February 10, 2011

Key Online Marketing Trends for 2011

With increased scrutiny over results and return on investment, 2011 is the year to make your digital campaigns work harder and smarter to maximise your online performance.

Here is an extract from our full article on key online marketing trends 2011, with our views on how to leverage these for your business.

Localisation will change the way consumers search

Localisation and its integration into digital channels will be significant for search and social marketing in 2011. Foursquare has been steadily growing but it is the launch of Facebook Places to its half a billion users that is likely to make the biggest impact. We are likely to see spikes in location-based news, promotions and advertising from brands. Mobile search, with geo-location data, will also continue to grow.

Strange view: Consumers are increasingly relying on social media to find information online and so there is potential for brands to reach their audience in different ways. Google Places incorporates location data into search results, meaning that brands should consider local listings as part of their search strategy. We are likely to see more brands using social content to drive search results. Make sure your search and social marketing strategies factor in these location-based opportunities and consider the potential promotional activity from customers checking into your location.

Convergence of media across digital channels will become more common

2011 will see more convergence of media and communications content across information-sharing devices and channels. The launch of web TV products and services by Google, Apple, Sony, YouView and others will bring new online marketing opportunities to the forefront. Microsoft is primed to launch Xbox Live TV and look out for a Facebook TV announcement sometime soon. This channel will start to be adopted by the mainstream audience in 2011.

Strange view: Brands must pay close attention to the consistency of their messaging and how it is communicated across all channels. Don’t focus too heavily on one channel in isolation. Consumers will be able to move across all of these platforms very easily so consider the user journey - where will people see your brand and how will they communicate and interact with it? And, perhaps most importantly, how will this all be tracked and measured?

Social commerce will continue to grow

Social media covers many elements, including social networking and profile management, social publishing, social collaboration technologies and social feedback. These will continue to impact consumer behaviour next year. The introduction of functions such as Facebook Credits and social commerce sites such as Groupon, mean that 2011 will see a growth in both brands using social channels and consumers buying from, or starting their purchase decision cycle, via these sites.

As companies harness the commercial value of functions such as the Facebook ‘like’ button it will incentivise more quality content to be published.

Strange view: A robust social element is already an important part of many brands’ communications strategy, but as research shows, marketers must be wary of bombarding consumers through every social channel and it appearing like spam. Peer recommendation will be more powerful than the push model. The challenge will be for brands to enter or influence these peer-to-peer conversions in a way that isn’t intrusive.

Mobile strategy is a MUST

It is estimated that by the end of 2010, 1.2 billion people worldwide will own a mobile device (1). In the UK, 7.7 million consumers would rather shop on their mobile devices to save time and money(2) this Christmas. Despite these figures, only a handful of the large retail brands are ready with mobile shopping sites. Many brands are just beginning to think about their mobile communication strategy and asking “Do we need a site or an app?”, “Is our site supported on mobile browsers?” or “Is our site optimised for mobile search?”

Mobile commerce will increase significantly in 2011 as more brands adopt successful mobile strategies, more smartphones will be in use and consumers will become more confident with secure mobile payments. The introduction of emerging payment technologies, such as microSD cards built into phones, will remove purchase barriers and give consumers the confidence to spend more on their mobiles.

Strange view: In the next couple years, the use of mobile devices for internet browsing will overtake that of PCs(3). Mobile sites must become more usable. There certainly isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer and organisations need to work out what suits their business and customers. It’s not just a case of mobile application versus mobile site - you may very well need both to work together. Think about the whole user journey and customer experience when developing your mobile strategy.

(1) - Gartner 2010

(2) - Internet Retailing 2010

(3) - Econsultancy 2010

We’ll all hear about the updated European Union Data Protection Directive

Five years is a long time in digital marketing and The European Commission has set out a strategy to strengthen EU data protection rules next year to reflect advances in the use of new technologies, strengthen consumer rights and enable clear and consistent data protection rules. In parallel, organisations are increasing the services offered online and the information stored about users, for example the UK government has recently reported its intention to move many services online to cut costs.

Data protection, privacy and information security will continue to be prominent issues in 2011 as potential changes are debated across Europe. The inevitable privacy and data leaking scandals are likely to make front page headlines. Given the complexity of the issue, some data may be perceived to be ‘personal’ for example, Unified ID’s and cookie data, and it will be interesting to see if the proposed self regulation by various industry associations and organisations will be sufficient for the European Commission.

