As we all come sailing in to the New Year, there is little pause except to consider what has transpired over the last 12 months and recognize that the world of the web waits for no one. There has been a staggering amount of new blogs launched, a slew of new social networking sites, and just as many widgets, plugins, and assorted applications to deliver content to the widest audience possible.
With all the noise, fragmentation, and attention to the web, the challenge is to resonate, connect with and keep new customers. Listed below are some of the hottest channels and services on the market in 2007. Keep in mind, however, that for most all businesses it still comes down to having a well-designed, optimized website that offers a seamless experience and delivers on its promise.
- Love it or hate it, Email Marketing still holds the lead.
- 96% of Internet users access Email almost daily.
- 90% use email to engage in and determine the value of a relationship with a company.
- 83.0% of marketers surveyed chose email as THE most important advertising medium
- The ROI for email is twice that of any other online marketing channel.
- E-mail marketing is growing annually at 8-10%
- This past year alone, U.S. businesses spent $500 million on email marketing to generate $21.9 billion in sales.
- Search Engine Marketing & Search Engine Optimization
- Deliver a targeted, relevant result to a customer at the point at which they are actively searching for what you sell and track the entire path from keyword to conversion. The only problem of course is that the greater the competition the higher the Cost-per-Click (CPC).
- Really Simple Syndication (RSS)
- Almost every website uses RSS syndication to deliver content in a format that best suits the user’s needs. What is amazing is how few consumers know what it is, understand it, or know how it can help them consume information. Does it matter? Probably not. Using it is getting easier all the time. When you find a website you want to follow just look for the orange icon and click it.
- Mobile Marketing really took off for a while there, and then it seemed to plateau. Carriers and handset manufacturers made it difficult and expensive for most businesses to adopt it. However, the prices have started to come down. Additionally, this year something new came along – the iPhone. Since that time several popular web sites have created their own mobile versions for the iPhone- Google, Digg, and Facebook just to name a few. Mobile is only going to get better as it delivers richer, more useful and more user-controlled (see Twitter below) experiences. (Update: Director of Strategic Services, TJ Crawford talks about another hot mobile service in the works.)
- WordPress, a blogging and website software
- WordPress has seen incredible growth this past year and rightfully so. Not only do they offer a fairly quick and easy way for you to have a blog or website, but they also have some of the hottest web designers and developers in the world continuously donating their time to building new free and very functional tools for you to use to communicate and extend your reach more effectively.
- Salesforce, a customer relationship management suite
- For medium to large to enterprise level companies, managing enormous amounts of varying customer data requires automation. Salesforce offers a variety of different applications for organizing data and managing customers and projects. Understanding that each business has unique needs, many of their applications are customizable. In the past year, they have become even more successful by soliciting input through their Developer Network.
- Facebook, a social web service
- Facebook is king! Unlike MySpace, Facebook has inspired a lot of new and different applications to enrich the experience and keep users involved. The creators are still trying to make it pay out–and have even failed in some regard–but it certainly reaffirms how passionate people are about connecting through online communities.
- Twitter, a mobile social web service
- Twitter is unique since it is a web service integrated with an application that everyone with a mobile phone already has. People are using it to exchange information in the mobile environment, post updates to their blog or website, and meet new people. There are a lot of potential uses for Twitter across many different types of industries. Just remember you have to say it in 140 characters or less.
Of course, there are many more web services out there that have caught on and are gaining in popularity. As 2008 gains steam, you will undoubtedly see a clear leader – maybe Flock – that is capable of efficiently mashing up and managing multiple sites and accounts such as these. For any other predictions, you can check out fellow Twelve Horses’ bloggers, Josh Kenzer, TJ Crawford , Colin Loretz, and Mike Henderson. No matter what the future holds, you can be sure that the Web will continue to evolve and provide you with the tools needed to get the job done.