December 22, 2011
How To

Consumer Marketing: 8 case studies and 3 how-to articles on 4 key trends for 2012

SUMMARY: Each year, digital marketing offers innovation in existing channels, and creates opportunities in new areas. This makes it a difficult, but exciting time to be a marketer, as digital efforts allow you to track what works, and what doesn’t, in your campaigns.

Our final 2011 B2C article looks at four trends to watch in 2012. Mobile marketing tops the list, and online privacy is a growing concern for all digital marketers. Likewise, there are still new developments in PPC advertising, while optimizing local search is an area primed for growth.
by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter

Another year of consumer marketing is almost over, and in the always changing world of digital marketing, we’ve seen some brand new possibilities, some figurative old dogs learning some very useful new tricks, and even old standards remaining relevant.

This look at some consumer marketing trends for 2012 is a mixed bag. Without even peeking ahead, I’m pretty sure you can guess what trend number one is going to be.

If you guessed mobile marketing, you would be correct. But along with the cutting edge in mobile, this article also covers PPC advertising, making the most of local search and the latest in online privacy with a focus on online behavioral advertising.

Alongside Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa, and beat reporter for the Inbound Marketing and Email Marketing newsletters, I conducted about 80 consumer marketer interviews in 2011, and performed hours of additional research on B2C tactics and strategies.

These trends are based on what we learned over the last year of consumer marketing, and are illustrated by actual campaigns from your marketing peers.

And now, here are the trends to watch in 2012 …

Trend #1. Mobile

Mobile is so hot right now, it needs no other introduction than one word in the title. It’s relatively new, it is largely untested compared to other digital channels, and the sheer pace of the technology guarantees both of those attributes will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

With that said, here are some of the key areas within the mobile channel:


Since this end-of-year wrap-up is looking at consumer marketing trends, apps are the leading edge of the mobile marketing channel. Marketers are debating the benefits of apps over mobile-optimized websites and generally looking for ways to exploit this marketing opportunity.

This case study from our Inbound Marketing newsletter covers how the NHL’s Calgary Flames created a mobile app to drive content in the form of stats, articles, photos and videos to its fans. This use of an app gives the marketer total control over the content the customer gets to see, and tracking user response allows marketers to also provide the content the customer wants to see.

For HotelTonight, the app is essentially the company. The app and the company launched together, and its product -- booking last minute hotel rooms -- is only available on the app. The case study we published provided insight into how the company promoted its singular product to drive downloads in a crowded industry.

Integration with other channels

In general, digital marketing works best when channels are combined, and nowhere is this more apparent than with mobile. Almost any mobile strategy is going to include email, social media and even more traditional marketing channels.

One example is this article about how HotBox Pizza launched its initial mobile effort and included Facebook, email blasts to its entire list and even in-store banners to promote the strategy.

When Redbox added a discount offer with a gamification element to its existing mobile channel with an already large subscriber base, it integrated social media, email and physical advertising in the form of a call-to-action sticker on its 27,000 kiosks, to promote the campaign.

Scotts Miracle-Gro actually used a mobile marketing initiative to increase its email subscriber list. In this case study, the company created a mobile campaign to give Major League Baseball stadium audiences an offer for lawn care guides and followed up with a call-to-action to join the email list – 40% did.

Mobile marketing is not an entity that should be utilized alone. It can, and should, be combined with an overall digital strategy.

Creating a successful mobile effort

Because mobile is a relatively new channel, it can sometimes help when getting started to find out how someone else was able to craft a working strategy. This how-to from Taco Bell’s associate manager of interactive marketing provides five considerations to keep in mind when creating your own effort, including: mobile website issues, design elements and branding.

Trend #2. Adding local search to SEM

According to MarketingSherpa research published in the 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report -- SEO Edition, 43% of B2C marketers have claimed a local listing, and 36% are optimizing those listings for local terms.

What is local search? Here is a description from the report:

Local search optimization is the process of optimizing one’s website in order to be found when someone searches locally. Local search optimization is valuable when a keyword or key phrase directly describes and relates to the business, and comprises enough search volume to make optimization worthwhile.

Only 27% of organizations (B2C and B2B combined) currently optimize for local terms as part of their organic search strategies, compared to 59% of organizations that do not. Many organizations stated that local search is not relevant to their business model or market. For those that are optimizing for local search, most organizations had more challenges to report than successes to share.

Even though our research found many marketers struggled with local search last year, it is an important strategy to include with your overall SEM efforts.

While local search wasn’t the entire focus of the case study, Continental Van Lines made use of a number of local search tactics to improve its pay-per-click campaign.

