Sales & Marketing

2013: Innovative Marketing Trends to Date

There are many timeless elements to creating top-notch, results-oriented online marketing campaigns. If it’s not engaging, memorable, or oozing with a little wow factor, there won’t likely be much fanfare. Every year, however, smart folks figure out new and innovative ways to lure in the masses, manifest a rags to riches story, and create tools and campaigns that become bona fide trends and legends.

We may only be in the fall of 2013, but already there have been many notable new movements that have created a stir in the world of marketing. It’s a bit early to tell which of these have significant staying power, but here are a few of the most critical innovations that business owners should take notice of.

It’s a Gamer’s World

Gamification may not be a new term, but it’s proving to be a trend that seems to grow and grow. Business owners have become hip to the essential element of engagement through all marketing channels, and there are few activities that prove more engaging than an addictive video game. Couple that with the game-playing obsession proudly touted in younger generations, and it’s clear to see how and why adding gaming elements to websites and marketing campaigns is exploding.

2013 has likely seen more gamification growth thanks to platforms like PunchTab and BigDoor, tools that make the integration of gaming elements into many business models a more seamless and organic process. Plus, apps like FourSquare have turned mundane tasks like running errands into a fun-filled, social-centric gaming experience. If you haven’t integrated a level of status or fun into your efforts yet, and your industry is appropriate for the task, make this a top consideration.

Refocusing on Retention

When we think of internet marketing, most people conjure up thoughts of acquisition efforts – ad banners, viral campaigns, and anything that brings eyeballs to websites. Marketers have been more and more aware that retention – or loyalty – marketing can be far more profitable (and honestly, a lot more fun, too). Existing customers are feeling a whole lot more love this year, as trends point toward rewards and bounties for loyalty, not just for new sign-ups.

It’s a brilliant move, overall, because potential customers that witness how well existing customers are taken care of won’t need a newbie promotion to lure them in. The promise of long term care, discounts, and overall attention can do plenty to move your acquisition numbers, too.

Crowdsourcing Goes Mainstream

These days, what can’t you crowdsource? It all started with sites like Kickstarter and IndieAGoGo, which allowed folks to fund projects (not businesses, mind you) by asking the entire internet for assistance. Now, you can crowdsource non-profits, start-ups, college tuition – even design options for your company’s website or logo (99Designs is an absolute sensation.)

Can you crowdsource marketing ideas? Heck yes you can. Leaders in the field are using social media platforms to crowdsource all manner of marketing strategies, getting real-world feedback about ideas without spending thousands of wasted dollars on directions that your audience won’t respond to. Companies like Zappos have had tremendous success with this process – there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.

Locals Have Their Heyday

75 percent of the world now has access to cell phones, and if you’re not attempting to reach them, you are definitely losing out on a massive market share. Utilizing either responsive design or taking a multi-screen development approach is no longer an option to consider, it’s often a first priority for new startups. All signs point to this trend continuing, too, meaning mobile is really king of the screens, and the once mighty PC has taken a backseat. Keep this in mind as you launch or redesign your online site – make sure it rocks on a small screen too.

The Rise of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a relatively new expression, and in many ways, the biggest contribution 2013 has offered up to the world of marketing. This focus involves content creation, conversation-starters, and resources that lure in customers through valuable information shares, rather than hard-selling tactics. More and more companies are launching blogs that showcase information about their industry, often with little to no mention of their business at all. While that may sound counter-intuitive, it’s SEO gold, and just as precious to users that want value before traditional marketing messages. If you hook a potential customer by providing something meaningful, you’ve already helped to establish loyalty. The great thing is, stellar content also woos search engines too, so this is a double bounty.

Whatever tactics you employ, remember that today’s online user is savvier and more discerning than ever before. Honesty trumps slickness, transparency trumps trickery. The more human you allow your campaigns to be, the more engaging and appealing your brand will feel.

What new marketing tactics are you noticing or employing this year? How have your overall results looked?