But what can we expect to see in 2014? All the signs point to this being the year of ever-more-granular tailoring of marketing messages – through optimization, personalization and integration.
Here are five trends we can expect to see as brands attempt to perfect these three components and convert more online leads to business:
1. Inbound PR. This is the concept of leveraging PR to feed your inbound marketing engine. PR should – and will – be used as a tool to generate awareness, educate audiences, establish leadership and increase web traffic. PR is the tip of the spear for many inbound strategies, and it will guide the editorial calendar for website content.
2. Conversion Rate Optimization. CRO is the process of testing marketing efforts and improving strategy through the careful study of analytics. In 2014, marketers will continue to focus on data as a tool to crack the code for converting leads. There will be more emphasis on mimicking a real-time conversation with potential customers and increasing the number of interactions. The marketing jargon for these efforts, “touchpoint satisfaction,” refers to the search for just the right balance of effort to reach customers. How many times should a lead be emailed? What’s the context of the message? How do we segment our contact lists? This year is about developing a rapport with customers through online efforts that come off as genuine in tone and frequency.
3. Context Marketing. Content marketing will continue to soar in 2014. But, the focus will be on creating content in the context of the platform. Story ideas are the main ingredient of effective content marketing, and now marketers are embracing all the forms of content they can leverage to tell that story. How a story is told – through a tweet, LinkedIn update, video, infographic, or plain text – is as important as the message itself. What device you use depends on the context. One-size-fits-all message blasts are ineffective.
4. Social. The growing importance of social media was one of the big trends of 2013. This year, we’ll see that concept continue its expansion into other areas of marketing. Social media is about engaging, educating and being part of a rich, community conversation. Those things will be enhanced in a few different ways. One, there’s room for more balance between social media automation and live interaction. Two, we’ll see brands create more opportunities for buyers to share their brand experience via social hashtags and groups. Three, social will now also occur outside of social media. Business leaders will be submitting more byline articles, landing more speaking engagements and buddying-up with other influencers online. An integrated approach to social media and PR will also take a larger role in 2014.
5. Integration. Effective B2B online marketing is made up of multiple parts (email, social media, search, content, etc.) that work together in unison to reach a goal. Campaigns that encompass only one or two components of the inbound puzzle will have disappointing results when compared to those that are integrated. This happens for two reasons. One is that integration streamlines operations and creates messaging consistency. The other is that integration allows brands to communicate with potential buyers throughout the course of their daily lives without interrupting them. When a potential buyer isn’t reading about your brand’s thought leadership in a vertical publication, they’re reading a press release about your CEO’s next speaking engagement. They’re seeing peers and colleagues share your infographics and videos via social media. They’re bookmarking your blog because that’s where they’ve learned to go for industry information, trends and thought leadership.
In what ways are you revamping strategy for 2014?