Strange view: Organisations should monitor these developments closely and be aware of the increased consumer understanding of digital marketing techniques. If consumers are easily able to opt-out of targeted digital marketing communications that rely on past online behaviour, it may force widespread changes in the industry.

There will be more exploitation of structured data

Data can now be structured and pushed to the myriad of places where online users dwell. The semantic web and social media offer opportunities to use your data to its full potential and really make it work for your business.

Strange view: Using on-site semantic and structured data will lead to better optimisation through more sophisticated content linking, contextual relationships and blending of media and data types. Organisation that learn how to leverage this with offsite data (effective social syncing, cross platform marketing and off-site data syndication in blog, news, review, video and image channels) will really reap the rewards of a content and data driven strategy.

Social media analytics will give us more insight into behavioural economics

An interesting paper titled “Twitter mood predicts the stock market”(6) published in October this year showed us how social media can be used to predict human behaviour and emotions. The real value of this will be using social analytics to gain more qualitative data, so as well as knowing WHAT users are doing online, we can know WHY. In 2011, we are likely to see more use of social media to predict user behavioural patterns. Next year digital marketers will be increasingly monitoring this intuitive response to know their customers better.

Strange view: Advances in social media analytics bring a new and insightful way to understand user behaviour. It’s about getting more qualitative data on top of quantitative data. We will also see more predictive analysis tools emerge. If brands can tap into this instinctive, and sometimes irrational, element to human behaviour and actually simulate behavioural patterns, the opportunity to optimise and convert will be significant.

(6) -

Multi-touch and multi-channel attribution tracking will be critical for successful ecommerce

In 2011 more marketers will be capturing all stages, channels and user interactions in the buying process to gain real insight into customer purchase decision cycles. This provides a much more accurate measure of the value and effectiveness of cross-channel marketing campaigns.

Strange view: If you’re serious about boosting your digital retail business then tracking customer touch points across different on and offline channels should be a key part of your digital marketing strategy. For many consumers the ecommerce offering is an extension of the physical store and organisations need to ensure they can integrate data from both channels to their advantage.

A new era of online video is on its way

While video is not a new media platform, new technologies and higher speed broadband proposed across Europe for 2011, mean that video will be used more for mainstream online content across both editorial and advertising.

Technology trends in digital photography, consumer electronics, the web, social software, unified communications, digital and internet TV and mobile computing are all reaching critical tipping points that bring video into the mainstream.

2011 will see a new era of online video content, re-introducing the human element and changing the nature of communication; making it dynamic, interactive and instant. We will also see more video on retail sites to showcase products in an engaging way with consumers using ‘like’ and social sharing icons.

Strange view: Production costs can be kept low with the availability of affordable high definition cameras. And as more people access Web TV next year, we are likely to see more budgets going to creating video assets.

Google vs. Facebook

Everyone will be looking out for Google’s next move into social media to claim back some of Facebook’s market share – but half a billion users are not going to move easily. Google has been quietly testing a few different applications this year, with Wave and Buzz, which haven’t been successful. In 2011 the company will look to consolidate what they have learned into one engaging system and judging by the functionality, this could be Google TV.

At the same time, Facebook has launched its Messages service to converge online communications and continues to improve its user experience and functionality. It wouldn’t surprise us if Facebook announced a move into internet TV in 2011.

Strange view: While this is worth monitoring, the real question for organisations when considering the right social media channel is: where is the target audience? Employ a strategy of listening to find out where they are and what the sentiment is, followed by organisation of strategy, execution, measurement and optimisation to meet your specific objectives.

It will also be interesting to follow the proportion of advertising budget spent on Facebook vs. Google as well as how other social networks, such as Twitter, monetise their offering.

We have identified 24 key online marketing trends for 2011 that will impact the digital landscape, including social and mobile commerce, convergence across digital channels, analytics and multi-channel attribution.

Full details are available in the Key Online Marketing Trends for 2011 new article.


  • 2011 trends
  • consumer behaviour
  • HTML5
  • Localisation
  • m-commerce
  • multi channel attribution
  • multi-channel marketing
  • multi-touch attribution
  • online marketing stategies
  • privacy
  • social commerce
  • Social Media
  • structured data
  • web video
  • Google Places


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