What do interactive marketers have planned for 2011? Well, with cash to burn, this adventurous bunch will engage in “aggressive” — if carefully executed — experimentation, according to a yearly outlook from Forrester Research.

“Look for more sophisticated social media interactions, valuable mobile experiences, and customer-centric combinations of interactive and traditional media to grab more headlines than trendy technologies,” says Forrester senior analyst and report author Emily Riley.

As interactive marketers build credibility and influence within their organizations, Forrester suggests leaving the channel-based world and forging deeper working relationships with “offline” peers.

No longer playing second fiddle to more traditional channels, digital marketers should be assessing their readiness to create a central technology and insight teams, along with a “matrixed” strategy and execution organization.

“This hub-and-spoke model is the optimal structure for organizations with advanced interactive efforts,” according to Riley.

A year ago, Forrester predicted 2010 to be a year of rebuilding — where budgets would grow little, if at all. Throughout the year, marketers invested in industry stalwarts like search engine optimization and measurement technology, along with organizational education.

Next year, meanwhile, Forrester says to expect three broad trends to shape interactive marketers’ priorities — starting with bigger budgets and greater institutional focus.

Indeed, in a recent Forrester survey, 43% of marketers said that their interactive budgets would increase during 2011 — led by mobile and social budgets — compared with only 6% who predicted a decrease.

“Don’t be surprised to find yourself with greater internal visibility, opening opportunities to drive integrated strategies and reach new customer segments,” Riley said in her report.

Fueled by dozens of new vendor offerings, marketers will also be experimenting with new methods and tools to plan by customer behavior, rather than channel execution.

In particular, MarketShare Partners and ClearSaleing will bring customer-path insight to interactive channels, while 2010 acquisitions by IBM and Adobe Systems bring more “right channel” execution capabilities to the average marketer.

2011 also brings with it a need to find serve new audiences, according to Forrester. Baby boomers — who currently control more than three-quarters of spending power in the U.S. — are just beginning to retire, and as a result, their spending will decrease significantly.

SOURCE: MediaPost/Gavin O’Malley

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