Where Marketing is Going … in 2013 and Beyond

image of an open road

2013 is already shaping up to be an epic year for marketers and writers. It’s the year that content, social, search, and email are coming together, working in sync for the greater good of marketing-kind.

It’s also the year that wise marketing departments will use analytics and automation to scale their efforts and make better decisions.

It’s the year that content tipped from being an interesting option to being a must-have.

And paired with that, it’s The Year of the Online Writer — in other words, the year that content creators begin to be valued as the creators of valuable assets, rather than an expense on the balance sheet.

It’s the future of marketing and it’s sitting at our doorstep.

But as is so often the case, to understand the future, we must look to the past.

In the beginning, there was Lead Generation

Imagine the B2B marketer at the beginning of the twenty-first century deciding to embrace the new science of demand generation, announcing to his sales team, “Let there be leads.”

Lead generation was becoming like Ron Burgundy (kind of a big deal). But lead generation, or lead gen, was in its very early stages. Marketing teams would send out massive direct mail campaigns where prospects would literally tear off a business reply card and mail it back. Or they would collect business cards at trade shows.

Now they had a “lead” to hand over to sales, but this was a very tedious process.

Fast forward a few years as email marketing began to make waves, but at first it was mostly B2C companies who were benefiting. B2B marketers would begin to make the transition from direct mail to email, but it was still a new strategy that was slow to catch on.

Powered by vendors like GotMarketing, ExactTarget, Boomerang, and Vertical Response, each month marketers would go back to their database with a new offer, essentially taking a spray and pray strategy. Every person who responded would get a call regardless of their interest level.

During this time, a lead was a lead. Neither sales nor marketing could figure out if the lead was hot, warm, or cold. Deciding which leads to call became a very painful process, and a source of tension, for both marketing and sales teams. The concept of scoring a lead would become a very hot topic, but no one had the technology to do anything about it.

All leads are not created equal

There was clearly a need for something new.

Early marketing tools from Genius and Marketbright started to make some headway with website tracking technology, but that was just the beginning. Marketers needed a platform that would tie everything together.

Enter marketing automation, a godsend for the B2B marketer looking to have one central platform for all of their campaigns.

No longer did marketers have to manually comb through the massive number of raw inquiries, now they had software to do this in addition to so much more. Marketing automation would empower them to build and manage multiple campaigns from start to finish while automating many of the mundane tasks associated with lead management.

In this new era, marketers could now create landing pages, score and nurture leads, and effectively measure the ROI of their marketing efforts — all on one platform.

In addition, they could now track the digital body language of their prospects and determine who’s hot and who’s not. This would prove increasingly important as the seller controlled  buying process would soon give way to the newly empowered buyer doing their own research, not wanting or needing to engage with sales until much of the buying process is already complete. This would force marketing departments to take a bigger role in developing and nurturing the relationship.

Along with marketing automation came a new, smarter kind of marketing

The other side of the automation coin is a new, more effective style of marketing that supports and improves the sales process.

Smart content marketing helps sales teams by answering objections, showcasing case studies, demonstrating benefits, and even uncovering prospect pain points.

Effective advertising has always been “salesmanship in print.” Content — which has actually been used in good advertising for more than 100 years — just does a better job of it.

Along with the rise of content, we’re seeing the rise of the content creator — the capable writer, video producer, or podcast publisher who can make the content that prospects want to consume. Wise businesses know that talent doesn’t come cheap, but that high-quality content is an investment that tends to pay off handsomely.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

Over a century ago, the department-store magnate John Wanamaker famously said, “I know half my advertising dollars are wasted. I just don’t know which half.”

Fast forward to 2013 — this is no longer an issue. Modern marketers have more data available at their fingertips than ever before in history. And marketing automation allows them to manage that data into actionable insights. No longer is there any question around what the return on their marketing spend is and how it contributes to driving revenue, there are now hard metrics to report.

As marketing automation begins moving into the mainstream and quickly becoming the hot topic at marketing conferences around the world, the analytics that this technology provides will prove and improve marketing spend and finally give the marketer a seat at the revenue table.

