Archive for the ‘Marketing & Sales’ Category

Geico Botches Direct Mail Personalization

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

It’s become part of our national consciousness . . . “Mike, Mike, Mike! What day is it? HUMP D-A-A-A-A-Y!!!”  It’s the Geico camel and his ridiculous waddle through the office. “Hump D-A-A-A-A-Y!” has become one of those brand phrases that become incorporated into our daily speech.

IMG_3048That’s why when this letter showed up in our mailbox, it had such promise. The familiar “Mike, Mike, Mike” replaced with “John, John, John” and the familiar camel staring at me across the envelope.

Unfortunately for Geico, there is no John here. It’s a quirk related to our former address. John is my father-in-law’s name, and it seems that the list never got cleaned.

Personalization should have really worked here. Unfortunately, when you get a name wrong — especially on the outside of the envelope — it’s not a good marketing tactic.

There are techniques to clean up messes like this before they happen. People move all the time, and there are tactics for identifying and removing duplicate names within a defined geographic radius.

If your clients are purchasing lists for producing personalized prospect mailings, work with someone who knows the pitfalls of purchased data and how to avoid common mistakes. When embarrassments like these get avoided, you look like the hero and your client doesn’t look like the heel.

3 Steps to Online Marketing Success

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

It’s no secret that the internet has taken off. So my question to you now is, how developed are your online marketing tactics?

With almost 100 million people using the Internet in the United States alone, I hope your answer is very.

Yes, I know there are so many options and offers floating around out there. They are all intended to help you and your business drive traffic to your website and generate leads through inbound tactics, but the question is, what is right for you?

How can you draw customers to your services?

Learn how you can succeed with online marketing in 3 easy steps by downloading “Online Marketing: Tools You Need to Succeed,” free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/OnlineMkt! Do you have any additional tips for success with online marketing? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

Another Great Stat for Promoting 1:1 Printing

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Are you keeping a log of stats for promoting 1:1 printing over online alternatives? One of the categories of stats I keep seeing recently is how a high percentage of online targeting is completely mistargeted.

Most recently, Blue Research noted that not only is online advertising mistargeted, but consumers are getting so irritated by irrelevant advertising that they are abandoning the brands doing it.

Here’s the latest:

96% of consumers report receiving mistargeted information or promotions. While that’s not new, many are so fed up that they are abandoning brands as a result. [1]

Sure, there is the occasional database mess-up in 1:1 printing, but overall, targeting in print is highly accurate. The contrast with online mistargeting can create a powerful impression on customers thinking of reducing print volume in favor of electronic alternatives.

[1] 2014 Consumer Research: Social Login and Personalization (Blue Research 2014)

Are We Making Cross-Media Accessible?

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

When we read about cross-media marketing, we are most likely to read about sprawling, comprehensive campaigns that involve multiple social media sites, TV, mobile, posters and billboards, integrated dashboards and real-time metrics from global brands. White papers abound from IT services and data management companies like SAS.

It’s as if cross-media marketing has to be big or it’s not effective.

But what is cross-media marketing really? It’s communicating a marketing message using multiple channels or moving consumers from one channel to another to reinforce branding or communicate a marketing message.

That means that QR Codes are cross-media marketing. Personalized URLs on direct mail or email are cross-media marketing. Direct mailers with email follow-ups are cross-media marketing. These are campaigns that are easily implemented, and as long as they are done well, they generally achieve much better results than a single channel alone.

In an ideal world, every marketer would be able to use big data, gain a 360-degree view of the customer, and start, monitor, and measure social media conversations relating to their brands. But if that’s the only way we talk about cross-media marketing, it makes these campaigns sound inaccessible to the average marketer.

It’s time to bring the cross-media marketing conversation down to earth and talk about real campaigns that are really implementable by even small and mid-sized marketers.

How are you helping your customers do that?

