Digital Marketing Strategy, Trends & Predictions for 2013

2012 is winding down, and Fathom is ready for another exciting year helping our clients prosper in digital marketing. Before heading out of the office for a few days I tapped into the digital marketing experts at Fathom to determine what should stay top of mind as we head into 2013.

We have gathered strategic advice, observed trends, and predictions of what we think will remain important themes throughout the upcoming year.

In the comments section below we welcome any further advice, discussion or debate on how the digital marketing and analytics landscape will continue to evolve … and challenge our ways of thinking and doing.

Content Marketing

Trends & Predictions

  • Brad Miller, Business Development Director: “I strongly believe that successful content marketing campaigns post-Panda and Penguin will not be focused on traditional SEO tactics, but will be more about the ability to cohesively integrate those SEO tactics into ALL areas of the content marketing mix – blog posts, visualized content, social engagement, e-mail, video, paid ads.  Timing and consistency of promoting great content through all digital channels will lead to better results.”
  • Jennifer Callahan, Director of Content: “Visual content marketing will continue to skyrocket, with Instagram and Pinterest’s meteoric growth over the past year. Engaging with your audience with content across various social media platforms will grow, as more and more people consume information online from their Facebook and Twitter feeds.”
  • Daiv Whaley, Senior Copywriter: “The content marketing buzzword has been around long enough now that business owners will start paying a bit more attention to the concept. Websites can be a vast content resource for brands and products/services – what an idea! More smaller businesses will begin to reach out for help in this area.”
  • Melissa Mathews, Technology Intern: “Lead nurturing is a big challenge for technology marketers because tech decision-makers tend to have a long path to purchase and there are multiple stakeholders involved in the decision making. Technology purchases also have a large amount of risk involved, especially among cloud companies. Valuable content is needed to overcome these fears. Research has also found these decision-makers consume at least 3 distinct content pieces in each stage of their purchase cycle. In order to meet this content need, more than half of B2B marketers say they plan to increase content marketing spending in the next 12 months.” Source: MarketingProfs “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends”

Organic Search

Trends & Predictions

  • Tommy Redmond, SEO Manager:Year of the Anti-Web – search engine results pages will continue to shrink in terms of the number of webpage listings per page, as search engines continue to add their own products to the page (Knowledge Graph) and also get better at finding relevant, non-webpage-based results to return for searches. Both the methods and frequency with which people search on mobile devices will compound this change. What this means for our clients:
    • Organic traffic will decline even if rankings don’t change (i.e. ranking #1 might produce X% less clicks per impression because of other, richer options for the searcher)
    • It will be important to better understand the searcher intent behind keywords so that we can provide attractive search snippets that attract clicks
    • We will need to make sure our clients are present in the entities and products that influence these non-website-based options for searchers
    • Maintaining the SERP real estate that we already have will be critical
  • Joe Bencar, Senior Online Marketing Specialist:  “One thing I think will be big for next year is the possible expansion of the tags and microformatting. Google has already shown this with ecommerce, and they are consistently trying to improve user experience. I think they will add more tags over the year and make them an even bigger asset for obtaining relevant search rankings.”
  • Kurt Krejny, Director of Online Marketing: “Digital agencies will have to dive deeper early on to identify poor historic practices for the clients that need their help, and more importantly set proper expectations to get a website back on track and in good graces with Google.  Digital marketing managers must own up to poor link building and thin content development over the years to resolve issues as quickly as possible.  Tough decisions will be made by agencies to vet clients before a long-term strategic plan is implemented.  Cut-throat industries will unfortunately contain competitive site sabotaging against legitimate organizations.  Stop the shortcuts! Stop the malice! Think sustainability!”

