Keeping an eye on what the future holds in its palm is key to growing your business and reaching out to new audiences. Trends will continue to change directions. And if you aren’t ready to embrace the upcoming developments, you can easily lose the race. As we proceed into 2012, it’s highly essential that you become cognizant of the top digital marketing trends.

Given below are four key trends that you’ll need to watch in 2012, so that you can make your digital marketing efforts fruitful and elevate your business to new heights.

#1. Location, Location, Location!
Location-based marketing (LBM) is one of the top trends in the digital marketing arena, as the year 2012 continues to unfold. Focusing on delivering content (instantly usable information) to the user should always remain a high priority, if you’re really serious about generating more leads as well as staying ahead of the competition. With the ever-increasing population of mobile device users, delivering content to consumers based on their location becomes even more important.

The biggest benefit of location-specific marketing is that you can immediately increase the rate of conversion for your business. To improve your location-based marketing, you can follow these tips.

Buy country-specific domain names (.co.uk for UK, .com.au for Australia etc)
Create a mobile-friendly version of your website
Use Facebook ads to target audience by demographics, interests etc
Master the usage of free tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc
Use services like foursquare and Gowalla to engage consumers
Don’t forget to claim your Google Places page (Google Places Optimization)

#2. Video Advertising Leads the Way
According to a recent report by emarketer, online video advertising spend in the US will cross the $3 billion mark in 2012. Online video marketing is an emerging trend due to two major reasons – better reach and better measurement. Since more than 1.3 billion videos are watched in the US per day, video advertising happens to be a rich medium to establish an emotional connection with consumers, engage them quickly and achieve a higher conversion.

#3. Gamification Drives Social Momentum
Yes, it’s not just the latest fad. Though adopting this marketing approach depends on the kind of business you run, gamification can present some of the most potential opportunities you wouldn’t want to miss. To get started with it, you should first of all get the concept pretty clear in your mind. Gamification is not entirely similar to games. In fact, the concept that underlies the term is the application of gaming principles to non-game experiences in an effort to drive social momentum among the audiences. Several brands have gamified their marketing strategies to engage customers (by offering incentives) and provoke them to take action. Start-ups can benefit from this concept the most.

#4. Privacy Concerns are Growing
User privacy is another burning issue that digital marketers should pay careful attention to. Today, consumers are more vigilant about the usage of their personal data by businesses. Whether you’re an advertising agency, a retailer, a trader or an OS creator, you can never keep consumers in the dark about how you’re going to handle their personal data. The more knowledge and control (over personal data) you provide, the more trust you can gain from users.

There are many more trends that you’ll need to watch out for, to bolster your digital marketing strategy further. What’s really important, however, is that you don’t get distracted while getting the basics right.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on other upcoming trends in digital marketing. The comment section is all yours.