Fast Growing 2017 Digital Marketing Trends
Marketing is fast paced, always adapting, and pushing the limits. You’ll find top marketers trying to use the latest innovations in software and hardware to reach audiences wherever they are. The rapid pace of the industry means that to keep up everyone needs to understand their market segment and which trending strategies are going to help their business meet and exceed goals.
It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of “the next best thing” in marketing, but sometimes new doesn’t always mean best, and while investing in them can potentially yield some wins, this will not always be the case. Remember, the marketing game is about using the strategies that make sense for specific industries, not the strategies that are hot at the moment.
Now, you’ve probably heard of most these digital marketing trends. However, like I previously said, it’s not what they are, but how you utilize them. No more stalling, here are the trends to follow in 2017!
1. Customer experience & Omni-Channel Personalization
Digital marketing allows you reach customers on a personal level. Most apps, social media platforms, or websites allow you to talk directly to your customers via built-in messaging features or comment on an individual’s posts. Social media humanizes a brand, but this is just a small step in improving the customer experience. In the days of old marketers would hope that just by talking about a product people would buy it in an “if you build it they will come” fashion. We now know that the customer experience isn’t about us; it’s about the customer.
The customer experience encompasses, the availability of product information, your customer service agents, the ease of navigating your website, the initial purchase, the follow-up, your social media presence and the continued relationship thereafter. The customer experience does not simply end when a sale is finished. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning of a lifelong relationship you’ll have with your customer.
Here’s what David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products at Facebook said about the Messenger app and it’s utility for businesses
It is so much easier to do everything in one place that has the context of your last interactions, as well as your identity (no need to ever login), rather than downloading apps that you’ll never use again and jumping around from one app to another.”
David has a point. You can create your own way of communicating with your customers, and you should provide answers to common questions on your website, although by leveraging tools that already exist, you’ll improve your customer’s experience.
Digital marketing trends in customer experience:
- High-quality chatbots like those brands can create using Facebook messenger.
- App integration with virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa.
- Empower customers to solve problems themselves. Providing user accessible information online.
- B2B, B2C, or B2G – no matter who you’re selling to, they are still people, don’t forget.
2. Social Media Marketing
Social media should be a staple of any business no matter how big or small. Though, organizations need to find the right fit for their niche. Too often you’ll come across companies that use a spray and pray methodology without locking down what’s really working for their market.
An important part of social media marketing is being where your customers are. If 90% of your customers are on Facebook, it makes sense to only use Facebook. This is typically the case for most B2C businesses, whereas B2B businesses tend to opt for professional networks LinkedIn, and sometimes even Twitter.
Best practices for social media in 2017:
- Use videos.
- Use live video. Periscope and Facebook are the major players in this realm, but YouTube and Instagram are honing in on this space as well.
- Use paid advertising; it can cheap and effective if done right.
- Appeal to smaller markets; Niche marketing. Segmentation by interests, previous purchases, and visited websites is a reality that marketers can leverage to offer the perfect solution to the customer in need.
- Post on a regular basis but keep it reasonable for the platform. Don’t bombard people on Facebook and don’t be silent on Twitter.
- Use data and analytics. Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, YouTube Analytics, are all baked into their respective platforms. See how you’re growing and what you can improve. Sometimes, that means cut your losses if a platform just isn’t working out.
- Set reasonable goals based on your past data.
- Get involved with influencers in your market. Become a paid sponsor.
3. Influencer Marketing
We live in a world where there are independent YouTubers, Instagrammers, Snapchatters, and Twitter users, with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. Many of these people work in niche markets with loyal followers who look up to them. Just as athletes get sponsored, you can start marketing your product with promoted posts by these influencers or by simply being a sponsor of their YouTube channel.
Celebrities and athletes are the first place big brands look for influencers, so they’ll cost a pretty penny. Find the overlooked influencers that organically built their social presence. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
Like any good marketing strategy, you have to find a person with the right personality, and using the right platform for your brand. Are you a wedding planner? Find an influencer on Pinterest. Are you launching a new innovative product? Get someone like Lewis Hilsenteger to Unbox it and review it on YouTube for millions of people to see.
Influencer marketing tips:
- Let your influencer be themselves. People want their authentic voice, not an ad.
- Target a niche. Find someone who typically likes the type of product you sell.
- Build a relationship with your influencer.
- Do your due diligence, don’t sponsor a fake. Anyone can buy 100,000 Twitter followers.
4. Content & Inbound marketing
Content used to be about writing some interesting blurb on your website or social media, but this digital marketing trend has matured. Content marketing is about putting together information that is helpful, structured, leverages pictures, video, and sound to create something that is valuable to your customers.
Content marketing goes even further as you can start using systems that automatically suggest what content on your site they should read next. The goal is always to keep people on your website for as long as possible. The more they read, the more likely they will convert and also by simply keeping readers on your site your SEO will improve.
2017 is the year of video. Practically everyone has an HD camera in their pocket it’s up to marketers to put them to use.
Video expectations for social media platforms:
- Snapchat – Show what happens behind the scenes. Post frequently.
- Instagram – Post high-quality content you want to be accessible forever. Post a video 1-3 times over a month period.
- YouTube – Upload tutorials about your product or relevant tips to people in your industry. The more the merrier.
