Five key trends to embrace in 2011

Every year, marketers continue the search for “the next big thing”; the industry wide topic that will make or break the success of their interactive marketing programmes for the coming year. As consumers across the globe turn to email, mobile and social more than ever before, it is imperative that marketers strive to meet customers on their own territory to maximise engagement opportunities.
So, just what does 2011 have in store, and how can marketers prepare for the interactive marketing trends that await them? Five things that should be on every marketer’s radar include;
Data is the foundation of interactive marketing campaigns: Collecting click-through rates, online browsing history, shopping cart abandonment, previous purchase history, and other customer information has never been a problem. But, achieving visibility—and usability—with that data has not always been possible. Effective marketing in 2011 will be about efficient information flow to help marketers be more strategic in their interactive programmes.
The year of mobile: It has been a long time coming but consumers have rapidly adopted smartphones, and have come to expect the freedom to interact with their peers and favourite brands at anytime, anywhere. Marketers must adapt campaigns to meet their customers’ needs —interacting with them whether they’re in front of their computer, or on-the-move.
Treat each customer as an individual: Consumers value customer service—not just from your client support centre, but from every single interaction they have with your brand. In 2011, marketers must honour their customers’ unique preferences, and marketing messages should provide more impact and value—rather than standard “interruptions” via irrelevant “one size fits all” ads.
Making social part of the marketing mix: While including ‘ShareThis’ icons in customer communications is a simple way to ease into social media, integrating Facebook and Twitter into your campaigns and overall strategy is vital in 2011. Conversations about your brand are happening whether you’re participating in them or not. It’s up to you as a marketer to either contribute to the messaging about your brand or simply let your customers dictate it for you.
Use automation, save time: With automation, tasks like data movement, segmentation, and messaging programmes become easy through “set it and forget it” functionality. But in 2011, automation can’t just stop there. With the onset of the “realtime web” and the “Now generation” of consumers, it’s critical that subscriber preferences and realtime customer data become integrated into each and every communication you send.
So, as marketers look at their 2011 marketing goals and divide up the year’s budget, it is worth bearing these five trends in mind to further develop marketing strategies, while ensuring they stay ahead of consumer demands, and maintain a successful interactive marketing programme the whole year through.

Nigel Arthur is managing director ExactTarget UK

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