2013: The Year of Marketing Integration

Even though a new year will begin in just a few hours, it still isn't too late to get your marketing ducks in a row and leverage new and old channels to generate demand for your company in 2013. Here are five trends in the world of B2B marketing as we enter 2013 and where to focus your attention.

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Image Credit: Pakalert Press

Nothing is New Under The Sun

The basic concepts of marketing, and specifically B2B marketing, haven’t changed (and probably never will). New channels, new tools, new platforms and new ideas, they are all new ways to achieve the same old goal – generate demand for your products and services.

Integrations

There are three levels of integrations you need to check out in 2013:

  • Channels: More channels will start to integrate and consolidate as offline and online begins to work in concert together and the integrations of channels become more possible through new tools and solutions. 
  • Campaigns: Integrated campaigns will become the default for marketers who are trying to leverage content across multiple channels and make the most out of their media spend.
  • Tools: Tools will start to consolidate as more marketers look to streamline their process, cut operational costs (time and money) and leverage the effect of seeing all their campaigns, channels and data in one place.

Social Media Becomes Measurable, Predictable, and Accountable

Social media has been the darling of the media and the marketing space for the last two years, and adoption of social media activities has skyrocketed. If you are not doing something on social media, you are literally not doing your job.

As a result, we’ve seen tremendous improvements in the ability to track and measure social media activity in 2012 as well as the emergence of en entire market of social media tools, products and services.

With great power comes great responsibility. With social media’s grace period as the bright new star is coming to an end, in 2013 we'll see companies change their tone about social media to require more accountability.

No longer will marketers be asked – “Are you on [enter your preferred social media channel]?” in 2013 they will be asked – “How many leads are you getting from [enter your preferred social media channel]?” or “What is the ROI of our [enter your preferred social media channel]?”

Sales Moves into Marketing

In the really old days – and I’m talking about the ancient days, like 3 years ago – leads were hard to get. “Skilled” sales reps handled every lead carefully, and B2B marketers were measured by their ability to generate leads.

In the last two years, especially thanks to SEO, social media, and content marketing, it has become relatively easy to generate leads; a lot of them. Consequently the quality of leads became questionable and the capacity of the sales team was tested.

To address these issues companies developed teams of lead qualifiers (inside sales teams or telemarketers) that took over the role of qualifying leads and became the connection between marketing and sales. Marketers begun measuring and being measured by a new set of acronyms like MQL (marketing qualified leads), SQL (sales qualified leads), SAL (sales accepted leads) and opportunities.

But since most of these stages are being determined by the work the lead qualifiers are doing, companies have started giving the responsibilities of these sales processes to marketers. In 2013, we will see even greater shift in marketing responsibilities to cover sales task.

Big Data: Measuring the Immeasurable; Analytics; Intelligence

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Image Credit: IBM Data Management Magazine

There’s no doubt that big data is a topic area that is getting huge attention from the biggest technology companies in the world. If you stop TiVo-ing through commercials during your favorite primetime TV show, you will immediately notice that they (IBM, HP, Google, Microsoft) are setting the stage for the next generation of big data applications.

As marketers – especially “marketing scientists” – data is life and the ability to track and measure every single pixel you put out there has become much easier over the last year. But in 2013 we will start seeing applications that can make sense out of the exabytes (1 million terabytes) of data and provide insight and intelligence that will help you make smarter decisions.

Mobile

Get on it. Now.