 

3 Website Resolutions for 2014

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Your website is the most important marketing tool you have. 2014 will be the year you fully embrace that, if you haven’t already. What once were staples of your marketing are now obsolete. Your domain is the most precious gem in your marketing chest, and it’s time to let it shine.

If you haven’t bought into your website being the crown jewel of your empire, here are three tips to get you on track for the new year.

Leads on Every page

It’s difficult to predict where your site visitors will land. You can use analytics to narrow it down, but you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket either. Every page and subpage on your site should be just as strong as the next. What you cannot predict is what may spur a prospect into action. A sale can begin on any page, and you can capture that by employing strong calls to action and data-capturing tools.

Every page should have the capability to bring in new leads. This can be with a white paper download, a free audit, a webinar registration page – the possibilities are endless.

Integrate Social Media

We’ve been preaching this forever, but a strong social media presence is only as effective as what it is linking back to. If your website is boring and dull, why would someone click a link on Twitter to see it? Perhaps you already have been using social media and not seeing the results you wanted. Your website may be to blame.

Responsive Web

Responsive web design is a relatively new term for a fantastically intuitive concept. Responsive web, simply, is the idea that your experience as a viewer should retain consistency across all platforms. If you are reading a blog post on your laptop, it should look similar in theme and layout on an iPhone, tablet, desktop, etc.

Now is the time to focus on furthering your online marketing efforts, and the first place to start is your website. A strong website will serve as an impressive marketing and sales tool, bringing in leads on every page. Once you take the time to develop and improve your website, you’ll be extremely impressed with its ability to perform as a strong promotional tool.

What are your marketing resolutions for the new year? Let us know below!

3 Places to Get Content for Blogs, White Papers, and Other Content Marketing

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

When it comes to marketing, content is king. Sure, you can go out and try to find customers on your own, but increasingly, customers are finding you. They know what they want, and they are actively searching for, filtering, and vetting their print and marketing partners based on the content they find.

But where do you get the content? Especially for smaller companies, this can be a real challenge. For SEO and differentiation, you need a constant churn of print and email newsletters, white papers, blog posts, Webinars, case studies, and content for social media. What if you don’t have the resources to pay a copywriter to produce them?

If you are not in a position to write your own content (or need more content than you can create in-house), here are 3 ideas for places to get it.

1. Third-party providers. There are a number of third-party content providers that offer content you can brand as your own. They write it. You brand it. Use your logos. Even lay it out in-house so it matches your own in-house style. However, as with anything else, not all purchased content is the same. For PSPs and MSPs, content should be 1) industry-specific, 2) reflect your company’s individual expertise and business focus, and 3) offer solid, useful information but not be text-heavy.

For example, I write the content for Great Reach Communications’ Market Builder and 1:1 Messenger programs. In the seven or so years I’ve worked with them, there has been a very clear trend. E-mail articles and blog content has always been short, but especially for print, the text is getting shorter and the graphics are getting more prominent.The print newsletters are now featuring shorter, pithier articles and standalone graphics with relevant data bytes. Readers can scan the page and get the main points very quickly. This increases the chances that the newsletter actually gets read.

2. Third-party providers . . . a la YOU. When you purchase third-party content, it’s yours. That means you can tweak the content to suit your company’s unique niche or perspective.

Clients of third-party providers will often use the purchased content as base, then add to it with their own data, metrics, resources, and case studies to create custom newsletters for less than they can write from scratch. As another example, I sell brandable white papers on the best practices of digital printing, personalized (1:1) printing, Web-to-print, QR Codes, and so on. Many printers will purchase them as templates, then I will do an interview with one or more people at the company to  customize the content. I will use that time to replace generic examples with their own case studies, their own perspectives, and their own technology.

3. Tap into your suppliers.  Many suppliers develop white papers and other content that you can brand as part of the value they offer as a supplier to you. Look not just to press suppliers, but software vendors, as well. Even if they don’t offer content you can brand as your own, you can often distribute it as a resource. They will often have case studies and white papers you can draw from or cite in your materials.

