Trends That Shaped '11, Hold Promise For '12
2011 brought its fair share of social media headlines for businesses. Facebook grew to over 800 million users, Twitter reached the 100 million mark and Google+ made its grand entry. With new online channels emerging and the challenges they bring, marketers should review their 2011 initiatives to extract what worked -- and what didn’t -- before they move into the New Year and beyond.
As part of this, here are the trends, surprises and lessons learned that shaped this year -- and will certainly be applicable well into 2012:
Email marketing remains effective
Yes, there’s a lot of talk and action around social media, but e-mail remains a viable, effective channel of communication. And in some ways, social media is feeding more to the fire. Marketers made email marketing a central part of their marketing budgets in 2011, and those budgets continued to grow. They have discovered that email is an effective way to grow and retain customers, and when combined with social media, it can become even more powerful. In 2011 email marketing became the central hub of online marketing, and usage of email marketing will likely grow in 2012.
Social media arrives, but takes time
As social media garnered a lot of attention in 2011, many marketers rushed toward it. Yet the dream of reaching millions of people to drive awareness and revenues hit the stark reality that social media is a marathon, not a sprint. Marketers are trying to develop their social media best practices, but are finding it difficult because there are just too many tools, and too many “experts” giving advice. We have come to the realization that there is no “right” answer, or magic bullet to getting social media right.
Facebook remains #1
2011 was a great year for Facebook, as more businesses hopped on the bandwagon. A recent survey by leading email and social media marketing company iContact showed that 76 percent of businesses love Facebook. Furthermore, Facebook announced several upcoming changes aimed at maintaining its dominance in 2012. Marketers should remain aware of Facebook’s large and engaged user base and how that impacts their marketing efforts. 2011 is a shining example that Facebook represents a great opportunity for marketers to reach customers and prospects in new, more powerful ways.
Mobile marketing still presents a challenge
Many businesses are still overwhelmed with mobile marketing. There are too many choices for how to pursue mobile (mobile Web site, mobile app, opportunities to use text messages, QR Codes, etc.), which makes it difficult for many businesses to effectively invest in it. While larger companies can afford to try several tactics and see what sticks, many small businesses remain passive. Regardless of organization size, however, mobile marketing remained a prominent presence on everyone’s radar, as businesses have begun to determine how to make it work for them in the coming year.
It’s all about content
It’s very easy for marketers to become overwhelmed with the need to create content to keep marketing (email, print, blog, Web site, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) fresh and relevant. Ultimately, marketers have learned to generate and curate and reuse/repurpose content when appropriate. In 2011, many leveraged collaboration -- both internal and external -- to create compelling content to encourage engagement. Even with a proliferation of marketing channels in 2011, marketers are quickly realizing that it’s less about the channel and more about the content.