Here is a local search checklist from Kaci Bower, Research Analyst, Primary Research, MECLABS (the parent company of MarketingSherpa), and lead author of the 2011 Search Marketing Benchmark Report - SEO Edition:
  • Include a local phone number with the listing (not a 800 number)

  • Include a local address

  • Optimize the listing description with target keywords

  • Enhance the listing with custom details

  • Add the area(s) served, especially if beyond the immediate area or ZIP code of the physical address

  • Add videos to the listing

  • Add photos to the listing

  • Add offers to the listing
  • Use Google AdWords Express to raise the visibility of your Google Places listing

Trend #3. Understanding online privacy

Online privacy will likely be a trending consumer marketing topic every year because this issue is not going away anytime soon. If you need proof, look no further than any media outlet of choice whenever Facebook arbitrarily shifts its technology and affects the privacy of its more than 800 million (and counting) users.

For B2C marketers, online behavioral advertising involves privacy issues to be aware of, and this how-to article offers five tactics from two experts in the field on understanding and dealing with the topic.

Privacy in the EU and the US

Where privacy has moved from debate to legislative action is in the European Union. Marketers operating in the EU should understand that the ePrivacy Directive is now a law in the EU, and each of the 27 member states is required to pass a version of this legislation.

The directive has several key components:
  • “Informed consent” for the collection and use of consumer data. Unfortunately for advertisers and marketers in the EU, the actual definition of informed consent, in terms of the types of cookies that require consent and whether consent can be implied based on browser settings or will require explicit opt-in, is still under debate.

  • Notice on collection and use of European consumers’ data.

  • Provide consumers the means to control how their data is used.

  • This directive applies to all cookie use, and not just online behavioral advertising.

Right now, EU member states are working on how this directive will be implemented and enforced, but the legislation is in place and should be honored by marketers in the EU.

In the United States, the best way to engage in self-regulation and keep government oversight out of the picture is to take part in the Digital Advertising Alliance’s AdChoices program.

This program provides marketers with a relatively simple way to provide consumers transparency and control over their online data, and it can be recognized in online ads through the AdChoices icon.

The Council of the Better Business Bureaus and the Direct Marketing Association enforce the program, and compliance is required for all of the various Digital Advertising Alliance member organizations.

Privacy policies

Another privacy question to ask is, “When did I last update my privacy policy?” If the answer is three or more years ago, most likely the policy does not adequately address social media and social sharing buttons on the website.

It’s important to remember that when you take your customers’ privacy seriously, and market to them transparently, you gain both trust and credibility. Unless you are selling actual snake oil and plan on hitting the dusty trail by sundown, both of those attributes will serve you well in the long run.

Trend #4. Taking advantage of new pay-per-click advertising features

Research for the MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report -- PPC Edition (lead author, Kaci Bower) found 41% of surveyed B2C marketers have a regularly performed formal process for PPC advertising with thorough guidelines. Another 33% have an informal process, and only 22% reported having no PPC process or guidelines.

Similar to email, PPC is a firmly entrenched digital marketing channel, but that doesn’t make it any less effective, and certainly doesn’t mean that innovation and new ways to approach and improve results aren’t happening all of the time.

Going back to a case study referenced in trend number two on local search, Continental Van Lines completely revamped its PPC campaigns this year to take advantage of a number of Google AdWords offerings, including AdWords Express, Sitelinks and location extension.

This article offers five tactics on how integrate Sitelinks into a PPC effort. The advice comes from an online marketing manager at Oakley whose team beta-tested the campaign add-on.

Keywords still count

Keywords are the heart of any PPC effort, and a case study published earlier this year looks at a hotelier with underperforming campaigns, and how that marketing team was able to combine a new website, new landing pages tied to ads, and most importantly, a completely revised approach to choosing campaign keywords, to use pay-per-click to increase sales by 75%.

Scale your PPC efforts

When your company has few employees, but a very large number of products, it is difficult, to impossible, to effectively run and optimize campaigns on all your product offerings.

One online retailer faced just that problem. PPC was the only advertising channel the marketer was using, but running the campaigns in-house with very limited staff and literally thousands of products just wasn’t working.

The answer was to find a way to outsource the day-to-day operation of the PPC campaigns while still overseeing the overall effort. This article looks at the criteria the online marketer found important when making the decision to outsource, and in managing the new process.

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples:
  1. Local search chart

  2. AdChoices icon

  3. PPC maturity chart

Mobile Marketing: A look ahead to 2012

Search Engine Marketing: Taking advantage of local search and local business listings

Anxiety: Use privacy as a competitive advantage

Online Advertising: Behavioral Ads Threatened

PPC Marketing: A look at analytic and monitoring tools

Google as a Grocery Store: Use SEO and search engine marketing in tandem to boost lead generation

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