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Monday, Jan. 11, 2010 at 10:50 am

Online Marketing Optimization: 5 Predictions for 2010

By Brendan Regan
January 11th, 2010

I was asked recently to look into my crystal ball and make some predictions for where the online marketing optimization space (including Conversion Rate Optimization) is headed in the next year.

Some of my predictions will be “wishful thinking,” but if I can sway the direction of an entire industry I’d be surprised, honored, and ask for a raise ;)

One of my favorite magazine formats for this sort of thing is the “What’s In and What’s Out” or “What’s Hot and What’s Not” approach, so I’ll hijack it.

In 2010, 5 Predictions for the Optimization Space…

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Now, let’s step through all five for a bit of explanation and commentary:

Prediction #1: “Scent” optimization is in

Over the past several years, all the buzz has been about “landing page optimization.”  Books have been written, keynote addresses have been given, money has been made, etc.  But, optimizing landing pages ‘in a vacuum’ free of any real-world persuasion context will only get you so far.  So I predict 2010 will give us a shift in focus from only looking at and optimizing a landing page as a stand-alone entity, to optimizing for the scent of information.  People don’t just magically land on landing pages.  They are driven there by marketing efforts that you pay for, and they arrive with intent, questions, objections, fears, motivations, and needs.  Optimizing for scent means understanding the context of online marketing efforts, prospect intent, and how to design conversion experiences (scent trails) that can carry a strong scent of information persuasively from online marketing touchpoint, to landing page, and all the way through to conversion.

Prediction #2: Optimization as a value-add is in

Over the past several years, the Optimization industry has grown rapidly in the form of a “specialty.” Niche Optimization agencies have started to sell their optimization software and consulting services, traditional digital agencies are starting to add groups of resources dedicated to analytics and optimization, and corporations are starting to hire optimization practitioners in to help lead their B2C and B2B online marketing tactics.  That is a natural growth process for a new niche, but it won’t last because there aren’t enough specialists to service all the clients who need optimization.  I predict 2010 will be the year where Optimization becomes a very popular value-add with various vendors of SEO, SEM, analytics, ad platforms, content production, web design, and eCommerce technology. The reasoning is that more and more clients are going to be clamoring for professional Optimization because, ultimately, all ROI on online marketing investments revolves around conversion, and Optimization is clearly the best approach to raising conversion rates and getting better ROI on your marketing spend.  Frankly, all of the above list of investments (traffic generation, content generation, technology) are money-losers if your business isn’t converting enough prospects into customers.  This hopefully will cause the “ecosystem” of Optimizers, SEOers, SEMers, analytics folks, designers, etc. to get together and come up with better ways to service a growing need in a growing industry.

Prediction #3: Marketing system optimization is in

Those who in recent years have moved beyond pure “Landing Page Optimization” have naturally evolved towards optimizing the “conversion funnel,” which could include a landing page, content pages, and multiple steps along a conversion funnel like a shopping cart.  While this has been a positive movement with demonstrable results, it’s time to take the next step in the evolution of Optimization.  I predict 2010 will bring a more holistic approach I’ll call “Marketing System Optimization.” This means that practitioners looking to gain and retain clients will have to help optimize a company’s whole marketing system.  A few things that this could include are: ad spend, keyword recommendations, ad copy, formal testing, messaging, marketing personas, and more.  Optimizers who can succeed at this will have an economy of scale that would make their services very attractive to potential customers.  And ultimately those Optimizers who have the holistic view will be better positioned to find low hanging fruit, prioritize optimization efforts, and add value to a marketer’s overall efforts.

Prediction #4: Social media under intense scrutiny is in

Ok, maybe this one isn’t so much about Optimization, but social media is a popular marketing investment, so it must be a candidate for continuous improvement. While 2009 was the year where every marketer simply had to dive into social media, and every website simply had to have “follow me, friend me, digg me” icons on the homepage, it hasn’t proven to be the cure-all that it’s cracked up to be.  Nothing ever is: Take The Internet, example ;)   A wise man recently said that you can’t fake social media, and he’s right.  So, I predict that 2010 will be the year where social media (as a marketing investment) will undergo intense scrutiny. Some companies will bet more on it, some will throttle back their investments, and some will simply walk away.  But they will all be taking an extremely close look at not only the ROI of their social media investments, but whether social media is even relevant to their prospects, or to their high-level marketing strategies.  The same rule that applies to websites applies to social media:  prospects are always asking What’s In It For Me? before (and while) they engage with you on Twitter or Facebook.