Contact your sales rep and peruse what your hardware and software vendors have available on their websites, then you can reference the highlights in your blog, social media, and other communications. If you see something you want to use verbatim, ask the company permission to do so. More often than not, you’ll find the answer is yes. You’ll often see at the bottom of blog posts and magazine articles “reprinted from . . .” and the original source. With permission, you can do it, too!

This industry’s need for content is voracious. Don’t think you have to write everything yourself. If you can, that’s great. If you can’t, there are resources to help you.

Improve Your Marketing for 2014

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Happy holidays Digital Nirvana readers!

To help get you started and to welcome the New Year, I have a special gift for you all below.

As 2014 is rapidly approaching, all companies are getting ready to start fresh with a new plan for the New Year. Is improving your company’s marketing efforts a major part of your new strategy? It better be! This year, it’s your opportunity to make new connections and strengthen old ones, all while increasing marketing efforts and filling the sales funnel.

I’d like to share our special eBook, 12 Marketing Tips for the New Year, to get you on a path to marketing success for 2014!

On behalf of everyone here at interlinkONE and Grow Socially, I’d like to wish you all a happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

[P.S. I'd love to hear your feedback as well as any other marketing tips you might have for 2014 in the comments below! Also, feel free to share this holiday special with others here: http://ilnk.me/NewYears, it's free!]

Personalized URLs: In-House Lists Vs. Prospecting Lists

Friday, December 13th, 2013

On Tuesday, I wrote a post about the changes in perception and expectations regarding personalized URLs. I’ve gotten some great feedback, including a comment I’d like to share here.

Many see anything interactive like a PURL as being a trip to nowhere except a hundred more emails a month, and more telemarketing calls.  It takes time to separate the legitimate benefit from previous pratfalls.

I totally agree with this. In fact, it’s why I have listed as one of the best practices for personalized URLs as using an in-house list rather than a prospecting list. In-house lists naturally come with a higher level of trust.

An exception would be prospecting lists in which respondents want ongoing contact from the marketer. A classic example comes from the Zeiterion Theater (whose case study can be found in PODI’s case study archive). It created a profile of the ideal patron, then sent a prospecting campaign to the desired demographic and invited them to log into a personalized URL for a chance to win free theater tickets. Even if respondents didn’t win, they responded because they were interested in theater and were most likely wanting and expecting additional and ongoing contact.

But the issue of not responding because of concern about unsolicited telemarketing calls is a very legitimate one and one of the reasons that in-house lists can be a more effective channel.

What’s your experience? Do you encourage clients to use in-house lists? Or do you use personalized URLs for prospecting? If so, how do you get around this perception?

Tapping into the New Cross Media

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

It’s a loud, busy world out there. With so much information available, getting your voice heard is a challenge for any company. For mailing, print, and fulfillment providers, cross media marketing is really vital right now.

A well thought out cross media campaign is one of the best ways to communicate any message clearly, consistently, and in a way that’s relevant to the hearer. Keeping up with cross media marketing trends is an important component of your ongoing success – and that of your clients.

Are you having trouble connecting with customers?

Learn how you can use cross media marketing to better communicate with customers by downloading “Tapping into the New Cross Media,” FREE for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/NewCrossM; your customers will appreciate your dedication! Do you have any comments or opinions on cross media marketing or customer communication? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

What’s the State of Personalized URLs?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Once or twice a year, I update my educational reports and brandable white papers on a variety of topics related to digital printing and personalization. Recently, I updated the one on personalized URLs. What stood out to me?

How mainstream they’ve become. Years back, I remember regularly writing blog posts and articles on how personalized URLs were being unfairly criticized as under-performing in comparison to other personalization techniques. It wasn’t because they didn’t “work.” It was because expectations were unrealistic and they were being used improperly. (Sound familiar? Can you say “QR Codes”?)

