Expert Tips: Emerging Trends in Online Marketing
Heather Dougherty, Director of Research
Heather Dougherty is a leading authority in online commerce and
marketing, having covered the field extensively since 1997. Since
joining Hitwise, a leading online competitive intelligence service that
provides data and analytical tools to 100,000 clients in more than 65
countries, Heather’s expertise in the online commerce landscape has
been quoted extensively in the press. She is also a highly sought-after
speaker for industry events. Here, Heather discusses how small
business owners can take advantage of the ever-expanding range of
online tools to advance their marketing goals.
What emerging trends in online marketing are you watching closely?
Mobile, video, and social. Each of these has had a huge impact upon
online behavior, and will continue to do so throughout 2011 and
beyond. There are many opportunities right now to test and Online Workshops
experiment, so think about how these might benefit your business.
What are three questions a small business owner should ask when Small Business Internet
formulating his/her online marketing strategy? Security by AVG
1. What am I trying to accomplish with my online marketing?
If you simply want to provide location, hours of operation,
and other information, you need to make sure all of this
data is correct and available in all local listings and search Tap Into the Power of
engines. If you want to educate potential customers about Social Media with Chris
your products or services, use your website to provide the Brogan and Julien Smith
content and photos. Listen anytime!
2. Where to begin?
Make sure customers can find you in local listings, then
move on to your own website and promote your online When Social Goes Local
presence through search engines or social media. Free with John Jantsch
options such as Tumblr or WordPress are a good way to get Listen anytime!
started on your website.
3. What resources do I have?
Prioritize what you are trying to accomplish and align with offline initiatives to repurpose as much
as possible. Think about your content creation in all the different ways it can be used—print ads,
website, social media, etc. Promote your online presence in your “brick and mortar” location if
you have one, and keep your marketing consistent across all channels.
What yardsticks are best for gauging the effectiveness of marketing via social media?
Size of the user-base – the number of people who like or follow you—is obvious, but it’s more
important to monitor engagement. How often are the users interacting with your social media? Are
you giving them a reason to interact? Many businesses have experimented with contests and
giveaways to increase their user base, but then never engage with the group. Content as simple as
fun facts related to your business can give those users a reason to interact or share with friends.
Is social media presence (e.g., Facebook) a must for every small business today?
For most small businesses, the answer is yes. Social Networking websites represented nearly 16% of
all U.S. Internet visits in January 2011—up 20% year-over-year—so the size of the audience alone
provides a huge opportunity. The relatively low costs and barrier of entry also help small businesses
to easily establish an online presence.
How does the proliferation of mobile devices influence a small business’s online presence?
Mobile devices are hugely complimentary to a small business owner’s online presence because the
consumer is likely to be nearby and ready to visit. There are great opportunities to capture the
customer with mobile search, geo-tagging, and location-based services like Facebook Places and
Foursquare when they are in the area.
Deal-sharing sites like Groupon have taken the business world by storm. Are there any caveats to getting
involved with these services?
Do the math behind your offer. Along with the success stories for the deal sharing websites, there
have also been plenty of horror stories. Make sure that you can afford the offer and handle the
business it may drive. This can be a good opportunity to introduce your business to new customers so
you want to provide a good experience.
What are some go-to resources to following ecommerce trends that will benefit small business owners?
Good sources for monitoring online trends are Internet Retailer (e-commerce), Mashable (social),
Search Engine Watch, and ClickZ (online marketing). Also look for LinkedIn groups and Quora where
members commonly share relevant stories and questions and answers.