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If you stick around long enough in the digital marketing business, you get to read a lot of these types of columns — one expert or another prognosticating about the future. If I had such a talent, my sense is that it would be put to best use in selecting next week’s lottery numbers. Like you, I have no crystal ball. But I have spent a great deal of my career meeting with marketers in search of innovative ways to acquire and retain new and existing customers, build lifetime value, and win back lost customers.

What follows are five digital marketing predictions for 2012 that are a direct result of numerous client and prospect meetings. 

1. The year of the tablet. All of this is likely to occur in the next 13 months:

  • the installed base of tablet devices will continue to grow exponentially;
  • consumer adoption of tablets will continue to accelerate;
  • new tablet devices will enable traditional print units to be displayed effectively;
  • the rising cost of paper, printing and postage will continue to fuel marketers’ desire for more cost-efficient delivery formats;
  • the web makes a comeback in terms of tablet applications; and
  • the App StoreOpens in a new window still dominates, but will have new competition.

 

2. New demands for greater attribution analysis tools and methods. As a result, be prepared for the following:

  • company finance departments will require greater proof and validation of cost efficiency;
  • marketers will demand greater accountability from channels on media plan optimization; and
  • there will be a new focus on integrated marketing proficiency and effectiveness.

 

3. Get mobile … and fast. The following trends around mobile will emerge next year:

  • consumers will spend more time accessing and communicating via mobile devices;
  • marketers will get their websites in shape to reap the benefits of the new mobile economy; and
  • mobile search and advertising will ramp up dramatically.

 

4. Social media grows up. Here’s what you can expect when it comes to social media marketing in 2012:

  • most marketers will aggressively launch a new array of social strategies and programs;
  • growth in social gaming will flatten out;
  • marketers crack the code in terms of turning community building into measurable transactions; and
  • websites will play second fiddle to social media destinations.

 

5. Digital will play a pivotal role in presidential politics. With 2012 an election year, don’t be surprised to see the following:

  • candidates will be smarter about how to use the full spectrum of digital tools at their disposal, following President Obama’s lead when he leveraged social media in building a coalition and donor base four years ago;
  • the battle will heat up in late 2011 and throughout the primary season; and
  • whoever wins the battle online will win the White House.

 

It’s challenging to predict trends in a marketplace that continues to evolve and change as quickly as the digital landscape. I continue to watch for signs that marketers are getting smarter about using the digital tools available to monitor the dialogs they’re having with their customers in real time.

As we watch the tremendous shift in media consumption patterns and the lamentations about the demise of direct mail, my sense is that digital still has a long way to go before it can be viewed as much more than electronic junk communication. It’s our responsibility as marketers to step up and show consumers that we can be trusted with their data. In earning this trust, we must build more meaningful relationships with them.

Of all of the predictions that could be realized, my sincere hope is that a new awakening to the power of the digital tools and strategies within our current toolkit comes to reality. Consumers have been waiting for years.

 

Provided by Al Diguido

Email SpamAccording to Google, spam is either a canned meat product made mainly from ham or irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.  Either way, it’s not something I want to see on my computer in the morning.  And since I don’t think I’m in the minority on this one, it’s probably not something that should be a part of your email marketing.

Enjoy this fun infographic, and make sure to check out the bottom to see best practices so you won’t look like a spammer.  Enjoy!

 

The Evolution of Spam – An Email Marketing Infographic

 

Provided by marketo.com

If you want to participate in the kickoff of the holiday shopping season without feeling too much like a market-driven drone, check Small Business Saturday with the help of these social networking tools.

Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the unending onslaught of online deals, there is another holiday shopping day that might get lost in the shuffle: Small Business Saturday. This year marks the second annual such event, a new tradition that tries to steal some addition from chain retailers and big e-commerce sites and give it to local vendors.

And this year, the fledging ritual is getting some serious attention from social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all pledge their efforts in support, offering and encouraging small business owners to use their sites’ tools to promote shopping this weekend.

Local retailers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit this weekend. What happens to consumers who want the discounts but sans the chain names (that are sometimes attached to controversy) they go hand in hand with? Small business Saturday can fill that void along with the help of some geo-social applications.

Foursquare

amex-foursquareFoursquare has been at the top of the social-meets-location game since it began, and Small Business Saturday will be no exception. If you have an American Express card, sync it to your Foursquare account following these directions. Then when you check-in to shops who have partnered with the service via Foursquare on Saturday, you will see a button that says “load to card.” Then when you spend at least $25 or more at the participating store, you’ll get a notification saying $25 was credited to your Amex account. American Express is a sponsor of Small Business Saturday, so ratcheting up sales is in its best interest, but turns out they’re willing to compensate you for helping make the event a success.

 

etsy_iconEtsy

The purveyor of all things handcrafted is a natural fit for small business Saturday—and will appeal to those who want to buy “local” without leaving their living rooms. Just searching “Small Business Saturday” on the site brought up a slew of items that will be on sale this weekend, andthis blog catalogued some of the best e-shops on the site that offered discounts last year.

 

 

thedealmixDaily deal sites

While the likes of LivingSocial and Groupon tend to offer food and spa deals, the occasional local retailer pops up. Between now and Small Business Saturday, a minimal amount of homework and creating an account with one (or all) of these sites could save you some Monday. We’d advise getting with something likeThe Dealmix, which collects a large variety of all these local deals. Keep an eye out on any of these applications for vendor or shop deals in your area. Then make a call or check Facebook to see if they are participating in Small Business Saturday. Then add those savings to whatever discount the daily deal site was offering. Of course, you should check that you can use coupons during the Saturday sale.

 

 

 

Facebook

Facebook is offering a slew of tools for small businesses to take advantage of, but the site is also catering to consumers. Check out the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and you’ll have access to a variety of information, including city guides for optimizing your local shopping in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as organized events in cities nationwide. Some of them include raffles, free gift wrapping, Santa visits for the kids, and community breakfasts.

 

 

 

 

smallbiz twitterTwitter

Be sure to follow your favorite local business on Twitter, if you haven’t already. We’re sure a great many of these sites will have implemented a Follow button (one of the tools in the Small Business Saturday kid), and will be using the hashtags #ShopSmall, #ShopSmallNov26, #SmallBizSaturday and #SmallBusinessSaturday to spread word of their discounts this weekend.

With the advent of social media channels, customer service has forever changed. Consumers are no longer willing to sit and listen to classical music on hold. In today’s age of hyper-responsiveness, customers expect instant responses from support reps on very public online platforms.

Instead of shying away from social media, smart businesses will leverage their social channels to spread a positive brand reputation, to connect happy customers and to step up their customer support efforts.

Consumers aren’t eager to blast negative messages about your company – unless your brand is unresponsive. I recently learned at an IBM conference that customers are five times more likely to post something positive than negative, and that companies usually have at least 10 warnings before someone posts a negative comment.

Happy customers who get their issues resolved tell an average of four to six people about their positive experiences, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. It pays to treat your customers well, not only for the repeat business, but also to gain the positive word-of-mouth consumers now broadcast across social media. Satisfied customers can become your most influential brand ambassadors. They’ll help to answer customer service questions posted online and also tout their own positive experiences with your business.

Here are the five best ways to turn customers into brand ambassadors through customer service.

 


1. Be Fast


When a customer turns to social media for a support issue, he expects a brand to generate the fastest response possible. According to a recent UK study, 25% of social media users expect a response within one hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. If you allow a support issue to dangle for too long, you risk being perceived as a company that either doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t care enough to reply promptly.

Remember, most people on social networks aren’t itching to post negative comments. They only do so after a bad experience. Therefore, don’t give them enough time to have a bad experience.

 


2. Be Visible


Private and direct messaging on Facebook and Twitter is all well and good, but when it comes to customer service, it’s best to be totally transparent and visible. The answer you give to one customer could, in turn, help thousands more. Think of each post and interaction as a resource that future customers can reference. Not to mention, customers will be more apt to direct friends to your page with their own questions.

Social media sites foster an online community around your brand. Watch how customers discuss and respond to your products so you can join the conversation and better understand the community that supports your brand.

 


3. Be Consistent


It’s vital that you ensure all customer support answers remain consistent across the web and across all social channels. If a common question is posted on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, then each response should communicate the same solution. Conflicting answers create confused, unhappy customers. Just as people expect consistent experiences with your products, they also expect consistent service across all of your channels. Brand accuracy drives confidence and credibility, and helps build brand loyalty among your customers.