I talked about how personalized URLs were not campaigns in themselves, but simple response mechanisms used for the right campaigns to achieve specific marketing goals. I talked about how success campaigns using personalized URLs were often (not always, but very often) being sent to in-house lists, not prospecting lists, and how critical targeting and segmentation were to success.

It really struck me how I don’t write about that anymore. In fact, response rates for personalized URLs and full personalization are equalizing, but not for the reasons one might think.

The ear-tickling answer is that people have figured out personalized URLs and response rates are rising to the level of the super-successful, full-blown 1:1 personalization, but that’s not true. It’s because expectations for what full-blown 1:1 personalization can do on a day in, day out basis are becoming more realistic.

When I first started writing on these topics, campaigns had to be getting response rates in the 20-30% range before they were deemed article-worthy. Today, they have become sufficiently mainstream and the focus has sufficiently switched to ROI that even single-digit response rate campaigns are written about when they are highly profitable. Response rates matters less now than conversion rate and ROI.

That’s good news for personalized URLs, which had a bad rap for a long time. But it’s really good news for everybody because it means, not that the personalized URL market is maturing, but that marketers’ understanding and expectations of these applications is.

What’s your opinion? What do YOU think is the defining change in this marketplace?

Big Data: Success Starts with the Problem

Friday, December 6th, 2013

There as a great article on Forbes.com recently that talked about the key to big data. It’s not building better databases. It’s not integrating data silos. It’s not the use of multiple channels (although all of those things are important). It’s starting out by knowing what problem you want to solve.

It sounds simple, and it should be. Like QR Codes, personalized URLs, and all of the other hot buzz technologies in the marketing world today, big data is not an end unto itself. It is just a tool to get somewhere else.

The article gave some great examples of how big data solved real world problems, such as how UPS used big data to predict likely truck repairs and bring down its maintenance costs and how the U.S. Tennis Association used big data to draw its fans more deeply into the matches, and they’re worth a read. But how to take that focus and apply it to the world of marketing?

Start by asking what the client wants to accomplish. For example, I want to boost my sales on Tuesdays, my slowest day of the week. Or, I want to get people to buy maintenance contracts with my products. Or, I want to get sell more X to this demographic. Nail it down. Be specific. Then ask what data — specifically — is needed to accomplish that goal.

Do you have that data in-house? If not, where can you get it? Should you gather it in-house or is this really a list purchase with the right qualifiers?

It’s not about “Let’s do a big data program.” That’s overwhelming and meaningless anyway. It’s about targeting a specific problem, then bringing resources to bear on that problem.

Sometimes simplicity and focus are the most important assets you have!

10 Ways to Interact with Your Audience Online

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Are you stumped on finding ways to interact with your target audience online? No need to worry any longer. Here are plenty of different ways for you to creatively engage with your audience using social media and your company website.

Encourage Webinar Sign Ups

You can announce webinars in your blog, social media sites, website, or eNewsletter. Webinars are an opportunity to share your expertise with any number of people, and you are able to have them participate, ask you questions, and share their ideas during the webinar as well. Webinar programs, such as GoToMeeting.com, even allow you to record the webinar so you can post it on channels, like your blog, for future reference.

Encourage eNewsletter Sign Ups

eNewsletters are always a great way for your audience to stay up to date with what your business is doing. It also gives companies the opportunity to show a more personable side to their audience. Some ways to humanize your brand with eNewsletters are by integrating YouTube videos of staff members discussing a particular subject, blog posts, and sharing pictures of events the business participated in.

Event and Seminar Invitations

Events and seminars can create an opportunity to see which of your social media channels work the best. If you advertise the event on all channels with a link that directs them to the event’s registration page, create a survey question to see which one of the company pages actually led them to the event. It will give insight of where and how much traffic flow is occurring.

eBook and White Paper Downloads

Sharing information and industry expertise are two big trends in social media and are great ways to promote business to your audience. If you announce to your online audience that these materials are available online, they will be able to learn more about you and will be able to easily pass along information to colleagues. Try to set up a landing page to download the item for free as well. Having them enter their email address and answer two or three survey questions before downloading the content gives you the chance to gain more information.

