7 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2012

White Paper

As the buying landscape continues to move and change at warp speed, the savviest marketers are looking ahead to 2012 to ensure they stay a few (giant) strides ahead of the pack. We don't have a crystal ball, but you can count on consumers becoming more empowered and social channels growing. You will need to respond to this - download this paper to find out where to focus your efforts and which 7 trends to watch in 2012.

Get the download

Below is an excerpt of "7 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2012". To get your free download, and unlimited access to the whole of bizibl.com, simply log in or join free.


What do Usain Bolt, the Enzo Ferrari and peregrine falcons have in common with digital marketing? All move at lightning-fast speeds, a fact that makes this a remarkably exciting—and challenging—time to be a marketer. As the buying landscape continues to move and change at warp speed, the savviest marketers are looking ahead to 2012 to ensure they stay a few (giant) strides ahead of the pack.

So, what will 2012 bring? We don’t have a crystal ball, but you can count on customers and prospects becoming more empowered by the wealth of information at their fingertips and the discussions taking place in social forums. They’re increasingly demanding that companies communicate with them on their terms, delivering the right message via the right channel at the right time.

For marketers, that will mean expanding social, mobile and local initiatives to ensure they’re where their customers are. They’ll need to tap the unparalleled power of email to deliver highly targeted, revenue-generating content, and rely on marketing automation more than ever to deliver more personalized content to more people via more channels.

Here’s a look at seven important trends to get in front of in 2012, along with a sampling of key tactics you can implement to ensure your competition stays firmly positioned in your rearview mirror.

Location, Location, Location: The ultimate in right message, right time

Nothing is more relevant and actionable to marketers than knowing where their customers and prospects are at a specific time. And for years, companies have flirted with the notion of location-based marketing, only to discover that it’s not an easy task. As it turns out, people don’t want to be followed everywhere they go—unless they invite you to come along with them.

The merging of location-based marketing with the social networking world has provided a permission-based model that, coupled with an increase in smartphones and tablets, has led to an explosion in check-in programs from Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter—with Foursquare alone passing the 10 million user mark in June 2011 and growing at 1 million users a month. And every time people check in on a mobile device, they’re spreading brand awareness and affinity to their social followers.

With their potential for facilitating the delivery of highly relevant messaging at the right time, local marketing initiatives will be a key competitive differentiator in 2012. Whether you’re a retailer looking to boost sales or a tech company trying to generate leads, it’s time to take the mantra “think global, act local” to heart.

Key tactics for location-based marketing success in 2012:

  • Integrate local initiatives with email, mobile and social to maximize reach and revenue, e.g. using email to send a location-sensitive To-Do reminder, announcing a check-in contest via your Facebook page or Twitter timeline, and responding via email or Twitter when customers check in at your stores.
  • Establish loyalty programs—and related rewards—based on behaviors such as recent purchases, check-ins and social sharing of your content.
  • Differentiate your brand by launching a check-in based contest or sweepstakes where customers gain entry by checking in to your venues.
  • Increase traffic to your stores or venue by delivering personalized and locationspecific offers when customers check in nearby.

Personality Plus: Marketing content becomes more human

Not so long ago, marketing was all about selling your products and services. A little high-end steak here, a little enticing sizzle there. And regardless of whether you were selling caviar or catering equipment, delivering your message in an impersonal, corporate voice across the masses was just fine.

Ah, the simple times. While delivering product news, enticing sales and discounts, and “ya gotta see this!” demos as part of your messaging mix is still important, recipient expectations for corporate communications have shifted with the rise of social media and accompanying corporate pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These days, customers and prospects move quickly and effortlessly between your company’s social presence and photos of their best friend’s recent vacation, so stiff corporate messaging that sounds like it was crafted by Mr. Roboto in the legal department can create an abrupt disconnect.

As a result, savvy marketers will be shifting more focus in 2012 to delivering helpful, educational content with verve and personality: “Yes, we’ve got sizzling steaks, but here are our staff’s favorite wine pairings for that steak, our guest chef’s video tips for grilling it, and customer recommendations for the most mouth-watering sides to enjoy with it.”

For marketers looking to get ahead, it’s time to get real, get human and add value.