Social Media

Strategy to Consider

The strategic tips below are provided by our Search & Social team in Columbus: Sam Underwood, Lauren Coker, and Tommy Redmond

Social media is becoming increasingly competitive, and will only grow more so in 2013. Just having a social media presence won’t be enough anymore; sharing truly engaging and easily digestible content will become more important than ever. Practically speaking, this means:

  • More images, especially those that are bold and colorful, and that can be shared easily
  • Quick-hitting and informative videos that get straight to the point while still entertaining viewers
  • Deeper engagement with consumers, asking and answering questions and having real conversations on issues of interest
  • Mobile strategies will change from being advantageous to essential, and those who don’t adapt quickly will find themselves scrambling to catch up

View more social media marketing strategy from Tommy and Lauren’s recent presentation: Adapt, Evolve & Expand: Prepare for the Modern Web

Trends & Predictions

  • Amy Marshall, Strategy Officer: “Social media research data will have more integration with customer service data.  Organizations will use social media data for predictive outcomes, e.g. using data to track disease outbreaks and track storm communications during natural disasters.”
  • Sorin Bica, Online Marketing Specialist: “Facebook will introduce more mobile ad formats as smartphone usage grows by leaps and bounds.”
  • Matt Fieldman, Senior Account Executive: “Facebook will role out an ad network that allows advertisers to target Facebook users (by demographics, interests, etc) on websites outside of Facebook. This will give them a huge competitive advantage in the online advertising world.”


Trends & Predictions

  • Melissa Mathews: “Since 1 in 3 tech B2B decision-makers are turning to online video for information, tech marketers are trying to adapt and use online videos to reach these decision-makers during their research process. Tech marketers have already leveraged online video as a corporate branding strategy. But in 2013, they will begin using online video as a powerful lead-generation tool.” Source: Google’s “The Evolving Path of Today’s Tech B2B Customer


Strategy to Consider

With the rising popularity and adoption of smartphones and tablets, mobile traffic is on a fast and steady course to surpass desktop traffic. If your analytics are showing an upward trend in mobile visitors, then a mobile marketing strategy should be highly considered. Sound mobile marketing in 2013 should include some, if not all, of the following:

  • Optimized mobile website or mobile app
  • SMS marketing
  • Pay-per-click campaign exclusively targeting mobile devices
  • Increase mobile branding by becoming a publisher using free app’s like Apple’s iBooks Author

Trends & Predictions

  • Matt Fieldman: “Everyone is getting into the geo-targeted coupon business, where you’ll get a text when you pass by selected businesses. If you have a brick-and-mortar business you should be aware of this technology, use it, and track it to make sure that your programs are effective!”
  • Saimah Haque, Education Intern: “From the research we have been doing in the EDU space we’ve found that many schools are looking to increase their traffic and enrollments in the mobile arena. They are seeing prospective students spend more time using mobile phones, tablets and e-readers to research colleges.”

Online Advertising

Trends & Predictions

  • Joe Castro, Director of Online Advertising:
    • “Advertisers will continue to invest more of their digital budget in paid (ppc, display, and mobile). Google will continue to find ways to increase click share for sponsored listings in SERPS as they have done year over year.”
    • “Attribution will become more important with increased investment but more difficult with the increase of mobile and cross-device search habits.”
    • “Product listing ads will become more competitive as more advertisers realize the improved CTR, lower CPC, and higher ROI. Expect ROI to drop towards end of 2013 as advertisers become more intelligent in segmenting products and bidding higher to generate more revenue.”
    • “Average CPC may drop in 2013 due to a Google quality score update that we feel happened recently. We’ve noticed an improved QS in many of our accounts over the past month which could have a positive impact on CPC and ROI.”
  • Noah Brooks, Online Advertising Specialist: “Companies are going to drastically increase investments in display advertising and scramble to get cross-channel attribution models in place before their budgets are reduced due to a lack of holistic reporting.”
  • Sorin Bica: “Google will launch its own version of Facebook’s Custom Audiences. In 2013 you will be able to advertise in search by targeting lists of gmail addresses.”
  • Brad Miller: “I predict the increased dependency on paid campaigns as organic results continue to shrink. LinkedIn paid ads will continue to grow, outpacing the growth of any other PPC outlet (growth, not market share).”
  • Ben Goldman, Online Advertising Specialist: “There will be a much higher dependency on mobile. Segmenting out mobile-specific campaigns, especially with a mobile-friendly landing page, will give you an edge over competitors.”

