Marketing strategy is often more evolutionary than revolutionary. But marketers caught off guard when major transformation hits may be blindsided by the competition. Trend watching is crucial to seizing opportunities that change brings. With that in mind we asked 30 marketing experts what will be the hot marketing trend in 2014. Their predictions:
CONTENT IS ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER
Jeffrey Rohrs, VP, Marketing Insights, ExactTarget, a salesforce.com company
In 2014 marketers will awaken to the realization that their rapid, well-justified embrace of content marketing has yielded yet another core marketing responsibility: proprietary audience development. Every company must double-down on building direct audience assets across the channels where their customers live—email, social, mobile, etc. It’s not enough to do this haphazardly. Companies must focus methodically on growing the size, engagement, and value of their audiences via paid, owned, and earned media. Failure to do so will leave companies more reliant on paid media at a time their competitors become less so.
Dave Dickson, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Adobe Digital Publishing Suite
Consumers now use tablets and smartphones to deeply engage with brands in a lean-back fashion, and the momentum shows no sign of stopping. These content consumers are also increasingly driving the brand story—a shift from when the brand story was one way: company to consumer. Successful brands are adopting a storytelling mind-set regarding content, thinking like media companies to produce branded content that engages customers and employees on these devices.
This year savvy CMOs will look to mobile apps to deliver brand engagement through content marketing. When coupled with content marketing, tablet and smartphone apps allow content consumers to have a brand experience that leads to purchase and brand loyalty. Because apps drive deep engagement, they help users connect with the brand in meaningful, interactive ways—whether through lifestyle or brand affinity publications, interactive product experiences, or sales enablement apps.
Ross Kramer, CEO, Listrak
One emerging trend in marketing is the use of curated user-generated content from social media—in particular from Instagram. Brands have been eagerly looking for ways to monetize their social media efforts, and many fashion brands now use Instagram contests and promotions as an engagement tactic, curating images for merchandising purposes on websites and in emails.
This promises to be a highly effective tactic, because it not only allows the merchant to maximize the potential of social media for marketing, but also allows customers to be part of the brand story, which is great for engagement and loyalty.
MOBILE TAKES THE WHEEL
George Wright, SVP, CRM, Infor
This year marketers will marry digital and in-person experiences through mobile technology. An example: Retailers using customer data gathered from previous interactions, online purchases, social media, etc., to create highly targeted mobile campaigns that enhance the in-store experience and combat showrooming. With geo-location tools, stores also can deliver personalized offers and recommendations to customers via the Web, Facebook, and mobile apps while customers are in-store, encouraging them to make on-the-spot purchases.
Giovanni DeMeo, VP of Global Marketing and Analytics, Interactions
We’ll see more retailers introduce mobile technologies to fit today’s mobile lifestyles, enhancing the entire shopping experience, both in-store and outside the store. Retailers will experiment with new, dynamic features like mobile scanning and checkout, mobile prescription refills, personalized offers, and dynamic shopping lists that take advantage of the opportunity mobile technology provides to interact with and provide value to shoppers through a more personalized experience.
Matt Mobley, Chief Marketing Technology Officer, Merkle Inc.
Marketers will use mobile to become closer to their customers in 2014. Since 24% of individuals’ time on their mobile devices is spent in social media, mobile marketers will get a big boost from apps like Twitter and Facebook as they advance their targeting capabilities. Additionally, since a staggering 86% of mobile customers use their mobile devices while watching TV, marketers’ campaigns will become more personalized, coordinated, and managed across multiple screens and channels simultaneously.
Louis Gump, President and CEO, LSN Mobile
Marketers will truly understand that mobile is different from the desktop and will act accordingly. Media consumption has been transitioning from traditional gateways like television and magazines to mobile channels like mobile websites and apps, and marketers will begin to develop content specifically for those channels. Furthermore, a shift will occur where marketers simultaneously achieve mobile excellence and a cross-platform experience. Agencies, brands, and publishers will start to organize themselves so that each marketing initiative is supported by mobile, rather than forcing mobile to operate in isolation.
