2012's Online Marketing Gamechangers -- Review and Predictions for 2013

January 4, 2013 Deb Griffith

Continuing our tradition of recapping what was important in Online Marketing for 2012 and predicting what should be for 2013, we submit the following Game Changer Recap for 2012:

SoLoMo -- The nexus of social, local and mobile marketing

So What Did We Predict?

    • Increase in new mobile websites for small businesses
    • Improvement of online business information listings
    • Increase in mobile PPC marketing

And What Actually Happened?

    • Increase in new mobile websites for small businesses -- 2012 saw an increase of 16% and that trend is likely to continue
    • Improvement of online business information listings -- there was slight movement of the needle on this one, simply from an awareness perspective, but this should become more important
    • Increase in mobile PPC marketing -- the inclusion rate is low overall (only 8% of small businesses) but an additional 15% plan to include paid mobile into their mix

Group Couponing

So What Did We Predict?

2012 should be the make-or-break year for the group couponing model –- the kinks really need to get ironed out so all parties feel comfortable about doing business together or the entire segment could wither and die.

And What Actually Happened?

Withering and dying. Growth was flat at 11% YOY from Q4 2011 to Q4 2012, and 90% of small businesses have no plans to use group couponing in the future. And Groupon and LivingSocial have started laying off hundreds of employees.

Google+

So What Did We Predict?

Google+ is promising streamlined and more robust functionality, and with all the time they are taking to build and launch these new features, it should be significant. Then again, it could go the way of Google Buzz. RIP.

And What Actually Happened?

Well, Google did merge Places into Plus, and created Google+ Local. But not without a lot of hiccups -- some businesses are still waiting for their Place information to populate their Google+ Local page. And it's six months in. And Google+ users are still relatively unengaged and the promised functionality improvements have not yet surfaced. Overall, a disappointment.

With one exception: businesses that have claimed, and optimized, their G+L page have improved their rank on the Google SERP pages -- especially in mobile.

Here's to 2013!

We think that Mobile and Google+ will continue to be important for 2013... in fact, probably for longer than that, barring a zombie apocalypse. But the story for all of online marketing should become much more laser focused on local search and how it all works together symbiotically, especially to the benefit of small businesses.

Mobile

This should be the breakout year for creation of mobile website/app creation by businesses. Smartphone usage is expected to grow by about 15% or 20 million users in the US alone in 2013, and mobile search, directions and shopping are the top 3 activities being conducted on mobile devices. Small businesses that aren't in the mobile space WILL be left behind. Mobile payments will also become more mainstream, and we expect to see the launch of Google Wallet in 2013, which should also encourage more mobile action.

Google+ Local

Instead of predictions, its probably safer to publish a "wish list" instead:

  • Analytics!
  • Ability to offer deals and coupons
  • Completion of Google Place page information migration to G+L page
  • See some interesting applications from the innovative world, once a fully functional G+ API is available for developers. Right now, Google+ is just so bland.

Facebook

This is a long shot -- but the new "Nearby" upgrade has the ability to engage users to utilize this tool to the point of critical mass, thus creating a database of results for local search. Thank goodness they are using Google (not Apple) Maps.

Other Location-Based Services (basically Yelp and Foursquare)

As users rely on data, devices and reviews to help them find new places to shop and eat, Yelp and Foursquare should both break out of just being used by the "savvy" (less than 10% of smartphone users) to more mainstream usage. We'd bet that one or possibly both get acquired by one of the bigger players in the space -- Facebook, Google or Apple. Only Time Will Tell... Happy New Year our Fellow Marketers!  

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