The Future of Marketing: 46 Experts Share Their Predictions For 2012

Last week, I explored “The Future of Social Media” and based on the positive feedback I decided to look into the crystal ball one more time and see what the future has in store for marketing.  I believe that 2012 will be the year that marketers focus less on push marketing and invest more in inbound marketing campaigns.  Because one opinion is never enough, below are predictions on the future of marketing from 46 experts.

1. Alexis Kingsbury, Global Marketing Director at Spidergap

Marketing efforts will increasingly be focused on demonstrating results. Marketing teams will look to identify and analyze the gaps between customers’ experiences of a company and their expectations. By focusing investment on addressing these gaps and on measuring improvement, marketing will demonstrate better return on investment (ROI).

Cross-department and channel collaboration will become more prevalent as marketing coordinates its research, analysis, activities and reporting with other parts of the business.

2. Andrew Baird, Chief Freedom Officer at Amazing Business

The future of marketing lies in engaging your customers (and potential customers) to be truly interested in your messages – and perceive them as useful, not simply as marketing. Ignoring ads is at an all-time high and the key to successful marketing lies in marketing that flies under the radar and preferably is shared and commented by colleagues and peers on social media.  Referrals will also be a much higher percentage of successful business marketing because it’s much easier to either recommend or knock companies online using social media and have your message shared. Now more than ever a consistent online presence is crucial to your business success.

3. Ian Aronovich, CEO of

Mobile advertising is right now in its infancy, but it projected to grow exponentially because companies can reach millions and even billions of unique mobile web users. More and more people are doing away with their bulky desktops or laptops and simply using their smartphones to operate many daily web functions. When you advertise on a mobile platform, you will be casting an increasingly wider net in the future. Therefore, the growth of mobile adverting is the future of marketing.

4. Darren Negraeff, Marketing Director at Zafin Labs

In order to make predictions like this I think you need to consider both a long term horizon (say, 10 years) and work backwards from there, while at the same time considering observations from the world around you. So when I think about the longer term future, one of the big trends that I see unfolding is the true customization of offers to individuals. Presently that is manifesting itself as the group-offer phenomenon – Groupon, LivingSocial, and the like. But that is really just a passing state. With all the rich, granular data that we as marketers have access to (particularly mobile data), there is no fundamental technical reason why we can’t make discriminating offers to the right people in the right place at the right time, and that is what the future holds.

And of course this conforms to one of the fundamental truths about how we view the impact of technological change – in the short run, we tend to overestimate the value and change that new technology brings (ie. Groupon), while simultaneously underestimating the long term value of the greater trend (using data to customize limited time offers). Consider the case of Amazon – when it first starting selling books online, everyone said it was a revolution – then a year or so later, we had the dot-com bubble burst, and everyone thought buying through the internet was dead. 15 or so years later, do you even know anyone that hasn’t bought something from Amazon?

It’s completely normal. That is what is going to happen to offer customization in the long term, and what we’ll see next year will be some increase in the ability to discriminate more effectively as to who should receive those offers.

5. Jeremy Glennon, Owner of Local Dime

In 2012, social media will continue to grow strongly. This will especially be true in a world of increasing uncertainty in which there may be an increasing need for connecting with others for reasons of spirituality, unity, or comfort.  However, as social media marketing (like gaining friends, followers, views, and similar consumer interactions) matures, business owners will begin demanding that these interactions increase their business’s bottom line. Therefore, there will be a push to better understand and measure results from these interactions.

6. Chris Wise, Director of Marketing at Guideline Central

Customer data will become more important than ever. Tapping into Facebook’s social graph will allow businesses to access an incredible amount of information about (not just their customers) but all of their website visitors. This will be used to take marketing personalization to a whole new level.

7. Drew Stevens Ph.D., President of Stevens Consulting Group

Consumers will continually control the brand. This will require marketers conducting more activities that illustrate value and allow clients to become marketing avatars.  With the higher costs of advertising and the noise marketers will be forced to using the complete cadre of IMC processes to create enough messages for visibility and community.