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Reader Comments (65)

  1. says

    New technologies, new challenges. We are always ready to get updated and try them.Yes, We are always need to watch latest marketing strategies and act according to them.Really it’s an informative post.Thank you jason. :)

  2. says

    Marketing is changing a lot.

    The only thing that I beleive is that you can’t sell without educating. This will be a must for every blogger to do.

    Now, you do content maketing just in the hope of getting more sales. But after that, it will be a must to get even one sale.

    And it will be there forever.

      • says

        But what’s the best way to seed all of this content?

        I feel as thought there’s a difficult chicken and egg scenario.
        You could write some amazing content, but have no way of promoting it.
        Meanwhile you can only get the following to promote it from already having popular content.

        • says

          It’s a cycle. Create something worth paying attention to, then reach out and find a few people to talk about it. I’m sure you have colleagues & relationships with others in your field. You start small, build a bit of an audience, and keep cycling through to grow.

          Social media makes it fairly easy to find that “seed” of an audience to start talking with. But if your content is unremarkable, there’s no fuel for the engine, so any attempts at networking will sputter out.

          • says

            Well said Sonia. I would also add that it’s a good idea to consider paid social ads to promote your content. In my experience social ads that simply interrupt do not perform well, but ads that promote good content drive engagement and referral traffic. It’s a great way to give a boost to your content and jump-start an audience.
            (PS; Great seeing you at SXSW as well, the Copyblogger party was awesome!)

  3. says

    Thanks Jason…great post. Things really have changed drastically, especially in the last two years alone. Content marketing is the key here…

    • says

      Absolutely. It’s remarkable how the trend went from social to content and now the two are coming together as part of one overall strategy.Thanks for the comment David.

  4. says

    Great article Jason, came at the perfect time also. I’d been focusing a lot on how I can monetize my blog, but really I should be focusing on the content first, the rest will come inevitably. Money isn’t even on my mind at the moment, I want to build a list, create the best content I can (for free), and ultimately build connections with readers.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    • says

      Hi Sam. That’s a great mentality to have here; focus on delivering value first. The mantra of “always be selling” has now been replace with “always be helping”. Thanks for the comment.

  5. says

    A precise, and very entertaining synopsis of where our marketing team was, has been and is headed (in a DeLorean). It’s good reinforcement at a time when we are explaining this positioning and our goals to the sales team and the entire organization. We, as a marketing team, are data and revenue driven, and not just here to “create the pretty pictures”. :)

  6. says

    Thanks for the insight, Jason
    “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads”? Sounds to me like you are quoting one of the early pioneers of science. That would be the one and only Dr. Emmett Brown from “Back to the Future”. Great article though. Content is, as always a very important to any website. Some of us have a difficult time with writing the content for ourselves, me being one of those. But, I have learned that if you use article writing services for your content that the majority of the time you get junk that is barely readable.

    • says

      That is correct! That statement sticks in my mind every time I think of the future of marketing. Can’t say that I ever thought I would quote Doc Brown in my writing, but it truly fits in this situation. I wrote a post about how difficult writing can be a few weeks ago and I was surprised at how well it resonated. My overall point was that writing IS hard. The people who enjoy writing are already making a living from it; they are called authors. For the rest of us, we have to try a bit harder. I found a lot of inspiration from Hugh Macleod’s book “Ignore Everybody”. Some of the best advice from his book is simply not to force content. “If you have something to say then say it, if not, enjoy the silence.” Here’s the post I referred to if you are interested. http://blog.marketo.com/blog/2013/01/if-your-writing-sucks-so-will-your-content.html
      Thanks for the comment!

  7. Elizabeth Barber says

    Not only rise of the content creator but rise of the person who can coordinate the whole process from a gleam in someone’s eye through distribution to a variety of channels. New roles will be emerging rapidly.

    • says

      I concur. I think it’s setting the stage for a major transition where progressive thinking companies will combine PR, social and content into one team. Thanks for the comment.

