Let’s face it. 2009 is a year that many of us are pleased to put behind us. We want to look to the future. 2010 beckons. New mobile phones and tablet computers are appearing every week. We are seeing crazy-fast take-up of social media like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Add those developments to a rebounding economy and it all indicates an infl ection point: one of those moments in history when everything comes together to enable massive change and opportunity.
2010 is going to be a big year politically, technologically, globally. We invited Geno Prussakov to take look at what we can all look forward to in the coming year.
It’s that time of the year when half the world is making predictions, while the other half is reading them. The one thing that unites us is the desire to have some solid information that can be relied upon along with practical ideas on how to turn the knowledge into action. Here are my thoughts on what will work in 2010, together with some of the most important data points on what the trends are in the industry.
Social Media to Blossom
I know this will come as no surprise to the majority of the readers, but it’s worth looking again at some of the more interesting research data. Forrester’s US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2009 to 2014 – which projects a substantial growth in online marketing over the next four years (hitting nearly $55 billion in 2014) – also estimates that social media will play an increasing role and demand increased attention from marketers. More concretely, Forrester forecasts that social media marketing spend will grow faster than any other sector (more than fourfold). Additionally, out of the top seven interactive channels which are expected to increase in marketing effectiveness, two are directly related to social media: what Forrester calls “created social media” (expected to show the greatest increase in effectiveness), and paid social listings.
Transparency is Central
Transparency and trust are going to become ever more important to online marketing in general and affiliate marketing in particular during 2010. With the recent introduction of new Federal Trade Commission endorsements / testimonials rules and the rapid development of social media, online marketers are going to find that success comes from increased transparency leading to better
Engagement is no longer something that is solely driven by a marketing decision. Consumers are participating in shaping brands at will, on an hourly basis, and social media in all its variety is enabling and accelerating this process. Publishers and marketers can either monetize this trend by offering the necessary tools and opportunities to help their customers participate. Or they can risk destroying what they have previously built by choosing to use social media carelessly, spamming and abusing the trust of their readers and followers.
Affiliates and publishers that make the effort to combine greater transparency with the demand for more social media participation, will find that they can create new value-added tools and services, and by doing so will win big.
Mobile Marketing to Grow
…and fast too! Morgan Stanley predicts that mobile Internet usage will be “at least twice the size of the desktop Internet” within a few years. Smartphones are expected to “out-ship the global notebook + netbook market in 2010 and out-ship the global PC market (including desktops) by 2012.”
Other sources support this forecast of massive growth. eMarketer, for example, forecasts steady growth in mobile ad spend from $416 million in 2009 to $593 million in 2010, to $1.5 billion in 2013.
The increasing demand for mobile services created by social media combined with the growth of mobile technologies offers any number of interesting marketing opportunities. This will be big play for many affiliate marketers in 2010.
The Year of CRO
Rand Fishkin, CEO & co-founder of SEOmoz, has christened 2010 “the year of conversion rate optimization.” He believes that most companies are now at an “inflection point …[able] to assess their spend and where they derive value.” As a result, he believes that CRO, with its reasonable costs that deliver high ROI, will be the area where most will focus.
Tim Ash of SiteTuners has been stressing the importance of CRO for a long time to affi liate marketers, and increasing numbers of affiliates and retailers are now paying attention to landing page optimization. Those that have learned to tweak, split test, improve, test again, and again, will be the ones that beat their competition in 2010.
For merchants or affiliates, there is no better New Year’s resolution than to spend time every day on practicing conversion optimization skills. Nothing will pay off better.
Online Video to Boom
In 2010 video will be increasingly presented as part of general search results and both affiliates and retailers should keep this in mind. Some merchants are already providing affiliates with video creative, but experience is already showing that the best converting creative is often that made by the affiliates themselves. And they do not have to be professionally shot. In the present disintermediated world, honesty and objectivity counts for more than glamour.
The Forrester’s report quoted above also forecasts that over 80% of polled marketers believe that the marketing effectiveness of online video will increase in the course of the next three years, which will make this channel second only to created social media in influence.
More Legislative Fights
With more and more states facing budget deficits, more will turn towards the “affiliate tax” as the panacea. If it hasn’t happened in your state yet, it’s just a matter of time and as an affiliate marketer you need to be prepared to be proactive. These legislative initiatives can be fought, but it needs merchants and affiliates to join the fight, writer letters and campaign. Be aware and be ready.
Here’s to a fruitful 2010! Stick with your goals, take the most out of the emerging trends, and success will surely follow.
EVGENII “GENO” PRUSSAKOV is an author, affiliate marketing blogger, speaker and consultant in affiliate marketing and affiliate program management.