12 Marketing Topics to Watch in 2012

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By: Justin Cerone, KMG VP of Communications

Between the numerous online and offline channels Marketers currently have access to, and the actionable insights that now accompany both, opportunity is abound for us all. But with so much innovation, proliferation, and - in some cases - saturation, it's hard to know what to keep an eye on in 2012.

So, we decided to try and help you by highlighting 12 topics that we think will shape the industry in 2012.

  • Mobile, mobile, and mobile - Mobile marketing in 2012 warrants an entire blog post by itself. But, we have 11 other topics to cover, so here are some key areas of mobile to focus on: geo-fencing, in-store and in-mall shopper tracking, location-based offers, voice-activated mobile search, and apps that help you discover new products, services and entertainment. The takeaway: consider pretty much everything mobile. (Except it if relies on the BlackBerry ecosystem, which is fading more and more into oblivion.
  • Rise of Google+ brand pages - "+1'ing" will soon impact search results, full YouTube integration is around the corner, and the free collaboration tools have many business uses. Facebook killer? Probably not. A social network businesses need to be on? Definitely.
  • Facebook Mobile - Facebook recently surpassed 500 million active mobile users worldwide in ONE day, and ads for Facebook Mobile are launching soon. This brand new mobile ad channel is what you call an opportunity being served on a silver platter for global Marketers.
  • Improved QR Codes - comScore reported 20M people scanned a QRC in October, and delays with NFC indicate it's not ready to supplant the QR code just yet. The next evolutionary step for QR codes is moving from generic black and white boxes to colorful codes with brand logos in the middle. This already started in 2011, expect it to go mainstream in 2012.
  • Mobile-optimized websites for big brands and SMBs alike - people use the Internet differently on their computer than they do on their phone. The  mobile web also allows businesses to offer users another experience that complements their current mix. Businesses from big to small have realized this and will need to focus heavily on the mobile-optimized web in 2012.
  • Group buying offers will no longer be an effective marketing tool - subscribers are fatigued from receiving offer after (irrelevant) offer. And merchants realize the poor retention rates and negative impact on the bottom line simply aren't worth the one-time uptick group buying offers typically bring. Result: more targeted, personalized offers will take their place.
  • The return of branded media - the past few years on social networks have been largely about user generated content, with the goal of incentivizing audience growth and advocation. Now that many brands have achieved that goal, the content ball is back in their court. The difference this time is that the content produced will be determined by users, not dictated by brands.
  • Sentiment analysis will go from mediocre to worthwhile - Many technologies promised to provide an accurate analysis of user sentiment toward businesses on social networks in 2011. More often than not, those sentiment analyzers deserved the #FAIL.  "Hot", "cool", "sick", "slick", etc. all mean different things depending on who says them (eg. my Aunt vs. my teenage cousin). Now that there's almost a year's worth of info and analysis to learn from, these technologies will finally be able to contextualize and analyze sentiment in a manner worthwhile for marketers.
  • BIG data will get even BIGGER - Marketing Analytics came barreling to the industry forefront over the past few years. Many enterprise web analytics platforms got major improvements this year. Social networks are providing exponentially more data than last year, and the nearly 100 million US smartphone users are generating valuable marketing information every minute. This ever-growing swath of data will need to be analyzed and turned into actionable insights.
  • Facebook will become a big e-commerce driver - Changes in the recent re-design enabled brands and businesses to significantly improve the e-storefronts on their page.  750,000,000+ potential customers and counting. Enough said.
  • Social Relationship Management (SRM) - Do you want to know who "Liked" or re-Tweeted you, and what their past purchases or interactions with your business have been? And would you want to be able to cross-reference that info with their phone number, email, or address? SRM software will be coming down the pike fast in 2012.
  • SEO will continue to rule the web - search engines are still accessed more often in the US than email and social media. That will likely remain true in 2012. SEO may not be as sexy as social or as targeted as email, but don't let yourself treat it as a less-important piece of your web strategy. In fact, re-doubling your SEO efforts may be the best use of your online customer acquisition dollars in 2012.

What do you think the leading marketing topics in 2012 will be? Let us know in the comments below.

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