More articles by Leslie Hale
Warp Speed Ahead: Digital Marketing in 2011
ADOTAS – 2010: A year that saw the economy just starting to pick up its pace while our industry was moving at breakneck speed. If you stopped long enough to try and define things like “new media,” you probably missed out on the opportunities that followed.
Things move fast. And as we look ahead to 2011, we see five biggies that will significantly change both how we market to consumers and how consumers will interact with brands. Game changers, every one.
1. Evolving and converging form factors. Witness the melding of communications on a variety of devices and screens. Televisions providing internet access. The proliferation of tablets as video viewers, experiential gaming devices, and even TV remotes. The adoption rate of smartphones reaching critical mass and providing the much-anticipated potential for mobile marketing.
Not only does this evolution give us a bevy of connectivity, it also allows the opportunity to adapt our knowledge of how these devices relate to the brand experiences we create. We predict that this convergence will continue to evolve marketing opportunities beyond what is imaginable today. Pairing the right content formats with the right form factors will be critical.
2. Metrics matter more. With all of this potential coupled with tentative marketing budgets, accountability is going to be huge for marketers. Before spending a dime, we will be doing more research to gain audience insights.
In fact, we’ve already begun to see increases in usability studies for web, mobile, and on the tablet, coupled with primary research about audience attitudes and usage. We also see a bigger importance placed on metrics. With so many avenues available, proof of success will be paramount to repeatable processes.
3. Mobile. For real this time. For years we’ve heard about the promise of mobile marketing. For many brands, 2010 was the year it all began. 2011 will be the year that the mobile ecosystem can no longer be ignored by any of us.
At a very minimum, your customers expect your site to be mobile friendly. In the U.S. alone, 17% of the people have a handheld device that allows them to access the Internet. The more sophisticated the experience, the higher user expectations are pushed.
To marketers, the mobile space offers unique advantages and a rich array of channels that can be leveraged in integrated campaigns, all of them targeted at the smartphone, a highly personal device that brings with it a level of intimacy and a sense of personal power.
We predict that marketers will begin to acclimate to these mobile marketing channels, launching unique testing campaigns with the potential to lift brand perception and drive sales. This trend will begin more strongly in the consumer market and then, as it’s been with the greater mobile adoption, move into the business-to-business space.
4. Get serious about social. Social media was yesterday’s “new media.” What it’s become is a must-have part of the mix for consumer and business-to-business brand campaigns. We are already seeing social media participation trending upward, while personal use of email is trending downward. This shift is more evidence that we need to be following our audiences and engaging them where and when they spend their time.
It’s time to shift from a mind-set that places the centralized website as the end all be all. Instead, in 2011 we recommend that the centralized website should be seamlessly integrated with social media channels. Say hello to the baseline marketing standard for all brands: social.
5. Digital wallets. Our final prediction will have the biggest impact on businesses. As devices converge, we also see them becoming digital wallets. In 2010 this began to play out as three of the four largest U.S. mobile phone carriers formed a joint venture to allow subscribers to pay for retail items using their phones, instead of credit cards or other more traditional methods.
In addition, TV remotes will power television commerce (T-commerce) from living rooms everywhere. If you have an internet-connected TV, you’ll soon be able to shop online, on your flat screen. In fact, PayPal is working on something right now.
So hold on and watch as 2011 turns into one of the most interesting and fast-paced years ever for our industry. Converging communications channels; proliferation of devices; consumers connecting with business associates, friends, and family via social media; and the impulse of purchase coming to a device near you are big changes. Don’t blink.
Usability studies aren’t the most efficient way to measure metrics and test your sites (whether it’s a website, mobile site, tablet site, etc.) due to the inaccuracies of the studies and the time lapse between gathering results and implementing changes. Those who engage with a conversion optimization platform this year will be far ahead of the game than those just starting to dabble with usability studies.
However, I do agree mobile sites “can no longer be ignored” in 2011 and that testing mobile sites from the beginning will be the key to mobile marketing success.
Excellent points and insight here! Our company just changed its whole focus from offering traditional advertising products and services, to now only offering SEO and internet marketing services and consulting.
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