Digital Marketing in 2011

It’s a new year and lots of people are making predictions about digital marketing in 2011. One of the best I’ve read so far comes from Ashley Friedlein, CEO of Econsultancy. Friedlein’s post yesterday is entitled “17 digital marketing trends for 2011” (note the English aversion to initial caps in the title). At 4,500+ words, this isn’t a quick read, but it’s a valuable one.

Friedlein takes on virtually every digital marketing topic imaginable. His writing style is at times educational, provocative, critical, and thought-provoking. In my view, his discussions on execution (trend 1), organizational structures (trend 5), content strategy (trend 6), and user experience (trend 9) are the most helpful.

Execution: An old colleague once said to me that “talk is cheap; the proof’s in the pudding.” And to borrow from Nike “Just Do It” will be critical as companies seek to grow out their businesses from the worst of the global depression.

Organizational Structures: Like a master carpenter, it’s important to have the right person doing the right job with the right tools. Friedlein explains how “Many more agencies, and corporations, will move to a more ‘connected / networked’ model with a greater use of freelance specialists on demand.” I’m seeing more virtual projects being completed by virtual teams worldwide. We worked on a project last year that literally spanned the globe with documentation being done in the US, development in the Middle East, and manufacturing in Asia. This was the rule, not the exception.

Content Strategy: As a communications provider, reading “content is king” in digital ink is a boon. Of course, it begs the question “When did content die?” I don’t think it ever has. We just need to find new ways to communicate and package information mostly in digital form. Custom publishing and localization will take on even more importance as corporations look to keep their current customers and expand to new markets.

User Experience: Friedlein talks about “humanization” of the online experience (I see this mostly through the more widespread use of avatars in places like e-Learning and on-line chat for customer support), the increasing use of video, and explosion of mobile apps. While none of these observations is earth-shattering, his points are spot on.

Friedlein might consider is taking long articles like this one and making them into podcasts. That way people who don’t want to read 10 pages online can listen while they’re on the treadmill or exercise bike.