Patrick Albano, VP of Mobile, Social, and Innovation Sales, Yahoo!
Marketers are getting much more sophisticated with their mobile plans, which means targeting will be an even bigger focus for 2014 campaigns. Advertisers want deeper insights about consumers’ digital activity throughout the day. Signals like customers’ behavior on mobile devices—whether searching or reading their favorite content—and how they use different devices at different times can tell advertisers a great deal about how they can personalize content. Marketers are eager to understand these trends and target their campaigns based on these insights. Ultimately, it comes back to making ads effective on mobile and measuring mobile ROI.
Kurt Andersen, EVP of Sales Enablement and Marketing, SAVO
According to venture capital firm KPCB, salespeople check their mobile devices more than 140 times a day. Beyond communicating with prospects, mobile is, undoubtedly, the new normal for sales reps to receive, review, and use critical assets provided by marketing. This year sales leaders everywhere will find their reps demanding the best mobile tools. If companies want to profit, they’ll provide them.
Andrew Jeavons, CEO, Survey Analytics
The adage “location, location, location” holds true for 2014, and smartphones can put marketers next to their customers and prospects 24/7/365. With the increasing popularity of mobile apps, marketers will look to get feedback in the moment, not hours or days later. Being able to get a customer’s opinion of their in-store experience 20 minutes after they walk inside is priceless. The ability to push a marketing message based on location opens up endless possibilities. We’re going to see mobile geo-locating emerge as a key trend for engaging with customers this year. Being in the moment with a customer is everything.
THERE WILL BE MARKETING ROI
Zorian Rotenberg, VP of Marketing, InsightSquared
Finally, marketers will connect marketing activity directly to revenue results without any compromise, thus making marketing a true investment and not a cost center, once and for all.
Shelby Saville, EVP, Managing Director, Spark
Just because an online ad was served to a consumer doesn’t mean it was actually seen—advertisers are charged either way. This will change as agencies and advertisers use new measurement tools to determine if a digital display ad is viewed. As a result, some advertisers have adopted guaranteed viewability, which, as its usage grows, will change the way the industry does business and provide advertisers with more accountability and effective ROI.
DATA LOOMS LARGE, NOT BIG
Dan Smith, VP of Product, Outsell
One of the biggest marketing trends of 2014 will be the democratization of analytics. Modelers have come to understand that there’s a high degree of commonality across predictive and descriptive models within specific industries. So, a number of marketing vendors have begun offering industry-specific analytic models that enable any business to apply advanced analytic techniques, such as predictive modeling, to their data sets. Look for this trend to accelerate in 2014, as analytics becomes table stakes for data-driven marketing.
Ann Mack, Director of Trendspotting, JWT New York
As data analysis becomes more cost-efficient, the science gets more sophisticated, and consumers generate more measurable data than ever, increasingly brands will be able to predict customer behavior, needs, or wants to tailor offers and communications precisely. It’s a trend we call predictive personalization. With data now abundant, as well as cheaper and easier to collect, share, and analyze, data-based decision making is becoming more common across business functions. Leading-edge companies are putting data at the center of their decision-making processes, allowing for faster, better-informed actions and reactions. Once armed with these insights, marketers can then tailor offers, messaging, and more. Savvy brands will be able to address consumer needs as they arise, perhaps even before consumers seek solutions. This brings an unprecedented level of personal service and attention to consumers, something they increasingly expect.
Click here for a video interview with Mack and Direct Marketing News Editor-in-Chief Ginger Conlon.
Brian Kardon, CMO, Lattice Engines
Predictive analytics, now emerging as central to the modern marketing organization, is a top focus for 2014. Making sense of the complexity of Big Data is what predictive analytics was born to do. Inspired by the awesome predictive analytics engines of Google and Amazon, leading marketers are leveraging data science to market and sell more intelligently. They’re bringing every relevant buying signal—from Web, social, CRM, and marketing automation sources—to find, prioritize, and close their next customer.
