Expert Marketing Predictions
2011 was the year of social media, 2012 was the year of content marketing, and 2013 was the year where these two factors convened. But what does 2014 hold in store for inbound marketing professionals?
We got the second-best thing to a crystal ball, which was to ask 30 of the sharpest marketers we know to give us their prediction. From big data to delegation, check out the skills these thought leaders think will matter most this year:
1. Marketers...will have to be skilled in delegation.
Matthew Iscoe, Marketing Manager @Thriving Firm
In 2014, professional marketers...will have to be skilled in delegation...Marketers will need to be able to define, assign, review, and measure non-content focused marketing responsibilities, from advanced code to data modeling. These marketers will still have to be versed in these skills in order to effectively communicate expectations.
2. Create a 360-Degree Marketing Experience
Don Martelli, VP @Schneider PR
Data analysis, deep search engine knowledge, creative asset development, writing, storytelling, media & blogger relationship management, paid media knowledge, and finally, integration -- ...all of this should come together to create 360 degree marketing experiences for a company's target audience.
3. Lead and revenue attribution modeling.
Jacob Baldwin, Digital Marketing Manager @One Call Now
Attribution modeling has always been important, but the trick is, we're to the point now that we can do it with greater accuracy than ever before. It's very important to know which marketing activities are producing tangible results. If you can't do that and you're producing leads, you're just getting lucky.
4. Understand schema markups.
Jason White, Senior SEO Strategist @Dragon Search Marketing
Understanding Schema markups and how you can utilize these to give the correct signals and optimizations across platforms is a skill that I've been deep diving on and will be honing over the first half of 2014.
5. Harness and leverage an omni-channel approach.
Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director @Wixon Jewelers
To be successful in 2014 and moving forward, it's increasingly important for marketers to have a strong digital proclivity and a sense of changing trends in our industry. The marketing landscape has, and will continue to evolve into a segmented world where an increased importance on digital marketing is necessary to harness and leverage an omni-channel approach.
6. Hustle and Development of New Skills
Danny Groner, Outreach Manager @Shutterstock
Companies of all sizes have grown leaner in recent years which means employees are being asked to do more. That requires both hustle and the development of new skills…It's easier than ever to acquire more digital skills thanks to sites like Skillfeed.com and others. It's always been good business to invest in yourself; more than ever, it's becoming a part of the job.
7. Become T-Shaped
Grant Tilus, Inbound Marketing Specialist @Collegis Education
I recommend focusing on becoming a T-Shaped marketer that has one focus area while continually developing your skills across the spectrum. Make 2014 the year that you decide which of the core inbound marketing skills you enjoy the most and focus on becoming an expert while also developing your strengths in other areas.
8. Bridge the gap between concept and execution, quickly.
Charlie Patel, CTO & Angel Investor @Juice Tank
Regardless of whether you're a marketer, developer, or entrepreneur, we are seeing many "wantrepreneurs" who simply cannot execute on their ideas and companies. 2014 will be the year for those who can bridge the gap between concept and execution, quickly.
9. Prioritize mobile strategy in order to meet consumer expectations.
Grant Eckert, Director of Marketing @Medical Guardian
With mobile usage growing 14 times faster than desktop, companies will need to prioritize mobile strategy in order to meet consumer expectations and drive conversion. Whether it’s a site built specifically for mobile or the use of responsive web design, creating an experience for the mobile visitor will be critical to online success.
10. Marketers need good narrative instincts.
David Christopher, Senior Inbound Manager @OPUBCO Communications Group
Story telling has always been at the heart of great marketing because it can elicit an emotional response and generate a connection. People are becoming increasingly discerning about the brands they trust online, so marketers need good narrative instincts to craft content and a message that can cut through the noise and impact potential customers.
11. A marketer who lacks [social media] skills has no future.
Bill Rosenthal, CEO @Communispond
To be effective in using social media, you must: Be clear about your goals, keep thinking SEO, provide value to the reader, make it a multi-direction conversation, get active with groups, go beyond your network, be brief, don't fall into online slumber, and think before you post.
12. Identifying SEO Secrets
Adam O’Leary, Marketing & Design Consultant @Encite Marketing
Over 90% of purchases start online. With Google's changes to their algorithms, finding the secret to get companies to page one is VERY challenging.
13. The Ability to Harness and Analyze Big Data
Joseph McKeating, Founder @Pulsar Strategy
We now live in an analytical world, so the abilities to harness and analyze big data will be the most important skills for marketers to demonstrate in 2014. Mastering these skills will allow for measurable, results-driven customer relationships, something marketers have often been criticized for lacking.
14. “(S)he who adapts quickest stands to gain the most.”
Collin Jarman, SEO Technician @Click Optimize
I've always said, and will continue to say, the skill that trumps all others is adaptability. Coming from an SEO standpoint, you have to be ready to read and implement some cutting edge stuff if you want to stay ahead of the curve. It's hardly different for any other aspect of marketing.