8. David Amerland, Founder of HelpMySEO

Traditional marketing with its top-down, one-way approach is dying and the companies which persist to use it are dying with it. In recent months we had classic examples with Netflix and RIM (owners of the Blackberry brand) to name but two. What works best is a humanization of marketing with brands and companies acquiring and successfully projecting a personality in their marketing. This is no mean feat, it requires a complete change in the way marketing is traditionally handled at company level, from a compartmentalized process-driven activity to a more organic interaction with potential clients through social media for which every member of a company, at every level, is responsible for contributing to. When that happens we will see a much more transparent way of marketing with brands and companies creating the loyalty, in their customers, which they have always sought and which they have been so bad at proving that they deserve.

9. Maggie Nemser, Founder / Editor-in-Chief of

With the social media space growing more crowded by the minute, getting airtime is no longer as simple as a tweet. In fact, spending too much time on social media when you could be improving your product can be detrimental. The best way to market in 2012 is to focus on mobile sharing and apps coupled with refining your product and empowering your users to spread the literal word. There is a return to the power of the actual WORD of mouth because we are growing weary of “friends” hidden behind social media icons and quicker to question the integrity of a share. An in-person referral still maintains the most organic weight and if you focus on getting exponential conversations going in person, you’re ducking from the social media shitstorm and have a chance of getting a point across.

10.  Mani Iyer, CEO of Kwanzoo

With the proliferation of marketing channels from the traditional websites, email and display to newer channels such as social, re-targeting and mobile, businesses need to engage their prospects wherever they are. The rapid growth of these new channels requires a new mindset to campaign execution from single channel to multi-channel.

Marketers need to think about how different channels connect with each other for users (such as email and social, display and mobile) and enable seamless extension of the user experience from one channel into another.

11. Greg Maka, Managing Director at 24-7 Marketing LLC

Video will continue to play an important role in the marketing mix. Marketers will have to abide by the standard – “Content is King”. By using video to sell their services or products, smart companies will also find clever ways to direct prospects to their videos.

Direct mail will make a comeback as marketers already see the benefits of this powerful medium during this recession. So many companies trimmed their direct mail budgets and that leaves an opportunity for others to stand out.

A major research company recently reported that the average consumer sees 5,000 ad impressions a day so the need break through the clutter is so important. Progressive marketers will use more online tools as well as traditional media to stand out in the crowd.

12. Eugene Farber, Founder and Content Strategy Consultant of Content Strategy Hub

There will be two keys to good marketing in 2012: Conversation and Education.  With the infusion of social media and mobile devices into almost every aspect of individual lives, there is more opportunity than ever before to converse with potential customers and build brand identity.

The ability to educate will also be huge in 2012. With the current costs of the education system, there is more opportunity to jump in and inform through the internet. Information has always been the lifeblood of the internet. And with the exponential growth of sub-par content, valuable content becomes that much more effective.

13.  Jeremy Gregg, Executive Director at The PLAN Fund

The future of marketing will be turning your customers into your salesforce. The initial foray into this area has begun with retailers offering discounts to customers who can prove that they “checked in” to their store on Facebook, Foursquare, etc. We are also seeing more and more campaigns that provide incentives for connecting to a company’s social media presence.

This trend will continue, and possibly extend into the “rewards card” programs; customers could be rewarded over a long-term basis by attracting
other customers who use these cards; many grocers have been doing this for years with their nonprofit partners (i.e. donating 1% of purchases to a charity whose donors register their rewards cards with that charity’s number).

Webinars as an educational and marketing platform saw a huge rise in popularity in 2011, and will continue to grow in popularity in 2012.

14. Ryan Turner, Co-Owner of 3PRIME, LLC

We are betting that business will need to come to rely on a standard reporting tool for daily reports via email that measures and consolidates the currently used social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, as well as whatever comes next. We are building a tool to do that. We also predict that businesses will make a massive movement towards catering to mobile website guests and are investing in our MobileSpringer service to provide a solution to that need as well. In general, advertising will continue to move online with a growing Local space providing the first real competition to Google in years.

Recommended for YouWebcast: Sales and Marketing Alignment: 7 Steps To Implement Effective Sales Enablement

15. Carlos Vazquez, Co-founder and CEO of Rowdy Marketing

The use of mobile devices to drive consumer’s purchasing research will continue to grow in 2012. More and more brands will begin adopting mobile marketing approaches that leverage this technology. Social media will no longer be just about having a presence and building awareness, tracking will become mainstream with a focus on ROI. For small and more local businesses, the adoption of real time push-notifications through mobile applications or text messages will continue to grow.

