How have things changed over the course of 2012 in digital marketing?

We have had Google+ making its mark, Pinterest entering the field and all the many changes at Facebook we continue to see.

Increasingly businesses are turning to inbound marketing rather than outbound. In an effort to attract customers by providing them with relevant and timely information about products and services, rather than the direct and sometimes expensive means of direct mail and trade shows. Prospects are encouraged and engaged and relationships built.

Businesses continue to use inbound marketing techniques and market expenditure has increased during 2011-2012 by 50% against that of outbound marketing. Inbound marketing channels have a cost advantage over outbound marketing and companies register a 61% less cost per lead to that of outbound marketing. Inbound marketing consistently delivers lower costs per lead, with staggering comparison of $346 cost per lead on outbound marketing as opposed to $135 cost per lead on inbound marketing. Although both figures saw a slight increase in 2011, figures for 2010 are very similar to those in 2012. While blogs, social media and organic search rated as the top three least expensive the bottom three ranks and most expensive, were taken by telemarketing 33%, PPC (paid search) – 28% and trade shows – 19%.

Businesses continue to spend the same, if not more, on their inbound marketing in comparison with previous years and those that have increased expenditure cite past success with inbound marketing as the reason. Only 11% had reduced their expenditure, while 62% blamed the downturn on the economy and 21% attributed it to a change in management. As a result the budgets continue to move further apart and show an increase towards inbound marketing, an increase from 8% in 2011, to 12% for 2012. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, small businesses intend spending 43% of their budget to lead generation while the large companies (upwards of 500 employees) will spend only 21%. Small business will use their largest % on blogs and social media marketing while big business show a bigger spend on outbound marketing techniques.

Comparisons between 2009 and 2012 show an increase in importance and value gained from company blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Facebook shows the largest % increase, 18%, with Twitter and YouTube close with 15% and 13%.

Dependent on whether you are B2B or B2C, different platforms bring better results. B2C report a 77% customer acquisition via Facebook (43%- B2B) while LinkedIn performs better for the B2B market with 65% (51%- B2C). A closer look at these numbers also breaks down performance into the various industries. A majority found that blogging was highly effective, but the greater success is seen in the retail industry via Facebook and Twitter.

During 2012, 62% of businesses reported growth in the importance and lead- generating capabilities across the social media world. Consumers are realising the advantages and benefits of inbound marketing while they continue to pursue a more relevant and cost-effective form to market to their prospects. Outbound marketing continues to increase in cost and become less efficient, businesses turn to cost- effective inbound marketing to build rapport, relationship, leads and sales.

So what were the key new developments we saw in 2012?


The most important one was the rollout of new company pages at the beginning of the year. As the rollout affected all pages at the same time, all businesses had to adjust and re-evaluate their marketing strategy using the new features.

Additionally, throughout 2012 we got access to scheduling posts on Facebook to ensure we target our fans when they are most likely to be engaged and present.

The most recent developments were those of promoted posts and offers that you can post on Facebook to increase visibility of your posts on fans’ news feed.

Algorithm change meant that businesses needed to get more creative with content they publish on pages to make sure it is visible to fans, especially those using mobile devices.

During the year there have been many changes which help you target ads with more relevancy. Realising the importance and usage of mobile devices, Facebook introduced sponsored ads that are only available to a mobile audience.

Instagram purchase for 1 billion dollars brought a dynamic and younger sector of the community to Facebook. Instagram app allows sharing of images across many networks and with over 30 million users, our view of the world in pictures just got bigger.

Additional admin roles: Five admin roles introduced in May 2012 which can then be sorted into what amount of access each admin has. Divided into 7 areas roles they can be finely tuned and assigned.

Privacy options improvement as always is debatable! Facebook continue to be hounded by privacy issues, some in part because of their default changes. Privacy issues they say are top of their agenda and so they should be. ‘Privacy policy became ‘data use policy’ and was there to clarify how information can be shared by apps that are used. Each app can be tied down to what ever amount of privacy or sharing you are happy with.

Tags and the ability to check tagged photos and either allow or block. Tags need reviewing and approval sought before posts can go live.

Facebook/WordPress integration plugin allows cross posting between the two channels and also gives you extra widgets available for social interaction. Facebook developers say the collaboration with open-source partners will simplify WordPress site socialisation as no coding is required. Another advantage is that the plugin will work on mobile.

adMonitor, amplet builder and Brand ROI Timeline for Facebook PMD introduced towards the end of 2012 bring new tools for those building and monitoring ads and performance.

Facebook revamped its Small Business Site providing more in-depth tips and tutorials for smaller to mid-sized businesses that advertise with them.


