Digital Marketing Trends2007 was a watershed year in digital marketing. From mobile marketing finally starting to see some traction to increasingly strict email regulations, there were no shortage of things for a digital marketer to keep busy. Here are my top 7 for 2007 (in no particular order):

1. ISPs Shift to Reputation as Key Driver for Filtering Bulk Email

It had been a long time coming but in 2007 most of the major ISPs finally got serious about making reputation as the most important criteria for bulk emailing. While what you send is still important, the ISPs really want to know who you are. This means digital marketers need to get away from the Batch and Blast mentality that has caused issues in the past. Those days are quickly coming to an end.

2. Mobile Marketing Takes Off, Kinda

2007 was when mobile marketing started to gain a bit more attention with the major brands, which shifted from using mobile as primarily experimental communication to a more mainstream vehicle. The debate of profit vs. promotion (as I wrote about a couple of months ago here) raged on while companies expanded their mobile marketing efforts. However, adoption isn\’t quite there yet. The Mobile Marketing Association last month put out a study that indicated that 5% of those surveyed willingly participated in a mobile marketing campaign. Yet, 25% indicated that they are interested in receiving such campaigns in the future. So, while still very much in its infancy, all signs point to 2008 being the year for mobile marketing to gain widespread adoption, at least here in the U.S.

3. Behavioral Targeting Gains Support

The idea of segmenting marketing messages based on certain criteria is hardly new but in 2007 it was taken to another level with behavioral targeted messaging. As digital marketing evolves from primarily a 1 to many towards more precise 1:1 communications, behavioral targeting became an important step. Past interactions, search and purchase data were combined to provide consumers with customized recommendations to keep them engaged with the brand or site. Of course, some people don\’t like the idea of being tracked that way which led to\”¦.

4. Behavioral Targeting/Tracking Gets Attacked

With Orwellian notions of Big Brother watching you, critics attacked the use of behavioral targeting/tracking as invasions of privacy. There were even cries for the establishment of a Do Not Track policy, which made digital marketers everywhere shiver with fear. Fortunately, such talk is still just that and nothing has been implemented. However, major online providers like Google and AOL pledged to be more transparent with their data collection practices to assuage concerns about such technology. Social networking giant Facebook even completely shelved their highly controversial Beacon feature shortly after launch due to potential privacy issues.

5. The iPhone

During the first half off 2007 the buzz of the launch of Apple\’s iPhone reached a fevered pitch, both from supporters and critics. As the shiny new toy for early adopters, nothing came close and Apple just reported sales of 1.5 million units shipped for 2007 – an extremely impressive total for 6 months of sales for a new product. One of the sexiest features of the iPhone for digital marketers is, for the first time, a mobile device used a true full Web browser, which finally freed the device the carriers in terms of accessing content. Although tied to a 5 year exclusive deal with AT&T for phone/data coverage, the built-in WiFi along with the aforementioned browser seems to signify that future models might not tied to any carrier at all. Still, the real impact of the iPhone in terms of digital marketing has yet to come.

6. Google Announces Android

After having been oddly silent about its mobile strategy, Google announced the Android mobile application platform as well as a coalition of carriers, handsets and mobile providers to help drive adoption. So far\”¦ well, not a lot of actual content or movement but Verizon just announced that it too will support the new platform. Like the iPhone the real impact won\’t probably materialize until next year or possibly even 2009 but Google getting into the mobile game is reason enough alone to be on this list.

7. Outlook 2007 Causes Headaches with Email Design

Microsoft finally released a new version of Outlook in 2007, called oddly enough, Outlook 2007. While it featured a lot of new bells and whistles, it also gave email marketers agita with some of the changes. No longer would they be able to have forms embedded in their emails and other advanced HTML features. Outlook 2007 stripped these out, changing the display of the messages, in some cases making them indecipherable. The program also automatically turns images off in the campaigns. While this can be toggled back to having images on, the default option can not only cause confusion to the receiver but also can interfere with open rate reports. Then again, if you\’ve read my recent report on Lies, Damn Lies and Open Rates, you\’d already know this isn\’t that important.

So there you have it. My take on the most important trends in digital marketing this past year. Feel free to share your own in the comments section below. Happy New Year!

Steve Chipman