With all of the pundits trying to predict the next online trend and telling everyone that they know what to expect or what they think will be coming down the line. In actuality, the prediction business has never been harder to keep up with, whether the newest online trend will be an expansion to mobile platforms, social media marketing or the evolution of new Search Engine Optimization techniques as this post from SEOMoz illustrates.

Active Web Group recently released an article that focused on what we thought the Latest Web Design Trends for 2010 would be and how they would evolve as the year progressed. Based on that, Active Web Group decided to look at some of the latest Internet Marketing trends and what we have identified as what the hottest trends that businesses will face in 2010. Whether it is the creation of a Social Media Marketing campaign, developing an effective eCommerce campaign, creating a Mobile Website are just a few of the trends Active Web Group can develop for a business looking to meet the challenge of 2010.

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Mobile Web

If your business is not aware that more people are using smartphones, you should learn quickly and realize that their use is on the rise. However, few businesses have actually developed mobile websites that are designed for handheld devices, such as an iPhone, Google’s Nexus One, etc. The use of mobile devices and the applications available also allow individuals to connect to their social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, etc.

As mobile users purchase gadgets with larger touchscreens and Internet browsers, the mobile space will become bigger and small to medium sized enterprises need to jump on the bandwagon. If a business’ website is not accessible through a smartphone application or other handheld device, your visitors will become frustrated and find some other business that does have a mobile website, making you lose traffic and potential sales.

Overall satisfaction between smartphone users and traditional mobile phone users has shown a significant increase among smartphone users, according to a recent J.D. Power and Associates press release:

“Satisfaction among consumer smartphone owners has increased by 14 index points (on a 1,000-point scale) from just six months ago, while satisfaction among business owners has increased by 43 index points from 2008 as these devices have become more stylish, customizable and user-friendly.” “Among traditional mobile phone owners, overall satisfaction has declined by six index points from April 2009, likely as a result of heightened awareness among traditional mobile phone owners of advanced features available on smartphones.”

Smartphones and mobile devices provide individuals the ability to access the Internet and use them the same way a laptop can be utilized, creating an opening for users on the go.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

Back in the day, SEO experts would use Search Engine Optimization tactics to get a website on the first page of the search engines. With the coming of 2010, that will become harder due to the advent of personalized and real-time search.

Twitter started the trend when by designing the first real-time search engine. Users that search for a certain term will be updated with the latest and newest “tweets” as they are submitted.

Recently, Google introduced its own real-time search function complete with indexed tweets. Microsoft’s Bing search engine made a deal to show tweets in search results and Yahoo! recently announced that they have struck a formal partnership with Twitter allowing you to tweet directly from your Yahoo! homepage.

This is not to say that businesses should run out and begin a real-time search strategy, it will take some time for users to fully understand and begin to integrate this trend into their everyday lives, but there is real potential here.

The utilization of on-page optimization factors will still apply though Google will start returning results with personalized search and real-time search will surely play a part. The objective for any business is to still get on the first page before becoming a factor in a users personal search results.

Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Web spam, has mentioned that site speed may be a new ranking factor for 2010. Businesses should work to ensure that their website load time is as fast as possible. Some factors should be proper HTML, clean CSS and JavaScript (externalize any code), there are a number of resources that can help you determine how fast your site is:

Social Media

In 2009, Facebook and Twitter were the social networks of choice and 2010 will see an even greater surge in their popularity. Both of them will begin to introduce new features, including paid accounts for business.

As mentioned in a previous article, businesses need to pay attention to social networking sites and the trends on these sites. While the article referenced focuses on Facebook, the creation of a social media strategy is not an option. An effective social media strategy is not only vital to the health of a company but also into its ability to develop an online user-base.

As online activity moves towards social media, marketers need to be aware that social media can be used to build brand awareness, develop buzz (will this be trademarked by Google?), and generate leads. In 2010, businesses must adapt to social media or get leapfrogged by their competition.