16. Ed Nash, President of Altius Management

Technological advances have allowed us to target market more than ever. In regards to the entertainment business, consumers are able to pinpoint their tastes more specifically than ever, and the scope of available product has never been so large or more convenient. In 2012, we will see a continued rise in “on-demand” capabilities for all manner of media, and we will begin to utilize cloud-based services more and more. Marketing will allow less on wide shotgun blast approaches, and more on targeted, concentrated efforts.

We will have an enormous amount of data at our fingertips. However, we shouldn’t expect the cost of marketing to go down because of the increased targeting; rather, the detailed data and analytics will become more valuable, and that side of the equation will likely go up in cost. It is an exciting time for sure.

17. Katrina Pfannkuch, Owner, Creative Consultant, Content Strategist and Head Writer at Buzzword Communications, LLC

In 2012 I see individuals and businesses creating more authentic, short term collaborations for projects, events, seminars, ebooks and more in order to take the lead the marketing space. When you have two people or businesses that are just starting out and want to “get known”, combining knowledge, clout and opt-in lists can get things cooking faster. On the flip side, when two people or businesses that are already well-known individually combine “star power”, it breathes new life into an established brand and simultaneously cements awareness in new minds.

18. Craig Cooke, CEO of Rhythm Interactive

2012 will continue to accelerate the shift in marketing budgets from traditional to digital media. Look for big pops in popular social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Emerging media in the form of apps for smart phones, tablets and desktops will continue to explode creating new and innovative media buys. However despite all the hype in social and mobile, look for search and email to be top consistent performers in ROI.

19. Bobby Zafarnia, President of Praecere Interactive

Look for smarter integration between disciplines — marketing, PR, legal, and other professional services. Too many major players fail to have these teams communicate, or let them fall into costly turf wars. Rapid-fire marketing strategies require buy-in across these disciplines to ensure transparency, reduce errors, avoid offending audiences, and navigate many more pitfalls.

20. Jon Glick, Senior Vice President of SEO and Product Management at Become Inc.

Today performance marketing focuses on either the user (behavioral targeting) or the content (SEM and contextual ads). Starting in 2012 you will start to see systems that blend and balance both of these approaches to engage the user in a more intelligent, situational relevant manner. Irrelevant ads that historically gained wide distribution at low CPMs will fade precipitously as improved targeting/relevance pushes up publisher rates.

21. Mark Grondin, SVP of Marketing at Shopatron

Marketing efforts will lose steam in 2012 if companies don’t make it a priority to be available to customers across all channels. To be successful, businesses should have a strong physical presence, online presence, mobile presence and social presence. And once these channels are established, they must be fully integrated with one another. With this in hand, the marketing opportunities are unlimited and powerful because you reach customers through their preferred channel and they can find you everywhere they are.

22. Marla Bace, Chief Marketing Officer at Brinton Eaton

Social Media will start to be viewed and measured the same way brand is by relevance and not just by quantity. Those who are out there retweeting and just stating what they are up to are going to become far less relevant than folks who participate less frequently but add value to followers and listeners. This is no different than how consumers currently evaluate the brands they want to engage in – personal brands included.

23. George Bilbrey, President at Return Path

Marketers need to make one of their 2012 New Year’s resolutions to be proactive about protecting their company’s brand reputation. Over 260 million emails are sent every day by phishers targeting high-profile brands and their customers, pretending to be from trusted companies in an attempt to get customers to download malware or gain private account information. These phishing attacks destroy a company’s brand reputation and shake consumer confidence. Instead of just reacting to phishing attacks – the time is now for marketers to have a proactive plan in place and to implement solutions that prevent their brand from being hijacked in the first place. With a proactive stance, marketers will be able to mitigate risk, minimize revenue loss and brand damage costs while maintaining customer trust in email communications. It’s 2012 – is your brand protected?

24. Stephen Powers, President and Founder of Rightlook Creative

A quickly evolving element of modern marketing is the use of video content online.  Recent years have shown us that customers have a much stronger reaction to a video of product or brand than to static text or images, and 2012 is sure to reveal expansion in the use of online video marketing.