Conversion Rate Optimization

Strategy to Consider

  • Make an investment in a website management system that can accommodate agile conversion rate testing.
  • Produce quick wins to improve conversion rate optimization with implementing proven best practices and simple user testing to determine what causes friction for your website visitors.

Trends & Predictions


Trends & Predictions

Below are some great digital design insights from Krista Newill, Senior Creative Designer:

  • Responsive Web design is gonna be a huge trend in 2013, and it’s something that we are currently working on at Fathom for all our web products.
    • “Responsive web design will eliminate all of these problems because of its ability to respond to the size of the device being used. Thanks to responsive web designs, designers will not have to make a new layout for different mobile and desktop devices. A single design will work perfectly on all devices. No would avoid this trend because this trend is expected to make things much more convenient for all the designers.” Source:
  • Simple Designs – minimalism
    • “The best thing about minimalist (simple) website layouts is that they challenge you to throw away what’s unnecessary.  Simple design is better because it is more effective in communicating important messages without the “noise”.  Expect to see simpler one-color icons, text-based navigation, and LOTS of empty white space.” Source:
  • Strong use of typography
    • “The days of Arial and Verdana are long gone.  In 2013 you can expect to see more websites using creative and unique fonts. Typography is becoming an integral part of any web design project and the use of custom fonts will be an essential creative asset, contributing to the overall identity of a website as much as other important elements such as colors or artwork.” Source:
  • Big buttons for mobile adaptation
  • Full width background images
    • “The popular trend of full page backgrounds will continue into 2013. Expect to see websites using high quality photographs and artwork to create the initial “eye-candy” impression and leave a long lasting visual impact. “The bigger is better” approach will also be applied to image galleries, portfolios and photos of merchandise sold online.” Source:

Big Data, Analytics & Reporting

Strategy to Consider

  • Does your data have integrity?  Is analytics tracking accurate and properly filtered to produce to the best snapshot of traffic as it relates to your business goals and objectives?
  • Multi-channel and device measurement
  • Attribution management solutions and digital marketing budget optimization

Trends & Predictions

  • Matt Keough, Senior Account Executive: “More and more marketers will take a serious look at tying all their data points together to determine what marketing is really effective.  To do this, B2B marketers at businesses of all sizes will look again at disparate systems and make new efforts to “close the loop” and discover what marketing efforts result in an increase in leads and which of these leads result in new business.”
  • Tiffany Sumuel, Senior Business Analyst:
    • “2013 is the year of the data scientist – the evolution and sheer volume of data, predictive, prescriptive, and traditional analytics will require the analytics world to transform more analysts into data scientist. The data scientist will serve as the human connector within the organization. Without the data scientist, the new data frontier remains disparate.”
    • “With the continued growth and development of mobile devices and newly heightened focus on mobile responsive design, mobile conversion optimization and readiness will be front and center for analytics. We will spend a good bit of our time developing models to determine the impact of the change in design.”
    • “Don’t get so excited about the “big data” that you forget about the “little data”. Continued focus on site planning and measuring the true performance and impact of the site vs the intended goal will continue to be an integral ingredient to online success along with harnessing the engagement intelligence from the recognition of the unintended.”
    • “Remember not to lose sight of the micro-conversion. Not all visits lead directly to conversion. Some will lead to delivery of brand message, other content and potentially a later conversion.”
    • “The increased implementation of Data visualization will make all the right moves very obvious.”

Marketing Automation

Trends & Predictions

  • Melissa Mathews: “For the first time, IDC tracked marketing automation spending in 2012, which accounted for almost 15% of digital marketing budgets for tech companies. Marketing automation will continue to increase as it helps solve major issues in tech marketing – lead nurturing, marketing and sales alignment and lead generation. More attention will be spent on how to utilize marketing automation to its full potential, especially when it has already proven to improve lead quantity and quality.” Source: IDC’s 2012 Tech Marketing Benchmarks Study

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