Friday, July 09, 2010

Online Marketing Trends

Where to invest, what to invest and which deserve a rest.

Allocating your small business marketing budget to maximize return on investment and minimize the risks of a low or negative return can become a lot more unpredictable when your investments involve trends and emerging technologies. Investing in trends requires smart timing and consumer analysis. Missing a trend or sticking with a has-been spells opportunity lost at best and negative returns or loss of market share at worst.

Trend # 1
As the volume of web content grows, consumers will demand even more relevant and personalized search results. That means search engines will be looking for more relevant and personalized content from publishers and brands. In fact, the search engine algorithms are already beginning to pay more attention to date of publication, geo-location, and mobile device browsers. Past behavior and social media content. Don’t abandon your current SEO strategy in search of personalization. But make sure you allocate a portion of your budget to testing content. Keywords and links that are targeted towards niche audiences.

Trend # 2

Consumers still use search engines as a primary means of finding products and services to fulfill their needs, and they will still be clicking on relevant ads. Search advertising prices will remain reasonable, and average returns will remain comparably high as larger companies with decreased search marketing budget continue to allocating visitors at lower-cost SEO tactics in hopes of attracting visitors at lower prices. You shouldn’t shy away from investing in the highly qualified leads that paid search is capable of your small business.

Trend # 3
This may even become more powerful as e-mail service providers improve social media integration, search engine access to archived e-mails, auto- responders and new integrated applications. If you don’t already use an e-mail service provider, invest in one now. If you already use an e-mail service, invest in your e- mail list and in producing valuable content to nurture leads and attract repeat customers.

Trend # 4

Social media has one redeeming quality for marketer’s lots and lots of eyeballs. That’s attractive if you’re a major brand, but profitable interaction continues to be the exception for small business now rather than the rule. A good test of your social network marketing potential is to survey your current customer to see how many of them consider social network to be a primary from of communication. You should probably experiment with a facebook fan page and if you find that a meaningful percentage of your current customers indicate an interest in following your business.

Trend # 5

If you are writing a blog to help with search engine rankings or to inform exiting customers, you should continue to test or invest. If you are blogging in an attempt to attempt to attract new prospects and convert them to customers, however, this is the year that exposes the blogosphere’s vulnerability to the law of averages. Instead of blogging to convert your website visitors into customers, work hard to test and develop great landing page content. When you find something that works, don’t change it.

Trend # 6

If you want people to see the content on your website, it might make sense to advertise the location of your website content by placing ads on other high-traffic websites. Driving visitor traffic to your website isn’t the way to go now, however. Instead, you need to drive your website content to the visitor traffic.

The difference stems from the fact that content aggregation website like YouTube are boosting consumer demand for instant gratification and what I call “ content nesting”. This allows consumers to browse through content fed to them through a single web page, or nest, so that they don’t have to click on links to individual websites. To take advantage of content nesting, your content needs to be nested in as many content aggregation sites as possible.

Trend # 7

Demand is increasing dramatically for mobile applications and mobile web-browsing due to wider adoption of devices like the iPhone and Google Android phone. As more and more people adopt these phones and features now, look for small-business marketing services to start providing lower – cost mobile marketing solutions like text messaging, mobile e-mail marketing, mobile website, mobile application development and location – based marketing.

Trend # 8

Online radio is on a growth trend, but that’s because so-called terrestrial radio is surfing so much that radio advertisers are switching their investment to digital formats. This is the year of exploration for online broadcasters as they struggle to find and attract loyal audiences.

iTune has long been the leader in podcasting, but there are still no clear leaders in internet radio. Internet broadcasters need to make their media more sharable and more mobile to attract money from advertisers. If you are looking to attract an audience by broadcasting or advertising on the broadcast media, you have to go with online video and wait for radio to finish reinventing itself.

Trend # 9

Watch for video to become more accessible to small businesses through online outlets. Online video is interactive, memorable, widely accessible, cheap to create and highly shareable. There’s also a lot of investment happening around video, which is sure to create even more low-cost opportunities for small businesses to participate in video promotions.

Trend # 10

If you engaged in heavy discounting to attract salessurvive last year’s economic downturn, you’ll need to spend this year slowly weaning your customer off your lower prices. Resetting expectations won’t be easy, so try swapping discounts for special privileges like loyalty discounts, free upgrades and other offers that won’t lock you in to price comparisons.