Five Digital Marketing Insights From 2011

December 08, 2011

A lot happens in a year. At the end of every year I like to look back and reflect on the major things I’ve learned that year in regards to digital marketing. Here are some of the highlights from 2011 when it comes to interactive (digital) marketing:

  1. Poor use of QR codes – 2011 is the year when marketers fully embraced this new technology. They seem to be everywhere, from pineapples at the grocery store to coupons and in-flight magazine ads to bus stops. However, the vast majority lack an imaginative implementation with a unique user experience. Most send users to the home page or some sort of landing page. Very few offer value to the user in any significant way. It seems marketers are using QR codes mostly as a fashion statement of sorts. The one exception of course is this Korean grocery store, where users derive direct value from engagement and the brand experiences a direct ROI.
  2. Mobile websites are now a “must have” – Mobile device compatible websites are now critical to every brand. With smartphone market penetration at close to 50%, mobile websites are no longer luxury items but bare necessities. Businesses with mobile device compatible websites will reap instant rewards in 2012 primarily because their competitors do not have one and also because of the value to consumers. To see the value of a mobile website visit ShiftArizona.Com on your smartphone. This website offers users information on locally owned businesses as they shop.
  3. Mobile applications can wait – Mobile applications are expensive to develop, need a robust strategy and a marketing budget of their own. Unless your company has a compelling business case and feels it can add significant value to users, mobile applications can wait. In an age when you have to priorities budgets and maximize returns it is rare that I see a mobile application opportunity that makes sense. This is not to say there is no place for mobile applications, there certainly is. It just means that you should think through the reasons for a mobile application from the customer perspective and have enough resolve to see it through.
  4. Social networking on Facebook is now a lifestyle – I am one of the few in the agency who is extremely bullish on Google’s social network Google+. With a clean design and a very clear value proposition (circle of friends) Google+ is extremely compelling as a social networking platform. However, after a flood of new members the social network has been floundering. It didn’t help that Facebook was very quick to respond to Google’s move. In the bigger picture though Facebook’s market dominance is showing that social networking has become a habit for many users. Habits are hard to break which means Facebook should be the default social network for many years to come.
  5. Location-based check-ins  “jumped the shark” in 2011 – Foursquare and Gowalla were all the rage a few years ago and we were all supposed to be checking in to everything and driving up business for everyone. Well that didn’t happen. Facebook shut down its own Places feature earlier this year and purchased Gowalla to work on their new timeline. Gowalla itself had started to move away from location-based check-ins and was evolving towards telling a story via timelines. Unless users suddenly wake up to location-based check-ins it will be hard for Foursquare to stay relevant.

A lot happens in a year and I’ve certainly learned a lot/ I’d be curious to see what you’ve learned. Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? Well share them in the comments section.

Top photo used under Creative Commons Licence from cindy47452 on Flickr.

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