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Online and mobile marketing 'lead the way in 2012'
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Businesses are fully aware of the need to continue marketing their brands and activities, even during the deepest downturn. The only way companies can establish a strong market position is to sell goods and services, and the minute they cease promotional activity, this task becomes much more difficult.
In many ways, periods of economic activity can be the best time to increase marketing activity. If rival operators reduce the amount they spend on advertising, this creates new opportunities for other businesses to steal market share. The highly competitive nature of business dictates that going quiet is simply not an option for companies in any sector.
But given the economic situation, firms need to think very carefully about how they use their marketing budgets. Return on investment has rarely been more important, with company leaders eager to ensure their limited funds are used wisely. As such, marketing campaigns need to be transparent and accountable.
Firms need to be able to accurately gauge the success of particular strategies, either to avoid pouring more money into a black hole, or to hammer home the advantage. But some marketing channels are easier to monitor and measure than others, and it is these which are coming to the fore. Companies simply cannot afford to make assumptions about the success of their campaigns, they need statistical evidence to support particular courses of action.
With online marketing, the availability of analytics means companies can assess how consumers are responding to advertising. Businesses can look at pay-per-click revenue, page impressions and lead-through rates to see whether they are striking a chord with the public. Traditional media marketing, such as outdoor, print, TV and radio, does not afford such opportunities. Once a company has created a billboard, or put an ad in the paper, the only insight into the success of the campaign is sales and revenue, which may or may not be connected.
This is a fundamental problem for traditional marketing channels, given the alternatives available in the digital age. With e-commerce worth £100 billion per year to the UK economy alone, companies have added incentives to shift their marketing spend online. This is now a mature industry, and enough consumers use the internet on a daily basis to justify the investment.
At the same time, declining newspaper and magazine circulation weighs heavily on business marketers' minds. Even if their adverts are having the desired affect and offering a call to action, companies cannot ignore the fact that fewer people are reading them. And as the papers generate less advertising revenue, they make cuts, leaving consumers with a less attractive product.
The growth of mobile marketing is also driving significant change in the marketing sector. With smartphone and tablet adoption rates high, businesses recognise a new opportunity to connect with the public. Berg Insight expects this segment to expand by 37 per cent year-on-year between 2011 and 2016, and account for 15 per cent of all advertising expenditure within five years.
Businesses are relishing the opportunity to connect with consumers on the move. As geo-location technologies take off, more will use such services to deliver tailored advertising to customers based upon where they are. This level of flexibility simply does not exist with print and broadcast media advertising. Consumers are increasingly well-connected and digitised, and businesses understand the opportunities this provides.
Andy Crestodina, strategic director at Orbit Media Studios, predicted 2012 will be the year that millions of companies, large and small, realise that inbound marketing, rather than outbound advertising, is the way to go. Writing for Marketing Daily, he said firms will focus on writing and promoting content using search marketing, social media, blogging, email marketing and PR.
"As we start year four of the recession/recovery, marketers are still cost-conscious. They'll find that inbound marketing takes time, but the out-of-pocket expenses are low," Mr Crestodina added. "Business-to-business companies seem to be leading the charge, but everyone will be on board soon."
In his view, 2012 will be the year of content marketing. And the chances are consumers will embrace it via a smartphone or computer screen.
Posted by Jon Aspinell
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