Top Ten Digital Marketing Trends For 2011

If you are in the marketing profession, I think you’ll agree that our profession is experiencing some major disruption.

The traditional marketing theory and methods I learned at Kellogg Graduate School of Management back in the mid-90’s are still very valid. Half the battle is still doing the all important work of market segmentation, targeting, and positioning. I still refer to my 7th edition of Phil Kotler’s textbook Marketing Management from time to time (although that book is now in it’s 12th edition!)

However, back in 1995, we had no clue just how much the Internet would impact marketing over the next 15 years. And the impact has been very significant. The Internet has turned into a game changer for marketing.

Leading edge marketing professionals understand that they need to learn how to leverage all the new digital marketing capabilities. It is a great opportunity to build brand value, increase revenues, and cut down on marketing expenses.

So with that in mind, lets take a look at the top trends in online / digital marketing for 2011.
1. Marketing Budgets Will Continue to Shift Towards Online. Customers and prospects are increasingly going online early in the buying cycle to gather information, form relationships, and make decisions about how they will buy. As a result, marketing leaders must move marketing mix budgets to mirror where the customers and prospects are - online. Online channels can reach a very targeted audience, are lower cost, and are becoming more measurable. As a result we should expect the continued decline in the use of traditional media. This cannibalization of traditional media will bring about new marketing channels, professions, and processes as well as a decline in overall advertising budgets. Traditional agencies and publishers must transform their businesses to include digital marketing capabilities.

2. Social Media Marketing Is Maturing. Those in the marketing profession can sense that we are in the middle of an important transition to the use of social media for marketing purposes. While the past few years many marketers have been experimenting with social media tactics, in 2011, leading marketing teams will be executing social tactics that are fully integrated into the overall marketing strategy. An overall social media marketing process will emerge that has firms following a never ending cycle of 1)Research, 2) Plan, 3) Engage and 4) Measure. Simultaneously, a new set of marketing capabilities are emerging, including Social Listening Research, Influencer Marketing, Community Marketing, and Social Gaming. These new capabilities will require new marketing marketing professional Career Paths and Education tailored to the new social media marketing realities.

3. Mobile Marketing Set To Take Off. In conjunction with the Social Media Marketing trend described above, the interest in mobile marketing has exploded, driven by the tremendous success of and media buzz around Apple’s iPhone, Google’s introduction of Android, and Apple’s introduction of the iPad. As smartphone adoption grows, mobile marketing will expand beyond mobile messaging, and make mobile email, mobile websites and mobile applications viable channels in which to conduct marketing. The combination of new devices, faster networks and new location-aware technology, will fuel this steady march toward greater significance. Some key mobile marketing trends to watch in 2011 include Location Based Services, Mobile Apps, Mobile Gaming, Event-Based Mobile Marketing, and Augmented Reality.

4. Personalized Marketing Customizes Messages To Individual. Expect more personalization capability to be embedded in websites in 2011. Regular visitors to a web site will see a page based on all the information collected from previous visits. Marketers will present personalized sites to these customers by organizing information and prioritizing it based on the individual's liking. Products and services offered on those pages will be pre-configured. “Anonymous” visitors to websites will get customized messages based on referring URL, search terms, geo-location and other insights. Personalized marketing will be extended beyond the website to other digital channels, including social media marketing, mobile marketing, and email marketing.

5. Social Video As A Marketing Tool Gains Momentum. Video is an incredible way to connect with people online. Until the Internet, the only way to get your video message to a mass audience was to pay for a TV commercial. Today, social media sites and video go hand in hand. Distributing video via your social networks is a powerful way to imprint your images into the memory of your customers and prospects. Video strengthens the relationships you have with existing customers and it helps prospects get to know you better. So in 2011, there will be a focus among digital marketing professionals to understand how to make the best use of Video Marketing within Social Media Marketing Strategies and Programs.
6. Search Engine Optimization Gets More Complex. Customers naturally use search engines as their primary vehicle to find information on products and services. But its not a one search engine game anymore as Google’s been joined by Bing in the US market and there are important local players like China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex. On top of that, social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are increasingly becoming an important source for searching. Add to that search engine innovation, mobile search, and geo-location search and the job of the marketing professional to ensure their brand is on the first page of search results gets so much more complex.

7. Marketing Analytics Helps Make Sense Of All The Noise. The explosion of social conversations across the many online channels is providing marketers with a never ending stream of incoming data. The challenge for marketing professionals is to turn all that data into insights and then develop strategies/actions based on those insights. Marketing analytics applications can help, but they need to get better at integrating data from all sources (web, search, video, mobile, and social conversations). Analytic applications will also need to get smarter and more predictive about customer buying preferences based on all that data. In 2011, I expect to see a focus on the development of advanced analytic capabilities that can identify, analyze and describe patterns within all the information “noise”, giving marketing professionals important predictive insights they can use for making better decisions.

8. Real Time Web Assistance Connects Buyer With Experts. Online customers and consumers are some of the most impatient and demanding around. They expect answers from your online support group right away. Live chat services allow operators to interact with online customers and respond to their questions quickly, helping you convert web queries into customers and site traffic into transactions. In 2011 watch for leading edge companies to combine the use of Twitter customer service accounts and the real-time chat services to provide ways of connecting product / service experts with customers in real-time in order to solve customer business issues.

9. Online Privacy Concerns Continue. Privacy issues continue to be an important trend for marketing professionals to be out in front of as government regulators have threatened to legislate solutions if the industry does not take action by itself. Creating a secure online transactional environment is absolutely critical to a maintaining trust in customer relationships. All it takes is one significant privacy issue to negatively impact a brand. Privacy concerns from customers have forced brands like Facebook and Google to continually adjust their business models. As enterprise marketing gets more social and mobile, privacy issues must be dealt with very carefully.

10. Digital Marketing Optimization Emerges As A Priority. The past few years we have seen new ‘islands’ of marketing capabilities emerge within the marketing profession. We are moving beyond Web 2.0 with all sorts of new channels and capabilities including mobile (messaging, websites, apps), rich media (video, podcasting, gaming), social media (blogs, microblogging, social networks, user generated content), and more. The state of digital marketing is such that these ‘islands’ are not well integrated into an overall cohesive strategy. In 2011 expect to see a focus from marketing leaders to focus on optimizing and integrating these separate initiatives into an overall umbrella digital marketing strategy.
So these are the online and digital marketing trends I’ll be watching closely in 2011. A look through the above list tells you that there is so happening in online marketing. As it is in almost every industry, Internet technology is totally changing the rules.