With the New Year approaching, I find myself looking back on 2011. It seems that every year brings bigger and more dramatic changes to the world of marketing, and 2011 was no exception.
One of the biggest developments for marketers in general, and Silverpop in particular, was the coming of age of location-based marketing. With Foursquare tallying its 1 billionth check-in a few months ago, Facebook’s recent acquisition of Gowalla and innovative start-ups transforming check-ins into a permission-driven, location-based marketing solution, the location revolution is everywhere you look. Among all the things customers may choose to tell us, nothing is more relevant and actionable than where they are right now. And increasingly, digital marketers have the tools to connect with their customers in the physical world, engaging them with incredibly relevant dialogues that reflect what customers are doing at the very moment they’re doing it. At Silverpop, we recognized this incredible shift in the marketing landscape with the acquisition of PlacePunch, and we couldn’t be more excited to start 2012 with this technology, team and innovative clients on board.
While a major development, the location-based marketing explosion wasn’t the only key social trend in 2011. It was exciting and encouraging to see B2B marketers more fully embrace social media marketing and the impactful role it can play in forming individual relationships with the masses. This shift was demonstrated perhaps most profoundly with Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Radian6, the leader in social media monitoring and engagement. This move reflected an obvious understanding of the changing dynamic of the buying process. With the majority of B2B buyers starting their decision-making process via online research and talking to other users in social communities and blogs, marketers must adjust for this changing dynamic. The Salesforce deal and the related buzz at Dreamforce this year was a clear indication that companies, all companies, must not only embrace social media, but should be investing in tools designed to monitor, measure and report on the channel’s impact—greatly enhancing the way they track and execute customer communications and dialogue.
Amidst all the fabulous developments in the world of multichannel communications came the sad news on October 5 that Steve Jobs, the technology innovator whose creation of the iPod, iPhone and iPad helped usher in the new “mocial” landscape, had passed away. While I and the rest of the world mourned the loss of this visionary man, I also realized that the news wasn’t just about the end of a remarkable life, but also a reminder about how the relentless pursuit of excellence, beauty and ideals can transform anything—even things as mundane as circuit boards, business processes and software—into creations that can change the world … forever. While Steve Jobs did things most of us can only dream of, and did them purely because they were worth being done, I hope we can all strive to pursue our own visions with the same passion and commitment as he did.
One thing I’m going to be particularly passionate about in 2012 is helping marketers truly achieve 1:1 dialogues with their individual customers—not segmented blasts but real-time, multichannel, personalized, 1:1 communications. I firmly believe that the only way to truly achieve this is to focus less on what you want to say and more on what they’re telling you they’re interested in. With inboxes becoming more cluttered by the day, marketers who want to be successful must take steps to carefully "listen" to customers and prospects so they can create dialogues that cut through the noise and engage their audience. This means going well beyond aggregating and segmenting toward truly understanding what each individual does across emails, websites, social networks, offline locations and more. By bringing all the silos and channels together to gain a singular view of each customer and prospect, marketers can create campaigns that foster dialogue with each and every contact on his or her terms and timing—true Bto1 marketing.
Achieving mass personalization? Having real 1:1 dialogues with individual customers? What an incredibly cool concept. I think the pursuit of this reality was a big part of the reason why 2011 saw our industry grow and thrive at unprecedented rates, as customer and prospect desire for highly personal and relevant interactions increased exponentially. And it’s one of the many reasons that, as incredible as 2011 was, I’m looking forward to the year ahead with even greater anticipation.