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Last month, a new report by interactive marketing agency, Unica, was released that outlined the ten key online marketing trends in 2010. According to the report, the world of online marketing is set to face what they call “unprecedented change” in light of the volatility in the economy and the emergence of new channels, plus financial accountability. The report surveyed 155 marketers about their online marketing plans and what technologies they’ll be using and here are the 10 key trends that the agency discovered:

MARKETING BUDGETS AND FOCUS CONTINUE TO SWING ONLINE.

The first question that was asked of marketers was about how important was it for their organizations to shift their marketing focus to be more online. A stunning 84% of respondents said that it was either somewhat important or very important. This is definitely a sign of how people are seeing the power of the Internet and how it can be used to reach a great many more customers in one single medium, but still have multiple touch points within – in moving your marketing online, you’re opening your organization to a whole new world that is more cost-effective and has a wide range of arsenals at your disposal, from a website to a banner to email marketing to even social media. Plus, the study concludes, that the web is better at being measured than probably other mediums.

MARKETERS WORK HARD TO KEEP EMAIL RELEVANT.

Did you know that 92% of marketers are using or planning on using email marketing this year? This statistic fits in with what I heard at the New Marketing Experience earlier this month by folks from Blue Sky Factory and Constant Contact who said that email marketing is growing and not being replaced by social media. In fact, this fact goes to prove that email marketing is becoming the most widely adopted marketing tactic. The trend for 2010 is that with email marketing, senders will become wiser and won’t resort to the “spray and pray” tactic to get their message across. Rather, they’ll focus on being more targeted and find ways to make sure that they find ways to stay relevant. How? The Unica study believes that marketers will need to create what they call “compelling campaigns” and have a strong understanding of analysis and management of the following: inbox placement, content rendering and reputation management around their digital communications.

SEARCH CONTINUES AS AN ONLINE MARKETING MAINSTAY, BUT COMPLEXITY GROWS.

Things will continue to be found through search. The traditional forms of online marketing will not be going away, but they are changing. Unica believes that search will still be the primary way for people to find products and information online. But Google is starting to lose its grip as the de facto place to search. According to the study, Microsoft’s Bing search engine has promising growth in the United States, but internationally, people are also paying attention to other sites like China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex. And as you can see with the recent changes with search engines, more innovative services are coming where you can access your search via mobile, find results dealing with geolocation, collaboration, and improved usability.

MARKETERS EXPAND TARGETING AND PERSONALIZATION ON THEIR WEBSITES.

Customers are no long anonymous. It’s predicted that in 2010, we’re going to see more personalization on websites. In fact, 55% of marketer surveyed said that they have already started using more personalization while 21% mentioned that they would be doing this later in the year.

Better targeting tactics should do well as marketers are going to go after those anonymous visitors that they track by referring URLs, search terms, geo-location and other metrics.

PROLIFERATION AND ADOPTION OF OTHER ONLINE CHANNELS PERSIST.

The world online is a vast frontier with enormous potential and opportunities. For marketers, there are multiple things we have at our disposal to reach out to our customers. Whether that’s through mobile (messaging, applications, etc.), rich-media (video, podcasting, etc.), social media (microblogging, user-generated content, social networks, etc.) or countless other tools at our disposal, we’re able to experiment with each one to see which gets the right impact. And while we’re not really sure about the success rate of using any of these tools within the online world, the fact is undeniable: by using these other online channels, marketers are given every opportunity to effectively and efficiently reach out to their customers. More marketers are, in fact, starting to adopt these emerging channels – 84% said they would use them in the next year.

MOBILE CONTINUES ITS MARCH TOWARD GREATER SIGNIFICANCE.

With the introduction, and success, of smartphones like the iPhone and the Android platform, mobile marketing has a much stronger foothold on the industry. Through this increased adoption of technology, mobile marketing will move past messaging and let marketers leverage the mobile email, website and applications. Some marketers have already taken that step and you’re starting to see more apps created by brands available on the app store. Over 1/3 of marketers are already doing some form of mobile marketing with an additional 40% saying they’ll jump into the game soon.

MARKETERS CONTINUE TO NURTURE SOCIAL MEDIA.

From the beginning, social media was never about the companies. In fact, brands probably paid social media no mind. It was a quiet little community where people could start to talk about what they wanted. Now, through various changes in the social media timeline, services like Facebook and Twitter have skyrocketed up to near prominence. Unica’s study states that blogs, product reviews and other social media is mixing up with marketing messages to help shape a customer’s perception about a brand. Today, nearly half of all marketers are using social media to promote the brand. Nearly a quarter more will implement some sort of social media strategy. In fact, services like Facebook, Myspace and blogs have become mainstay in the marketing mix, but microblogging platforms like Twitter are becoming increasingly popular and have been established as proven channels.

WEB ANALYTICS UNIFIES ONLINE DATA ACROSS CHANNELS.

Unica believes that in 2010, web analytics will focus on several things: integrating customer data from the web, search, mobile and social measurements. 88% of marketers are already using web analytics and the report concludes that the “penetration and ubiquity” of web analytics makes it an obvious tool to integrate customer profiles into to help paint a better picture of who your audience really is.

IT BOTTLENECKS DRIVE ADOPTION OF ON-DEMAND MARKETING SOLUTIONS.

If there’s someone to blame for marketing technology woes, then you might want to look at your IT department. 67% of marketers complained about the lack of support from their IT department. To overcome this, it seems that marketers are turning more towards on-demand services. This type of technology operating as a SaaS (Software as a Service) model will allow marketers to personalize their work and campaigns without having any dependencies that might hinder the productivity and effectiveness of the program.

ONLINE MARKETING SUITES BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN ANALYSIS AND ACTION.

Because marketers are diving into the ocean of online marketing, there’s going to be a whole lot of things to see and explore. But as a result, there will probably be a whole lot more data to swallow and make heads and tails out of. Unica believes that web analytics will be that guiding tool to help marketers measure performance across the various channels – whether it be social media, mobile, email or website. But while you’re getting measurements, the study also believes that what’s challenging is the ability to convert it into action – 94% of marketers said that this is their problem, highlighting the fact that marketers can execute a program, measure the success, but fail in trying to learn from it to improve.

Unica believes that to overcome this obstacle, online marketing suites will emerge to eventually enable marketers to respond quickly to customer needs and interests using the data captured through the web analytics tool.

You can download your copy of the Unica white paper on “10 Key Online Marketing Trends for 2010” by clicking here.

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    • Rebecca

      Hi Kenneth,

      This is a great article regarding the importance of Online Marketing, and it is vitally important to the small/medium sized businesses. Social Media is an excellent way to drive traffic, especially for a small to medium business. Articles,. Blogs, Tweets. They can all generate some hits, the more you produce, the more you’ll find a match for your company in search engines. That said, don’t spam. Make it meaningful.

      There is a very good article on this very subject at the MSBC Business Center: How to Maximize Productivity Today and Opportunities Tomorrow: http://bit.ly/dc56CW

      Cheers,
      Rebecca
      The Microsoft MSB Outreach Team
      v-renewk@microsoft.com

    • http://www.thelettertwo.com Ken Yeung

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thank you for your comment. I think you're spot on…articles, blogs and tweets can generate some hits – but only if done well and in moderation. But let's not also forget about the other aspects of online marketing: email, SEO, SEM and, of course, websites. Everything works in tandem with each other to create a more powerful marketing structure for any company.