Top 5 Digital Marketing Tips for 2012

by: Jonathan Gardner

1. Own your voice, don’t share it. Share of voice may be the mantra of yore, but these days, we’re talking “word ownership” for online branding. In hyper-competitive categories such as consumer electronics and auto, brand, emotive, and topical keyword ownership are the name of the game. But you’d better get there first, especially with key terms such as “football” and “Valentine’s Day” sure to be hot tickets in the weeks to come. Act fast, and the keywords will do the work for you. Have a smart contextual plan at the core of your strategy, and you’ll help your brand gain ownership of voice around the Web.

2. Resolve to be relevant. It’s back to basics, and relevance reigns in 2012. Keep consumers and their desires, hopes, and aspirations central to your marketing and you’ll stay on top. More than ever, the people will be in the drivers’ seat. This is especially true of those fickle, supposedly mysterious groups like Millennials, about whom Matt Briton, CEO of social media agency Mr. Youth, says, brands must address five “need states”: utility, entertainment, information, rewards, and recognition. Another trend worth noting is that in 2011, we saw consumers becoming more spending-conscious as opposed to simply price-conscious. So now is the time to make the strongest possible case for the value of what you’re selling. Finally, tune in to what kind of content engages your audiences and create advertising that aligns with what they watch and read. Take advantage of technology that matches ad content to the context of the page, creating hyper-relevance to deliver ads people actually want to see.

3. Context is king, and content is queen. Steve Jobs said (and showed) that to create value in the 21st century, you need to connect creativity with technology. With all the focus on the amazing tech that enables our new era of advertising, it is easy to forget that what’s in the ads matters, too: You can roll out a remarkable initiative to find consumers, but how will you engage them? Time and again, the most successful in-text, toolbar, and display ads bring relevant content within the context of the page. This year, like the last, the best advertising will be dynamic and provide useful information, from weather reports and traffic updates, to recipes and sports scores.

4. The data is smarter. Are you? As industry guru Peter Horan has told us, “Counting clicks for branding is flawed. Marketers know TV works even though viewers can’t click on a commercial.” Beyond the click, the revolution in data will continue. Marketers can now look more closely at consumer behavior to get more mileage out of campaigns. With technology giving us a clearer view of reader engagement and retention, we see that all content is not created equal, and that despite the recent increase in content volume, quality is what drives results.

5. They’ve changed the channel. An incredible 98% of 18- to 24-year-olds use social media. While debates continue to rage about ROI and how to quantify “Likes,” we’ve seen brands find new ways to make their social media assets deliver more, by bringing social content to new ad formats that push Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to the consumer in a relevant context. We can all learn from how Best Buy connected consumers with its “Twelpforce,” Twitter-based help desk, and how Axe is using an innovative social toolbar to push its clever content to consumers around the Web.

Happy New Year, and I hope you resolve – as I do – to follow the rules of common sense for a 2012 that will take your marketing to the next level of success.

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