What are the top three trends that will shape marketing in 2013? I sat down with Adele Sweetwood, VP of SAS Americas Marketing to find out – and how you can turn these trends to your advantage.
1. Channel convergence
“Marketing has been flooded with channels,” says Sweetwood. “More channels, more opportunities to engage with customers and prospects than ever before: Communication channels, marketing channels, advertising channels, and more. That will continue to grow and evolve.”
The challenge – and the opportunity – says Sweetwood, is in our ability to better converge and align channel strategies. “Marketers need to leverage each channel effectively and take advantage of the data and information delivered from each channel – ‘listening’ to the effectiveness of that channel so that strategy can be adjusted as needed.”
2. Customer experience
“The customer is always going to be a trend,” says Sweetwood. “There will never be a year where something about the customer and marketing isn’t important. What shifts for us in marketing becomes an intense and very deliberate focus on customer experience. We need to look at all of their points of engagement: How do they react? How do they exchange information with us? When do they engage? How do we leverage what we know about them and use that to provide a better customer experience?”
And how do you answer all of those questions about your customers? With analytics. “The use and importance of analytics as an integral part of marketing strategy is a growing trend,” says Sweetwood. “Analytics empower marketing organizations to understand customer behaviors, interpret engagement strategies, improve customer experiences — and to ultimately deliver better results for the organization.”
Where do we go from here?
So what should marketers be doing to take advantage of these trends? “As marketers move into 2013 and think about convergence, customer experience and analytics, we have to step back for minute and make sure that we have, as Jim Collins might say, ‘all the right people on the bus,’” says Sweetwood.
“Marketers come in all types, shapes and sizes these days. And having a marketer with an analytical perspective, a level of curiosity, a drive for innovation is helpful as we’re challenged with a multitude of channels and new approaches in marketing. So making sure that your marketers have the right skill sets, the right attitude, training and tools is critical. Make sure you’re empowering your marketers to make fact-based decisions, through analytical solutions, or data about campaign performance.”
Sweetwood advises marketers to cultivate their curiosity and be flexible. “Marketers need to ask questions – continually – and to be much more agile than they might be used to,” says Sweetwood. “They can no longer rigidly stick to a six or nine month plan. They need to assess and adjust on a regular basis – in some cases daily.
“Ultimately marketers will be most successful if, as an organization, you’re paying attention to your data and have the right tools to empower your team with the right information. That’s what gives marketers the ability to innovate.”
For more from Adele Sweetwood, check out what she had to say in this MarketingProfs article on creating an analytic culture in marketing.