15. Strike the right ratio on social media.
Amanda Cook, CEO @Wellpreneur
75% (or more) of your updates should be interesting, funny, informative for your ideal client ... and 25% (or much less!) should be about your products and services. Cultivate that balance, and you'll win on social media.
16. Big data is BIG, and it’s getting bigger.
Adriel Sanchez, VP of Demand Generation @SAP
Marketers who have the ability to turn this wealth of information into actionable insights will be incredibly successful.
17. Marketers need an understanding of the technical side of things.
Adam Connell, Marketing Manager @UK Linkology
Marketers need an understanding of things like graphic design, coding and the technical side of things just to make their job easier but if you have specialists in the business then you should use them.
18. Mobile is the new black
Neil Rosen, CEO @ eWay Direct
Adapting to mobile means creating emails and websites via responsive design. It means getting to the point in copy even faster. It means making the call to action easy for the subscriber to fulfill—no one’s going to click through three or four screens to place an order or sign up for a newsletter anymore.
19. Don’t stop communicating after the purchase.
Tim Hart, Founder @Hart Communications
Deepen your customer relationships by extending your content strategy to after-sale communications... to effectively pump up customer loyalty, up-selling, and cross-selling opportunities. Seventy-two percent of respondents said it's important or very important to receive ongoing content from the vendor after a sale is completed.
20. Tell [your] story with each and every image.
Ryan Hanley, Founder @Content Warfare
The most important skill for a marketer in 2014 is the ability to create, distribute and convert their audience through images. With the rapid growth of Instagram and Pinterest, the addition of images to the Twitter feed and Google+ high resolution image sharing to name just a few, social platforms are shifting priority towards imagery. The successful marketer of 2014 must be able to tell their story with each and every image.
21. Have a thorough understanding of how to track success.
Andy Forsberg, Director of Inbound Marketing @MentorMate
"Marketers today absolutely need to be familiar with analytics. Whether they use HubSpot, Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Omniture, a combination, or something else, they need to have a thorough understanding of how to accurately track success.
22. Content is your most valuable asset.
Steven Macdonald, Senior Adviser @Kingspoint
Content is your most valuable asset. It's what attracts people to your website, get's shared across social media platform and is what helps convert visitors into customers.
In 2013, SuperOffice focused solely on content marketing by creating blog content and white papers. The result of this focus has been an 100% increase in organic traffic (35,000 visits to 70,000 visits) and conversion rates (1.1% to 2.2%).
23. Write Engaging Content
Lenora Kaplan, President @Small Business Directions
The most important skill a marketer needs in 2014 is the ability to write engaging content and know how to use it. Gone are the days of corporate speak... It's about having a real conversation to draw in your customers, cutting to the chase of what you have to offer and explaining why someone would buy it from you.
24. What we should be as marketers is analysts.
Magda Walczak, President @Maddowe
If marketers could look at their Google Analytics and any social media or SEO tools in context of the qualitative inputs they are also receiving and figure out how to turn what they see into next steps that could grow their brand or sales, that would be phenomenal.
25. Improve [your] long-form game.
Vin Ferrer, Social Media Strategist @Graphic D-Signs
The 2014 marketing maven is going to need to improve their long form game. The short quick jab content isn't going away, but the bulkier, more important and meaty blog post or white paper needs to be marketed better.
26. Get to grips with schema.
Will Stevens, SEO Executive @123-reg
In 2014 you need to get to grips with schema - essentially a way of marking up web pages so that search engines are better able to determine what the content is actually about. In turn, Google and its competitors use this data to help users (ie your potential customers) to find information more easily.
In short, schemas are increasingly vital if you want to rank well in search engines and attract clicks. Schema.org (http://schema.org/) is a good place to start learning how to go about marking up your pages.
27. Become digitally savvy.
Hugo Pereira, Product & Digital Strategist @TalentSquare
The most important skill in 2014 for any marketer is to become digitally savvy. This does not mean that a marketer needs to know code, but understand the importance and usage of it. It means that a marketer knows how to deal and motivate with developers and programming timelines.
28. Create and promote usable, useful and unique content.
Matthew Zajechowski , Outreach Manager @Digital Third Coast
The skills I think matter most in 2014 for marketers is the ability to create and promote usable, useful and unique content for both their clients and their business.
29. Improve Your Market Identification
R. Scott Alford, Founder @Advanced Development Concepts
There's not much untapped territory out there but there is a lot of room for improvement. Probably the two biggest skill that most marketers need to learn is:
(1.) how to really identify the ideal target market all the way down to their psychological makeup.
(2.) how to best reach that target with marketing that converts into measurable sales.
All too often marketers fail because of these basics.
30. Solve Your Customers Problems
Vicky Fraser, Managing Director @Sunflower Communications
The marketing skills that matter most in 2014 are the same skills that mattered most in 2000, or 1995, or 1914. Marketing fads come and go, but human nature doesn't change. The most important thing is to find out what keeps your customer awake at night, and help them solve that problem.
image credit: janoon028/freedigitalphotos.net