October is almost here and marketers across the nation are already looking into digital marketing predictions for 2017. The digital landscape is always changing; trends that worked one year are outdated before the new year even arrives, so marketers must be on the lookout for the up and coming.
One of the most important elements in choosing a digital marketing company in the USA, is that they pay close attention to what’s trending in digital and what’s creating an impact. Because digital marketing trends vary year to year in part due to evolving technology, it is essential they are on their toes. Consumers are adopting technology trends at a rate faster than most marketers can keep up, so the challenge for brands is figuring out ways to stay ahead of the curve. As digital marketers ourselves, we did a little digging into current global trends and how they’ll influence our predictions for 2017. While we might not have a crystal ball to provide us a glimpse into the future, one thing we can say for certain is this: content, in all of its various forms, will continue to play a huge role in digital marketing.
Here are our top 10 predicted marketing trends for the new year.
- Automating Content Strategies – Digital marketers already use tools like HootSuite and SproutSocial to schedule social media posts across a variety of platforms. As technology improves, automated services can help marketers create, public and manage content with a push of a button. As the market becomes increasingly competitive and companies try to scale as fast as possible, automating content can help big businesses save time and money. Small companies can benefit from automated content too, as it gives small businesses the appearance of having a large footprint. Intelligent content strategy can help you keep up with the growing number of channels and devices your customers are checking for content, as well as meeting demands for up-to-date content.
- Optimizing Across Multiple Devices – Forget the TV and the radio; mobile devices, particularly smartphones, are where you’ll find your customers nowadays. Not only is it important for businesses to take their digital marketing strategies mobile, they need to optimize a consistent marketing strategy that works across multiple devices. For example, website ads need to optimized and properly scaled for mobile devices, desktop computers and tablets because you never know what device your customer might be using. As you develop a strategy, remember that mobile ads come first and TV comes second. By implementing a cross-device strategy, you can reach the same customer on multiple devices and will also reach a broader audience.
- Incorporating Artificial Intelligence – Smart robots were once science fiction but artificial intelligence is now a real strategy digital marketers can utilize. Chatbots on Facebook, for example, have helped the tech industry better serve customers and perform tasks without the assistance of an actual human being. As businesses grow, incorporating artificial intelligence can help brands service a greater number of customers without expending costs on customer service. Artificial intelligence is getting smarter every day and can provide a personalized, human-like interaction that comes much cheaper than typical call centers. Another way to utilize artificial intelligence in digital marketing is using technology to customize the ads your consumers see. Robots are often the first point of contact for marketers reaching customers, so marketers need to also target robots as they roll out ad campaigns.
- Live Video/Feed Streaming – Facebook, Periscope and Twitter all have their own live streaming features, so how can one incorporate live video into their digital marketing strategy? Video content is effective; from 2013-2015, there was a 360% increase in video views and videos can be used to attract customer interest to both content and your business. And with the widespread adoption of smartphones and consumer access to live streaming sites like Facebook, brands can use live video to increase customer engagement. Surveys reveal online video accounts for upwards of 50% of all mobile traffic and over one billion people use YouTube, a 40% increase since March 2014. If you’re not sure how live streaming can help your business, try hosting a customer support or Q&A session on Facebook Live. Take customers behind the scenes of your business, like the Madden video games series, or make a major announcement, like how General Motors used Facebook to announce their new auto brand.
- Rising Popularity of Messaging Apps – Consumers today have a wide array of messaging apps to choose from. There’s Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype and even Snapchat, all of which allow users to communicate with contacts from anywhere in the world. The challenge with mobile messengers is many customers don’t want to see paid advertising inside these apps so marketers will need to find ways to connect with their customers. One option businesses can use is to couple messaging apps with artificial intelligence robots, or chatbots. Implementing chatbots can help businesses manage a wide array of customers by interacting with them via messenger app. It also makes it easier for brands to market directly to consumers; rather than showing them advertisements, initiating an actual conversation over messenger can strengthen the customer relationship and keeps audiences more engaged.
- Growth of the Internet of Things – The Internet of Things, or IoT, is omnipresent; it’s in the devices we use and everyday objects we incorporate in our daily lives. An example might be a smart thermostat that learns the behavior of a household, adjusting the temperature based on the time of day and the weather outside. It could be an Amazon dash button that refills specific product orders without the consumer ever having to get on a computer. The point of IoT, above all, is it provides extreme convenience and on-demand services for customers everywhere. For digital marketing, this means tailoring marketing strategies to become more specific and highly targeted. Marketers will need to understand how the IoT connects everyday products and be able to predict solutions to future customer problems.
- Evolving Native Advertising – How many of your consumers are actually looking (and responding) to your advertisements? If the answer is ‘not many’, you may want to consider changing your strategy. Native advertising has been around for a while; it’s when ads look and feel like the content that surrounds them. And while the concept isn’t new, expect to see them in abundance in 2017. Native ads can help marketers bypass pesky ad blockers and for many social platforms it’s the only way to connect with your audience. Consumers are less patient than ever before, so the challenge for marketers is identifying ways to get their brand message in front of audiences without feeling intrusive or like you’re selling something. Digital ad spending continues to rise year over year, so if you’ll want to seriously consider incorporating native advertising in your digital marketing strategy. And I don’t just mean writing a list-icle on Buzzfeed; think about using Twitter or Instagram and how to create native content on up-and-coming social platforms.
- Marketing with a Purpose – Simon Sinek famously spoke on finding your brand’s “why”, or your purpose for existing. New businesses pop up every single day, but the ones that succeed are the ones that explain the purpose behind the brand in their digital marketing campaigns. Brands need to do more than create content for the sake of content. Centering your digital marketing strategy around a purpose can help drive your brand’s story and create a compelling narrative that consumers will want to identify with. Purpose-driven marketing is also one way brands can differentiate themselves from their competitors; it’s estimated over 627,000 new businesses open each year so having another way to stand out from the crowd definitely can’t hurt.
- Rising Popularity of Technology Wearables – Regardless of your thoughts on the Apple Watch and its usefulness, wearable technologies are gaining significant traction. Give it a few more years, but it’s never too early for digital marketers to start thinking about how wearables can benefit their brand. Particularly in the health and fitness industries, wearable tech is a great way to collect and track consumer data. How can you use products like the Apple Watch to provide you more information about your customer? Marketers can never have too much data and the more you know about your audience the better you can market to them in other channels they’re using.
- Predictive Analytics and Trends – Digital marketing and big data go hand-in-hand. That being said, predictive analytics is far from new but marketers need to start thinking one step ahead of their consumer is they hope to gain a competitive edge. Predictive intelligence can lead to a 450x increase in conversions from marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads and that’s because marketers are leveraging insights by researching buyers’ digital footprints. Not only does predictive analytics result in an increase in conversions, it also helps marketers better target and personalize messages in customer outreach. In digital marketing, more data means sharper, more focused marketing strategies that target your buyer at the right place at the right time.
As marketers, we’re always pushing the boundaries of “what’s next” in the field of digital marketing. Thanks in part to the rapid growth of technology, marketing strategies that worked this year might not be as effective in 2017, and some strategies may even be obsolete in a few months. It’s never too early to start thinking about your digital marketing strategy for the upcoming year, and we’d love to hear from you what trends you think we all need to start paying more attention to.