A New “meta-trend”?

Content marketing, Google’s Penguin update and social media influence dominated the SEO and social media landscape this year. In 2013, these trends will come together as digital marketing convergence, a “meta-trend” that is changing the way companies build brands, interact with customers, and sell products.

Digital marketing convergence is driven by several factors. These include:

  • The ongoing migration to a digital world
  • The proliferation of smartphones, instant interaction and telecommuting
  • The blurring of marketing and customer relations (e.g., a company Twitter account responding to customer complaints)

What digital marketing convergence means for your business:

  1. The end of marketing silos. Is your marketing department separate from your new media/SEO team? Historically, the team creating branded content rarely interfaced with the team that analyzed conversion rates for this content. Digital marketing convergence means an end to separate marketing, software, and data analysis silos. Tomorrow’s marking staff will have great editorial skills and SEO skills. Not only will your staff write quality web content, but they will also understand what makes content viral, how to analyze conversion rates, and how to apply this data to improve content creation. An integrated marketing department means faster idea execution, more effective marketing tactics, and instant analytics feedback for streamlined marketing.
  2. Better marketing for less. The convergence of paid and earned media means that budgets are changing, as is the way marketing teams operate. At the same time, continuing economic uncertainty means that marketing budgets for big advertising buys have all but disappeared. This renewed emphasis on cost-effective advertising and customer relations is a driving force behind digital marketing convergence. By integrating the new media team with the marketing department, businesses can save money. The same goes for outsourcing SEO to a specialty firm; why rely on an outside team when SEO can be done effectively in-house?
  3. Improved page rank via social media engagement. Thanks to Google’s Penguin update, scoring a higher page rank on Google is determined in part by quality content as well as the interactivity of this content. When customers re-tweet, re-post, or comment on your content, this signals Google that your content is highly relevant, which consequently improves your page rank. Understanding the science of sharable content is critical to both content creation and SEO. Last year, the New York Times/Latitude Research published a preliminary survey on the science of social media engagement. In 2013, expect more research to focus on (1) why people share and (2) how to leverage this understanding to improve website SEO.
  4. Increased reliance on freelancers and telecommuting. Digital marketing convergence is changing how people work, how teams are formed, and how these teams interact. Increasingly, marketing teams are distributed across time and space through telecommuting and freelancing. Are your marketing, technology and new media teams all working out of the same office? Outsourcing content creation no longer means relying on an overseas content farm. Building a cost-effective and integrated team means hiring staff with diversified skills – even if these staff members are freelancing from home.

Moving Forward

Media and data are inextricably linked in today’s digital marketplace. search engine optimization drives social media sharing, and vice a versa. As a result of this convergence, a single, multi-talented marketing department will replace traditional marketing silos, delivering better content for less. In order to hire the best, companies will increasingly rely on freelancers, replacing corporate culture with telecommuting. As social media engagement drives search engine page rank, more research will focus on the science behind social media sharing.

Looking beyond 2013, first-party consumer relationships will dominate the digital landscape. Businesses that embrace digital marketing convergence will be best positioned to cultivate meaningful relationships with their consumers for long-term success.