The Future of Connected Marketing

Hi, My name is Matt Davies and I am the Creative Director here at Attitude Design. Justin Kirby, the author of the book Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution contacted recently after reading my article entitled "Has viral email caught a cold?" Justin is an e-marketing expert and at the end of his book, which was published in 2005, he had made 10 predictions. These can be seen on the Connected Marketing website. He wondered what my views were on the subject and so I constructed some comments for him from which he has kindly quoted me:  connected marketing screengrab  Seeing I had spent a while writting these comments I thought readers might be interested in viewing them so I have posted them below - please feel free to leave your comments on here or on Justin's website. I would be interested if any body has any alternative views on these estimations as I found the majority of them to be spot on. Although not all his predictions hadn't been fulfilled in 2006 I'm sure the majority of them are going to be areas the industry will soon be considering on a grand scale. So here are his predictions:  

10 predictions for the future of connected marketing (2005):


1. Connected marketing will become more strategic, with the focus shifting from promotion (creating remarkable campaigns) to innovation (creating remarkable products).

I think this is coming true - may not be quite there yet but I feel that creating a product with a niche selling point is becoming very important. I wouldn't say the focus has shifted just yet but consumers are definitely getting wise to traditional "old school" advertising and know how to hunt around. Compulsive buying is lessening because of the internet and therefore consumers like to have USP's (Unique Selling Propositions) communicated to them by other consumers rather than by the company selling them the product. Consider the success of Amazons customer reviewing strategy. Of course, you can only have a real USP if your product has one! So yes I think more attention is being made to the product itself.

2. ROI (Return On Investment) metrics will be mandatory for viral, buzz and WOM (word of mouth) campaigns. "Advocacy rates" and "sales uplift" will become important parts of ROI metrics, displacing traditional measures such as campaign reach.

Again I'm not sure we are quite there yet. Currently I can't think of a project I've been involved in where this has happened but in my view it should happen. I think companies would be surprised at how much advertising is completely worthless. By employing a team to keep an eye on blogs and on things like myspace may be way more profitable than sending out a viral campaign for example. By providing independent statistics on their campaigns, companies will be better informed and more in touch with their spending. In my view, old school marketing will eventually be phased out by more statistic based strategies.

3. WOM tracking will become a key metric in brand tracking market research.

Yes I think this is a useful tool and will increase in use. Not quite there yet though. As mentioned previously, this kind of tactic is going to be more useful than blunder bashing advertising where little or no feedback is obtained. To track consumers views of products and brands is essential to ensure that a company is appealing to its audience.

4. Buzz, viral and WOM marketing will be merged into the wider marketing mix, with online viral marketing adopted and integrated within advertising, word of mouth within promotions and buzz within PR.

Yes, I totally agree. As an industry we need to move on, we need to move into areas we haven't been before. The whole way we think is going to have to change if we are going to effectively advertise to today's consumer.

5. Managing and avoiding negative WOM, online and offline, will be an increasingly important area in connected marketing.

Yes I think this is correct. Large global clients who work on building their brand around a lifestyle or community are always looking to contain any negative views from spreading. Moderations on blogs are being taken advantage of. I have also heard rumours of people being employed by companies to ' search and destroy' negative views on blogs and community sites which the company is not not in control of. This, however 'immoral'it may seem, can only benefit a companies propaganda and enforce its credibility. Don't always believe what you read on the web! Walter Carl has a good article on WOM and has a useful Program Planner.

6. Online branded entertainment (advertainment, advergaming, alternate reality games) will be used more as key brand touch-points for entertainment brands.

In small scale, the James Bond websites are doing this with community related games. However obviously on a much grander scale strategies like the I love bees and Halo 2 collaboration bring entertainment and user experiences to a whole new level. This type of advertising will probably continue to grow because of its unique way of engaging a audience. This is one of those 'new areas' where we haven't been before but we will have to start getting our mind sets into those of consumers and design campaigns around them instead of designing them around what we were taught in college.

7. Techniques developed in connected marketing initiatives will be adopted for change management and internal communication.

Yes I think this is and has been happening for a while now anyway. Internal email newsletters are being utilized by many companies - it saves on the cost of printing them and still gets the same readership, if not more, as readers can forward them on. I think internal blogs also have a huge potential - especially for national companies who wish to engage their staff on all levels.

8. Techniques developed in viral, buzz and word of mouth will be increasingly adopted in CRM programs as both retention and acquisition (turning buyers into advocates) tools.

This is happening and I think will continue to.As a slightly off the subject example, I have seen internet technologies such as cookies being used to allow users to advertise affiliates who then give them a cut of a product if sold. For example if you advertise through Amazon if somebody buys a product from Amazon who came to it through a link form your website, you get a percentage of that sale. This strategy motivates website users to advertise on their sites, allows Amazon to make money and allows consumers to see products relevant to the webpage they are viewing. Everyone's a winner.

9. Cell phones will develop rapidly as an important medium for spreading connected marketing promotions, such as mobile invitations, SMS barcode discounts, etc.

I think with the potential that a software phone has (such as apples iPhone) will definitely see this prediction coming true. However until these phones become cheaper, more wide spread and more standardised I can’t see companies looking to do this. Also the demographic for such campaigns will be young and will probably not be effective for older audiences. As time goes on though and consumers upgrade their phone technology and become more reliant on it, mobile phones will play an important role in marketing.

10. Marketers will eventually be able to locate influencers by zip/post code, by which point they will be all chasing the same chosen few… Prepare for another paradigm shift in marketing?

Not sure about this one! No I don't think that will happen. "Niche" is the keyword. No one likes to appeal to exactly the same audiences their competitors are attempting to attract, even if they are influencers. We are always attempting to find new consumers, new influencers, new people to contact in areas where nobody else is operating. When we find them we use them, when it starts to get crowded we move on. I can't see the same post codes being used all the time to attract a customer. InfluencesOne thing that could potential happen is that popular members of community sites may have this afflicted on them. Myspace for example allows you to see the persons 'friends' and the community they are linked to. This technology may potentially bring on “influencer grabber†strategies but I can't see it taking off. As mentioned before consumers are intelligent and once this starts going main stream people will get wise and ignore and 'sponsored' influencers. I think the best strategies will involve allowing communities to making up their own honest opinions of things. As mentioned in question one if the product is good so will the WOM.So dear reader, what are your thoughts on these subjects? Please leave a comment below...


It's nice to see your opinions against Justin's. I think that the main shift in newsletters/viralware will be to empower the user, just like the social sites have done of late. Control over the material you receive may get over the 'it's just another spam email' syndrome.

I'd love to see some kind of debate/dialogue if you both had the time.