A new profile design meant that businesses can promote their offering even on mobile devices, where normal profile background image isn’t visible. The design layout is now bigger and details are more prominent in an image that draws the eye.

Tailored trends were introduced in June, previously broad and non-specific, now the tailored trend is defined by what Twitter knows about you, so can deliver with more relevancy.

In September, Twitter expanded paid advertising to have the ability to target by interest or username. Allows marketers to segment their paid advertising more effectively.

New Twitter weekly newsletters which provide a list of the most shared stories and engaging tweets tweeted by the people you are connected to on Twitter.


Endorsements introduced, which allow you to recommend specific skills to your contacts.

A complete overhaul of the LinkedIn website with a new profile layout made it easier to use and share relevant information with your contacts.

Company pages now have more functionality, with targeted status updates available, and Page Insights have been given a makeover.

Updates can now be segmented so that they are shown to a more relevant audience. As a result, targeted ads on LinkedIn, are showing a 66% increase in engagement.

In June, Twitter and LinkedIn broke up and now it’s possible to post from LinkedIn to Twitter but you are not able to tweet from Twitter to LinkedIn.

Autumn 2012 saw the introduction of thought leaders feature on LinkedIn. This gave you new ways to browse, find, follow and read what the influential players are doing and saying.


Several changes were made throughout the year to the design and layout of YouTube which aimed to improve the usage and presentation of information on the site.

During October it made important changes to the appeals process. Previously people had nowhere to go after copyright has been rejected, now copyright holders will get two options to handle appeals after a rejected dispute: release the claim or file a formal DMCA notification.

January Release had some design and layout changes there. Starting the year with a new browse facility YouTube hoped to give a better user and search experience. Your subscribe list will refresh and update on your home page.

YouTube introduced the ability to change how you appear. Your profile may have worked back in the day but may be a little tired. Google+ users will see this pop up and although initially only available to individuals, the intention is for it to be rolled out eventually to partners, brands and organisations.


Pinterest is no longer invitation only and anyone can join now without an invite from someone with an existing account.

Pinterest introduced company pages, very similar to normal accounts but websites require verification and focus on business presence, rather than personal sharing.

Improved tagging and group features introduced? Pins can be tagged by using ~ in the same way as Twitter. Tag other users in the description in the same way as Facebook and use the @ symbol.

Benefit from the recent linking Pinterest – Vimeo to place video footage for your followers. Also you got the ability to pin slides from SlideShare, as well as videos and images.

Collaborative boards that you can share with others mean you can invite people to participate, Useful for crowdsourcing and competitions together with the ability to invite people in your industry to join in.


Google rolled out Video Hangouts on Google+ profiles. Hangouts are broadcast video conferences and afterwards can be uploaded to YouTube with stats available. Ideal for conference calls, presentations and team meetings.

Google+ profiles integrated into AdWords for better ads performance and location tracking – social extensions create annotations that make your ads more relevant, therefore they may also increase your overall ad performance

Google+ lets you join and create Communities which can be either private or public. This brings G+ even closer to Facebook with its Groups feature.

G+ admin controls introduced showing their commitment to providing a business-friendly platform Google+ and begin by rolling out restricted posts. This is joined by integration of Google Hangouts with Google calendar. Attendees will now be able to join Hangouts from either the invite or from the calendar. Better admin controls will have defaults and restrictions for what employees can do with posts and enable Hangouts to be held privately. Looking to the future they aim to provide a mobile version of Google+ for businesses and enterprises.

SEO and Google:

With Penguin and Panda updates rolling past at regular intervals throughout the year, Google aims to provide quality search results and demote spam sites. SEO quality is more important than simply the quantity of back-links you manage to acquire. Content relevance and semantic searches start to affect if your website would affect placement of your pages for particular terms as well as external conditions of the search performed.

Google search now includes searches based on Google+ profiles and its updates.

Google Places becomes Local which is in turn integrated with Google+ Business Pages, Google Maps searches show Google Local Businesses. So if you’ve not had a Map Place before or haven’t updated it this year – it’s definitely worth reviewing your profile and seeing how you can integrate Google+ for Business into your online marketing strategy.


Foursquare now allows businesses to add events to listings.

In July Promoted Updates were announced, whereby even if people have not been to a place before, the business can now appear in the Explore tab. Promoted posts can increase your reach to a completely new audience.

Foursquare announced Ratings, a new way to recommend businesses.

My name is Tamara Baranova. I run TJConsulting and I help small business owners grow their business by delivering effective online marketing mentoring, support and training.

It allows my clients to stop wasting valuable time and start seeing real results. Business owners I work with are serious about raising their business profile and attracting more opportunities. They want their business to succeed, to grow fast, and to generate healthy profits through online marketing strategy that works.