As we begin to look back at the last year, I believe it's important to get a clear picture of what marketing strategies are growing… both in popularity and results. It's also important to recognize the strategies that had marketers running in circles and not really producing the results they were looking for or needed.
Marketing Strategy Losers of 2012
- Backlinking – One of our more controversial and popular posts in 2012 was announcing that SEO is dead. While many SEO consultants simply freaked out after reading the title, the rest understood that Google had pulled the virtual carpet out from under them and they had to stop trying to cheat the algorithm and begin to truly utilize marketing to drive their brand's search authority. Good for Google and good riddance to SEO backlinkers.
- QR Codes – please tell me they're dead already. There are often technology advancements that appear to be great solutions that we could apply in marketing. Unfortunately, in my opinion, QR codes were never one of them. We have this incredible thing called the Internet that makes it easy to just type in a URL or a search term and find whatever you need. By the time I pull out my smartphone, open my QR code scanning app, and open and go to the URL… I could have simply typed it in. QR codes aren't just useless, they're ugly as well. I don't want to see them on my marketing material. A better solution is a short URL, texting shortcode and getting a link in the response, or just having a nice URL on your site to let people know to go visit.
- Facebook Advertising – Truth be told that I use Facebook advertising and have received some pretty good responses on some of the campaigns that we've executed. Cost has been low and there's a lot of targeting opportunities… but I still can't help but feel that Facebook hasn't quite figured out the model yet. On Facebook mobile, my stream is full of a ton of ads. On the web, I can't help but think I'm sometimes paying for ads for wall entries that should have been displaying. So… Facebook is hiding the content and then making me pay for it. Yuck.
- Google+ – I love that there's a competitor to Facebook but I'm personally struggling there. When 99% of the conversations are happening on Facebook, it's really difficult for me to apply the effort in Google+. Google has been doing a great job at strong-arming folks into using Google+ – with authorship and local business integration. They've added some great features with communities and hangouts… but the conversations in my community simply aren't happening there. I hope that changes.
- Email Marketing – Every business must have an email program. The cost per acquisition from email is still some of the strongest when compared to any marketing strategy. I believe email marketing is a loser though, because it's not advancing. We still have to design 20 year old table layouts because of no progress by large inbox application providers like Microsoft Outlook. It seems it would be easy to overhaul email, providing paths for personal, advertising, and response messaging.
Marketing Strategy Winners of 2012
- Mobile Marketing – there's absolutely no doubt at the massive growth and adoption of smartphones with Internet access. Plain and simple, if you're not capitalizing on mobile web, mobile apps and even mobile text messaging, you're underserving a significant portion of the market. One personal note on this… I'm visiting my parents down in Florida right now and they just bought iPhones. When you think about the average technology user, I can assure you that it's not my parents.
- Content Marketing – the growth in mobile apps and mobile search, continued adoption of the Internet as a research mechanism, and continued change in shopping behavior to plan, research and buy via the Internet requires that your company have the content to support search and social interaction. While corporate blogging continues to thrive as a core strategy, infographic design, social content sharing, eBooks, Whitepapers and video are getting better results than ever.
- Context Marketing – you may notice on Martech that when you view specific articles, you also see specific advertisements in the sidebar. These dynamic calls-to-action are programmed automatically… aligning the content with the call to increase relevance, click-through rates, and ultimately conversions. Dynamic technologies to present better information based on the content are growing in popularity and becoming cost affordable to most businesses.
- Influence Marketing – Mass advertising methods may be inexpensive per viewer, but don't have the kind of impact that coupling an influencer has. We have sponsorships on this blog that are getting fantastic results – but the benefits are more than clicks. We work with the companies on their own strategies, we include stories about them in our presentations and speeches, and we've become external spokesmen for their products and services. We have influence in the industry and these marketing technology companies are willing to invest in our audience. Great new apps like Little Bird provide applications to find and locate these audiences and their influencers.
- Video Marketing – Costs for professionally designed and developed videos continue to drop across the country. Anyone with a smartphone can produce a high resolution video – and applications like iMovie make them easy to enhance with music, add voiceovers, wrap in some graphics, and push to Youtube and Vimeo with ease. Video is a compelling medium and attracts a large percentage of an audience who may not take the time to read.
My honorable mention winner is Twitter. I'm seeing a lot more talk about Twitter usage by governments, religions, students and other organizations effectively using Twitter to communicate with the masses (pun intended for the Pope!). Twitter is even partnering with Nielsen on providing engagement ratings for traditional media.
What did I miss? Would you agree?