Many large brands already implement successful video marketing campaigns today and, as digital platforms like YouTube make it easier and affordable to produce high quality video content, more and more businesses will find it effective to engage and sell with their own online marketing videos rather than with static content. The importance of viral and shareable content will drive companies and brands to become more creative with their content, replacing the predictable sales pitch with more informative or entertaining material, making the 2012 browsing experience less like opening pages, and more like changing channels.

25. Andrew Gazdecki, CEO of Bizness Apps

I predict that mobile apps will be the future of marketing. Never before has information been so readily available for customers. Businesses now have the opportunity for customers to literally download their business into their customers’ pocket.

26. Sara Schoonover, Vice President of TicketKick

I believe the future of marketing will exist even more heavily in social media.  Nothing beats word-of-mouth and direct referrals, and social media is the platform in which marketers will use to get on ground level with the social chit-chatters, not in a spammy kind of way, but more interactively.

27. Gerard Boucher, Founder of Boucher + Co.

Marketing is moving away from targeting generalized audiences, and will increasingly target specific individuals with specific interests.

Though this shift is already evident, it will become commonplace over the next three to five years, as advertising firms take advantage of large amounts of customer data plus increasingly mobile platforms to deliver their message.

Soon, personalized marketing will become ubiquitous. When it does, we’ll be more spooked than pleased with the lack of privacy surrounding our daily lives.

28. Sarah Welle, Co-Founder of Rocware

In the future of marketing there will be a shift towards using social media to connect customers directly with the product lines they’re interested in. Customers, an example would be a small gift shop retailer, will want to opt in to “follow” product lines & manufacturers they’re interested in so they can hear about new products first, get special pricing deals directly from the manufacturer, etc.

29. King Hill, Senior Vice President of Marcus Thomas

Ubiquity is the keyword for the future of marketing. No longer will brands have the option of cherry-picking communications channels or technologies; they¹ll need to be everywhere all the time.  Specifically, mobile and social will step up from optional tactics to required strategies at the brand and activation levels. All of this will challenge brand managers to maintain focus at the goal-setting level and require their agencies to embrace, understand and deliver sound counsel in this integrated landscape.

30. Chad Rueffert, President of Braintree Marketing, Inc.

Over the next few years, the practice of “risk-reversal” will be more prevalent among small and mid-sized business. Consumers with less disposable income will need incentives, discounts and guarantees in order to try something new, change brand loyalty, or choose between entertainment options. Removing the risk of paying for a bad experience or a product that doesn’t fulfill promises with an initial free offering will attract new customers. And while it may mean a higher initial customer acquisition cost, when combined with a customer loyalty and long-term relationship marketing strategy it can mean new, lifetime customers.

31. Bob Batchelor, Assistant Professor & Director at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kent State University

In 2012, the marriage of marketing and public relations will become a reality in the form of content marketing. The demise of traditional journalism and rise of netizens necessitates that organizations communicate with audiences like never before. Content remains king! Organizations that understand how great content turns audiences into mini-brand ambassadors will focus on storytelling and narrative as a catalyst for this change.

32. Ryan Allis, CEO of iContact

Social media will be given increased importance in 2012. According to a recent iContact survey polling small-to-medium business owners, three-fourths reported they find “tremendous value” in social media.  More SMBs will incorporate social media into their email marketing campaigns, which will allow them to market products and services through new, viral methods. Additionally, SMBs will look to create more meaningful social media interactions with their customers and constituents. More SMBs will turn to social media analytics to measure the reach of their posts on Facebook and Twitter, as well as track message engagement, identify interested customers or clients, and create targeted content.

33. Nelson Bruton, President of Interchanges

Companies are going to realize more than ever they must start closely measuring key performance indicators on both the marketing funnel and during the sales process. As the economic pressures continue to build, many companies are realizing they need to optimize their processes. In order to change the results, you must track the results and you further you must have metric in place to monitor the inputs as well as the outputs.