- Facebook – Post fun, short, videos (with captions) to get your name out there. Facebook audiences tend to snowball.
5. Video Marketing (Continued)
Social media feeds are becoming an unending stream of videos that have been shared by families, friends, and businesses. Why? Because video gets the job done. And by that I mean videos captivate users and increase engagement.
Quick video tips:
- Make the video tailored for the platform you plan to post it on.
- Make them short especially on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Add subtitles. The majority of advertisements (85% on Facebook) are watched without sound. (Digiday)
- Include a call-to-action. Tell people to like it, share it, or comment on it.
- Measure video performance, metrics like views, view-through rates, watched with sound or without sound, and then compare across platforms.
- Solve viewers’ problems.
- Make creative titles using relevant keywords.
- Choose a thumbnail that is visually appealing and is related to the content.
- Add a description. Summarize the most essential information that your video contains.
Infographics perform better than any other type of content. Most people are hardwired to have a preference for pictures. Not only do people prefer them but they can recall visual information better than something they’ve read. Combine this fact with the information overload people are faced with everyday and infographics become the most effective way to communicate important information.
Infographics strive to:
- Make your content more digestible.
- Make your content look professional.
- Convey key information even if readers are skimming.
- Make your content more shareable.
- Increase engagement by 300% on social media.
- Can, directly and indirectly, increase your SEO by increasing time on page and or with optimized image code, including a title and meta description; it can directly affect your post’s SEO.
7. Marketing Automation
HubSpot put it best when they defined marketing automation as, “Software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketing departments have to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions. The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier.”
With this definition in mind, it’s easy to see why marketing automation is so useful and why it’s a dominant force in many industries. Like all great tools, this type of software enhances the customer experience as well as saving time and money.
Marketing automation can be used on websites to select the appropriate landing page to appeal to specific customer profiles; it can automate social media posting, lead capturing, email campaigns, lead nurturing, and lead scoring. There are many, many marketing automation solutions available but the big players in the industry are HubSpot, Pardot, and Marketo which deal in a wide range of activities.
8. Email marketing is here to stay
While it may seem basic or too worn out at this point, email marketing is, and will most likely continue to be, one of the best tools marketers have to reach their audience. Most people check their email at least twice a day. People in office jobs check it even more.
Email works because:
- Dollar for dollar, it’s the cheapest form of marketing.
- Your brand stays top of mind.
- You can create more personalized messages.
- People like to receive emails from brands they support.
- It allows for easy ROI tracking through key metrics like open rate, and click through rate.
9. Web design & Drag’n’Drop CMS
There’s a web designer on every corner, the term ‘dime-a-dozen’ comes to mind. However, it’s because a digital presence can make or break your business today. Your website is the place where you want prospects to convert and if it’s hard to navigate, takes too long to load, has typos, or just doesn’t fit with your product and industry it may give customers second thoughts. This does not mean you need to drop thousands of dollars to have a website built for you. Today it’s easier than ever to build a website on your own with website builders like WordPress, Squarespace, and others. With a little bit of grit and elbow grease, just about any small business owner can become their own web designer. Countless CMS options will seriously lighten the load. Of course, that doesn’t mean they are always high-quality either.
- Builds your brand – or breaks it.
- Provides an owned selling platform – don’t rely on Amazon.
- Provides an inbound lead avenue for your business – the highest converting sales.
Mobile searches, and by extension, mobile users are the largest growing demographic for internet traffic. If you haven’t given mobile optimization a lot of thought, it’s time to start considering how you’re going to adapt to this change. Google created AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) in February of 2016 to make the browsing experience better for mobile users. A key thing to note is that Google’s algorithm will rank websites higher that have a low bounce rate and higher engagement. So while AMP is not a ranking factor yet, it is still affecting SEO indirectly. There’s also the possibility that later iterations of Google’s algorithm may rank incorporate AMP into its ranking algorithm. Google is somewhat unpredictable, we don’t usually know when changes will be made, what will change, or how it will affect our businesses, but we know it will happen, and we need to brace ourselves.
10. Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality (VR)
If you’re on the up and up you know that these new technologies are coming in quick. Or quickish anyway. VR is no longer limited to those with an Oculus Rift and a $3,000 PC, it’s accessible to practically anyone with a smartphone who can shell out $10-15 for a Google Cardboard. Don’t panic, VR and AR still have a ways to go before they are in the marketing mainstream, but if you want to be ahead of the curve and join the ranks of industry leaders like Coca-Cola, The Verge, Volvo, Patron, and Marriot, you can get involved now using 360 degree video cameras which start at around $100. 2017 may not be “the year of VR”, but with more and more adopters from all different markets, one cannot overlook the possibilities that VR has in store.
Agumented Reality (AR)
If you walked around outside this summer, you undoubtedly witnessed the smartphone AR phenomenon, Pokémon GO. There was certainly a nostalgia factor at work here, however when an app can generate a billion dollars in six months, you know it’s on to something. Unless you’re developing an app, VR is currently the better marketing tool, although AR will be an exciting technology to watch as it matures with innovations like Microsoft’s HoloLens, new smartphone apps, and potentially, the Nintendo Switch.
Do you think there’s a digital marketing trend that should’ve made the list? Let us know in the comments below.