17 digital marketing trends for 2011, by Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein

Written by admin on October 1st, 2011

My overall feeling for 2011 is that there isn’t anything ‘brand new’ on the immediate horizon that is going to create a fundamental shift, like search once did, or Web 2.0, or social media etc.

2011 will be somewhat less about talk and more about action. We should know by now *what* we need to be doing, the challenge is about . And that’s about good old fashioned things like people, process and technology.

We ran our first JUMP event in 2010 and will do so again at JUMP 2011. It is all about how to join up online and offline marketing more intelligently. This isn’t a particularly new idea but the reality is that very few organisations are anywhere close to the nirvana of fully integrated marcoms across all customer touchpoints (including Econsultancy).

So this trend isn’t going away anytime soon and will continue to be an important focus for all marketers in 2011 and beyond.

Interestingly, if anything, 2010 was most interesting to me not for the (obvious and continued) rise of digital as a medium, but for the renaissance of ‘old media’. When I talk to the most sophisticated and advanced marketers, and the most progressive digital companies, the excitement is mostly about offline marketing. TV advertising was ‘(re)discovered’ in 2010 by many. We at Econsultancy are all excited this year by our, and plans…

I think 2011 might finally see significantly increased spend for “brand” reasons rather than direct response / sales and other ‘hard’ metrics. But I don’t think it will necessarily be the usual brand advertiser suspects leading the charge (FMCG, Automotive etc.) though they will show some increases. Nor will it be in display advertising or paid search, though those will no doubt grow.

I believe the spend will come under headings such as , , even . The spend will be focused increasingly on content, apps, social media and service rather than on bought media like display advertising or paid search. And it will come from small companies as well as large ones, across all sectors, notably B2B. But essentially it will be about building a brand presence online that people can engage with, relate to, and, ultimately, trust.

And, despite my love of data and analytics, I think the endless demands for super-granular ROI analyses of such activities will actually fade a little in 2011. It will become more accepted that these are things you just do. That doesn’t mean they won’t be measured but I think . In the same way that people have rediscovered the power of TV advertising because of the hard-to-measure emotive power and halo effects on other channels, “digital branding” will be considered more of a ‘no-brainer’ because it’s obvious it drives purchase intent across all channels, even if that’s hard to measure (or not cost effective to do so).

There are a lot of interesting things happening around business models, driven largely by the impact of digital, that I’m looking forward to tracking over the year. Among those:

Business models which radically disrupt existing value chains, typically by involving customers much more directly in the business model itself. For example Naked Wines (wine retailing) or Made.com (furniture retailing). This is not ‘social media’, it is ‘(social) business’.
“Pubtailing”. This is the blend of publishing and retailing. Many publishers need to sell stuff to fix their broken business models, whether subscriptions, apps, content, affiliate revenues etc. and so need retailing skills. At the same time retailers need to have skills in content, community and social media which publishers are typically better at. Also, many e-commerce sites (and stores) increasingly need to look at advertising (i.e. a publisher skillset) revenue streams to continue to grow, or make up for the fact that the likes of Amazon, Google or Apple might be hijacking their sales (largely via m-commerce in store). My post on The “unbundling” of the shopping experience across channels: implications for retailers talks more about this.
Virtual currencies and “gamification” – obviously coupons are currently hot but the whole area of gaming, virtual goods and currencies, should make for some interesting business models this year. More on gamification in point 11 below.

