Digital media is transforming how marketers engage with customers and prospects. Whether you’re marketing to business executives or consumers, it’s critical to monitor the fast-changing digital media space. So what’s on the horizon for digital media in 2012, and what does it mean to marketers?

Three marketing experts shared their forecasts recently at a program sponsored by the American Advertising Federation. Adele Pellicane of Traffiq, Inc.; Larry Weissman of Top Line Revenue, Inc.; and Scott Chapin of Marcus Thomas, LLC were panelists. Michael DeAloia of Emerging Chefs in Cleveland moderated. Here’s what these digital media pros see on the horizon and some insights for using digital media in your smart marketing strategy.

Tips for planning your digital media strategy. How should you use digital media in a smart marketing strategy? Chapin recommends that marketers ask these questions to determine their digital-media marketing plan:

Is your audience mobile? In most cases, the answer is an easy yes. Half of phone users now have smart phones, so penetration of smart phones in your market is probably a given.

What content do you have? You need something to pay off a mobile marketing campaign, like a mobile website or app. “If you don’t have this, spend your money here first,” said Chapin. “Mobile users have even shorter attention spans than web users, one second instead of five. You must answer the user’s question instantly.”

When and where is your audience? A mobile user can be literally anywhere in the world. Figure out the mobile usage patterns of your audience and connect to them then and there. “For example, during the week, Google Maps users are on desktop computers. On the weekend, they’re on phones,” Chapin noted.

Also, can you do geo-targeting to a specific local market near a retail outlet?

Pellicane advises marketing agencies and consultants to focus digital media marketing strategies on goals and metrics. “Don’t get hung up on the ‘shiny new object’ syndrome just to show your clients you can do it,” she explained. “Ask yourself, ‘what’s the goal of the marketing campaign and what metrics will be used to measure success?’ Do you want to build community? Drive sales? That will drive the decisions about devices and tactics in digital media.”

The world of mobile marketing is evolving at a mind-boggling rate. How can you harness this new technology for the benefit of your business?

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Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing which provides marketing strategy and creative services to leading business-to-business and consumer marketers. Read her blog for more marketing tips at http://www.gianfagnamarketing.com/blog.