Key tactics for content marketing success in 2012:

  • Spend less time talking at your customers and prospects and more time paying attention to their behaviors and listening to them via social networks, community forums and surveys. Then, talk to them the way you would, well, talk to another human being, employing a voice that’s distinctive, engaging and yours—an extension of your company’s unique core values.
  • Include messages in your email arsenal designed simply to inform, entertain, surprise and provide value rather than sell. For example, a packaged goods company might offer favorite recipes from the staff, a technology company could author a how-to white paper that doesn’t hype its own product, and a cruise operator can recommend travel, packing and on-shore dining tips.
  • Incorporate customer voices into your messages to give your emails a more human feel, mining social networks, call centers, blogs and community forums for ideas. Having your customers talk about your products for you instantly humanizes your brand in a way that even the best promotional copy can’t match.

Introduce your audience to your team through words and pictures, including stories and anecdotes about how your employees have interacted with your products or in your product area. Put simply, people like to do business with people.

Screensizeapalooza: Designing for multiple devices

Smartphone sales recently surpassed PC sales, and the gap is growing1 . Tablet sales are predicted to nearly double from 64 million in 2011 to 104 million in 2012 . And 25 billion mobile app downloads are expected by 2015 . Welcome to Screensizeapalooza, where people view your emails, landing pages, blogs, videos and more on platforms of various sizes, shapes and functionality, often using mobile devices to triage their inboxes and then reading what they’ve saved later on their laptop or desktop computer.

The good news is that mobile devices have become more HTML-capable, so there are fewer restrictions on design. But that increase in capability means that many smartphone users are faced with the arduous task of deciphering text and images on a small screen that often provides a less-than-rewarding visual experience. And the need to use one’s fingertip as a mouse on touch devices can lead to even more frustration if emails, landing pages, etc. aren’t designed with this functionality in mind.

In 2012, as smartphones and tablets become even more widespread and the technology becomes more advanced, user patience with emails and websites that don’t display in a user-friendly, intuitive fashion is likely to decrease. The result will be deleted emails, deserted Web pages and abandoned forms and shopping carts for companies that fail to take the necessary steps to ensure customer and prospect satisfaction.

Key tactics for mobile design success in 2012:

  • Design for the fingertip as a mouse, avoiding putting hyperlinks too close to each other and instead incorporating clickable content blocks that are at least a fingertip’s width apart.
  • Take steps to ensure your content is readable on a full range of devices, such as using alt tags and larger fonts, making sure emails are typically less than 600 pixels wide, and including key messaging in the top-left corner. Also, consider using style sheets that will adjust size of images and text to be optimized for screen size.
  • When testing how messages will look on mobile devices, don’t forgot to also consider landing pages, corporate social networks, forms and other Web pages that recipients may be clicking through to via your emails.

It’s Not Goodbye … It’s See You Later: Re-engagement and remarketing comes of age

Today’s customers and prospects are busier than ever, a fact that’s complicated by the 5,000-plus advertising and marketing messages they’re likely receiving on a daily basis. It’s no wonder, then, that many are tuning out marketing messages and offers because of irrelevant content, confusing calls-to-action or external distractions.

With audience attention fragmented and patience thin, many marketers cite list churn as their biggest challenge, with the average rate of annual churn hovering around 20 percent to 30 percent for most companies . Also worrisome: In the average marketing database, 30 percent to 50 percent of contacts have gone inactive . And even if marketers do engage contacts, challenges await: Approximately 70 percent of conversion processes are abandoned before reaching the end . That’s a lot of deserted shopping carts and Web forms.

Given the high cost of winning new customers compared to maintaining current ones, it’s clearly wise to make every effort to retain as many subscribers as possible — understanding that all inactive subscribers are not created equal, and some longdormant contacts may not be good candidates for re-engagement.

Likewise, considering the lofty ROI of abandonment emails, you can expect an increased emphasis on cart, form and browse abandonment campaigns in 2012, with the top marketers adhering to emerging best practices to maximize impact.