Online Retail

According to ComScore, the 4th quarter of 2009 marked the sign of positive growth in the year with both retail and eCommerce showing gains. ComScore also stated that a social media is becoming an important driver of commerce, where social media influenced 28% of holiday purchases.

A recent report from FFP Global states that: “online shopping is moving from a transaction mentality to one that embodies discovery, entertainment and social bonding experience.”

The report goes on to list five key eCommerce trends for 2010:

  • Smarter Mobility: Smartphones have continued to grow due to their wider screens and applications. Mobile phone and handheld devices will see more applications to help drive eCommerce sales.
  • Fulfillment Rules: Retailers will begin to consider “regional fulfillment centers” due to rising fuel costs and the demand for quicker delivery times.
  • Customer Service: Consumers will begin utilizing an ever increasing number of communication channels: i.e.: texting, accessing information, free expression, immediate feedback, etc. All of these pose a challenge that e-retailers must take seriously.
  • Relevancy is Virally Important: E-retailers are starting to become more than suppliers of goods and services and must proactively develop a personality that market segments can accept. They must listen; actively engage in conversations with their current and potential customers and more.
  • Business Intelligence meets Business Process: In 2010, businesses will need to commit to the information in their data banks to create marketing and sales business processes to help provide them a competitive advantage.

According to a recent Razorfish report, “65% of consumers report having had a digital experience that either positively or negatively changed their opinion about a brand.” Additionally, “97% of that group said that their digital experience influenced their decision whether or not to purchase a product or service.”

Consumers seem to be evolving to the point where the best of both worlds is what they are looking for when it comes to shopping online. They want great service and value combined with an overall smooth transaction from the very beginning of the transaction all the way to delivery of the product or service. Businesses also seem to benefit from having the perception of a direct relationship with the customer that is making the purchase.

Online Reputation Management

Most businesses have a website, but even a business needs to realize that the website could be subject to bad publicity. Any business in the online space needs to realize how fast rumors and allegations can be disseminated in the digital age. Several companies have had their reputations tarnished within hours from the activities of disgruntled employees, a poorly constructed advertising campaign and more.

Online Reputation Management is the process of managing a businesses search engine results and protecting their brand reputation. This involves marketing and public relations management combined with search engine marketing.

Online Reputation Management enables businesses to both protect and manage their brand as well as their reputation becoming actively involved in the outcome of search engine results.

The development of proactive social media platforms along with risk mitigation strategies will become standard fare for those companies looking to protect and enhance their brand and reputation.

Mobile Marketing

According to Mobile Marketing Watch, a recent report published by the UN indicates that mobile subscribers comprise 67% of the world’s population. A recent post on the Huffington Post, Chris Curtin and Bob Greenberg offer a look into the impact mobile will have on business.

Mobile marketing involves the process of marketing to people through their mobile phones or smartphone devices (I know what you are saying, but stay with me). Mobile marketing is slowly moving into the mainstream and small businesses have been slow to warm to the idea of engaging consumers on mobile devices, 2010 looks to have the potential to change that thinking.

With the increasing demand for mobile applications and web-browsers due to the iPhone, Google’s Nexus One and others in 2010, businesses will begin to provide low cost mobile marketing solutions such as mobile websites; location based marketing, mobile e-mail marketing and more.

Web Content/Blogging

The growth of the Internet has allowed businesses to publish their own content about their business or industry. This includes blogs, pictures and even videos. A business blog can be a valuable corporate tool for communicating with customers and employees allowing them to share their knowledge and expertise about their industry and are sweeping across the business community.

Presently, there are a number of blog software programs available for businesses that want to start blogging. The following software companies, Blogger.com, Typepad and Movable Type offer easy blogging tools to get you started in your business blog.

Blogging offers an inexpensive way for business owners to get their company name on the Internet. Simply write your thoughts, link to resources and publish your blog. Updating a business blog provides a business to share their expertise and knowledge with customers and potential customers.

For more information on Internet Marketing Solutions, call us at 1-800-978-3417 or Contact Active Web Group and let us help you!

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