Alterian predicts a new decade of marketing trends
Drawing 2009 to a close and moving into 2010, it’s a time of reflection and looking toward the future of business, changing markets and adapting habits. The experts at Alterian who are immersed in the market and aware of changing consumer habits have been forecasting the marketing trends we’re likely to see over the next 12 months, highlighting the key aspects of the changing landscape. David Eldridge, CEO at Alterian, explains his perspective, also drawing from the insight of an extensive, global partner network which informs the company’s vision and focus.
By David Eldridge
Some of the discussed forecasting ideas in this article are by no means new and are already being talked about in the industry – focussing on more effective ways to engage and communicate for example. But we believe that measurement and accountability will really come of age in the New Year, as companies are under increasing pressure to show value for their marketing spend in a downturn. Alterian’s predictions highlight that the right marketing software will be critical for business survival to continue to drive productivity through the turbulent times. Social Media Monitoring and Web Analytics will become central in measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) of relationship-based online strategies.
The recession has been the catalyst for highlighting the importance of online monitoring and analytics for marketers. More and more consumers are sharing information about brands online so when once upon a time an unsatisfied customer would tell their neighbour, now they can tell the whole world in seconds. Advancements in technology have turned consumers from passive observers of brands into active participants who are shaping brands. The other challenge for marketers is the ever deepening consumer cynicism towards corporate behaviour and messaging, and both these factors are forcing the emergent role of the marketer. Smart businesses are listening to the conversations their customers are having, where these are happening, and engaging in conversations with consumers on an individual level to add value in real time. Interruption-based mass marketing that simply shouts messages to customers is not only ineffective but hugely damaging.
However, you cannot simply stop there. The next logical step after engagement is acting on the information acquired on your audience. Building customer databases are pointless if you don’t utilise this data to help plan successful marketing campaigns in the future. Engagement is key, but those businesses that ignore the final stage of measurement and analysis will not survive.
At the end of 2008 we encouraged businesses to focus marketing investment through the economic downturn on areas of high return rather than cut costs across the board. This year marketing has become the life blood for every business, as marketers compete to connect with their audiences on an individual level. It was predicted that marketing activities would be increasingly under the microscope throughout 2009 and marketers would be held accountable for their success or failure.
The trends outlined at the end of 2008 will remain important into 2010 but as social media has really started to take hold, and online monitoring tools and analysis will come of age in the new decade. The industry will continue to move at an ever-increasing pace and as we emerge from the recession there will be a hunger to discover new and exciting things to attract, engage and convert consumers, first. The top ten marketing trends for 2010 are as follows:
1. Social media will move towards ubiquity:
IDC survey data shows more than 50% of worldwide workers are leveraging the free, public social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for business today. Rather than being hype it will simply become normal and part of the everyday mix that works alongside email as a principle form of communication online.
2. Companies will have a social media policy:
As social media continues to integrate into the marketing and business mix, formal rules of engagement will become more widespread. Many companies are likely to come up against conflict when they try to extend their social media efforts across the board. There will be a need for a significant culture shift in order to overcome these barriers. As social media continues to raise its profile amongst corporate divisions, more companies will invest in Social Media specialists to guide their efforts both internally and externally.
3. Doing more with less:
This has been the mantra for all businesses throughout 2009 but will continue through the adoption of analytics and marketing software. Marketing departments are under increasing pressure to improve effectiveness and efficiencies with marketing campaigns, and also to achieve more, all with decreased budgets. 2009 was about how to make your business machine run harder and faster in a bid to stay competitive in a downturn, where consumer spending is in decline or being replaced by reason to buy at all. This will now convert into the need to not only prove the value of your products to consumers but also the value of your marketing strategies as a whole.
4. Data analysts will become hot property for marketing departments:
Introducing analytics, or better analytics means empowering marketing with intelligence about their customers and prospects, so they can more rapidly, and more accurately, identify the hidden value in their customer and prospect databases. Analyzing the operational efficiency of every marketing department and taking action as required also means a marketing dividend can be realised. This can either be used to increase marketing spend or to maintain marketing spend if budgets are reduced; in essence, do more with less.
5. Measurability of marketers/measuring ROI:
At a time of economic uncertainty, more companies look to uncover cost savings or serve customers more effectively through leveraging social technology. However, the increased pressure from the boardroom to justify marketing spend, or time investment, means that marketing departments have to show value by measuring ROI.
6. Getting access to customer data:
This has become more possible with the introduction of social media platforms, but gaining access to the right data, the right channels and the key sentiments about your brand requires effective online monitoring software. Social Media offers the perfect opportunity to revolutionise CRM tools and build true customer engagement programmes that are bespoke for each individual consumer, thus helping to deliver ROI.
7. The necessary technology for effective marketing:
Companies without the right monitoring, reporting, analytics and execution software are companies without a future. With the increasing importance of the internet for businesses, online marketing and monitoring allow effective one on one engagement that shape successful and focused marketing campaigns.
8. Integration of platforms and processes will be critical:
There is a proliferation of things to monitor, measure and manage, making it very difficult and time consuming for marketers to pull together the overall picture for integrated campaigns. There will therefore be a move towards single integrated software platforms so that campaign planning and management are integrated with web and email.
9. Recalibrate marketing for engagement:
Brands focus on content but with publishers desperate to protect revenues by charging for content, brands will increasingly look to develop content strategies that bring value to their customers. Social Media Monitoring will be the key weapon for brands building these strategies.
10. Consumer empowerment:
Brand value will be influenced more and more by the consumer, making it more important than ever for a brand to have measures of authenticity that will aid in brand differentiation and consumer engagement – you can no longer rely on your brand name as you once did. Organisations are being increasingly judged by their actions and willingness to involve customers, visibly.