Prediction #5: Email marketing originality & experimentation is in

Last but not least, we saw in the past two years especially that when financial woes put the pinch on online marketers, email marketing has emerged as the “workhorse” channel that can bring in dollars on a reasonable and predictable budget.  It continues to have a decent, steady conversion rate, and is less susceptible to the fluctuating (and often mysteriously increasing) investments needed for Search Engine Marketing and other channels.  That’s OK with me, but the challenge I’ve seen as we’ve gone through a “rough patch” in the online marketing space is that the email workhorse has gotten very repetitive.  I’ve not seen very many original, thoughtful email marketing campaigns that bring value to customers in unique ways.  So, I predict 2010 will be a year in which marketers continue to rely on this channel, but must get more experimental and original in order to stay relevant, compete against social media and mobile, and bring value to prospects. Emails always have been relatively easy to test, track, and optimize, so there’s no reason not to be brainstorming and testing (to small test segments) off-the-wall ideas.  You never know when you’ll strike it rich with some sort of ultra-persuasive, epidemically viral home run!

These five predictions are just one analyst’s hunches, not even sanctioned by FutureNow, so feel free to disagree in a constructive way.  More importantly, to those investing in Optimization, or thinking about investing in Optimization, what do YOU want to see from our industry in 2010?  Let us know!

Add Your Comments

Comments (52)

  1. Your’e on the money with scent optimization. It’s gonna be all about what happens once they land on the landing page.

  2. So sad landing page optimization is out… so many countless hours spent doing so!

  3. The maturing market that you foresee in 2 & 3 will be where we end up, but I am not sure about how much the downturn will impact the pace of the change. I definitely see signs of 4 & 5 already underway in the market.

  4. Important but not very good information for me.. As the Plumber said, it’s sad that landing page optimization will loose its position in marketing. I have also spend much time on optimizing my pages in this way. But I hope new ways will be more effective and we will not feel any recession.

  5. That is a really great article man – much appreciated! I particularly like your prediction on social media.

  6. I will also add Semantic Coding and Semantic Markup optimization. There are already some free online manuals that explain how you can optimize your markup to be Semantic friendly.

  7. new knowladge and great article

  8. To optimise conversions you should employ a web analytics provider such as clicktale to show you how your customers enagage eith your site. From the results fo the aggregate behaviours, real time videos and heatmaps you can mend any deficiencies and make it easier for visitors to your site to become buyers.

  9. Could agree with you more..

    I would also like to add that 2010 will be the year of analytics, where companies big & small will be utilizing date driven marketing allot more then past years.

  10. I have disagree with the landing page idea. What I mean is that it has to be at some level to co-operate with the rest of the SEO but not as one single thing. You still can´t deminish the central value of great (landing)page.

  11. I agree that 2010 will be great start for all of us, especially in social media. I think this will become one of our luckiest years ever, especially in business and SEO.

  12. Brendan! Nice Post!
    Great article and very interesting. Keep blogging.

  13. Wow… its great predictions. The first one is really surprising for me. I still feel that Landing Page optimization is the key to be successful. Anyhow, nice post.

  14. Great information. We already feel the importance of social media, and the big difference it makes.

  15. I agree with point 1: Scent optimization is in and landing page optimization is out. Nice predictions, guy!

  16. Scent optimization. I never would have thought of that title. I still think there’s some value in improving a landing page, but obsessing over it is not the answer. It’s not a game. It’s a system. When we have the right word of mouth marketing it doesn’t matter if our landing page is just all text, we’ll sell things. Very nice list, thanks!

  17. As a beginner in SEO, i took these prediticons as a challenge and work to me more effective ,to make this new year 2010 very well

  18. Thanks for this post. I love what you said about scent optimization. You are going into more depth about this than anyone or anything I have read. Brilliant and useful – thanks.

  19. Insightful article. Refreshing to see a word of descent on social media. I have no doubt that it offers tremendous value to some marketers, but many cater to late adopters. My industry’s decision makers can’t be bothered with Twitter, et al. Of course, that may change over time, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

    Thanks

  20. Interesting article. I don’t exactly agree with the prediction that the landing page will lose it’s place as an important optimization technique. I do however, believe that social media marketing will be looked at differently in 2010.

  21. Hi this jimmy wilson thanks for the information online marketing optimization I totaly agree with landing page optimization is out. Thanks once again for this post keep posting bye..

  22. [...] 19, 2010 January is prediction time, and Futurenow predicts that “scent” optimization is in. Basically, that’s designing marketing materials so that they [...]

  23. Hi,
    Your article is very Insightful and interesting. I am a begginer in seo field and these these prediticons as a challenge and work to me more effective and I agree with you that 2010 will be great start for all of us, especially in social media and Optimization becomes a very popular value-add with various vendors of SEO and SEM.

    Thanks for sharing your views.

  24. May I ask a question that’s only tangentially related? Recently I “virtually attended” the webinar given by Bryan Eisenberg on *21 Secrets of Top-Converting Websites.* It was excellent. But one thing mystified me. Bryan said of top-converting websites that “they do NOT do ‘slice-and-dice optimization.’”

    Hellp! What does that mean? What on earth is “slice-and-dice optimization,” and why is it evil?

