Shovel and Twitter in hand during the post-Christmas Snowpocalypse, Newark Mayor Cory Booker showed that 2011 will be about being connected, showing up, and responding to customers' needs. Like Mayor Booker, online marketers will require more than social media marketing. Further, as Mayor Booker demonstrated, an integrated approach is essential for achieving your goals. For marketers, this translates to ensuring that all facets of the marketing mix must work well together.
Seven Top Online Marketing Trends for 2011
Here are the seven top online marketing trends.
Social media marketing goes mainstream. In 2010, corporate use of social media reached a tipping point. Companies will become more sophisticated in their social media marketing usage as they get more experienced. As part of this evolution, social media will extend throughout organizations, namely customer service. Further, social media advertising will come into its own and yield relatively stronger results as happens with any new advertising platform. It's also largely attributable to the ability to tightly target audiences based on social media activity.
The one challenge to this progress will be Facebook, Twitter, and Groupon's high market valuations, potentially signaling a bubble.
Mobile hits its stride. While U.S. mobile expansion has been on everyone's list for many years, 2011 will pave the way for a number of important marketing changes. Fueled by high smartphone adoption that continues to expand and an increasing percentage of mobile-only households, the U.S. is poised for enhanced mobile marketing. Recent Nielsen data shows that 30 percent of cell phones are smartphones and BlackBerries account for about a quarter of smartphones.
Based on this growth, Forrester forecasts that over 75 percent of marketers plan to include mobile in their marketing mix. Given mobile e-mail's strength and average app downloads, focus on mobile interactive extension to meet users needs on the go. Think bite-size consumption and mobile findability (aka search). As a result, location-based services (aka LBS) such as Foursquare with competition from giants like Facebook will continue to expand their reach.
QR codes and mobile payments will also grow.
Content marketing expands in new venues. Other forms of portable devices, namely e-readers and iPads, gain traction. Apple's iPad has sold 8.5 million units based on eMarketer's estimates.
While Amazon has sold 8 million* Kindles, its highest selling item to-date. This is good news for publishers who consider these devices paid content consumption nirvana. These devices require that marketers think about their target market's content consumption habits. Roughly two-thirds of consumers have paid for some form of online content according to Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Among the dominant forms of paid content were digital music, software, cell phone and tablet apps, digital games, news articles or reports, and videos, movies, or television shows. But, before publishers run to the bank, they must assess the average $47 content spend carefully because the typical customer only spends $10!
Marketing goes real-time, not just watching issues for PR and potential fires. (Hat tip to David Meerman Scott.) Marketers must be vigilant to take advantage of marketing opportunities while mitigating the impact of small fires (for example, Ford's use of social media to quell a PR fire). This requires a more flexible promotional and communications strategy. As a result, marketing needs to be agile because these events can't be planned six months in advance. Further, every firm must have a crisis management plan and vigilant monitoring.
Online retail continues to take market share from other channels. Christmas 2011 showed that consumers were willing to spend money, either due to pent up desire or as shopping therapy, despite the challenging financial outlook. Online holiday purchasing grew, taking share from brick-and-mortar retail, showing consumers' willingness to use and trust online payments. J.P. Morgan senior analyst Imran Kahn forecasts that U.S. online retail will continue to grow at a 12.4 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) from an estimated $166 billion in 2010 to $235 billion in 2013. While a very small percentage of holidays sales, social shopping will continue to expand its influence due to its ability to target and reach consumers early in the decision phase. Also, group buying via Groupon and its competitors will continue to be a growing trend as long as marketers can make money from these promotions.
Integrated marketing comes of age. As the big social media marketing campaigns of 2010, namely Pepsi Refresh and Old Spice, showed, integration across marketing platforms is a must! With expansion of social media marketing; mobile, e-reader, and offline marketing (remember, television still dominates!) all need to work together.
Metrics move into the spotlight for social media. Just as you do for traditional forms of marketing, as social media matures and invests real budget and headcount, management will require justification for these dollars. To this end, better social media metrics and a clear pathway to ROI is needed. Related to this is improved social monitoring to aid tracking. Further, marketers must incorporate calls-to-action and promotions to aid tracking.
As you plan for 2011, use these seven online marketing trends to guide your marketing initiatives. Bear in mind that to hit your 2011 goals, you need to have metrics including those for your social media and mobile strategies that help you achieve your corporate mission.
Do you have any other trends that you think will drive online marketing in 2011? If so, please add them in the comments section below.
Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen
* This column has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly stated the Kindle market size.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.