  8. says

    It’s crazy how quickly things are changing. Content marketing is certainly a buzz word, but I think the concept is here to stay. It just makes sense. When I think about how much marketing has changed in the past ten years, it really makes me wonder what the next ten years will bring!

      • says

        Thanks Jason, that’s another great article! I like how it stresses that content marketing has been around for a while, it’s just finally organizing itself under a unified banner. I also found his definition of a buzz word to be interesting. Regardless of whether content marketing qualifies as a buzz word, it’s definitely something a lot of people are excited about – and rightly so.

  9. says

    I love that you pointed out how valuable content is. And the fact that people in big business are starting to take notice. I personally love marketing and what it has evolved into. It’s about establishing authority and educating. Connecting and giving. It’s not pushy and self serving- this I love. The best modern marketers understand that the more value you give, the trust you build, and the more you will sell. Loved the article!

  10. says

    Hello Jason,

    This was a really good post. I agree that content will be king in 2013 and beyond. I am also keeping an eye on engagement as I think that it will be an indispensable part of successful business growth in the future as well. As a matter of fact great content and engagement will be responsible for creating a big shift in marketing in the very near future. Thanks for sharing. it really was very good


    • says

      Thanks for the comment Al. Indeed content does remain king for now. I agree that engagement will become even more important moving forward, especially as Google continues to use social signals to influence rankings.

  11. says

    Hi Jason,

    I am glad we came back full circle to good content marketing. It was quite disturbing to see content that was ranking high but had nothing to offer. As a matter of fact some of it was not even legible. We complain about Google sometimes but they did a huge favor for the people who search for answers online. I applaud them.

    I am seeing more and more blogs that provide value rising to the top rapidly. Most of them offer amazing articles and you can see from comment responses how much is that valued by the readers.

    Thank you for sharing a great post.


    • says

      Hi Dita, I agree completely. Google is going to continue to reward those of us that produce good content and I welcome those changes. I just wish that I had a crystal ball to better anticipate the coming algorithm changes along with detailed explanations for the content marketers of the world. Thanks for the comment.

  12. says

    Interesting post on where marketing is going. One important aspect that we all should be aware of is that technology is now marketing!

    • says

      Great point Tim. There was a recent article in Forbes that addressed this called “Five Years From Now, CMOs Will Spend More on IT Than CIOs Do.” Really interesting trend.

  13. says

    Good info, like the quotes “I know half my advertising dollars are wasted. I just don’t know which half.” and your correct that today we can be so much more aware of 99% of our marketing spend and success.
    “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads” as jason says above was also used in the movie back to the future. It all resonates back to me the words of a certain Mr Gates in 1996 when he declared “Content is King”!!!

    • says

      Hi Graham. I totally agree. Big Data + Big Analytics = Ability to Measure Everything. If you have a fully matured marketing automation model, you can now measure marketing ROI and forecast and predict future revenue. Very exciting times for marketers. Thanks for the comment.

  14. says

    Thanks for the history lesson. Lots I didn’t know and it does put the current emphasis on content in perspective. I hope you are right about the content writers getting more respect.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Mary. I hope moving forward that creativity and great writing gets rewarded. That would be a win for the entire marketing community.

  15. says

    It’s really amazing how much marketing has evolved in the last 10 years. I mean, just to think about what Google and YouTube has created. I wonder were we’ll be in 10 or 15 years!

  16. says

    Great post. I have learned so much over the past year due to the accessibility of information. Copyblogger has been monumental in my development as a blogger.

    I love the fact that blogging changes every few months and content marketing, as you suggested, is key.

    Thank you for sharing this post.

  17. says

    I think we are talking about a marketing system right now not only about marketing or online marketing. And there are so many great things that can help you in order to have a very efficient strategy, as you said content marketing, marketing automation, also smart SEO, social media and email marketing, but the problems are: have we enough specialists to make this system work ?(new things are coming up every month but to prepare someone it takes time) Are the managers open minded enough to allow marketers to implement this for their businesses? They want rapid results but to make this kind of system works it needs time…
    I have this questions/problems as blog owner and as marketer for many businesses….

