Marketing Trends and Opportunities in 2011

We are now a full year into the second decade of the 21st century, and most would agree that the marketing industry—and consumer behavior—is vastly different than 10 years ago. But many of the evolutions of the last decade are now maturing, and becoming structures of the “new normal”.

Just as nobody could imagine social networking, search, and on-line media dominating the conversation, it’s hard to predict what we will be writing about 10 years from now. However, there are some things we see coming in 2011 that will affect our business and create new marketing opportunities. Here are some of the significant trends we predict will have an impact on marketing:

1. Email Marketing Goes Social

In espionage the M.O. is to always “follow the money”, but in marketing we need to “follow the audience”. According to Marketing Sherpa 90% of consumers now turn to social networks, user review sites, and on-line forums to learn more about the products and services that they are considering purchasing. That’s not a threat to marketing—it’s an implicit invitation to become a part of the conversation.

We’ve found great success in the integration of email marketing and social network sharing because it mimics the natural human behavior of word of mouth. And nothing is a better endorsement these days than Facebook’s “like” icon next to someone’s posting of an email offer they received.

2. Search, Expanded and Re-Defined

Yahoo, Google, and Bing in the US, as well as China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex, rule the world when it comes to search engines. And Search Engine Marketing is an essential part of any modern, comprehensive marketing strategy. But now Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn all offer their own unique forms of search based on how someone uses them.

Consumers search their social networks for answers because they are viewed as trustworthy and local. More than 30% of consumers poll their Facebook friends for information on everything from clothes to cars to contractors, and typically compare this information to what they find on a search engine. You can enter a product category in the YouTube search bar and find instructional videos, commercials, and testimonials in the form of user-generated content for virtually everything. This signals that marketers need to make sure they continue promoting themselves consistently on multiple platforms. It’s not enough to make sure that your web site is optimized to rise to the first page of a Google search anymore. It’s also vital to rise to the top of peoples’ minds, and that can best be achieved with media integration.

For more traditional media like direct mail, print, TV and out-of-home, we view on-line media as reliable and effective partners in extending our clients’ presence to portals where this kind of “personal search” activity exists.

3. Personalization—The Un-Mass Marketing

One-to-one marketing has come of age, and consumers are responding. What was once the domain of Direct Mail and Email, personalization is now everywhere, and it is much more than just a matter of addressing your audience by name. Websites, social networks, and smart phones are configured to serve targeted ads based on a user’s behavior. Using information such as referring URLs, search terms, click-thrus, and geo-location marketers can offer advertising messages that are tailored to the individual.

And while this does fan the flames of privacy issues and fears that big-brother is watching, consumers by and large don’t consider relevant marketing messages to be “spam”. The key to success in personalization is in differentiating your customer as well as the product or service you are offering. Nobody wants to be thought of as part of a mass audience, so we’re using techniques that are more like the conversations between salespeople and customers in a store.

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The Marketing Industry is going through a revolution comparable to the “Creative Revolution” of the 1960s. With a plethora of new technology that opens the door to new ways of communicating, this is a very exciting time. We can only imagine what this newsletter will report on in 2021, but until then there’s lot’s of innovating to do.