Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The margin for error in Marketing has become razor thin. Here are five "MegaTrends" that underscore why marketing professionals need to be at the top of their game in 2013.
MegaTrend #1: Customers are More Informed, More Influential, and Less Patient
Today’s customers are better connected, more informed, and more technically savvy than even 3-5 years ago. They have considerably more access to information to make smarter purchase decisions. They are much less patient with brands that do not deliver the information and offers they want. And they are much more vocal in expressing satisfaction – or dissatisfaction – about their experience with a brand or product. In short, today’s customer commands a lot of power and influence.
I’ve said many times that a company’s brand advocates are its best marketers. But until you actually understand the influence brand advocates have on the purchase decisions of others, you can’t fully appreciate their value.
In 2012, Zuberance published an eye-opening INFOGRAPHIC that showed just how important brand advocates are in creating demand for a brand’s products and services. If you want proof that word-of-mouth marketing still works, consider these findings:
- 18% of brand advocates have more than 500 people in their social networks
- 30% of brand advocates recommend a brand’s products or services weekly
- 61% of people consider buying the product or service recommended by a brand advocate--and of these, 22% actually purchase the recommended product
MegaTrend #2 – The Corporate Website is now "Ground Zero" for Customer Engagement
More than 1 billion Google searches are occurring each day. And according to SiriusDecisions, 71% of all new business leads will originate with the corporate or brand website by 2015.
This means it is absolutely critical that companies optimize their websites to attract potential buyers who are searching for solutions and design their websites to engage visitors and invite them to become email subscribers. The 2012 State of Digital Marketing Report from webmarketing123 confirmed that 59% percent of B2B marketers and 49% of B2C marketers say SEO has the greatest impact on lead generation.
As websites become “Ground Zero” for customer engagement, it’s imperative that companies revisit how website content is being served up to visitors to aid their product evaluation and selection process. In 2013, Content will emerge as "The New Black" for customer engagement. That’s why I see more companies using technology such as that from iGoDigital to “guide" the customer through a series of questions related to their product interests and preferences and using this insight to deliver personalized product recommendations. This creates a shopping experience that is both productive and profitable for engagement.
Perhaps the single biggest reason companies are moving quickly to retool their websites is to ensure they are designed to support searches conducted using mobile devices. In 2013, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the device consumers use most often to search the Internet. This means it’s imperative that brands optimize their websites for access via smartphones and tablets. And the price companies will pay for not doing so will be steep. A recent study by Google reveals that 67% of consumers are more likely to buy a company’s product or service if their website is mobile-friendly!
MegaTrend #3 – Email has become “The Linchpin” of Digital Marketing
To engage and retain today’s digitally savvy and connected customer, brands must stay connected to the customer throughout the customer lifecycle. And no channel does that more effectively and efficiently than email.
Although it is not new, email is enjoying a huge resurgence as brands seek to convert website visitors to buyers and drive incremental revenue from existing customers. In short, email is an excellent tool for delivering relevant information and offers to customers in both the “Business Getting” phase of the customer lifecycle as well as the “Business Keeping” phase.
Five statistics confirm why email has become the cornerstone of successful modern-era direct marketing:
- 93% of US online consumers are email subscribers, receiving at least one permission-based email per day. (ExactTarget SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS #20)
- 56% of US consumers with a smartphone (and 42% of US consumers without a smartphone) have made a purchase based on an offer delivered by email. (ExactTarget SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS #20)
- 59% of B2B marketers say email is their most effective channel for generating revenue, and 62% plan to increase email spending in 2013 (BtoB Magazine)
- 75% of social media users say email is the best way for companies to communicate with them. (MarketingSherpa)
- 40% of emails are now being read on a mobile device--up 300% in the past 2 years alone! (Return Path)
MegaTrend #4 – Social Media is a Giant Magnet for Attracting New Customers
The biggest single strength of social media is its ability to connect brands with buyers. But for social media to have a major influence on fueling sales, 2013 must be the year we finally go “beyond the like.”
Facebook and Twitter have more than 1 billion active users. More than 3.2 billion “likes” and “comments” are posted on Facebook brand pages each day. And research from ExactTarget reveals that 50% of consumers are more likely to buy after following a brand on Twitter. It's a direct marketer's dream to be able to reach so many prospects and influencers so quickly! No other channel has more ability to attract and influence potential customers than social media.
For companies to effectively monetize social media, they must stop measuring success by the number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers they have and start engaging these individuals directly by delivering content that drives purchase. And the best channel for providing relevant information that aids purchase decision-making is email.
As more brands embrace permission-based email for nurturing leads and delivering content relevant to the needs of consumers and business professionals, social media has emerged as an ideal touchpoint for brands to acquire new email subscriber database. That’s why I recommend brands have a plan to invite people who participate in social communities to use tools like ExactTarget’s Social Pages™ to invite their Facebook fans and Twitter followers to subscribe to their email communications programs.
MegaTrend #5 - Mobile is Fueling Increased Use of Email for Sales and Service
eMarketer estimates that the number of US smartphone users will swell to 137 million in 2013 and the number of tablet users will reach 110 million. The rapid adoption of mobile devices as the consumer’s tool of choice for information access has fueled a huge resurgence in the use of email for both product promotion and customer service communications.
Return Path confirms that 4 in 10 emails sent are now being read on a mobile device, an increase of 300% in the past two years alone! And more email opens in the US (38%) are now occurring on a mobile device than webmail (31%) or email desktop clients (also 31%).
Because of smartphones, the point-of-sale shopping experience is impacted by much more than it was in the past. Smart retailers understand that they have much less control over the buying process. However, once the customer is in their store, mobile devices can be used as a tool to “assist” the product consideration and buying process. Tactics such as mobile couponing and location-based services, that offer some type of reward for visiting, are proving useful for boosting both online and brick and mortar store sales.
And when it comes to email, marketers must utilize tools like Inbox Preview from Return Path to see how their email will appear on various smartphone and tablet devices and if necessary, modify the design to ensure proper rendering. This improves email deliverability, provides a better viewing experience for the customer, and has a dramatic impact on email opens and response.
Looking for more thoughts on what's to come for marketers? Check out Inspired Marketing Predictions for 2013.