As we head into a new year, a question that may be on the minds of many business owners is where to concentrate their marketing efforts. With the dizzying array of possibilities, it can seem difficult to sift through the different marketing trends.
To help improve your marketing plans, several experts offer their predictions of where marketing is headed in 2017.
1. Digital marketing is expected to grow exponentially.
“As business owners navigate the inevitable and highly disruptive transition to the new digital service economy," Sukhija says, "they'll find it necessary to accelerate their digitization efforts to protect their footprint in the global marketplace.”
John Rizzo, co-founder of Vaetas, an interactive video platform for businesses, agrees. “It will be a good idea for companies to take digital marketing more seriously and transition how they view their businesses on the internet," Rizzo says. "It's time to move from viewing the internet as an extension of traditional marketing methods.”
In the digital marketing realm, an up-and-coming major player is Over-The-Top Advertising (OTT), which refers to video ads on streaming services like Hulu.
“With a growing number of U.S. households using some type of streaming service, there is great potential, because the platforms that offer advertising often require the user to watch the full ad before programing will resume,” says Lauren Davenport, CEO of The Symphony Agency, a marketing and branding strategy agency. “Combine this and the ability to hyper-target your audience, and OTT is set to make a big splash in the coming year.”
2. Personalized marketing may take center stage.
“A less intrusive, more intuitive buyer's journey is on the horizon,” says Raghav Mathur, VP of product, strategy and marketing with G/O Digital Marketing agency. “Consumers have wised up to the sales pitch and have easy access to reviews and price comparisons. As a result, updates in retargeting and ad segmentation over the last year have made digital marketing a hyper-personalized experience. We're going to see much more of that in 2017.”
Shortcuts when it comes to marketing may not be sufficient anymore, believes Justin Gray, CEO and marketing expert for LeadMD, a marketing automation services provider.
—Dushyant Sukhija, author
“The marketing 'hack' will die in 2017," Gray predicts. "Good enough is no longer good enough. Personalization and true engagement measurement will take the lead. 2016 taught us that buyers are no longer willing to give their attention up so readily, which is why we are seeing such a rise in hyper-personalization through strategies such as ABM—account-based marketing,” he says.
“In the coming year, we'll see brands become even more dramatically attuned to the needs and priorities of the end consumer and increasingly shape their product offerings around rising lifestyle trends,” says Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central.
Personalizing outreach to connect with prospects and customers may help generate sales, agrees Rizzo. “For instance," he says, "businesses will transition from just generating an email list and sending standard email blasts to building an audience segmented by interest.”
3. Expert content may become the norm.
Building trust with potential customers, which can help lead to sales and eventual customer loyalty, may be one of the marketing trends that sticks in 2017. This can occur through the development of expert content.
“Companies will begin establishing an online branded foundation to build trust with potential customers while simultaneously building their online authority in their niche,” says Vito Santoro, SEO expert and co-founder of Vaetas.
“Building your brand and online authority and credibility are accomplished by strategically publishing expert high-value content to your social platforms that addresses the concerns of your customers,” he continues. “'Less content is more' will become the new standard for effective content creation.”
4. Video content will be king.
“Whether it's virtual/augmented reality, video social ads or live, creation and consumption of video will continue to boom in 2017,” believes Mathur. “Before getting carried away or overwhelmed by the abilities of these rising technologies, think strategically to make smart investments in video that will help your bottom line.
"This includes creating video content that supports the buyer's journey through every phase, from discovery to conversion and after-purchase," Mathur continues. "Providing customers with useful content well after their purchase is a tactful method to build customer loyalty and brand ambassadors.”
Sending video emails may begin to replace current text email messages, adds Santoro. “Facebook is fiercely competing in the online video space and is rewarding people who use Facebook Live to reach their audience. Similarly, Snapchat has experienced unprecedented growth and has become a primary marketing channel.”
Analyzing and monitoring visual and video content will be on the top of some business owners' to-do lists, notes Todd Grossman, CEO of Talkwalker, a social data intelligence company.
“It's no secret that visual content, and especially video content, is taking over the internet," Grossman says. "It's easy to consume and entertaining. As this trend grows, business owners will need to be able to monitor and analyze the results of using video.”
5. Retro marketing tactics may be an added bonus.
Some of the most exciting and profitable campaigns in 2017 may incorporate “old” and “new” media, believes Noah Dyer, vice president of marketing strategies for On Advertising.
“While there will be some great videos and online content, a few of the savviest marketers will look to capitalize on nostalgia by producing campaigns that also incorporate marketing strategies that have been around for decades—such as door hangers and promotional swag,” he says. “An example of such a campaign is Snapchat Spectacles, which launched with vending machine distribution earlier this year.”
6. Consumers will expect unprecedented digital speed.
As digital becomes the norm, customers may start demanding faster online speeds.
“People aren't patient when they surf the internet," says Davenport. "By the end of 2017, online marketing success will be impossible without having a website load speed less than two seconds.
"For small businesses, this means your website load time on both mobile and desktop will be critical to reaching customers online," she continues. "The difficult part for business owners will be that increasing site speed is heavily dependent on back-end development. If your site wasn't built for speed initially, it's often more cost efficient to rebuild than trying to optimize slow code.”
If you want to discover how your website is performing, Davenport suggests using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. This shows you a 1 to 100 score for how Google is currently ranking your site's speed. Davenport suggests shooting for a 60+ score for site success in 2017. Pingdom and GTmetrix can show you how many seconds it takes your site to load.
Speed can be important when it comes to connecting with potential customers via social media as well. “Real-time communication will be demanded by consumers, not just expected, with tools such as Facebook Messenger and other platforms grading businesses on their rate of response,” says Rizzo.
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