Key tactics for re-engagement and remarketing success in 2012:

  • Engage contacts before they become inactive by automatically placing new leads or subscribers into a multistep welcome campaign that introduces them to the benefits of your email program; highlights your website, social media pages and SMS offering if applicable; invites them to tell you more about yourself; and provides links to helpful resources you offer.
  • Instead of waiting until it’s too late to discover inactivity, initiate an early warning system that uses reporting and scoring to identify inactive contacts within the first four to eight weeks of engaging them. Move these contacts into their own email and nurture programs designed to bring them back into the fold by inviting them to update preferences or fill out a survey so you can serve them better; offering a purchase incentive; creating emails promoting highly recommended items that fit with their previous purchases, downloads or Web browsing history; and inviting them to engage via social media channels or switch their communication preferences to print, SMS or other channels.
  • Analyze your database to determine which apparent inactives could come out of hibernation, going back at least two years and considering online and offline behaviors such as email opens and clicks, purchases/conversions, profile changes, Web browsing history, print catalog requests, event attendance, etc. Then, take inactives you classify as good candidates for re-engagement and place them into their own messaging and campaign track.
  • Employ a multimessage cart abandonment series, sending the first message within an hour or two (or, at the latest, within 24 hours), adopting a service tone and limiting incentives to alerting recipients that their carts will expire.
  • Test browse and form abandonment campaigns to find the optimum timing and number of messages. Again, take a service tone, and personalize with images and details of a website category, page, product or event the contact viewed but didn’t purchase, download or register for.

Want more like this?

Want more like this?

Insight delivered to your inbox

Keep up to date with our free email. Hand picked whitepapers and posts from our blog, as well as exclusive videos and webinar invitations keep our Users one step ahead.

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

side image splash

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Actions Speak Loudest: Unlocking the power of behavior

For years, marketers have focused on explicit, self-reported contact data when evaluating and segmenting customers and prospects—if they collected any data at all. But in the new era of marketing, in which companies must listen to, learn from and speak to customers and prospects on a one-to-one, personal basis, the focus will shift to widening the scope of information being collected and building better behavioral databases that enable marketers to “listen” to contacts and cut through messaging clutter.

In 2012 and beyond, marketers who want to win will focus more heavily on using new technology to collect a rich archive of data about customer demographics, preferences and behaviors ranging from Web pages visited and blog comments recorded to Foursquare check-ins and white papers downloaded—and dozens more.

Monitoring social behaviors will be a key part of the process, with marketers seeking to gain a better understanding of who the key social influencers are in their databases and how they might best communicate with them to maximize the chances of increasing message reach.

When teamed with a sophisticated marketing technology platform, this data will enable marketers to deliver timely, relevant content that establishes an individual dialogue between the company and the customer/prospect that increases engagement, builds loyalty and ultimately drives revenue.

Key tactics for behavioral database success in 2012:

  • Set up a marketing database, integrated with a Web analytics system, that enables you to connect individuals with how they interacted with your company via the Web, email, social media, store/trade show booth, etc.
  • Use new Web tracking technology to connect new contacts to actions they took on your site before opting in or filling out a Web form. Instead of sending a generic email—or one with information that a new contact has no interest in—you can increase your chances of connecting from the very first message by immediately putting them into a messaging track designed for their interests.
  • As applicable, sync up your marketing platform and CRM so you can pass data back and forth in both directions more efficiently, better optimize content, and improve communication between sales and marketing.
  • Create scoring and segmentation systems that take your customer and prospect behaviors into account—including social actions such as “liking” you on Facebook, sharing your content to a social network and commenting on blogs—and use them to establish your contacts’ levels of engagement with your company. Then, segment and message accordingly.

Social Studies: Learning to be everywhere your customers and prospects are

When, where and how we communicate has changed dramatically in the last five years. In 2006, Facebook had 12 million users, Twitter was in its infancy and the first iPhone had yet to be unveiled. My, how things have changed. Today, there are 800 million Facebook users, nearly 200 million Twitter accounts and more than 10 billion Apple apps downloaded.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with more users than ever accessing email via mobile devices, new social networks such as Google+ emerging, and check-in sites and location-based services such as Foursquare adding new wrinkles to the marketing communication mix. Silverpop refers to this convergence of mobile, social, local and email as “mocial.” And in a world gone mocial, marketers must change the way they interact with customers and prospects to ensure that they’re where their customers and prospects are, engaging them across channels and growing their database in the process.

To get your mocial mojo working and position your company to thrive in 2012, marketers should look to gain a better understanding of the interplay between these channels and leverage each to strengthen the other, thereby increasing customer engagement, moving prospects through the buying cycle, and boosting revenue and loyalty. By thinking strategically and holistically about all these mediums and shifting communication patterns to match user preferences, you can connect with contacts in exciting new ways.

