04/10/10

By Tim Norman, direct at SDL Web Content Management Solutions

Innovation in technology, customer responses to these innovations and changes in how businesses interact with customers, are all impacting on how marketers do their jobs. Here are 10 key trends that are changing the marketing landscape.

Online everywhere

With the rise of smartphones and net-books as commodity items and increasingly competitive rates for mobile internet access, mean that more people are online - all the time. Being online everywhere means that visitors have more time to visit websites, as well as extended capabilities to talk about companies and products anywhere, at any time. It is therefore essential to ensure that your website has a mobile-phone-friendly version.

Information overload

Swamped by content, people are increasingly looking for ways to filter it. Between news feeds, multiple email addresses, even more social network memberships, blogs and special interest sites, corporate marketing and communication efforts seem to be ignored.

From Google Buzz to feed readers, from social applications to aggregation web-sites, people are looking for a way to filter the flood of information that threatens to drown them. More specifically, they want to make sense of the information so that they can easily identify what is relevant and what is not. So publish your content sensibly. Stay relevant. Avoid the blah-blah-yadayada, because no one is listening to it.

Channel choices

Audiences can approach content from more channels than ever. They decide what their preferred channel is. Whatever channels marketers use, including web, email, mobile or social sites, a coordinated offering is required that is tailored for different audiences.

Find out which channels different audiences use and what they use them for. This will help marketers to deliver the right content to the right channel.

Video volume

Online video viewing is reaching record levels with more than 28 billion videos viewed in one month alone. Video has been shown to enhance customer contact, create viral marketing trends, and reinforce brand awareness in a way that text rarely does. In-video advertising can be very lucrative for high-traffic video.

Get to know your target audience and create the video content and visual presentation that will draw them in. No one wants to watch a PowerPoint presentation in a video. Make it matter and choose wisely, taking into consideration video length and the controls provided to visitors.

Prolific profiles

How many usernames and passwords can one person have? A lot. More than they can remember, actually. Many online visitors are simply unwilling to create yet another set, let alone complete all of the profile information requested. This can prevent potential customers from interacting with websites.

You should integrate open-source login capabilities such as OpenID, which allows visitors to sign in using a single username and password on multiple sites. Single-click logins lower the threshold. These types of options save basic profile information and pre-populate frequently used form fields for them, alleviating the burden of remembering yet another password. Visitors can manage their profiles centrally, providing them with greater control.

Graphic glory

This trend is related to information overload. In order to help audiences deal with the over-abundance of information that they need to process, more and more companies are providing condensed information in increasingly creative and beautiful ways.

Sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words. Sometimes it says less and does it more effectively. If you really want to convey the heart of the matter, consider a well-crafted image rather than another paragraph. Visual information and infographics can make information immediately accessible and soothe the information overload headache.

Hire your customers

Hiring your customers could be your best move so far (and your cheapest). Often spoken of, but still true, your best advocate is a happy existing customer. People still tend to trust their peers much more than a corporate voice.

Your customers’ creativity must be harnessed, so try and increase online engagement by creating contests, using user-generated content and integrating customer endorsement into marketing strategy. This tactic still requires care and planning, but can be cost-effective and convincing. Customers who have special preview or beta privileges can be great ambassadors and set the agenda by creating pre-sale buzz.

Value is everything

In the face of lightning-fast reviews and public responses to products and services, businesses are under more pressure to really deliver value. Companies no longer have the luxury of delivering faulty products or poor service, as a whole community of people will share this experience faster than you can say “Tweet”.

Companies need to create value at every opportunity. Customer loyalty and endorsements are their bread and butter, but this customer fidelity needs to be earned. If you provide quality, they will talk about you, buy from you, stay with you and hopefully, say nice things about you.

They want it now

We are in the era of immediate gratification. Everything seems to be just a mouse click away. This trend has a big impact on expectations of usability and the ability of customers to not only identify offers quickly but to react to them just as quickly. This also applies to the ways in which customers can share information about offers with their friends. The share button on your offer is the difference between an offer to one and an offer to many.

Make it easy for customers to find what they want through message, visual design and functionality. This trend blurs the lines between marketing, sales and service since the process should be easy and intuitive to any visitor. Less effort equals more satisfaction.

Social media marketing matters

Companies are no longer just talking about social media marketing; they are doing it and spending more on it than ever before. As companies discover what works for their different target segments, they are finding their way through the Facebook-Twitter- YouTube-LinkedIn -Digg-Flickr jungle. Even if the choice is against using these media, marketers are under increasing pressure to justify their choices in the boardroom.

You should try to understand how these different media can affect your customer communication, brand exposure, site traffic and search engine optimisation - so that you can make wise, strategic choices. Where applicable, use subject matter experts to interact with the community. It will build your street credibility.

www.sdltridion.co.uk/