Five Predictions for Online Marketing in 2014

12/16/2013
Cloud-based marketing automation software provider Act-On Software announced five predictions for the year ahead in online marketing, which are based on the company's interactions with thousands of customers, analysts, partners, and industry thought leaders.

Marketers today are using a multitude of marketing tactics to try and get their businesses found and known online. The buyers' journey is constantly evolving though, so marketers must learn to adopt modern marketing techniques that better address customers' needs at each stage of the buying cycle from awareness, consideration and preference to purchase and loyalty.

Mobility will continue to drive real-time location-based marketing.
Real-time location-based marketing will become a more important marketing strategy as more businesses adopt this form of mobile communication. Geo-targeted promotions and notifications will be added to the marketing mix as companies begin to see the benefits of real-time marketing based on GPS location, and customer targeting based on physical location by stores, restaurants, and events.

Social media networks will be the main channel for real-time location-based marketing, and serve as the key advertising platforms for businesses looking to target customers with location-based offers. Close to $3 billion was spent on mobile ad campaigns in the first half of 2013i, and we can expect that figure to increase substantially in 2014.

It's not just about content creation; it's also about content curation.
Companies need to adopt both creation and curation strategies in 2014 in order to stay relevant and compete with the vast amounts of content being produced and shared online. Companies don't have to always create unique content and new stories. It is just as beneficial to curate content in a cherry-picked fashion, selecting the best content for a specific audience. This is not aggregation; in curation, you add your own value by presenting curated content in a meaningful way that's organized and follows a theme, and drawing your own conclusions.

Look to have an executive weigh in on an already published piece of content or create a "point-of-view" piece as it relates to third-party content. We will see an increase in the ratio of content disseminators to original content creators in 2014. We foresee this strategy to be particularly popular amongst mid-market companies who do not have the resources to create a broad range of their own original content.

Marketing automation will be deployed beyond acquisition.
Marketing doesn't stop as a business function once you convert a buyer into a customer. Marketing automation can go beyond customer acquisition, lead generation, and lead nurturing to support retention and loyalty programs. Just as you nurture a prospect through the buyer's journey, you can nurture and strengthen your relationships with existing customers -- resulting in upsell and cross-sell opportunities and converting customers into advocates/fans. In 2014, we predict companies will deepen their knowledge and usage of marketing automation by applying its functionality across all lifecycle marketing functions.

It's not going to be about big marketing data, it's going to be about the right marketing data.
There will be a change in sentiment toward the term "big data." Companies will want to address the right, most actionable data that answers their specific questions and helps them more effectively drive their business forward. After all, not all data matters; a lot of it is just noise.

Despite the rise of new marketing channels, email will remain the bedrock of the marketing mix.
Email is the backbone of a company's marketing and communications efforts. Companies may have a broad mix of marketing activities, but all will map to programs that provide marketing reach, staying power, and structure. Email is one of those things, and will continue to be a cornerstone of marketing campaigns in 2014.

"These five predictions, along with other trends will converge in 2014 and impact the direction of online marketing and how B2B marketers influence buyers," said Atri Chatterjee, CMO of Act-On Software. "Marketers key objectives should be to educate and engage -- not just sell."
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