Monday, December 6, 2010

lonelybrand’s Top Five Predictions for Digital Communications in 2011

Prediction, presage, prognosis, prevision or prophecy (yes; I know how to use a thesaurus). The only real measure of how reliable one “oracle” is over another is the measure of accuracy over time.

I’m not a digital advertising prophet, but I do get enough exposure to digital communications to have a pretty good idea what’s coming. Here’s the links to my 2009 and 2010 predictions for advertising, the economy and innovation. Take a few minutes and give them a read – or just skip below for my 2011 predictions for digital communications.

ADMAVEN’s 2009 Advertising Predictions

KEY EXCERPT: [Web] 2.0 strategies will be more palatable. Smaller budgets and the desire to be more frugal will make [Web] 2.0 much more attractive to medium and large companies around the world. Social media will play a big role in this development, and agencies poised to bring a solid, procedural model with built in metrics will find new business quickly.

2010 Predictions: Conscious Capitalism and Vertical Learning (written in partnership with Maddock Douglas)

KEY EXCERPT: Secondly, but more importantly, the consumers will drive this change. With the power to choose products and services created by companies who no longer see business as a machine driven by profit only, consumers will exercise this measure of control to empower companies that not only empower them, but also facilitate change for the world.

lonelybrand’s Top Five Predictions for Digital Communications in 2011

1) The economy has started to show signs of recovery. The last two months of 2010 display a stock market on the rebound and production creeping in the right direction. However many marketing jobs downsized during years past won’t be making a return. Agencies and brands will continue to juggle keeping up with ever-evolving technologies while executing day-to-day duties. 2011 will be the year of the outsourced digital expert. Firms that build themselves on pure-play digital will step in to help brands and agencies stay afloat while executing outstanding digital communications to their clients and customers. lonelybrand has seen the demand grow – even in the last two months. The good news is that the relationship provides a way to get an internal team up to speed on effective digital communications techniques without risking huge budgets needed to hire the six key individuals required to effectively connect with consumers online. OK – that last part was a dose of my personal ethos – but it’s how I work and so far it hasn’t failed to produce.

2) What’s all this talk about the coming “App Revolution” or “Appocolypse” that will fundamentally reshape the way consumers receive messaging? 2011 will be a year of continued trending to mobile, but I’ve got some news for you: the smartphone thing is already showing signs of hitting a plateau in America. The global market is still a major growth sector for smartphone technology, but the real lesson here is mobile marketing should be a key piece of your digital communications budget in 2011. It’s appropriate for almost every brand and agency, and the costs of entry are so low versus the potential upside it’s almost a no-brainer. Apps have already changed a lot about online behaviors, but the biggest shift has already happened. Expect to see more agencies and brands play catch up as new budgets ripen in early 2011.

3) The Music Industry is in a lot of trouble. It’s because they’ve spent their time and once considerable assets fighting digital communications trends rather than embracing them. 2011 will be a make-or-break year for something we all love: music. What does this have to do with trends in digital marketing and advertising? Think of it as a lesson in exploration. Agencies and brands that aggressively expand their digital communications programs will come out on top. Learning the key steps to reducing risky capital outlay while increasing success rate is the secret. As Quincy Jones, producer of "Thriller" and nominated for a record 79 Grammy awards recently told me, “Artists, producers, songwriters and A&R folks: rise up to the challenge and make your album so good that fans will want to buy the whole thing. I realize every album can’t have six or seven top ten singles like Michael Jackson and I were blessed with on “Thriller” and “Bad,” but you’ve got to try. If it’s good enough, the fans will buy it. Maybe they’ll want to whet their appetite by only buying a track or two at first, but if you keep coming out with good tracks and pique their interest, they’ll be back.” Remember prediction number one? Those are the folks who will help agencies and brands smart enough to bring in outsiders blossom in the year to come.

4) Disciplined CRM and email marketing will continue to generate a stable platform of inbound lead generation and conversions. We’ve been hearing it for years now: email marketing is old school, old hat and on it’s way out the door. Tell that to Groupon. Sometimes (yes, even in our fast-paced digital world) it’s less about exotic technology and more about the discipline to produce consistently. Email marketing combined with quality social CRM will continue to drive big results in 2011. Agencies and brands with a quality content calendar backed by the staff to execute will retain and grow their customer base. Look for more companies to begin injecting social data into their CRM toolset, producing targeted and increasingly relevant communications with outstanding open rates.

5) Analytics will finally make it to the boardroom. When you run a campaign or communications program in the digital world it only makes sense to measure progress. Look for large up-front spends on strategy and development to give way as more agencies and brands realize the risk posed by front-loading a digital marketing budget. The smartest companies will understand that incremental program execution combined with powerful analytics (and the personnel to quantify meaning from the raw data) is a great way to minimize risk and maximize reward. I recommend using an analytics package(s) that can read demographics, see long-term trends and analyze real-time data.

I hope you take these predictions to heart as you plan your business development strategies for 2011. I spend my days making sure agencies and brands are covering all the bases by augmenting and executing tactics that get results. Want to know more? Let’s talk.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps agencies and brands find and connect to digital audiences for profitable outcomes. Want to talk to him about how a complete digital communications program can help your agency or brand grow? Email him at