Create a Contest

You can incorporate this into your eNewsletter, blog, social media sites, events – essentially anything. Have your audience enter the contest by submitting their email address and answering a few survey questions. This information will give you material to see if any of the participants could be possible prospects. You can also create a thank you email to send to all of the participants in order to encourage future interactions with them.

Create a Poll

Polls are a fantastic way to learn more information about who is following you online. They are quick, easy, and efficient for both you and the participant. You can have the poll focus on any type of subject matter. Some subjects could include which services are most beneficial to you, how often you need the service, how you search for similar businesses, etc. Display a poll on your website, eNewsletter, and social sites!

Make a Video

Creating videos is so easy with the help of flip cameras, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc. They only have to be 30 seconds to two minutes long in order for it to send a valuable message to your audience. You have the opportunity to do so much with videos. Some ideas are announcing a contest winner, wishing your audience happy holidays, live footage of events, interviews with colleagues, or company announcements. Let your audience see the personable side of you and give your staff members the chance to participate with your marketing efforts. Integrate the videos on your website, eNewsletter, and your social media sites.

Organize Testimonial Interviews

Having your testimonials in video-form would bring new life to your testimonial page on your website. People would be able to see the clients you have worked with, how they talk about your business, and it would be much easier for them to explain their experience with your business in person. Written text can only capture so much, but videos have the capability to show how happy a customer was with your business. Posting videos is possible on all social media sites and you would be able to monitor how many views and comments each one receives.

Create a Blog

Blogs can be used as your daily eNewsletter. It is easy to keep them updated on a daily or weekly basis and you can blog about almost anything. Integrating videos, announcements, poll results, experiences at events, or subject matter are all fantastic topics to discuss in a blog. Your audience is able to leave comments and share with friends, and you can easily announce news in a quick manner. Promoting new entries across all of your online channels immediately after is possible as well. Don’t be intimidated by the blog, entries can be as short or as long as you want!

Host a Twitter Chat

Twitter chats can be very useful when it comes to attracting an online audience and giving those participants a chance to engage or respond to what you are saying. Twitter makes sharing and interacting easy because of hashtags, retweets, and username handles. You can promote Twitter chats easily and see how people shared information after the chat as well.

What’s your favorite way to interact with your audience online? Let us know below!

What Printers Should Talk about Online

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

As I mentioned in my previous post, research shows that many business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of their purchase process is complete. It’s Marketing’s job to influence that 57 percent of the market opportunity before Sales contact, to position your company as a thought-leader and to make sure that customers don’t get locked into a requirements definition that locks you out of the sale. Since the majority of that process occurs on the web – or from colleague’s referrals based on what they have seen on the web, how you talk about your services online makes a big difference in potential sales success.

There are many ways to present your company online:

  • Your own website and blog (you do have a blog right?)
  • Partner sites and blogs
  • Company page on LinkedIn (or Facebook if appropriate for your business)
  • LinkedIn Groups for target vertical markets or print procurement
  • Pinterest (if you have interesting visuals)
  • Comments on news and industry sites

The Advanced Content Marketing GuideOnline content (on your website and beyond) should position your company as a source of answers. Think about using content marketing in the form of articles, white papers, case studies with response metrics, Youtube videos and design tips rather than just posting lists of services and equipment. (See the Advanced Content Marketing Guide by Neil Patel and Kathryn Aragon – it’s FREE.)

