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2013 is half over – have trend forecasts materialized?

At the end of last year, we posted an article highlighting  seven strategies to focus on in 2013. Now that the first half of the year is behind us we thought we’d revisit the list and determine which trend forecasts have been materializing.

1. Micro-targeting – CHECK

Marketers have been segmenting customers for as long as they’ve had data at their disposal.  Nowadays, however, there’s more information about consumer behavior and preferences – much of it from social media – and all of this information is key to segmenting customers more narrowly than ever before.

Of course there’s an argument for overdoing it.  As The New York Times reported last week, retailers are tracking customers’ behaviors in their stores via their cell phones.  Many consumers are OK with “Big Brother” watching their online habits – at least when it comes to shopping and saving money – though not necessarily when it comes to email.  But most are not open to being “monitored  when “surfing” their way around the bricks and mortar world.

2. More informed decision-making – CHECK

This visual from Quintly looks at how increased interest in social media analytics, which has quickly grown from a nice thing to have to a real need, have been measured over the past half-decade, on a platform-by-platform basis – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest – and across countries, too.

Social media, if executed properly, can be relevant and important to more departments within a company than any other form of marketing. Therefore, it’s obvious that there’s very high demand for social media analytics tools. The rise of social media analytics seems to be continuing straight upward and hasn’t reached its peak yet, so our second “prediction” has also proven to be true.

3. Collaboration needs to be more tightly integrated – CHECK

Original ideas and opportunities resulting from true collaboration between colleagues who bring different perspectives and skill sets are prevalent in many 2013 campaigns, such as these brilliant ones:

  • Nivea created a magazine ad that charges your mobile in the sun
  • Scrabble gave free public Wi-Fi, but only after users prove they can spell. Higher word score = more time online

These campaigns could not have happened without the collaboration of IT, marketing, PR, Advertising, Sales and who knows what other department, so “prediction” number 3 is also checked!

4. Analytics are important – IN PROGRESS

Greater interest from companies in data analytics tools has been a key contributor to an increase in overall IT spending this year. According to data from Gartner, total worldwide spending on all IT products will climb by 2 % compared with 2012 to reach $3.7 trillion. Within this, the fastest growing sector is enterprise software, which will see revenue grow from $285 billion last year to $304 billion in 2013 – an increase of 6.4 %.

According to Richard Gordon, managing vice-president at Gartner, one of the key reasons for this is businesses are looking for new solutions to improve areas such as customer loyalty and tools to gain a better insight into their buying behavior will play a key role in this. These additional insights will enable a more in-depth look into understanding what motivates and how your audience responds to your PR messaging and efforts, so “prediction” number 4 is still “in progress.”

5. Email Marketing is back on top – CHECK

As email marketing continues to mature, the competition for attention is increasing in already-crowded inboxes.  Check out this blog post from The Daily Egg which showcases seven inspirational success stories from businesses that have improved their email marketing campaigns.

At the same time, according to a study commissioned by iContact, small and midsized businesses are allocating the largest share of their marketing budgets to email, with more than half spending up to 20% of their total marketing dollars. The study discovered that email marketing received, on average, 15% of all SMBs’ marketing budgets, with more dollars going to email than any other marketing tactic.

6. Expectation management – IN PROGRESS

We believe that it’s vital for every PR expert to help clients identify their goals and then educate them about the best way to achieve results.  Also, it is critical that a PR agency provide an honest assessment on how PR can and cannot help a business achieve its goals.

While we are seeing more evidence that this “prediction” is well on its way, unfortunately there are recent examples where the unexpected has occurred. For example, Facebook was caught creating a smear campaign against Google.  Burston-Marstellar, a large global PR firm, was hired by Facebook to create the campaign. The main message from the campaign was that Google was violating people’s privacy. The firm planned to place articles in high-profile publications; however one of the targeted bloggers turned down the story and instead posted the emails. USA Today then got wind of the situation and wrote a story about it. And although initially the company behind the smear was unknown, a Facebook spokesperson eventually admitted they were guilty as charged.

7. Multi-media communication increases results – CHECK

As we previously “predicted,” visuals continue to replace or complement” plain old text, allowing audiences to see, visualize, and share your message.  Marketers need to continually assess new opportunities presented by popular social media platforms to determine what’s best for their brand and where to connect with their consumers.  The Instagram community is thriving and major brands and companies are jumping on board: Starbucks, MTV, Nike, Marc Jacobs, and Red Bull are just a few examples of international brands that have aggressively adopted the mobile photo app into marketing strategies.

It’s your turn now! 2013 is half over and we’d love to know how on track are you to realize your intentions for the year? Have your PR “predictions” come true?