34. Kimberly Deas, Chief Marketing Officer at

Small business marketing will change. Due to the slow economy and heavy global competition, small business owners have to get smarter about their marketing.  We are seeing many take time to learn more about marketing with the many online marketing tools available. For the first time, business owners can effectively do their own marketing. With a checklist of what to do and access to hundreds of powerful online marketing ideas, they can compete with large advertising firms. The internet has opened more door than ever before.

35. Charles E Gaudet II, Founder & CEO of

Gone are the days where you can send someone directly to a sales letter and expect them to buy without first proving yourself as the most trusted provider of your product or service. More than ever before, with all the options available to your clients, both offline and online, your customers are actively researching you and your competition to determine whose product or service is most likely to give them the greatest advantage, benefit, value or profit. For companies looking for a competitive advantage, this starts with understanding your customers’ problems, giving them a preview of how you intend to help them and focusing on the relationship with your prospects . rather than pushing for the sale right away. Master this and your competition won’t be able to touch you.

36. Daniel Weinbach, President of The Weinbach Group, Inc.

As economic pressures continue, marketers will be increasingly pressed to find the most efficient and demonstrable methods to market products and services, which will likely translate into the continued trend toward increased use of online marketing and a trend away from print. For many, social media will become a growing component of their marketing programs; however, the most sophisticated marketers will apply more advanced methods of measuring social media’s ROI ? including calculating the opportunity cost of labor. Perhaps most unsettling, the increased focus on tactical results will likely mean less emphasis on integrated approaches, including diminished value for brand-building.

37. Kristin Marquet, President of Marquet Media, LLC

As a publicist and reputation manager, I see social media sites and web platforms such as,, and gaining more traction in 2012. In this era of transparency, business owners will be able to control their reputations and build their brands more effectively because they will be able to understand how their audiences perceive them. Essentially, these platforms will enable business owners to A) track and monitor their reputations; and B) communicate and listen to their audiences more effectively.

38. Thomas B. Christel, CMO at Yooplus srl

Internal or Business Social Networking will become the next communication and collaboration channel for global organizations, augmenting email, and replacing the phone with online conferencing or VOIP technologies built-in. This paves the way for Enterprise Social Networking platforms to reduce costs, increase productivity and provide continuous transparency, both inside and outside the organization. You will bring your partners and customers into your networks, creating closer relationships as they become part of your product development, customer support and a real-time gauge and input to your business success.

39. Kathleen Turpel, Owner of Imaginal Marketing Group

Social and mobile technology will continue to grow in importance. Email marketing will become less important as social media becomes the primary channel to communicate to customers and offer buying opportunities for consumers. Sharing will be redefined as group activities become the new way of hanging out. Facebook will continue to dominate social media, but the GEN Y and Z will start to explore Google+ which will create healthy competition and result in both networks offering more to the consumers. Mobile marketing will take center stage both for organic and paid search. Mobile commerce will be a new revenue stream and more “in the moment” purchase transactions will take place as a result. QR codes will be become more main stream for impulse purchasing and product education.

40. Professor Scott R. Hamula, Chair, Department of Strategic Communication at Ithaca College Roy H. Park School of Communications

Get ready for an increase in one-to-one marketing, mass customization, entrepreneurship, and personal branding. With more celebrities branding their own lines of products, awareness and interest is heightened. As communication and manufacturing technology continues to evolve, along with increasing interest to work for oneself resulting from tough economic conditions and generational interests, more opportunities will be available for the private individuals to create their own clothing, perfumes, accessories, food, etc., to use as well as to market to others. This will all be further facilitated as more individuals will use online, social, and mobile technology to transform themselves into living brands.

41. Joe Librizzi, Director of Marketing Operations at Institute for International Research

The tools necessary for leveraging social media’s massive amount of data will continue to become more accessible.  This will widen the gap between providers within verticals as some commit to finding insight in the data while others remain content with measuring their number of “likes”. Those committing to analytical maturity will deliver customers a more personalized and enriching experience.

42. Mike Essex, Online Marketing Manager at Koozai

The main change in the online space will be a movement away from the traditional methods of tracking a website (search rankings and traffic) to more important metrics of revenue and value added. This will be forced change due to recent changes by Google – who have started to hide organic keyword data – and also a growing trend from marketers to get a better understanding of the ROI of online. This move will also push more big businesses to use SEO, as they start to see the prospective returns, and fight back against smaller brands that have made a good showing online.

