What will marketers be focusing on in 2013?
During the recent ExactTarget Connections event in Indianapolis, two themes emerged from this group of mostly email marketers:
Data (Specifically, marketers will be focusing on the need to better use data to engage customers on a more personal level.)
Cross-training (The focus will be especially between marketers and departments handling different marketing channels.)
Brian Gruidl from BlueStem Brands, a credit retailer in the sub-prime space, said one of his biggest challenges is delivering the right message and content to their customers at the right time. Also, he’s focusing on making sure the message follows through to the website experience, which, in his organization, is handled by a different team. BlueStem Brands has a lot of data about its customers---but cultivating and using that data to send more personalized messages can be a challenge. He also talked about the fact that his web team is a separate department, so there is a need to work closely with them to make sure they are effectively converting the customers linking through from their emails.
Social media strategist Jay Baer thinks marketers should be focusing on cross-training their marketing teams. Baer says we are entering an "age of marketing generalists." Why? Because you can't provide a seamless experience to customers if your internal teams are still sitting in silos.
I spoke to another email marketer who had a great story about how she started out on a quest for a CRM system, but she soon realized she needed to do some other things first---such as combine the customer data she had in multiple databases into one so they could look at the full picture of each customer.
Jeff Rohrs, VP of Marketing for ExactTarget, thinks brands with a physical presence need to be engaging more with their customers on multiple channels. For example, retailers can do simple things, such as use store signage and offers to get customers to opt into SMS campaigns then use those campaigns to attract opt-ins to an email list. In Rohrs's view, a large number of brands are still not using personalization after a retail purchase. Again, that’s evidence that marketers need to use data more effectively to reap a higher ROI from their efforts.
Julie Woodward from the National FFA Organization is focusing 2013 on giving customers and potential customers the content they want. Michelle Johnson of Excellus Health Plan will be working on becoming relevant to a new market due to the changes in health care. Both of these initiatives speak to the need to know your customers better and truly understand what they want.
Remember Not to Play the Result
A personal highlight for me was seeing actor Michael J. Fox speak. I even had my photo taken by the car from "Back to the Future."
Fox gave everyone great personal and professional inspiration with a dose of humor. His main message was "Don't play the result." It's a saying actors use to remind themselves to not play the role based on the outcome they already know because they read the script. Rather, stay in the moment and take things as they come.
Which is a good reminder for actors---and marketers---as we head into a new year.