Businessman Consulting Glowing Crystal Ball

~ by Merry Law, President of WorldVu LLC

No crystal ball or tea leaves here, just a lot of reading and my continuing interest in what has happened in the past years – and what that might mean for the future.  With no further introduction, here are my picks for what 2013 will bring for marketers.

1.    International marketing will increase.  More companies will realize their Internet marketing has reached a global scale and global marketing is profitable. The last quarter of 2012 brought a slight increase in inquires for my informal survey of companies providing services to international marketers.

2.    Big data will remain a hot topic and new solutions for storing and analyzing larger sets of data will emerge.  Data-driven marketing has become the norm and the trend is to collect and collate more data.  As this trend continues and grows, software providers will respond with new solutions for everyday use.

3.    Testing of marketing offers will increase as marketers work to leverage tight budgets and justify their marketing plans.  With more channels available, marketers need to know what works and what doesn’t. Testing will prove what produces the best results.  In an era of tight budgets, testing before a full-blown campaign saves money and proves the value of the marketing campaign’s cost.

4.    Marketing budgets will continue to be tight.  The double-dip recession in Europe and the fiscal uncertainty in the U.S. add to the general feeling of economic insecurity and encourage companies to be conservative in their spending.

5.    Integrated marketing will remains a focus.  As the number of marketing channels grew during the last 20 years, offers started to vary between channels – and customers noticed.   With more data analysis, more testing, and tight budgets, integrated marketing makes sense.

6.    Digital marketing will continue to grow, along with services to digital marketers. We will be seeing more QR codes, too.  More targeting options will make these marketing channels more effective as they mature.  At the same time, better data on, and more analysis of, response and cost-effectiveness will lead to a more objective understanding of how they fit into the marketing mix.

7.    Direct mail will continue its comeback.  It’s proven, it’s cost-effective, it’s targeted, and it reaches people that digital marketing doesn’t.  What more needs to be said?

8.    Address and postal code formats will change in more countries.  Many countries are looking to establish or improve postal codes, provide more standardized and accurate street addressing, and improve mail processing.  With the encouragement of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), new address systems will be introduced in more countries than over the last few years.

9.    Other contact information will change format more often, too.  The expansion of telephone services and new uses for it frequently require countries to add digits to their telephone numbers.  Internet address top-level domains (what comes after the last “dot”) have expanded, which will lead to changes in email addresses.

10. Shipping options will expand.  As the European Union (EU) continues down the road of liberalized postal markets, the postal operators are forming new alliances and new companies are entering the market.  The postal operators, now both allowed and required to compete, are looking for more lucrative markets and product lines.  For postal operators, that means packages and private carriers will respond with new options to keep customers.  Some postal operators have already entered other countries, including those outside the EU, and more are likely to do so.

11. Shipping costs will not drop.  Usually more competition means lower costs as the service providers fight for market share.  However, with high energy prices, more security protocols, and less government subsidies, there is little room to drop prices.  Some postal operators and private shippers in the U.S., Canada and the EU have announced price increases.  More will do so.

12. Security will remain a major concern for carriers, creating more paperwork requirements for mailers.  With the continuing threat of terrorist actions, all carriers have reason to be concerned with security to insure the safety of their employees, their customers, and the general public.  It is the socially-responsible position to take.  Related to this, documentation requirements will increase and change.  We are seeing the first of these with the requirements for electronic customs forms and related documentation.  Expect more of them and be prepared for more time-intensive shipping preparations.

13. Shippers and postal operators will increase their support for international package delivery.  If these companies can’t compete on price, they will try to distinguish themselves with their services.  More of them will offer assistance with documentation, customs clearances, and determining customs costs to the package recipient.

14. There will be no particular problems or major developments in privacy protections or other government regulations.   Some new government-mandated security restrictions may apply to data in a few more countries but these will be managed by the service bureaus used by marketers.

15. And the USPS will still be in business this time next year.


About the Author: Merry Law is the president of WorldVu LLC, the editor of the Guide to Worldwide Postal-Code and Address Formats and author of Best Practices for International Mailings.  She can be reached at mlaw [at] worldvu [dot] com.

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