New Year, Same Hype

Every new year, the industry is flooded with a slew of marketing predictions on what the need-to-know, upcoming trends are. Considering each year has been quoted to be “the year of mobile” since 2008, it’s hard to know when to dive in head-first and embrace these trends, and when to wait and see if they are worth investing your time and money into. Especially since anything you did even three years ago in mobile is likely to be looked at and measured very differently today.

Consumer adoption and usage across devices is changing regularly, so ignoring these trends and shifts in user behaviour altogether is not an option. We live in a world in which the way consumers interact with one another and with brands is constantly changing, and in response, marketers are faced with a continual evolution to determine how to effectively engage with, and acquire new customers. This becomes even more important in our current state of ongoing lackluster economic times, media fragmentation, volumes of information readily available to consumers, and the power everyday consumers have for their voice to be heard.

Frankly, consumers can be downright fickle. They may love you one day and hate you the next. Now, while it is a love-it-or-leave-it world that we live in, we must recognize that each customer, or even potential customer, is just as important as the next, despite their given lifetime value, customer segmentation, or persona. Each consumer’s voice has the ability to impact thousands, and even millions of other consumers by sharing their experiences and opinions, both good and bad.

On the flip side, not all brands have the budgets and flexibility to incorporate all of these up-and-coming trends into their marketing mix – and quite frankly, they shouldn’t. While they may conduct small tests and keep their eye on opportunities in multiple areas, the “latest and greatest” trends are not the sole guiding principle of their marketing strategy.

For some brands, it can be overwhelming and debilitating to change the way things once worked, but without testing and figuring out how the trends fit into the overall strategy, you are going to get left behind and get stuck in a state of playing constant catch-up. Although we are already nearing the end of January, and some brands may have put all of their planning to bed, I thought I would offer a few ways to effectively evaluate if some of these new opportunities should be considered as we move into 2013.

  • Foundational first. Recognize where the biggest opportunities are and prioritize. If the website is slated for an overhaul, then prioritize this and ensure basics like SEO, mobile considerations, etc., are not left in the dark. For example, if you try and add sparkles and glitter to a cracked ornament, you are still left with the same underlying problem – a cracked ornament (OK, so I am not fully out of holiday mode yet).
  • Current strategy. Based on what you’re already doing and what you have planned, determine where the natural opportunities are that will allow you to continue to expand and grow what is already in place. A natural progression and evolution will make the most sense from an efficiency standpoint and from the consumer’s standpoint. Let’s say you’re producing a new TV spot in Q1. Why not consider how the video can be suited for online as well? And, possibly explore ways to engage through this with social media?
  • Historical performance. While we look at how things are performing in the immediate future, and continually forecast anticipated performance, it’s helpful to look at your business’ historical data to uncover any trends and patterns that are emerging and how they can be leveraged through CRM, social, messaging, media mix, etc…
  • Website analytics. Oftentimes, there are only a few people within an organization who serve as gatekeepers to the web data. Don’t make this mistake! While not everyone needs to be an administrator, there is so much insightful data that can be gained from web analytics that it should be more widely used across all groups and functions – research, planning, and decision-making.
  • Data and measurement. Many of the trends are around the data we are capturing and how we are measuring programs. If you’re not trying anything new, don’t ignore the current. Don’t overlook opportunities to gain more insights about the attribution and engagement of your current programs. There is also room for improvement.

While all these new trends and predictions can be overwhelming, the idea behind choosing what to explore and what to table for later isn’t. It’s just like New Year’s resolutions. “The year of mobile” being predicted since 2008 is the same as “that extra 10 pounds I’m going to drop this year” resolution. It sounds good every year, but the crash diets, magic weight-loss pills, and two sessions with a trainer won’t make a lasting change. Nothing is more motivating than taking a good hard look at the habits you have today and how new habits can be adapted to take you where you want to go tomorrow. Small and slow changes and finding what works for you are the best way to get your brand in shape.

This article was originally published on ClickZ on January 16th.

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