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Five digital trends to watch for in 2013

If there's one word that will be the key for the year in marketing, it is "data". The reason for this is simple: budgets are tight, competition is fierce, and companies will want to use accurate information to benchmark return on investment (ROI) and value for money in their marketing spend. Here are five trends I expect to shape the market in 2013.
Email will be more relevant than ever
Trend: Email remains among the electronic communications media that are most widely used by your customers. If anything, people are relying on email even more than before because they now have access to it on their mobile devices wherever they are.

Implication: Think about how you will make sure that your emails are delivered with formatting and content that will deliver a good user experience whatever device the user receives and reads them on. Consider how you will track email marketing across mobile devices, as well.

The tide will turn for quality publishers
Trend: Quality publishers are building up attractive value propositions for advertisers based on their ability to offer high quality audiences who are thoroughly engaged with their content. They are also taking control of their audience data and managing it carefully, avoiding leakages to data providers and aggregators.

Implication: Don't just think about cost, but also about value when you are doing your online media planning. Publishers that can offer a quality audience in an environment where you can track and measure performance may offer you more value than environments with high traffic volumes.

The remarketing wave will break
Trend: South Africa's leading digital brands are working hard to master the discipline of remarketing - which is about tracking online consumer behaviour and focusing ad spending on customers who are most likely to convert based on their Web histories.

Implication: Start investing in the right infrastructure, skills and processes to support advanced remarketing across display, search, email and other channels. Understand your data and who owns it - do agencies and ad networks or other online aggregators have control over your customer data? - and take ownership.

Data will be key to social media ROI
Trend: Social media is maturing into a mainstream sales, marketing and customer support channel used by a large proportion of your customer base. Many companies find it expensive to run their social media environment, and are not sure how much value it delivers.

Implication: It is time to think about which social analytics tools you will need to measure social media's impact on your business, as well as the metrics that will show how social media engagement impacts on your strategic goals, be they retention, conversion, or branding.

In fact, data will drive everything in digital
Trend: Customers in the digital world leave plenty of data everywhere they go. You have access to huge volumes of data from your online marketing systems, customer databases and touch points as well as from a range of third-party sources. Gathering accurate and relevant data from all these sources and analysing it for customer insight can help you to massively improve your customer acquisition and retention strategies.

Implication: Start putting in place an enterprise architecture that will help you understand customer engagements - across ad-serving, social media, web analytics, email, search, mobile etc. - in a unified manner. This will empower you take control and understand your customer, and starting leveraging it for competitive advantage.

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