43. Isha Edwards, Brand Marketing Consultant at EPiC Measures, LLC

The future of marketing in 2012 will entail uncommon marketing tactics in increasingly uncommon economic times. In an effort to vie for consumer dollars, the marketplace will be oversaturated with products and messages that hinge on the shocking, absurd, and the profane. Enterprising marketers who take the “path less travelled by”; those who learn from the fashion industry and make the old; timeless looks, features, services, etc. new again, will not only stand out, but excel. This concept will apply across platforms-namely social media.

44. Tony Zambito, President and CEO of Goal Centric

Marketing will be influenced by an overall movement from purely data-driven to insight-driven marketing that can best be summarized as:

  • Understanding buyer behaviors qualitatively versus only by analytics will take on a higher priority as companies seek better ways to connect with buyers and to separate themselves from competitors.
  • The rise of the social buyer will continue to challenge many marketing organizations as they seek to adapt to more complex buyer ecosystems and buying processes.
  • There will be a migration taking place from content creation to experience creation as companies seek to help buyers navigate information overload and to make better informed purchase decisions.

Optimizing the buyer experience seamlessly across all interaction points will become a priority for organizations as they find differentiating from competitors increasingly harder and more complex.

45. David Uribe, VP, Creative Director at Interaktiva Digital Marketing

First, the integration of devices and touch points (integrating digital life with “real life”) will play a key roll in companies that want to effectively reach their customers. Brands must be everywhere their customers are: smartphones, tablets and social media. But it is not just about being everywhere – it is about solving real life problems in digital spaces, with integrated solutions.

Second, relevance will be king. Look at what Facebook is doing with the timeline and news feeds. To reach their consumers, brands must be relevant – sit at your customers’ “tables,” listen to what they are talking about, gather all the information and link it to your products and services.

Third, retail stores will need to evolve their digital commerce platforms.  Technology is giving people the power to do everything from their phones and digital devices, and this trend is gaining momentum. People don’t want to leave their couches – so retailers must find a way to go to their customer’s couches.

Lastly, the battle in the technology market will escalate – with Steve Job’s passing, there is an open window for tech companies to regain market share and increase visibility. As an analogy, when the Formula 1 regulations changed, suddenly Ferrari experience a lot more competition from other top notch car manufacturers, and was no longer “king” of the racing world. Now the question is – who will be the next tech market leader? Will any other company match Job’s distinctive advertising campaigns?

46. Wendy Gibson, Chief Marketing Officer at Telligent

The times of putting your messaging on one mass media outlet and being able to reach your entire audience is dead. Instead we have entered into a world that revolves around the web, and specifically, as of recently, social media.  Therefore many company’s marketing departments are starting to restructure to incorporate content marketing into their organizational formation. However the key aspect of this that I see becoming popular is that companies will no longer just be publishing content on their own website, but they will also be publishing off-domain. This is a vital shift because if you want a certain audience to receive your content you must bring the content to where the customer is going on the web.

Customers are the core of any business, so there should be very little doubt that your customers are your number one asset when it comes to marketing. From customer success stories to customers posting comments on your social media site, these are all ways that the voice of the customer helps to steer marketing for your organization while helping to provide prospects with positive reinforcement. As this continues to pick up in momentum, I foresee many organizations doing some very creative things with customer driven marketing in the future.

What do you think?  Please share your predictions on the future of marketing in the comment section below.

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 3

  • No doubt, mobile marketing and GPS satellite marketing will be on the rise in 2012. I’m glad to hear that if nothing more, this economy is bringing higher overall value to consumers, not just revenue for the big boys creating the largest marketing ‘splash.’ It’s important to know a company will stand behind what their brand represents. I agree that mobile marketing will be accelerate and the use of GPS satellite.

    @Jeremy, great point! After spending what feels like copious amounts of time with social networking, I’m looking forward to measurable results in place of the hot air blown by the bazillions of social media ‘gurus.’

    Lots of good stuff here!

  • Could not agree more with the fact that customers are actively researching everything and everyone in your industry to determine whose service is the best solutions. Proving those facts both online and offline is consuming more and more effort.

    Thanks for the post, very helpful!

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