What a year it’s been. SEO chaos, mobile web revolution, social media scandals… things have been about as far from dull as it gets. So what’s in store for 2013? Here are some marketing predictions for the new year.
Some cool marketing predictions for the coming year
1. Social media data mayhem
Instagram have made themselves very unpopular indeed by deciding to sell members’ images without so much as a by-your-leave, telling us if we don’t like it we can go fly a kite. On one hand they have to monetise themselves somehow – they’re not here for the good of their health. Because the service is free, something has to give. But what will it be? If there was a silver monetisation bullet, we’d know about it. In the meantime it’ll be fascinating to see what they dream up next.
2. Penguins ahoy
Google’s Penguin algorithm update trashed search results across the board as the big G finally put its foot down over overt outbound link building manipulation. The move left many SEO agencies in bits, not sure about where to go next. On a positive note it means quality content really is king these days, great news for freelance copywriters like me. Yes, it takes more time and effort to generate genuine, natural backlinks and drive decent amounts of traffic. But everyone’s in the same boat so we’re back to a level playing field. With thousands of algo updates a year we’re bound to see more of the same, so manipulate the search results at your peril!
3. Going local-loco
How many websites are there on the interweb? Billions of the buggers. I just searched for ‘freelance writers’, which returned an astonishing 5,850,000 results. Ouch. With numbers like that, how on earth can Google continue to deliver sensible results to users? It’s no mean feat and local-ness is set to become more and more important. If you’re not on Google local yet, do it before the new year for a slightly improved fighting chance.
4. Google + you = being in with the in-crowd
Google still reigns supreme in Britain and they’re keen to maximise the reach, impact and influence of their flagship social network, Google Plus. If you haven’t set up an account, do it now and give yourself another little advantage.
5. Clear SEO direction at last
In the past Google kept their cards pretty close to their chest. Nobody really knew what they wanted. But they’ve become much more transparent recently, releasing guidelines about how they want site owners to behave to achieve better search positions. Many online marketing experts feel we can expect more of the same for 2013.
6. Full-circle gadgetry
2012 saw a flurry of splendid new gadgetry including tablets to which you can affix a keyboard. What do you get? It’s beginning to look a lot like a laptop, taking things full circle. There are plenty of new generation smartphones that come with little styluses, an innovation that was adopted and summarily rejected in record time a few years ago. Any day now the tipping point will have tipped, with more of us using mobile devices to access the internet than desktop PCs, another sea-change. At long last internet-enabled tellies are starting to look like a viable option. And with a bit of luck you’ll enjoy a much faster connection before long as 4G bites in Britain. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the next innovation…
7. Big brother is desperate to watch you
If, like me, you believe ‘the people’ have done a perfectly good job of self-policing the web so far, you’ll find the latest legal shenanigans thoroughly disturbing. I went into detail in my last post, so enough said.
8. Niche is beautiful
Apparently if you can niche your business you’ll be onto a winner. A flurry of entrepreneurs have hung their hats on niche businesses, which have tightly-targeted prospects and, as a result, a clearer commercial landscape to operate in.
9. Integration, integration, integration
In the olden days direct marketers integrated their direct mail campaigns with direct response TV, radio and off-the-page print ads. In another full circle, online marketers have caught on and 2013 is set to see everyone integrating their efforts like there’s no tomorrow. It worked before the internet, delivering a whole that was much more than the sum of its parts. There’s no reason why integrating online marketing efforts won’t have the same positive effect. Integrate social media with email campaigns, site content, blogging, videos and so on and you’ll stand a chance of making a bigger, better impact next year.
10. Data segmentation and targeted messages
As the current generation of marketers discovers the age-old practice of segmenting data and realises the benefits of targeted messages, classic direct marketing practices and principles are set to take the online world by storm… at long last. It isn’t new. But it can be powerful stuff. It’s time to join in the fun and familiarise yourself with the intricacies of database marketing for 2013.
11. Throwing cute little babies out with the bathwater
New marketing media are exciting. Existing media can seem dull in comparison as everyone hares off after the Next Big Thing. But hold your horses… no doubt there will be a fresh collection of new media to play with over 2013, but that doesn’t mean the old ones are defunct. Just that a lot of ‘cutting edge’ marketers didn’t bother to get to grips with them properly in the first place. If anyone tells you email marketing is dead, for example, take it with a big pinch of salt. Then go forth and do it right for potentially spectacular results.
12. Blog power – set to reign for another year
There’s no sign of the blog revolution slowing down. It’s set to remain one of the best, simplest and cheapest ways to keep your website fresh and current in 2013. So keep on blogging.
13. Less selling, more helping
Experts predict an emotional landscape where selling becomes less effective and ‘helping’ comes to the fore. Sales people may not agree but the writing appears to be on the wall as marketers realise that humans are contrary and illogical beasts, more likely to buy from someone they like and trust than a business that shoves heavy sales messages down their throats at every turn. Put on your human face for 2013 and use your inner consumer as a barometer: if you wouldn’t appreciate it yourself, don’t do it.