtering through their social networks and search engines.
  • Everyone is publishing on blogs, Facebooks and Twitter. The media is becoming all of us, and newsgathering is no longer the exclusive domain of journalists.
  • The end of “the dark side” in PR : no more spin doctors, that doesn’t work anymore. You’ll need to show relevance to your buyers.

The abundance of content and channels will lead to buyers becoming smarter than your sales guys.

Finding an answer to be part of that filter will be the difference between your success or failure.

I’ve written multiple posts on how to do that, but listening and answering is certainly the starting point in this. Content marketing and understanding social media is key in this. I guess the post about how to implement content marketing is a starting point.

Start learning about buying cycles, life-cycles of customers, slow communication, lead nurturing and drip marketing. Learn how you can strategically place content along the buying/life-cycle of your customers to further drive them in the buying cycle, or have them become more loyal. And maybe have them become your brand advocates ;-).

These are the trends which are important to me.


What do you think ?


Tom De Baere