We saw many digital trends getting deeper and more widespread in 2010, so it’s only natural to expect that 2011 is likely to break both old records and new ground. The Web has been buzzing with 2011 predictions, so here’s an overview of some of the most intriguing themes as we take a peek into what the future holds for consumer and business habits online.
Online Advertising Will Continue to Grow & Evolve.
Online Advertising has been steadily breaking records over the past years to the point where some are predicting spending to reach record-breaking growth, with some sources predicting marketing in the U.S. to reach as much as $50 billion in 2011. So what else can we expect to see in this arena?
Jesse Thomas over at Mashable predicts online advertising will get more local and social this year. After all, both of these advertising formats focus on relevance, which is a cornerstone to any online ad’s effectiveness. With location-aware advertising, consumers who are looking for places to eat, shop and play nearby can be targeted in ways they’re much more receptive to, which makes them that much more likely to click. And studies have shown that consumers trust people they know when it comes to making decisions about what to buy, so infusing your online marketing strategy with local and social elements is a strategy worth your investment.
Smart Phone Use Will Become Prevalent Among Small Business Owners.
Erica Swallow predicts that in 2011 more Small Businesses will be reaching for smartphones, based on a recent Forrester study that shows 49% of small business owners already using these advanced mobile devices. Thanks to the versatility of these wireless digital gadgets, small business owners can take care of a variety of tasks on-the-go, so expect to see increased smartphone use for 2011.
Social Media Will Become Widespread for Small Business Marketing.
Social is still dominating most 2011 predictions across the web, and when it comes to small businesses, social buying (or group buying) is proving to be a real juggernaut. As a strategy for viral brand awareness, it’s one of the most effective new strategies to really take off in the last year. Even John Battelle predicts that: “Social deals’ will morph to become a standard marketing outlet for all business, and by year’s end be seen as a standard part of any marketer’s media mix.”
Reputation Management Will Increase as a Critical Small Business Activity.
Of course, with social media putting a spotlight on your small business, your reputation is going to matter more than ever as a gauge for consumers deciding whether to buy from you or from a competitor. If you’re delivering top-notch products and service, the social capital from your social media investments can really pay off as customers become advocates for your business brand by spreading positive reviews and referrals to their friends and family. So monitoring and managing your online reputation – a crucial component of your overall web presence – will play a larger role going into 2011.
Web Presence Will Play A Larger Business Role.
Speaking of web presence, Duct Tape Marketing’s Jim Jantsch observes that: “Marketing today means building a great deal of your thinking around a total web presence.” Knowing what is being said about your business online and participating in those conversations is crucial to the health of your web presence as well as your bottom line. Today, responding to customer reviews and questions online is seen as a natural extension of the customer service you’d deliver in person or in the store. And customers expect to see a steady stream of fresh content from your business, so making sure you’ve got a web presence strategy for your business for the new year is a must. (Might we suggest ReachCast?)
Small Businesses Will Connect More with Local Consumers Online.
Local will be an even bigger focus in 2011, with location-based marketing and location-based services settled firmly in the spotlight after gaining lots of momentum in 2010. Jake Wengroff notes over at CMO.com that consumers are loyal to check in to merchants, retailers and restaurants not only in order to gain recognition (by earning badges to display on social networks), but also in the “hopes of snagging a free coupon.” So it’s no wonder businesses are taking note of this consumer behavior to find creative ways to bring customers back again and again through these local-focused apps.
Mobile Advertising and Marketing Will Experience Extensive Growth
Finally, many are predicting that 2011 is the year that mobile really takes off for consumers and business owners alike. With more smartphone, tablet and netbook adoption facilitating mobile computing across the nation, the SMB Group predicts that: “As big retailers and companies invest to make mobile commerce easier, more convenient and more secure, the pressure mounts for SMBs to develop mobile commerce capabilities to stay competitive.”
Mobile advertising is predicted to gain even more traction this year, too. As Jamie Hall over at Business Insider puts it, “Mobile advertising went from hype to hyper-growth” over the past year. Thanks to healthy competition between Apple and Android mobile OS platforms, mobile browsers continue evolving so they can handle more complex web content, including a variety of ads that translate well on handheld devices. And of course, having a mobile ready website will help when consumers search on their mobile devices so be sure to make that a priority.
What are you expecting to see in 2011? Is your small business equipped to keep pace – or stay ahead of the curve? Let us know your thoughts in a comment.