But what should we do and how should we react to what’s coming?
Prediction #1: More regulations and business problems will continue in 2012.
It seems the Internet is full of Chicken Little’s screaming the sky is falling about every news story.
The FTC is cranking up enforcement. COPA is dealing aggressively with copyright infringement and could cause some innocent casualties along the way.
The recession in the US is still affecting sales of many sites.
And coming down the tracks is likely an Internet wide sales tax in the US (which hopefully won’t be too insanely confusing with 50 different states included).
The question is can you turn these problems into opportunities?
For example, if the sales tax issue comes into play in the US, small businesses will need ways to deal with it. It’s the perfect opportunity for shopping cart systems and software providers to step up with new solutions.
The recession has meant websites are finally focusing more heavily on conversions of visitors into sales. Quality traffic is becoming more expensive, and those who win are those who converting their visitors into sales.
This trend will continue. How are you helping them do this?
Every problem can also be turned into an opportunity by an intelligent entrepreneur who is ready for what’s coming. How will you turn these in success for you?
2012 is not going to be the end of the world, but there will be many problems. The question is how you will look at them…and how you will deal with them.
Prediction #2: Video begins coming of age online.
Obviously video is doing well online. Big companies like Google are betting on it (and it’s becoming much easier to rank video than text in seo now).
Plus, it’s the preferred method of many buyers online.
According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, between 21% and 23% of adult Americans were not “able to locate information in TEXT” and could not make low level inferences using printed materials.
Wikipedia suggests the best estimate for FULL literacy in the USA (equivalent to undergraduate level functioning) is only about 15% of population. 15%! (The average adult reads at a 7th or 8th grade level).
Up till now though, video really hasn’t grown up. It’s used heavily in overhyped product launches, but what about product demos on physical products?
I’m amazed at how much proof a strong demonstration video adds to a physical product to show it really does what’s advertised.
In addition, video can be used a regular part of your follow-up to build closer relationships where viewers really have that feeling they know you.
Remember, we have a culture of celebrity. And video is one of the strongest tools of building your celebrity online.
If you’re not using video right now SOMEWHERE in your marketing mix, then you will be soon.
Prediction #3: Mobile Sites Become Required in Many Markets.
I’m guess I’m getting old (38 now), because personally I don’t get into any of the mobile tools.
I have an iPad which is pretty useful for carrying around to look at sites…but I have no interest whatsoever in a smart phone. It would just tie me more to business when I enjoy the freedom of being separate.
But I am NOT my customer.
Look at these statistics from Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
They claim more than 800 million users. And 350 million of those users actively use Facebook from their mobile devices. That’s just under half.
Obviously Facebook is going to be higher here than the majority of the rest of the web – since it’s a social media platform. But it shows just how active mobile really is online.
So creating a mobile version of your site is something you will want soon, again depending on your market and their active usage. You’ll note you can check mobile use in Google Analytics and many other website tracking programs as well to see your own visitor numbers.
There are tools that help you create apps such as https://appinstitute.com
Prediction #4: Paid Advertising Is Looking Much More Enticing.
If you’ve been paying careful attention to recent actions by Google, you’ll see they’ve been pushing the free results further down on the page.
Their PPC ads have a much higher focus along with shopping results. This of course is where they drive their own profits, but it’s also a not so subtle way to encourage brands to buy more advertising from them.
This has ALWAYS been the case with any new media. It’s very low cost, even free, to get started with. But over time it becomes more and more competitive where those who can turn visitors into customers in the long run.
Haven’t you noticed this trend online lately? Free traffic is tougher now than it used to be, but on the other end I’m actually finding that advertising prices have dropped this past year in some markets. You might not see this price drop in the big ad networks, but you will if you are advertising directly with site publishers.
Selling their ad space isn’t as easy as it used to be, and you can make some good deals dealing with site owners directly.
Prediction #5: Built-In Sources of Customers GROW For the Small Business
Where are your customers currently BUYING products?
If you sell information products, then Amazon Kindle is a perfect source for you to generate frontend customers for your other products and services.
By creating low cost products (think 99 cents up to about $4.99) you can tap into these low cost customers who are already buyers.
You won’t make much from the frontend sales, but you can generate customers for your other backend offers through them.
What about the iTunes app store and iBooks?
And of course we come to joint ventures as well. Who else already has customers for you? I’m seeing this trend growing quickly that many are tired of just seeking after “traffic” and they’re thinking in terms of buyers.
Where are my buyers at?
Who are they already buying from?
And who has a built in source of customers for me already?