We can talk all we want but, as I said in point 1, in the end we have to execute. And that requires the right talent supported with the right processes and technology infrastructure. Following a few things I’ll be expecting this year:

No let up in the war for (digital) talent. If our digital marketing jobs board is anything to go by, 2010 saw a BIG increase in recruitment (and salaries) for digital specialists. I don’t see this changing in 2011 almost irrespective of what happens macro-economically.
Many more agencies, and corporations, will move to a more ‘connected / networked’ model with a greater use of freelance specialists on demand. This is obviously made more possible by remote working and globalisation. It also allows for more flexibility and greater cost control.
There will be an ongoing dissolution of organisational silos as ‘digital marketing’ becomes just ‘marketing’ but this will take time and there is still a need for digital specialists. And there is a need for increased speed and agility. Along with the ‘connected/networked’ organisational model, expect to hear more about “hub and spoke” or “matrix” organisational models.
“Social becomes part of the job description not the job title” – our blog got there before I could… although I also think that large organisations will probably have people in their (digital) marketing teams who have ‘Facebook’ in their job title.
A rise in recruitment of editorial / content resources (see point 6 below)
(Web….) Engineers / Techies / Developers will not only become more valued but they will increasingly be headhunted, and employed by, ‘creative’ organisations e.g. ad agencies. This is principally because these businesses are increasingly about understanding and manipulating data (think ad exchanges, demand side platforms etc.).
Cloud computing is clearly the big one in terms of IT infrastructure both internally and anything customer facing. SalesForce’s database.com is a fascinating play and shows just how big we might think in terms of the transformation of “IT”.

The rise of ‘content marketing’ is well documented and for all sorts of reasonably obvious reasons: sometimes driven by a desire for greater ‘engagement’, sometimes as a form of linkbuilding for SEO, sometimes to save customer service costs, sometimes just to drive traffic, sometimes as part of a move away from ‘bought media’ to ‘earned (or owned) media’, sometimes because of a more fundamental change in business model (see ‘pubtailing’ in point 4 above).

Many have also realised that it’s difficult to fuel the flames of “social media”, or “engagement”, without content in the broadest sense – including apps, video etc. And, of course, it’s not just about content *creation* but content *curation*.

I predict a rise in “online customer publishing” (most people call it ‘contract publishing’… except those who work in that industry), and a rise in content licensing and syndication, and a rise in the “internationalisation” of content (including translation), and a rise in internal online publishing or content/asset management teams (even at banks, retailers, travel companies etc.), and a big demand for lowish-cost short-form video content for online use.

Specifically, I think the kind of content most in demand will be a) ‘smart’ in as much as it can be re-used and repackaged in as many ways as possible (think metadata, formats etc.) to extract the greatest value from it and b) ‘evergreen’ in as much as it won’t be short-lasting ‘advertising campaign’ type content but content with a longer shelf life e.g. guides, practical information, tools etc. (also good for linkbuilding and thereby SEO).

This should be good news for those journalists and TV folk who may be looking for work, having seen their former employers’ business models failing. And it is better news for publishers and content owners generally, as well as related providers like translation services.

The buzz phrase from our 2010 Future of Digital Marketing conference was ‘data is the new oil’. I get nerdily excited by data and love a good API as much as the next man. Where to start with what’s interesting with data in 2011? A few things I’m excited by:

Attribution modelling – OK, we’ve talked about it long enough now. Let’s see more examples of us actually doing it well rather than talking about it.
“Social CRM” – broadly speaking how we can take “social data” and apply and use it intelligently across the whole business online and offline. For example, the Facebook ‘Like’ as a new customer profile data attribute – how might we use that in our DM campaigns? How do we take Open Graph data, or similar data sources, and use it not just online but offline?
Joining up online and offline data – all sorts happening in this area e.g. the Yahoo/Nectar Consumer Connect project, the recent Starcom Mediavest and DirecTV deal, the whole world of coupons generally (where offline redemption of an online coupon, increasingly via mobile devices, gives all sorts of interesting cross-channel measurement opportunities) etc. etc.
Retargeting – privacy issues notwithstanding, I expect we’ll see more retargeting in online marketing and, indeed, it will extend into other areas e.g. myThings focus on retargeting but for the affiliate sector. I also expect to see the greatest relative growth in the use of retargeting data to come from ‘owned’ media rather than bought media i.e. not so much retargeting for offsite advertising but retargeting of users on your site, or via email, or social media

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