Top Marketing Trends in 2013

The marketing industry has seen some radical changes over the last few years. Remember, most social media networks did not even exist a few years ago, let alone have millions of users. Mobile usage and app development has exploded, changing the very way that content online is accessed in only a few short years. Content marketing has developed into an effective way to reach clients and customers. We will continue to see radical changes, no doubt, though certain marketing trends are emerging that are important for small businesses to focus on in 2013.

Mobile accessible websites will remain important in 2013, if not more important as more and more people access content using smart phones. Content creation will remain critical, though I see much more in-depth content being created in 2013 that is much more high focused on the target audience. Social media will continue to grow, though in a much more targeted way. Small businesses will be more willing to drop networks that are not offering a return on investment, whether that be time or money. Off-line relationships will become more common and small businesses will move back to more traditional ways of reaching clients and customers to augment their online approach.

Deep Content

Content marketing is effective. The more often you publish content to your website, the more traffic you receive. Marketers tell you to write content that is engaging and worth sharing. While that advice is good, the content is often shallow to make it easily digestible.  I see content marketing shifting to deeper content in 2013. So much content is created and shared around the internet that it is overwhelming and repetitive. People are seeking trusted sources of content that is deeper, highly unique, and more thoroughly researched. We will see not only in-depth written pieces, but also podcasts, emails, and other targeted content. Small businesses will start creating highly focused content that not only gets shared but also drives interaction and engagement because it demonstrates greater knowledge for the subject matter. Light pieces that rehash what is generally known, that someone quickly scans, maybe shares or likes, and then forgets will be less effective in 2013.

Visual Content

Visuals capture people’s attention. The explosion of visual media, such as infographics, presentations, photography, and memes, will continue to grow. Imagery will be more targeted in 2013 to convey a message rather than just to fill a spot. I do not see visual content overtaking other content; I see it complimenting it. Instead of stock photography with an article, we will see imagery that not only supports the article but enhances it. Videos, infographics, and photo-sharing will continue to grow in 2013.

In-Person Relationships

Businesses have been automating their relationship management for years. Automation will continue, but will be heavily augmented by more personal contact. More and more small businesses will focus on traditional relationship building in 2013—in-person meetings, lunches, phone calls, and the like. As the economy continues to grow, I see small businesses investing in sending people to conferences and other networking events again (something they stopped or limited for years). We will see more small businesses reaching out to clients and customers with highly personalized emails, phone calls, letters, public presentations, trade events, and other in-person networking.

Targeted Social Media

Social media is a great tool, but not for every small business. Amprewave, for example, is primarily a relationship-based business and most of our clients come through referrals from existing or previous clients. Blindly reaching out through social media channels does not work for us. Actually, “blindly” reaching out to through social media really does not work for any business. I see small businesses focusing their social media efforts and integrating them in 2013. Social media channels have been approached individually, though I see that changing. Small businesses will be more willing to drop, or at least limit investment in, social media channels that are not providing a return. Small businesses will look to social media channels that work for their target audiences and develop strategies that integrate social media into a holistic marketing approach.

SEO Will Be Less Important

I disagree with Rand Fishkind, CEO of SEOmoz, that SEO will be more important in 2013. For the very reasons that he thinks SEO will become more important, I think it will become less important. As social media, search and content all integrate and get treated holistically by marketers, the value of SEO decreases. While basic SEO will remain important for years to come, the focus will shift to focusing on your target audience and less on trying to build ranking artificially. Google has been effective in reducing the role of artificial SEO and that will continue in 2013. The goal instead will be on delivering what your target audience desires, with the benefits naturally following.

Small businesses have a lot of data and knowledge about what works and what does not. In 2013 you will start to see small businesses using that information to focus on marketing that works, and dropping that which does not or is less profitable. Media convergence will continue in 2013, as will the convergence of offline and online marketing. Relationship will become more personal again. The focus will be on created highly focused, in-depth content that appeals to your target audience in real-time. I see small businesses qualifying customers online and then quickly moving to the personal touch. Online marketing has been changing dramatically, and 2013 will see that continue, but with the goal of cutting through the fluff and developing deeper relationships.