Consider how customers and potential customers will use your website. Ideally it should be a draw for prospects while keeping existing customers coming back for new information – thereby exposing them to your new offers. Keep in mind that most real prospects are not going to come to your site due to a web search for your services. Web searches may be common for other industries and products – but research shows that print buyers use printer’s websites to validate a printer based on a personal referral or because they saw interesting content published by that company somewhere on the web. To meet their needs, make sure that your online content does the following:

  • Educates – provides interesting solutions to industry problems like reducing customer churn, meeting new regulations or serving different market segments. Provide thought provoking information to ensure that key requirements are included in the customer’s solution definition.
  • Validates –shows your ability to deliver services in a quality manner and scale to meet customer demand. This may include information on plant and equipment but should also include information on quality programs, customer service and company culture.
  • Activates – provides methods for taking action such as registering to download whitepapers, requesting a quote, or emailing key staff. Consider promoting dialogue by allowing visitors to post questions or share experiences. You can make certain areas for customers only to promote community without exposing information to competitors.

Don’t get locked out of a sale before you even know that a buyer is on the prowl. Make sure your online presence extends beyond your website and that you are talking about the things that matter: your customer’s market, the customer’s needs and your unique understanding of both.

 

Elizabeth GoodingElizabeth Gooding is the President of Gooding Communications Group and editor of the Insight Forums blog. She writes, presents and provides training on trends and opportunities for business communications professionals within regulated vertical industries.

Lead Scoring: Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

We are hearing about lead scoring more and more these days. As print providers and their customers grow increasingly comfortable with personalization and multichannel marketing, those programs are becoming more sophisticated and automated. That is opening the door to lead scoring, lead nurturing, and trigger-based content delivery.

As you begin to develop automated lead scoring and lead nurturing for your customers, there is a critical point to remember. Lead scoring is typically based on information people input into online forms and triggers the appropriate lead nurturing path that follows. However, people lie.

It’s not necessarily that they are awful, horrible human beings setting out to mislead you. It’s that those online forms are often monstrosities unintentionally designed to frustrate. Respondents just want to get to the information they are looking for (watch a video, download a white paper, access a presentation). They don’t want to spend 10 minutes filling out an endlessly long, frustratingly complex form first. I know I don’t. Consequently, they will often select the first thing on the list — accurate or not — just to be able to move on.

I was reading a great post on Eloqua’s blog this morning that made this very point:

How many contacts have you generated from those who have selected Afghanistan in the country dropdown menu? It’s the first country available in most dropdown lists, and frequently selected to bypass necessary information and proceed to the next option to access gated content.

Amen! If you try to gather too much information, if the level of depth and complexity of those forms is inappropriate to the target audience, you can set yourself up for disappointing results. So when setting up lead scoring for yourself or your clients, don’t just think about the information you want to gather. Think about what respondents are most likely to actually provide . . . and provide accurately. Balance your goals with the likelihood of getting what you want.

The goal with lead scoring isn’t to get it done. It’s to get it done right.

Got any lead scoring disaster stories to share? Sometimes the best lessons are learned while laughing . . .

10 Trends to Define Marketing for 2014 – 10 Experts Weigh in

Monday, November 4th, 2013

As we approach 2014, and all of the marketing challenges that come with it, SourceLink is rolling out our “Ten Trends to Define Marketing” series again, with a twist. This year, we sat down with ten industry experts and asked them what trends they anticipate in 2014 and the years to come. We will be rolling out these articles over the next six weeks – Here are the experts that we sat down with, and a brief synopsis of what they had to say:

1. Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News – “The Virtuous Cycle of Customer Centricity” – Oct 29

Into 2014, consumers will wield the power to dictate how they are marketing to, and marketers are tasked with creating content that is driven by consumer preference. Understanding customer behaviors and preferences will lead to sophisticated micro-marketing campaigns, and marketers will then be tasked with modeling content creation and communications strategies based on how content is being utilized.

2. Judith Hemmel, Vice President of Customer Intelligence, SourceLink -  “Moving From Creepy to Credible” – Oct 31

An overarching theme through several of the interviews is was the extreme importance of mobile marketing. Consumers now have the ultimate choice of whether to engage with a brand, cultivating an environment of permission. This phenomenon will further strengthen the move from push to pull marketing, and messaging must move from “Creepy to Credible.”

