Top 10 Internet Marketing Trends for 2011

The dawn of 2011 gives us the perfect opportunity to predict the top 10 internet marketing trends for the upcoming year. The 90’s was the decade of the internet, and since then we have seen new layers, tools, and worlds built on top of the world wide web.

Social networks dominated the past decade, apps came on top of that, and 2011 will bring even more areas of digital interaction and communication.

And just to have some fun for the holidays, I decided to turn them into some of the cheesiest puns and rhymes ever assembled in a blog post. If you can’t stand the rhymes, I’ve put a real title right next to them.

So here’s my take on the top 10 trends (in order) for internet marketing in 2011.

(1) No more game layer naysayers (The sculpting of the “game layer”)

Seth Priebatsch, the founder of SCVNGR, plans to build a “game layer” on top of the world. Things like rewards programs, board games, social games and check-ins have all come to make up the idea behind a game layer.

This game layer is a way to influence consumer behavior, by turning everything into a game. Wherever you go, whatever you buy will be built into a sort-of game dynamic that will reward you in multiple ways.

This game layer will be the most important trend to watch in internet marketing in 2011, as companies like SCVNGR and Four Square become a bigger part of the consumer process.

(2) Even more apps perhaps (Mobile apps continue to “suburbanize” the internet)

The internet has been compared to the wild wild west with its initial lawlessness and quick expansion. With the introduction of apps, the internet is being tamed into smaller communities – suburbanizing the internet in a way.

Jeff Cormier (Examiner.com) wrote an article today about how mobile apps are projected to experience 60% growth by 2014. In addition, revenue from mobile apps will increase from $4.9 billion this year, to $35 billion by 2014, according to an IDC report.

So we will see even more apps in 2011. Apps mark the beginning of the taming of the internet into organized mobile programs, and 2011 will continue this trend.

(3) All bets off, all Groupon (Downward pricing pressures on SMBs from Groupon-like sites)

As Groupon continues to roll out sites for more and more cities across the country, the “group coupon” phenomenon continues to sweep the web.

Thousands of other coupon sites have also popped up. I Am Hungry, for example, offers restaurant deals around your area. With apps for Facebook and mobile devices, these types of sites are spreading like wildfire.

We are almost at the point with all of these sites that you could always get a meal at half price. For 2011, look for the Groupon and I Am Hungry-type sites to put downward pricing pressure on small service businesses (especially restaurants).

(4) Online privacy issues and miscues (Online privacy becomes a huge issue/opportunity)

Access to data is an essential part of the idea behind Web 2.0. Having up-to-date information on people is the key to targeting search results, advertising, and offers. However, when will this go too far? 2011.

The Federal Trade Commission just released a report this month about protecting consumer privacy. This movement covers an idea to implement a “Do Not Track” program for consumers. This would be a technology that would allow consumers to tell websites to not track their activities and information.

As this movement plays out, look for online privacy to be a huge part of the web in 2011.

(5) Boob Tube out, YouTube in (Increase in online video marketing)

Faster internet connections, easy share capabilities, better video search, link integration, and YouTube channels – these all point to an even bigger emphasis on video marketing. A video going viral is the dream of every marketer, and it’s easier to make those videos and easier to have them spread.

Pew Internet Research says that 7 in 10 adult internet users have used the internet to watch or download a video. In addition, videos can help increase search rankings and have a major impact on SEO.

With all of these factors coming together, online video marketing will become mainstream in 2011.

(6) Local becomes focal for search engines (More emphasis on local search)

Over the last few months of 2010, we’ve seen local results take a bigger role in Google SERPs (search engine results pages). Tools like Google Places and Yahoo! Local make it easier for businesses to gain exposure for their certain keywords and now have placed more importance on those listings.

By incorporating Google Tags into Google Places and offering statistical insights for your place listing, Google is telling small businesses that local search will become even more important in 2011. This makes sense considering that the goal of a search engine is to deliver the best results for each search. What good would a plumber in Seattle do for a homeowner in Boston?

(7) 2011 Twitter: More litter, less glitter (Major change in the Twitter model)

A San Francisco Chronicle article came out today revealing statistics about Twitter. As the article states, Only 8% of American adults use Twitter and less than 1/4 of those users are “heavy” Twitter users.

Twitter’s goal to become the world’s largest media company, therefore, is too far out of reach.

It seems that Twitter has been most successful in the celebrity-realm, as people can get an insight into the lives of their favorites stars. The celebrity element, however, is not mainstream enough for Twitter to survive solely on that niche and its goal to become THE media outlet seems out of reach. So where does Twitter go from here?

Well, we’ve seen the introduction of “promoted tweets” and the new Twitter profile in 2010.

What does 2011 hold for Twitter? I am predicting declining participation rates on Twitter, more dead profiles, and potentially a serious change to make money and increase participation.

(8) HTML5 goes live (The release of HTML5 and its impact)

HTML5 is currently under development by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group. The latest HTML revision will make it easier to incorporate multimedia into websites.

The impact on SEO will be interesting to follow in 2011. The new <> tag, for example, will make it easier to segment new posts for online periodicals like blogs and online magazines. Search engines will most likely place either more or different emphasis on these sorts of tags.

(9) Online communities = new opportunities (Market Research continues to change)

Typical market research reports are generated over a long period of time and result in 1000 pages of somewhat outdated data. Online communities are a newer way to conduct real-time market research from a group of about 200-500 consumers that represent the target market for that specific brand. These people will answer key questions and discuss certain topics associated with a product before it launches, for example.

Companies like Communispace and MindGauge allow brands to gather consumer insight quickly. MindGauge’s website describes the difference between traditional market research and online communities by saying, “Rather than an independent source gathering information, respective managers will begin to integrate the community into all components of their projects.”

Although this powerful insight tool has been around for awhile, we are predicting that more dollars will be devoted towards this kind of tool in 2011.

(10) The cloud starts to reign (Cloud Computing continues to spread)

Although “the cloud” does not really fall under internet marketing, its impact on agility for sales forces and IT departments is undeniable, so it found its
way into the top ten. The days of building custom-made business apps and software are gone with companies like salesforce.com. Cloud computing allows businesses of all sizes to get better systems up and running, faster and cheaper than custom-built software.

For 2011, even more clunky and expensive IT systems will be scrapped for the cloud and collaboration will be brought everywhere through mobile devices.

2011 should be the fastest year in internet marketing. Many more trends will occur that could change the landscape of internet marketing for businesses of all sizes.

What do you see as the biggest trend for 2011?