Keep the Lead: Key Web Trends for 2012


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As online activities continue to embed themselves deeper into the consumers’ everyday lives, companies’ efforts to capitalize on the latest online trends has literally become a high-speed chase. The online terrain often transforms quicker than a company can execute a strategy, but digital leaders still find a way to be nimble and alert enough to adapt (and profit from) the latest online climate.

With the final quarter of 2011 setting in, lofty corporate ambitions for the next year are in motion. But planning for 2012 based on 2011 fads will likely mean toppling right into the biggest caveat of the web: surefire transformation. Decisions must be based on insights looking forward in addition to data looking backward (A great way to blend both approaches is through the use of predictive analytics). As you begin shaping next years’ strategies and formulating projections, look out for the following trends in 2012:

Proliferation of Social Commerce: Companies with an e-commerce component often spend a disproportionate share of their resources on their own website. And while this may be a valuable investment, companies today must look beyond the blinders of their limited online real estate and begin tapping into the power of online social communities. Nielsen reports that social media and blogs are now the leading online activity, up by 43% from last year alone (And this is why it’s a bad idea to build strategies and projections based on the past year’s results). While having a corporate internet timeFacebook page and Twitter account is a great start, to remain successful in the online space will require businesses to integrate deeper with social media-truly engaging users rather than simply broadcasting and advertising to them. One of the leading ways this will happen is through social commerce, a trade Booz & Co. has projected to rise six-fold from $5 billion this year to $15 billion in 2015. This means enabling e-commerce transactions on social sites. “F-commerce”, for example, refers to Facebook-integrated e-commerce platforms, which can be as simple as an online catalogue, as can been seen on Anthropologie’s Facebook page, to full e-commerce functionality, such as Aeropostale’s recent launch.

Increased Video Viewership: A recent opinion piece on suggested social media might be making us lazy. Indeed, the internet has made us voyeurs in many ways, which may have something to do with the popularity of online videos. Ranked sixth on Nielsen’s list of top online activities, videos have also seen a substantial year-over-year increase from 2009, and many companies have recognized this to some degree, but few have done much more than upload their commercials. Subway, for example, has done a great job of blending its experiential events with viral video campaigns. Looking at 2012, companies should focus on creating relevant, engaging videos that creates a long-term connection with the consumer, rather than exploiting videos as just another advertising opportunity. While the immediate ROI may not seem as salacious, a lifetime customer value analysis will quickly show the importance of gaining a lasting customer relationship.

Consumer Reliance on Ratings & Reviews: Survey after survey has confirmed the impact of customer reviews on buying decisions. eMarketer reports that consumer reviews are 12 times more trusted than company-released product information. Consumer reviews gives buyers confidence, and research has indicated that buyers actually spend more after recommendations from online communities. There are many ways to encourage customer reviews for a company, product or service. One is to enable them on the company’s website itself. Another is to create a form, discussion, or other feedback forum on social media sites and blogs. Of course, it goes without saying only positive reviews will be beneficial-which means that more than ever before, companies have to have a real focus on customer service, post-sale service, long-term satisfaction. Businesses with a sole goal of pushing a sale and getting the customer out the door will find that the customer can find a thousand windows online-to voice their experience and dissuade potential future customers.

Thus, in a nutshell, success in 2012 is all about establishing real customer engagement for longstanding relationships, and perfecting the customer’s complete experience-then inviting them to share it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Sakina Walsh
Sakina Walsh is Sr. Manager of Strategic Planning at Quaero. With a strong background in digital strategy and multi-channel consulting, Sakina brings a deep expertise in the various nuances of the online customer experience to Quaero's Strategy group. Her insights help clients answer key business challenges, increase revenue, and create industry-leading interactive experiences.


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