In my previous article I talked about the importance of having a digital strategy. This week I’ll look at some of the dominant areas of growth in online marketing and evaluate some of the important trends we are likely to witness in the next 12 months.
Search Engine Marketing
Search marketing has risen to become the dominant form of internet marketing accounting for a large percentage of overall online spending. The latest figures suggest that search engine marketing spend in UK and Ireland is worth around €3.5bn. In the US 2010 search engine marketing spend will increase by 13% on last year.
The two main forms of search marketing – search engine optimisation (SEO), which aims to raise website positions for natural results listings, and pay per click advertising which places paid-for ads linked to search results – will continue to grow significantly in 2010.
In fact search marketing budgets have increased by around 22% per year since 2006 as businesses strive to gain a market presence on search engines. 2010 will also witness further development in real-time search as more people demand information that is not only relevant but is also fresh and up to date.
Social media went mainstream in 2009 with huge growth in Facebook’s user numbers and newcomer Twitter attracting 3.3m UK users. It was the year when social media really hit the headlines with more businesses waking up to the opportunities presented by increased social media usage. The general trend in marketing is away from pushing one-way messages at consumers and towards more open and authentic conversations that help build brand relationships.
This trend suits social media perfectly and there will be a will more focussed approach to social media marketing in the next 12 months. So expect a sharp rise in the amount of businesses and organisations integrating major social networks into their marketing activity and allocating or raising budgets for social media activity.
The importance of social media marketing was given an additional boost last week when Coca-Cola and Unilever announced they will be moving their digital focus away from traditional campaign sites towards community and social platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
Another area that will continue to see huge gains is ecommerce. It not just the online retail sector that is expected to witness growth. Nearly all sectors are now heavily engaged in online selling and industries that were traditionally considered outside the world of ecommerce such as the grocery market have developed very impressive online sales operations.
However it’s not all good news for businesses selling online. The online marketplace is marked by very tough competition and retailers who want a bigger slice of the Ecommerce pie need to ensure they are investing enough resources to rise above their competitors.
Online retail’s share of sales against the high street appears to be slowing and there is new evidence that online retailers will need to focus a lot more on customer retention. This is perhaps understandable as there is a limit to the large-scale year on year increases in web usage. Evidence shows that repeat customers to an ecommerce website on average spend much more than first time visitors. Hence, online retailers will want to look even more carefully at their customer data and segment and target different groups of customers at each stage of the buying cycle.