Jeannette Kocsis, EVP, Digital Engagement, The Agency Inside
There’s a huge comeback being made by data. There’s Big Data and Small Data. But what marketers need to look for is the Right Data—the kind that is actionable and gives insight into customers’ needs. The trend for 2014: If you can use it, keep it; if not, let it go. Gather data from all sources (e.g., retail, Web, mobile) and use it to provide customers with relevant content. And, don’t forget their preferences: which channels, content, and frequency, and then layer in what you know about them. Context matters most: Apply data to find insights, use those insights to determine the content customers need, no matter where they are or what they’re doing, and deliver it on the device of their choice.
Taline Felix, Digital and Social Media Director, Sprocket Media
In 2014 marketers will increase their focus on integrating internal and external data to streamline the customer experience. They’ll begin to analyze, predict, and personalize in a way that goes beyond Big Data. We’ll also see marketers leveraging multichannel intelligence from sales, R&D, and other disciplines to quickly gain information, iterate, and act in real-time at a level we haven’t seen to date.
Wilson Raj, Director of Global Customer Intelligence, SAS
This year we’ll see an upsurge of smart, secure data management technologies to transform data into a sound strategic asset to enable analytics-driven decisions. Data needs discipline. Bad data isn’t just annoying; it also harms your organization. Data management— data quality, data integration, and real-time deployment—will support data privacy and secure data-usage policies. Data availability and process automation will be crucial to coordinating distributed personalized, real-time marketing actions. With better data management, marketers can avail themselves of open data—from broader industry associations, social networks, distributors, governments, and other third parties—to make a difference to both their customers and their bottom line.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
George Gallate, CEO, RKG
This year will be about mobile, the intersection of search with social, and creating digital visibility. Mobile is the physical bridge to digital and 2013 saw 50% growth of mobile search. This means marketers need to be discoverable, mobile optimized, and investing in driving mobile traffic. The second is the intersection of search and social. Search is “what’s important to me now” and social is “what’s important to people I like, or people like me.” The signals of each make the other more valuable and marketers need to leverage paid, organic, and earned opportunities to drive outcomes. To unlock digital marketing value, marketers need access to, understanding of, and to actually use search and social data, because it shows customer intent. Third is creating “digital visibility.” Marketers need to use data and digital media to make their own or their customers’ user generated content visible at the right time, in the right places to drive desired outcomes.
Scott Olrich, President, Marketing and Platform, Responsys
In 2014 CMOs are going to realize the critical flaw in how their marketing organizations are structured. Teams organized around siloed channels (email, mobile, social, display) that are measured singularly on the success of the discrete campaigns they send out are not nearly as effective as those organized around the customer and her unique journey with a brand. In the next year we’re going to see a dramatic shift in how marketing departments are organized—all with the goal of making their marketing and marketing organizations more orchestrated.
Jeanette McMurtry, Principal, e4marketing
Marketing in 2014 will be a matter of mind. Simply put, to achieve unthinkable ROI marketers need to skip tactics of the past and strive to blow consumers’ unconscious minds with unparalleled relevance that hits deep within their psyche. Marketers must execute psychology-based marketing—messaging, offers, and copy—that triggers the drivers of our unconscious mind and our brain chemistry. The right emotional appeals can release hormones like oxytocin that help us create bonds, and feelings of trust and generosity, all of which are critical to marketing success.
Bob Lord, CEO, AOL Networks
This will be the year that marketers embrace machines. It’s been tough for them to do so in an ad-tech landscape that’s become bloated, confusing, and complex. But as open platforms emerge and the most innovative and useful ad solutions rise to the top, marketers will be able to leverage machines and automation to replace manual buying and planning processes, and take charge of the vast amount of data available today at their fingertips. They’ll be able to direct more time toward big ideas and creativity that drive consumer engagement, conversions, and commerce.
