Digital marketing might indeed be dead, as Proctor & Gamble’s brand building chief declared in September 2013. But digitally integrated marketing campaigns are only getting started.

The difference? As Marc Pritchard said then,

Try and resist thinking about digital in terms of the tools, the platforms, the QR Codes and all of the technology coming next. We [P&G] try and see it for what it is, which is a tool for engaging people with fresh, creative campaigns…It’s now just brand building.

Great idea, right? Until it gets taken up in meetings. And gets blurred and buried in a maze of opinions.

Thankfully, there are some pointers and practical advice, courtesy of Vocus, to get you started on keeping your digital marketing strategy integrated, relevant and real. The report, which deserves a close read, divides the outlook for 2014 into various trends and concludes with considerations for planning for each of them.

A summary:

  1. 1.


    Google previously announced changes to its search algorithm, the outcome of which is, as with previous algorithm changes, hard to pin down right now. One expert’s view: “Video, audio, text files, interactive things, apps — all this stuff is going to be more relevant as the year goes by. Freshness and publishing on a regular basis matters, whether it’s email, social or other content.”

    Considerations for planning: Stay current with Google’s changes and try to keep fresh, to-the-point content aligned among all your online presences, including email. That way, the message gets out clearly, consistently and quickly.

  2. 2.


    There’s more available now than ever before, but is going the route of Big Data worth it? Yes – if your goal is to be more productive and profitable. One expert’s view: “If I know it’s you coming to my site, or I can pull information from your social graph, browsing history or other information, I can say: I know you like these kinds of products; you talk about these topics.”

    Considerations for planning: This is the year to get moving on data, if you haven’t already. This can be one of your most powerful campaign tools – if the company involved is willing to change as the gathered data informs their business.

  3. 3.

    Real-Time Marketing

    There’s no time like the present, especially if an iron is hot – as when Oreo created a viral social buzz during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, spreading the message that, “You can still dunk in the dark.” The gimmick got more than 15,000 retweets and 20,000 Facebook likes, earning the applause of marketing gurus everywhere. One expert’s view: “Real-time marketing is marketing optimized to take advantage of what’s going on at the moment.”

    Considerations for planning: Brainstorm, ahead of time, which dates, conferences or trends will speak loudest to your industry in the near and intermediate future. Then determine how your company can specifically take best advantage of those opportunities. And run it all by legal well ahead of time, so that you’re not waiting for a sign-off as an event train pulls out of the station.

  4. 4.


    Once thought about to become passé, social media’s growth continues to accelerate – to the point that Facebook counted 1.1 billion people as users in 2013, 819 million of them on some sort of mobile platform. Social media, Vocus maintains, is driving results for businesses all over the globe. One expert’s view: “You no longer need a huge budget to experiment with self-serve paid opportunities on Facebook or Twitter…Creating owned real estate in digital is not like spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a website.”

    Considerations for planning: Find ways to bring external social media connections inside your company. And re-consider networks you might have previously overlooked, like Pinterest and LinkedIn. Both have new capabilities.

  5. 5.


    Demand from social media and other channels calls for content, “all day, every day.” And companies that create stellar content will always outdraw those that merely curate it, word for word. You’ve got to tell a story, and you’ve also got to work as a team. Because people are the platform now. One expert’s view: “Ego, info, emo; as long as your content fills one of those buckets, you’re okay.”

    Considerations for planning: Plan your budget around content marketers versed in written and visual messages – and who have a good sense of how content can be shared socially and by way of search. And yes – everyone needs to work as a team. Just think of all the new ideas you’ll get from talking to people you’ve only pretended, up until now, to like.

  6. 6.

    Marketing Automation

    This involves everything from sending promotional emails based on which customers visit certain of your web pages to generating automated social media replies based on keyword analysis. Above all, automation needs to be personal. There’s no setting it and forgetting it here. Unless you’re selling a rotisserie oven via infomercial. One expert’s view: “A good automation system can make a one-person marketing team look like 15 or 20 people.”

    Considerations for planning: Assess the competition and consider what’s working for them. Then, try out ideas with one part of your own business, and see what works.

  7. 7.

    Customer Experience

    Where it’s all going to be at…for a while. One expert’s view: “The last ten years were about social media. The next 20 years will be about customer service.”

    Considerations for planning: Focus on the human elements of your actual, human customers. Train your people to zero in on this focus and prepare them accordingly.

  8. 8.


    Hitting people where you live – in nice ways, of course. Do this whenever they or their mobile devices come within range of your broadcasts – ideally when your service or product is particularly relevant to them. One expert’s view: “We’re getting a chance to reach only the right people, at the right time, with the right message.”

    Considerations for planning: Mobile technology, location-based services and personalized offers are only beginning to emerge – but could be a multi-crested tidal wave of the future. It pays to at least experiment with them to see if any combination will work for you.

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