Key tactics for mocial success in 2012:

  • Monitor social-sharing patterns and, if applicable, aggregate social sign-in data to see what social identities your contacts associate with your brand or company, using this information to inform which channels and networks you target for social-sharing initiatives.
  • Grow your email database through social and mobile. For example, you could add an email opt-in or lead-gen form on your company’s Facebook page, capture emails via SMS or app downloads, and/or use tablets to gather info at offline retail stores or trade show booths.
  • Design campaigns around the concept of sharing, delivering your strongest call to action at a time that makes sense rather than asking people to share something before they consume it. For example, instead of just including social-sharing icons in an email with a link to a white paper and banking on the recipient sharing without having reviewed the content, also insert sharing links within the white paper PDF itself and send an automated follow-up email inviting downloaders to Tweet the best idea they got from your paper.
  • Take steps to ensure your content is highly shareworthy and easily shareable, delivering personalized content and mixing discounts, giveaways, breaking news and educational info to see what resonates with your audience; including social links such as Facebook “Like” or Twitter “Follow” buttons in appropriate emails; and prominently featuring social-sharing links, prepopulating these links with a message (including hashtags) that’s suitable for sharing.
  • Use new marketing technology to automatically post relevant content across a range of social network accounts at the same time an email goes out, ensuring a consistent message delivered across channels in a timely fashion.
  • Aim to integrate mocial efforts whenever possible, such as driving Twitter followers to your blog with a teaser tweet, blogging about an exclusive SMS promotion, and using email to grow followers and fans, increase app downloads and explain the benefits of your local check-in program.

Dynamic Dynamo: Email as cutting-edge, personalized messaging machine

While many new and exciting communication channels have emerged in recent years, email has continued to thrive as the foundation on which marketers can successfully engage contacts, nurture leads, and boost loyalty and revenue, with three-fourths of adults citing it as their preferred method for commercial communication.

But given the cluttered communication landscape, generic batch-and-blast emailing alone isn’t going to cut it. Whether you’re reaching out to consumers shopping for holiday gifts or IT departments looking to sign six-figure, multiyear contracts, you’re trying to connect with decision makers with unique characteristics that should be marketed to as individuals.

To succeed in 2012 and beyond, marketers need to tap the full potential of email as a dynamic content platform and deliver individualized, automated messages based on robust behavioral databases and advanced analytics. Ironically, the key to being more personal in the information age is in becoming more automated.

The most successful marketers in the year ahead will recognize that email has evolved into more than a standalone channel and take advantage of integrations with multiple technologies (Web analytics, personalization and recommendation engines, ecommerce platforms, product review technologies, SFA and CRM solutions, etc.) to build multidimensional messages on the fly by pulling in data and content from all of these technologies. And they’ll use marketing automation to create trigger-based, behaviordriven email programs to keep people engaged.

Key tactics for dynamic email success in 2012:

  • Build dynamic content into your messages, automatically replacing entire sections based on each recipient’s unique behaviors, interests and needs.
  • Populate messages with peer reviews, customer testimonials and comments from social communities unique to each recipient’s interests and/or past buying history.
  • Create “if-then” messaging tracks within your email and nurture campaigns, sending contacts down different content paths depending on their behaviors.


Whether your marketing programs have been adapting to recent changes as quickly as a gazelle or a slowly as a sloth, 2012 brings new opportunities for ambitious marketers to engage their customers and prospects. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the possibilities, don’t despair—just pick a few key areas and get started. By looking ahead and planning carefully, you’ll be well-positioned to integrate mobile, social and local programs with email, taking advantage of technological breakthroughs to deliver amazingly relevant content via the channels your contacts prefer.

In 2012, marketers will have the ability to access more customer and prospect behaviors than ever, enabling you to “listen” to the online and offline signals they’re passing along and build databases packed with increasingly complex contact profiles. And by tapping the power of marketing automation, you can take this data and scale personalization across hundreds, thousands, even millions of contacts within just a few seconds of hitting “send.” Now that’s the kind of speed that will have you lapping the competition.

Want more like this?

Want more like this?

Insight delivered to your inbox

Keep up to date with our free email. Hand picked whitepapers and posts from our blog, as well as exclusive videos and webinar invitations keep our Users one step ahead.

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

side image splash

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy