A new year is coming. And with it comes a chance for business owners and marketers to evaluate what they’re doing, uncover what’s not working, and focus on the new trends that are worth their attention.
As 2013 approaches, below are five Internet marketing trends for small business owners to focus on.
Emphasis on Inbound Marketing Techniques
Whether you want to call it inbound marketing or simple diversifying your traffic, 2013 will see an increased emphasis on creating, nurturing, and converting leads through strategically placed content. The past year has been about the death of interruption marketing. Businesses can no longer expect to earn an audience by shouting at them or “interrupting” their daily activities. In 2013, earned media will become increasingly important as brands trying to insert themselves into the natural conversation happening on blogs, in social media, in forums, on Q&A sites, etc. It’s not enough anymore to purchase a Yellow Pages ad and expect that your audience will find you. Now, businesses need to do the legwork to make their brands appear in the places consumers are looking. They’ll be looking to do it via more strategic blogging, email marketing, retargeting, white papers, social activity and other methods.
Responsive Design Becomes The Norm
It’s getting harder to predict how a user will access your website. Instead of creating separate experiences for PC, mobile and tablets, in 2013 brands will look to create one experience to rule them all. They’ll be looking to responsive design.
Through responsive design, a site changes based on the size of the device used, making it easier to navigate on smaller devices like tablets and smartphones. Responsive layouts take developing for specific screen resolutions out of the design/development equation and make screen resolutions more of a tool than a limitation. With responsive design, site owners are able to shape the experience based on predefined minimum and maximum pixel dimensions. The result is a personalized, stronger experience with higher conversions.
While some design shops still consider responsive design an “option”, I’d argue it now has to be the standard. Even Google is recommending responsive design as the best way to optimize for mobile. If your site isn’t built on responsible design technology, it’s time to start considering it. As Tom Demers noted in his 2013 SEO Trends post, awareness about mobile  is going to be the first steps for SMBs but don’t wait too long to react.
A Move Toward Big Data
Businesses have long used the trackability of the Web as a reason to invest in SEO, paid search, social media, and other digital marketing initiatives. However, the people in charge of these different marketing disciplines would often sit in different rooms. They didn’t talk to one another. Data wasn’t shared. Instead, everything was done in silos instead of working in combination.
In 2013, walls will begin to break.
The year 2012 already saw how big data was changing the practice of online marketing . However, now that we’ve seen it, more will embrace it. By taking a cross-channel view of our marketing efforts, marketers will be able to take advantage of the data they’re getting from each channel and combine their data for deeper insights. This will result in not only smarter, more efficient campaigns, but for more integrated marketing that blends SEO, PPC, PR, social media, video, etc, together for a more unified message.
If you’re not currently looking at your data as a whole, start developing a process to help you do so. Because as valuable as your data is broken out in different silos (social media, SEO, PPC), its leagues more valuable when combined and looked at as one entity.
Taking A Deeper Look at Content
Tom already spoke about the need for “thick” content , so if you didn’t hear his cry then, it’s time to give it another read. Content has long been hailed King, but it’s only been within recent month that it’s really been given any respect. With search engine updates specifically geared at rewarding high quality content (and penalizing low quality content) more and more sites will be looking to up the ante in 2013. The result will be a larger focus on creating evergreen content that provides a great value to searchers. It also means businesses will have to take a much more strategic approach to content marketing.
Businesses that get more serious about content will see great gains, both from the searchers who consume it and the search engines who can’t help but rank it.
Creating a True Process For Social Media
It’s been a bit of a gold rush out there in social media. For a bit, brands were getting involved without much thought as to why they were there or what they were hoping to get out of it. We saw lots of dollars thrown at Twitter use, Facebook marketing, and creating Pinterest strategies. And while that won’t slow down in the coming year, applying metric to this avenues will become increasingly important. Because as the medium matures, so must the results.
This will start with creating a smarter social media framework . Identifying your objectives for getting involved and then building out the metrics that will show you whether you’ve reached them or not.
Brands will look to create stronger internal pipelines to help them respond to the insights they’re gleaning via social. It’s not enough to hear consumer complaints. There must be a system for how to move social messages from one department to another so that everyone benefits and everyone is tuned in.
Brands will move from a single Community Manager to adopting tools to help them manage the whole process.
The result will be that social media becomes a more legitimized marketing practice. Those who are ready to take it to the next level will benefit. Those still hoping to “make do” with the primitive brand use will not fare so well.
Those are five big Internet marketing trends I see coming down the pipeline for 2013. What do you most have your eyes on?
Relationship building will be big in 2013 especially now that SEO can be dealt with offline with citation. You don’t necessarily need links any more as Google is intuitive enough to pick up on non linked name drops and the associated content that are being named with.