 


4. Be Organized


If consistency creates brand ambassadors, then being organized is equally paramount. Admittedly, the cross-company integration and management of social media continues to be challenging. Maintaining a successful social media presence on just one network is a full-time job. Trying to do it over multiple networks is impossible if your support staff isn’t properly organized.

Customers can spot disorganization a mile away, especially online. However, if you demonstrate that your company support knows what it’s doing, you’ll earn the respect and trust of brand loyalists. Organization goes beyond knowing who does what on the support team; it’s also vital that everyone on the team is on the same page. Each team member must know where to seek reliable answers, and each must source information from the same place.

 


5. Be Human


As cool as Siri is, she still hasn’t crossed from digital assistant to human entity. Until then, your social media customer support should remain as human as possible. On the bright side, social networks already take the formalities out of conversation. It’s one of their biggest draws.

Therefore, a customer’s name isn’t “Inquiry #83kd4z.” She’s Christie from Denver. People respond best when they feel like they’re talking to other people. Your customer support should make customers feel as if they’re posting a normal question on a friend’s wall. Creating that kind of relationship with your customer should be the priority of any company.

Using customer service to create brand ambassadors isn’t the Herculean task it once was. Social media is presenting countless opportunities to turn your company’s support system into an open, interactive community, where customers can share their positive experiences with one another and spread the good word about your products and services – all on your behalf.

 

Provided by Duke Chung

The intellectual property battle rages on between Apple and Samsung. In April 2011, Apple filed for patent infringement, claiming that Samsung copied its iPhone and iPad designs. Courts all over the world have taken on this battle. Europe and Australia, for instance, have ordered preliminary injunctions barring Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 from shelves — just in time for the holiday season.

 

Provided by Stephanie Buck

Facebook has been working for two years on a secret Facebook phone project named Buffy. Facebook is rumored to be teaming up with HTC to be build a device with a modified version of Android to create a fully integrated Facebook experience.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer might be making a comeback, but as a phone instead of a TV show or movie. Today AllThingsD is reporting that Facebook has been working on an official Facebook phone code named Buffy. The social media giant is rumored to have teamed up with HTC to produce a fully integrated Facebook mobile device. If these rumors are true we shouldn’t expect to see a Facebook phone for at least 12 to 16 months.

We started hearing rumors about a Facebook phone over a year ago, which seem to be true since the Buffy project has been in production for almost two years now. We have seen phones launch in the past year with Facebook integration, and even with a dedicated Facebook button. Buffy is said to be something completely different from anything we have seen thus far.

Buffy is said to run on a modified version of Android tweaked by Facebook so that all of its services are deeply integrated into the phone. It is also said to support HTML5 as a platform for applications, which means you should be able to play all of your favorite Facebook games on the phone.

Facebook’s app is one of the most popular app on iOS, Android, Windows 7, and Blackberry but being just an app comes with restrictions. With Google able to fully integrate Google+ into Android phones, and Apple’s new partnership with Twitter it seems like Facebook needs to make its own device to stay competitive.

Over 350 million people use Facebook apps on mobile phones, and Facebook knows that the future of social networking is mobile. Is the Facebook phone going to be too little too late when it finally comes out?

 

Provided by Mike Dunn

 

ipad-3-concept

Next models of iPad and iPhone could get a boost in size to go along with improved specs.

While the normal tendency is to make each iteration of a product slimmer, a new rumor suggests that the next generation of iPads and iPhones could actually be a step up in both specs and size.

Citing the site’s “most reliable source,” iLounge has posted some details about the next generation of iPads and iPhones that suggest both product lines will gain a little size when new models are released in 2012.

With the iPad 3, the size increase will only add about .7mm of thickness to the tablet computer. The change is necessary to support a second light bar for the higher-resolution display — rumored to be an impressive 2048 x 1536 pixels. The site indicates that that the iPad 3 could debut sometime in January for a March release.

As for the iPhone 5, the site’s source says the phone will need an extra 8mm to accommodate its new 4-inch display. Upgrades to the phone’s battery could also play into the size increase.

The report suggests that the iPhone 5 will debut sometime in the summer, and that it’s still in the engineering phase (as opposed to early production).

 

Provided by Rick Marshall