    • says

      That’s a great question. I think the solution is working with tools that scale and compliment one another. It’s easy to fall victim to shiny object syndrome and jump on every new tool out there, but it’s a better idea to stick with the ones that work well for you from companies that continue to innovate. Thanks for the comment.

  18. says

    A good read and a lovely walk down memory lane. Online marketing has indeed evolved over the years, and day-by-day, it becomes easier to exploit its potential. The stage has been set, and the future is indeed bright for every online marketer, all they need to do is make the most of it, and yes, at all times pay attention to what is being communicated to the consumer.


    • says

      Thanks for the comment Melinda. Both the marketer and the consumer win with innovation. Good marketers that make the most of it will continue to deliver a much better buying experience for both prospects and current customers.

  19. says

    As the year goes by, there’s a lot of changes and challenges that comes in our life. Let’s just focus on a valuable content to attract and engage more audience for the upcoming years. I believe that the content marketing is the future of marketing. I’m looking forward for the brighter future of marketing.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Nina. While that may be the case, the marketers who “get it” and do it well are the ones that will reap the benefits. Google will continue to make sure that great content rises above the flood of generic mediocre content.

  20. says

    A good read and a lovely walk down memory lane. Online marketing has indeed evolved over the years, and day-by-day, it becomes easier to exploit its potential. The stage has been set, and the future is indeed bright for every online marketer, all they need to do is make the most of it, and yes, at all times pay attention to what is being communicated to the consumer.


  21. says

    It will be interesting to see the direction of marketing. It clearly is not silo based anymore, and those that still have it silo based need to think of changing their marketing model. I’m not sure if people have empowered marketing or marketing has empowered the people. However, the individual has the tools, technology, access to content, ability to produce content, and reach their market in new ways. This is the new paradigm.

  22. says

    Analytics softwares look really daunting at first, but trust me, once you get them they become an addiction. You can’t live without the data, and you know more about what you do than you ever knew you could know…if that makes any sense. I would hesitate to call them a new trend however. People who work with marketing methods such as PPC have been relying on analytics for years. I don’t really understand how some people could become successful without have the right tools to measure their success up to this point.

  23. says

    It’s great to see that content creation is finally being valued the way that it should be. Content is what informs target audience members, instills trust in your brand, and persuades them to purchase from you.

  24. says

    It’s funny that you quoted John Wanamaker saying,

    “I know half my advertising dollars are wasted. I just don’t know which half.”

    Because my friend Nick and I talk about small businesses having no idea how to track their progress online. It seems that we do take it for granted. It’s easy for us, but for a person having no experience it’s hard to get going.

    The only difference between us and the other guys is we know how to write!

    Forget SEO and “I know someone that can get me on top of Google for 50 bucks.” It’s all about content.

    Copyblogger is a home for writers and creative geniuses.

    That’s why this year I want to focus on becoming a better writer. I feel as if I’m not a very good writer as of now. But one of my goals is to become a great writer.

    Here’s to a epic 2013!

    Thanks for writing this Jason Miller. You seem very smart and you are a great writer.

    Alexander John

  25. says

    Even in a business of 4 staff our next hire is a content marketing executive to add to our content. All our content produced so far has been done by staff on the side of their usual jobs and has worked a treat.

    Now it is time to formalise the role, so instead of spending money on old school advertising, we are spending that budget on content.

    Although traditional advertising and news media jobs are all but redundant, the talents of those people will be redeployed into this new niche.

  26. says

    Excellent article Jason showing the transition from direct marketing to content led marketing, highlighting some of the key players along the way. One point of issue is about lead categorisation.

    For many years I ran my own IT marketing agency. Our clients were very clear what a lead was – someone who had a need, a budget, a timescale and the authority to act. I find myself a little perplexed sometimes when Hubspot brags about generating 70,000+ leads per month for themselves. These are not leads as previously defined. Perhaps there is a need for some different language here. (I do understand that Hubspot have a process for nurturing and managing these enquiries and turning them into business).

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