Steven Thurlow, Head of Product Development, KANA Software
Brand leaders will recognize customer service as both marketing investment and insurance policy. Marketing goes for naught if poor, disjointed service puts brand reputation, customer acquisition, and repeat business at risk. So in 2014 marketers—recognizing the value in creating evangelists, not backfilling lost business—will focus on customer service. They will pursue omnichannel strategies that make doing business easy and engaging, and will share knowledge consistently across traditional and digital channels so employees can resolve customer concerns on first contact. Reduced time- and cost-to-serve are operational benefits, but safeguarding brand promise, aiding marketing, and improving customer experience are most valuable of all.
Bruce Ernst, VP, Product Management, Monetate
It’s essential that brands learn to integrate data and channels to deliver personalized experiences. In 2014 this next phase of personalization will be the most important trend for brands. From display to site to store, customers are increasingly tuning out the noise and only show loyalty to those brands that demonstrate that they can create and maintain a relationship with them by better serving their needs.
Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO and Founder, Vivaldi Partners
In 2014 savvy marketers will realize that consumers literally are drawing maps to their doors and that it’s up to marketers to find these maps. Traditional market research will not help marketers find new ways to uncover and understand consumers’ evolving needs and preferences, which change monthly, weekly, or even daily, depending on context. Mobile devices will enable marketers to deliver on the promise of getting the right messages to the right customers at the right time. For the CMO this represents a brand-management sea change requiring an always-on ability to sense and respond, something that most will struggle with given existing organizational realities.
Karl Wirth, CEO and Founder, Evergage
This will be the year of real-time marketing, but not just in social media. Companies will take all they’ve learned from seeing the lift from behaviorally targeted email marketing and apply it to the main channel through which they interact with prospects and customers: their websites. Real-time marketing here allows a business to turn its website into its best consultative salesperson with dynamically personalized, real-time messaging—even anonymous visitors—based on the referring site or their actions. In 2014 users will stop tolerating static website experiences and businesses will replace them with contextually relevant experiences. The result will be a leap in conversions.
Tom Wentworth, CMO, Acquia
Digital technology adoption has become a competitive differentiator for CMOs who strive to out-innovate their competitors. Because of this, 2014 will be the year we see CMOs take back control over core components of the digital customer experience that have often been outsourced to IT. This primarily includes digital customer channels like websites, mobile devices, and social networks.
CMOs will adopt a best-of-need approach instead of the monolithic IT platforms of the past, putting more value on agility and integration over single-vendor solutions. CMOs who don’t embrace the shift to digital will be phased out in favor of digital natives who understand the intersection of technology and business.
Alex White, GM, Data and Trading, DG
The buy-side has given every indication that it wants to use real-time bidding and programmatic buying to access online ad inventory, rather than deal with the old method of sending in orders. While it’s popular, programmatic is still quite complex and primarily addresses remnant inventory. Next year, we’ll see more publishers make their premium inventory available through programmatic means. However, expect this to go well beyond the basic (yet technologically complex) private exchanges we see today as publishers understand the bigger boost to their bottom line, and new and existing toolsets make it easier for publishers to offer their inventory through primary-publishing ad servers.
Kurt Abrahamson, CEO, ShareThis
Real-time marketing is going to be a trend to watch. Brands want to be part of the social conversation, and when they do it authentically and immediately, it can have a lasting impact. In 2014 real-time marketing will evolve from a one-time reactive tweet or post to brands identifying events and trending topics, and then creating and executing campaigns that reach the right audience at scale across social channels. The brands that understand where and how consumers are engaging with content and become part of the conversations they’re having will see real-time marketing that results in measurable brand engagement.
Sloan Gaon, CEO, PulsePoint
In 2014 we’ll see a growing shift of brand investment to programmatic. The advertising industry is slowly moving toward everything that can be programmatic actually being programmatic, including video and mobile. Even content marketing will start to be offered programmatically. Additionally, the death of the cookie will prompt brands to look for a way to buy valuable impressions beyond a narrow white list and help move investment to programmatic. Brands can no longer hesitate to invest this way.