With 2012 behind us, it's time once again to reflect on the year that was, and, more importantly, look ahead at what's to come. For online marketers, things tend to change rapidly, as every year brings with it new strategies, technologies, and trends to consider.
So the question is, "What exactly does 2013 hold for the world of online marketing?" Here are three things I would bet the farm (or at least a few chickens) will come to fruition over the course of this year.
2012 was the biggest year in online video marketing to date, and that trend should continue well into the upcoming year.
Early last year, Social Media Examiner reported that video was the No. 1 area where marketers planned to increase their investments for 2012. As a result, online video usage rose 12 percent amongst B2B content marketers and is now the sixth most popular content marketing tactic overall, according to a recent Content Marketing Institute (CMI) survey.
The fact is, new technology has made video production easier and more attainable for companies of all sizes, and as CMI's Joe Pulizzi points out, "The sheer cost of video production has come down to a point where there are no barriers to entry." (Full disclosure: I work at Brainshark, a provider of cloud-based video presentation software). Combine the practicality of video products with the overall popularity of online video (YouTube averages 4 billion hits each day) and the rising adoption of video-ready mobile devices, and it's easy to predict that the video marketing wave will continue to rise in 2013.
Another theme that gained ground in 2012 and should continue into this year is the amount of resources companies have begun to invest in content and inbound marketing initiatives. To cite the CMI report again, about 54 percent of B2B marketers say they expect to increase content spending in 2013.
But you really don't need a survey to tell you that -- the writing is already on the wall. It's no secret that more companies have realized that quality content is the gateway to increasing brand awareness and attracting more inbound leads online. It's also understood that more often than not, the best content comes from within. As a result, "content marketing teams" have popped up all over the B2B landscape and will continue to do so going forward.
Another factor is a growing dissatisfaction with more traditional forms of lead generation. At this point, buying a list of names from an external source is less likely to provide the quality, targeted opportunities most companies are looking for. The cost per lead for those programs is also a factor. In other words, the more money businesses invest in their own internal content, the less likely they are to ante up for external lead generation -- especially as inbound marketing continues to produce such powerful results.
In his own 2013 marketing predictions piece, my friend and colleague in the B2B marketing universe Michael Brenner writes that he expects new roles to emerge as interest in content marketing continues to evolve. I think he's 100 percent on target with this prediction, particularly because it falls in line nicely with the expected budget increases detailed above.
What we are seeing more and more of, however, is that companies are not only targeting marketers to fill out their content arsenals, but also writers, editors, journalists, and others with professional publishing experience. The thinking is, if you want to generate quality content like a publisher and target it toward a specific audience, you better find some people who know how to do that.
As a result, more non-marketers in 2013 should continue to take advantage of these new career paths, with -- as Michael points out -- titles such as content strategist and even chief content officer opening new doors for those with the appropriate skill sets.
Those are my online predictions for 2013 -- but what about you? Is there a trend you expect to continue over the next 12 months and beyond? Sound off in the comments and share your best guesses!
Brendan Cournoyer is content marketing manager at Brainshark Inc.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
"Businessman predicting future" image via Shutterstock.
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