MarketingSherpa: Marketing Wisdom for 2012

In case you missed it (and when it comes to marketing and social media there's plenty to keep up on), MarketingSherpa published its Wisdom Report, "Marketing Wisdom for 2012" earlier this year. Subtitled "Real-life stories of success and lessons learned," this 54-page report is offered as a free download and contains something for everyone involved in marketing.

The report contains valuable description and analysis of today's marketing trends from MarketingSherpa, as well as direct comments from members of the MarketingSherpa community. Based on direct experience, these comments offer real-life nuggets and a perspective that can pay off with consumers - no matter what business you're in.

The report is divided into five chapters: Email Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Testing and Optimization, and General Marketing Wisdom. Here are some highlights excerpted from the introduction to each chapter, along with one "real-life" comment from among the dozens in each chapter (italics).

Chapter 1: Email Marketing

"Just a year ago, many marketers were spending a good amount of bandwidth discussing the 'inevitable demise' of email as a viable tactic. Now, just days into 2012, these same marketers are eager to begin the year's email campaigns, excited to put their fine-tuned, more accurately targeted lists into use.

The coming year poses a number of exciting possibilities for email marketers. For starters, ESPs are finding new ways to render email on screens, opening the doors for new avenues for messaging. Likewise, the increased use of QR codes will create a wealth of new list-building opportunities for marketers hungry to improve the quantity and quality of their email targets.

With these new email tactics in place, it becomes increasingly important to respect the privacy of your subscribers. Today's customers are savvier about the ways of the Internet, most notably in the use of behavioral targeting. As such, it is more crucial than ever to ensure subscribers know their information is safe, and your company is trustworthy."

Beware of "Overmarketing"
Sometimes you shouldn't try to sell. Using sell words "exclusive" and "discount" in an email subject line not only gave us a worse response, but dramatically increased the spam complaint rate. Sometimes, the common marketing hype words can turn people off, while finding a more friendly tone can produce better results.
Tim Watson, Emailvision

Chapter 2: Online Marketing

"Growth. If there were only one word to describe the current and future state of online marketing, it would be 'growth.'

The term 'online marketing' has become an umbrella that's almost too broad to contain the tactics and platforms held within, as the continued growth of this marketing mainstay will almost assuredly need to be broken down into more specific areas for upcoming Wisdom Reports.

Social media has become an entity unto itself, and has its own section of this report. But, soon we will likely see specific chapters for mobile marketing - both inbound and outbound - and even proximity marketing, such as that conducted by platforms like Foursquare or ShopKick.

Likewise, we will also see many more success stories that highlight wins made with QR codes, 'daily deal'-type sales, and even the growing trend of 'everywhere' commerce - which may just overtake traditional plastic credit cards as the dominant way to purchase."

Don't Give Up the Ship
The one thing I learned in 2011 was to persevere. Although this was challenging at times, I continued to blog regularly and participate in social media. Aside from using more traditional tactics (albeit, less frequently), my online efforts have helped our company build impressive, SEO. Every once in a while, I receive phone calls or emails from prospects who discovered us online. When I ask how they found us, they say they did a search and they share their keywords. That's when the perseverance pays off - with inbound leads.
Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing & Consulting

Chapter 3: Social Media Marketing

"In 2011, we saw many new developments in social marketing, such as the joining of social media and search marketing, and a notable rise in social media spending on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. And, the exciting part is that marketers have only begun to explore these new opportunities.

For example, 2011 witnessed the expansion of social CRM, enabling another channel to reach and interact with customers. In 2012, we anticipate social CRM will become a mainstream solution for organizations wanting to connect marketing operations from the top to the bottom of the funnel. Companies that learn how to adopt and implement these solutions will more effectively reach and engage with their customers, leading to improved ROI.

Also, we are seeing a trend of social media becoming a key factor in search results. For companies looking to preserve or improve search rankings, social marketing activities will no longer be optional, but rather a necessary element to drive traffic.

In 2011, we also saw companies begin listening to customers wants and needs via social media, with an increased focus on responding to customer commentary. In 2012, companies will need to proactively create and share information with employees and influential customers to help define their offerings. Marketers now have the opportunity to address specific user needs they may not have been able to using traditional online marketing tactics."

Newcomers, Believe the Hype
Social networking has not only helped my "brand" but it has helped my profit margin! "Making friends" and exchanging links with others in addition to sharing and leaving a kind word now and then, has become a win-win situation for my brand and my business. While growing my networking I've also been able to grow my website visitors and subscribers to my newsletter. All of this growth has increased the opportunity for on my website. I've had some great offers to write reviews in addition to guest blogging spots. Thanks to social media, my business has new opportunities.
Danna Crawford, Inc.

Chapter 4: Testing and Optimization

"One of the most tech-focused marketers seemed to return to time-honored practices, demonstrating a strong understanding of how these tenets could benefit new tactics.

And, a significant number of entries focused on one of the most basic marketing (and life) tenets of all - 'Measure twice, cut once.' In other words, test...test...test.

As digital marketing continues to grow, so does testing and optimization of digital practices. From a promotional Tweet to a print ad, the call-to-action in most marketing pieces is likely to direct you to a website. And if marketers are spending huge amounts of their time and budgets on driving traffic to a website, they want to know (and improve on) how that website performs. With all the money spent on driving traffic, even a small increase in conversion can have an outsize ROI.

This is why testing and optimization has seen such rapid growth over the past few years. For example, in the MarketingSherpa 2011 Landing Page Optimization Benchmark Report, we found that marketers have double the number of in-house employees entrusted with LPO just in the two years from 2009 to 2011. Two difficult years, during which, not many things in marketing increased.

Though each year's Wisdom Report differs, based on the entries we receive, we are confident that a chapter on testing and optimization will become a mainstay in this publication for many years to come."

Gauge Your Mobile Audience
After another year of waiting for mobile marketing to explode, many in the industry are still unsure of whether to target smartphone and tablet users. Average mobile site traffic and email readership are way up, but not every company is average. To find out how much you should care, segment your website and email analytics to gauge the size of your mobile audience. If you're at 2% to 3%, perhaps revisit the stats every month to keep an eye out for sharp growth. If you're at 9% or 10%, you might want to start taking this channel seriously.
Adam T. Sutton, MECLABS

Chapter 5: General Marketing Wisdom

"As marketing practices continue to splinter into increasingly specific silos, one would think that the entries for our annual section on general marketing wisdom would begin to dwindle. And each year, you prove us wrong, as you continue to share stories related to 'the bigger picture' in marketing.

Whether it was by using social media to create personal relationships, the integration of high-tech and traditional print marketing, or just a reminder to shake hands and smile, your stories serve as a sound reminder that in the end - high-tech, low-tech or no-tech, we are ultimately marketing to people.

And, as we always say, those are the marketing tactics that never go out of style."

Technology Changes... People Don't
In the whirlwind of new apps, websites, social networks, etc., we sometimes forget that what motivates people remains the same. Our primal desires, urges, and wants out of life mostly remain unchanged during the rapid progress technology brings.

Step back from the shiny new toys and look at what your consumers really want. What do they really care about? What's motivating them to purchase your product? There you will find the core of what makes you great and a message to leverage through technology.
Ben Nesvig,

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