3. Skip Henk, President and CEO, Xplor International – “Sitting on the Sidelines or Taking the Leap of Faith” – Nov 5

Human behavior is the true game changer in 2014, and there is tremendous value in how customers allocate their time to take in new information.  Augmented Reality, a still-emerging technology, very well could lead to a print revival. Marketers will fall into two categories in embracing these new technologies, those taking the leap and those sitting on the sidelines waiting for more proof; which Skip sees as the “winners and the losers” in the fight for customer attention.

4. Bryan Yeager, Financial Services and Mobile Payments Analyst for eMarketer–“Social Media and Mobile Craft a Path to Purchase” – Nov 7

Mobile penetration reached a tipping point in 2013, and looking into 2014, past trends converge because of the smartphone and its ability to enhance the customer experience. Marketers using social media up until now have merely been laying the groundwork for the real opportunities for engagement and conversion. Wearable technologies bring flashy new avenues to truly connect with customers.

5. Roehl Sanchez, VP and Chief Creative Officer, BIMM Direct & Digital - “Data Drives The Creative Process, and the Modular Builder Emerges” - Nov 12

Data begins to drive creative decisions, and creative decisions facilitate the use of data. We are entering age of real time marketing, and the definition of marketing and advertising “Creative” is shifting, especially when it comes to mobile design. Marketers must familiarize themselves withmicrocampaigns and start thinking mobile first. The creative professional must start to be a “modular builder,” and embrace a shift toward strong creative rooted as much in functionality as in design.

6. Rich Brown, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, SourceLink –SOLOMO and the Evolution of Location Based Engagement” – Nov 14

Social plus location plus mobile (SOLOMO) will a gamechanger in 2014, as marketers truly perfect geofencing technologies and make actionable use out of location data using offer-based engines. Data use concerns and privacy legislation gain lots of attention in 2014, and marketing organizations rally to support the responsible use of data. Marketers start to effectively link return on investment between offline transactions and social engagement.

7. John Foley, CEO Grow Socially and CMO InterlinkOne– “The Amazing Powers of Personalization” – Nov 19

2014 will see BIG advancements in mobile technology, which will allow for in-store personalization and other amazing interactions. A surprising amount of companies are still behind the content and social engagement curve in 2013, and will evolve into more social businesses in 2014, with more content being distributed than ever. Personalization sees a surge in the depth and relevancy, paralleling advancements in marketing automation.

8. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs – “Organizing your Company Around Content and the Emergence of Short-form Media” - Nov 21

Marketers have been making content creation a priority, but next year will see a need to allocate resources to dedicated personnel. Next year’s trend will be a wider adoption and need to understand short-form content. Social media engagement leads to emotional connection and a better brand experience. Print remains a crucial part of marketing spend, and continues to claim significant portion of marketing budget.

9. Cindy Randazzo, Vice President Strategy and Insight, SourceLink – “A World Where IT and Marketing make each other Stronger” and  “Multisource Attribution in an Omnichannel world” – Nov 26 and Dec 3

Cindy had so much to say that we will be covering her thoughts over two articles.  First, 2014 brings the realization that IT and Marketing cannot be siloed, as their strengths will make each other stronger and will account for the weaknesses in the other, as the “right and left brain” come together. Big Data becomes relevant for all industries, as it is mined for interests, and used for multiple forms of variable advertising. Consumers start to ask the question “How is it possible that you don’t know who I am?”

10. David Burstein, Fast Company contributor and author, “Fast Future: How Millennials are Shaping our World.” – “The Marketer’s Role to the Millennial” – Dec 5

Companies must make consistent strides towards social responsibility and innovation as core tenets to developing as an organization. “Millennials” (those born in the second baby boom years of 1980 to the early 2000s) have become the most messaged-to generation ever, and marketers embrace emerging technologies and develop new means to stand out. Deep customization stands as central to the communications experience between marketers and Millennials.

To read the entire series, keep checking back to the SourceLink blog here.