    Thanks in advance!

    dianeski, mild-mannered e-commerce copywriter for a great metropolitan apparel company

  25. @dianeski: Didn’t attend the webinar, so can’t be 100% sure, but I believe he’s referring to multivariate testing a page using ‘random’ variations instead of an optimization methodology like Persuasion Architecture. I remember he used the phrase at SES San Jose last year, and that was the context I got.

  26. new knowladge and great article, thanks a lot.

  27. [...] the common predictions over the last two months have been that Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is going to have a big year in 2010, some of our GrokDotCom readers have expressed interest in how [...]

  28. I understand the idea of “scent” I just wonder if people will really start to use it as a phrase, especially when approaching the board?

    Not sure good email marketing and social media can be brought together in the same ‘ethos’ environment, I’d love to be convinced but as yet haven’t seen any convincing ROI’s.

  29. @DMA UK: No, I don’t expect many marketers to start using the phrase in presentations or board meetings. I’m happy enough if the word “optimization” sneaks in there ;) Hence, the use of quotes.

    I agree on social media vs. email as well. Email’s main focus will continue to be retention marketing, and that’s crucial to a business’s success. Social media can work for customer service, PR, retention, AND acquisition, but it can’t do ANY of those things on its own. Social Media marketing needs all the other channels that already exist.

  30. Marketing a brand in social media especially in Facebook is now a really big thing for marketers. Facebook is now shaking Adwords PPC dominance in online advertising. Will FB surpass the leader? Time will come.

  31. Landing page optimisation isn’t out it just needs to be improved upon. Social media will be one of the big disappointments. A bubble industry has been created around it that will burst in 2010/11.

  32. [...] full post on Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow, Inc Enjoyed this article?WebsiteWordpress [...]

  33. Well, been prety predictible that landing optimization page will go down. Web 2.0 changed a lot in user interacting

  34. Scent is where it is at. I am actually in the process of a re-design right now. There are a few hot areas of my landing page that get tons of traffic, then others that get close to nothing.

  35. i think some of your prediction are working now itself

  36. I agree on social media vs. email as well. Email’s main focus will continue to be retention marketing, and that’s crucial to a business’s success

  37. #

    I agree on social media vs. email as well. Email’s main focus will continue to be retention marketing, and that’s crucial to a business’s success. Social media can work for customer service, PR, retention, AND acquisition, but it can’t do ANY of those things on its own. Social Media marketing needs all the other channels that already exist.

  38. Scent optimization is in, I have been using it for a while and it is working for me.

  39. I found some new expected trends, even some new concepts for 2010. Well optimizing only landing page is becoming a week point for your and marketer have to come up with a plan to face it. Email marketing still it has the importance and more personal in nature, so it will continue to work in 2010. Social media, lets see how Google WAVE will enhance the scope of social media. Thanks

  40. more and more people are turning to the internet for information and shopping. It gives us all the ability to become available on a global basis rather than a local one which means everyone has the ability to grow and develop with help from a variety of people.

  41. Scent optimization is in, I have been using it for a while and it is working for me.

  42. Interesting article. I don’t exactly agree with the prediction that the landing page will lose it’s place as an important optimization technique. I do however, believe that social media marketing will be looked at differently in 2010.

  43. Although I am familiar and have carried out what scent optimisation describes, I have never heard of the actual term scent optimisation. Heh. Great stuff!

  44. Optimization is everything, and as people become more aware and web savvy you’ll always get a certain percentage who’ll try it for themselves, but the majority will opt for professional help. The competition is hotting up online which is good news for internet marketing professionals.

  45. optimization is only one piece of the puzzle, peopel put to much empahsize on it, how many time have you seen a site that relied on optimazation alone rank high in an engine,

  46. Well, been prety predictible that landing optimization page will go down. Web 2.0 changed a lot in user interacting

  47. You’re certainly right about scrutiny over social media – it seems like every day there’s a new social media campaign to talk about, either because they got it spectacularly right (see Old Spice) or wrong (see Dr Pepper).

  48. I’m just getting into social media, but I can really see how it is the wave of the future because nowadays we can screen out ads on TV, etc, and we can opt only to let in people we trust. Social networking builds trust.

  49. The wise man was right about you can’t fake social media. We can see a huge change in Digg. Twitter is to change soon too.

  50. Social media, in my view, remains the largest single factor impacting business today. The avenue provides a service to just about anyone. We like to feel special and that we have something to offer our friends. That’s what makes social media so powerful.

  51. i must say i love your summations of both the need to look at the sales funnel as a marketing “system” that is the gestalt of the steps, rather than viewing each hop in a vacuum. and the idea of high value social media is pushing the envelope in the right direction. your article is a call to action to avoid the tendency to become to “statistical” about things that are intended to be real and social and therefore provide real value and real experiences. great read!

    joe

  52. [...] January of 2010, I brazenly went out on a limb to make 5 predictions for that year in the marketing optimization industry. I think it will be fun to revisit them and see whether or [...]

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