Thursday, 16 December 2010

Three trends for 2011

What are the three key digital trends for 2011? Here are some thoughts.

1. Location
Location based services haven't taken off yet, but smartphones are starting to go mainstream. 20% of adults currently have a smartphone in the UK, and this will rapidly increase in 2011.

Expect consumers to start using location to find their friends when they are out socialising. And expect retail brands to quickly start offering deals to groups of people who buy or eat together, as Gap, H&M and McDonald's (client) have already done in the USA. 48% of 18-24 year olds already have smartphones, so expect all of these to take off fastest for youth brands.

Smart brands will start to think about how to use this in more imaginative ways. Trade conferences, party political conferences, meetings, festivals and live music events are all obvious places that could use location effectively.

2. Social
Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerburg has repeatedly said that almost any experience is better if it's social. In other words our offline friends really matter to us - and make our online experience much better.

And Facebook's Like button has spread like wildlfire across the internet, showing that people love 'liking' things.

Personal endorsement by a friend is massively powerful - so it's not surprising that corporates are quickly catching on to the value of social plug-ins (such as 'Like' buttons and embedded Fan page boxes which show you what your friends have liked, commented on or shared). 2011 will be the year that social plug-ins move to become as popular as sharing buttons have.

And expect marketers to start becoming much more inventive in extending the socialness of their campaigns, whether it's photo tagging, Facebook's social plugins or simply incorporating fan pages into advertising and PR.

3. Data
Direct marketers have known the value of CRM databases for years. And webcentric businesses like Amazon have been very effective at using customer data to provide quality recommendations.

In 2011 more and more marketers will extend the use of this data across their marketing strategy. For instance:
  • Web traffic analysis from firms such as Hitwise (client) allows firms to understand what their target audiences do online, cross referenced with customer databases such as MOSAIC, and to benchmark themselves against their competitors.
  • Auditing and monitoring online allows firms to use the internet as a continual rolling focus group - telling them how consumers are perceiving advertising and experiencing products every day.
  • Narrative and messaging can be easily tested online before launch. A/B testing on websites, and pay-per-click advertising on Facebook (client) and Google allows firms to quickly and cheaply test creative concepts, tactical approaches language and competition.
  • Crowdsourcing and customer forums, such as those run by GiffGaff (client), Starbucks and Dell are a great source of creative ideas and day-to-day feedback on product experience.