New tools and trends emerge almost every day. Others silently disappear. Between growing your website, engaging on social media, and managing your online and mobile presence, navigating the constantly evolving digital landscape can be a challenge. With so many trends highlighted left, right, and center, it can also be difficult to know what to focus on. To help you develop an effective digital marketing strategy, we’ve compiled this year again a list of the key levers for growth in 2017.
1. Storytelling in Motion: Video and Live Streaming
It’s time to start shooting! Expect video marketing (live stream in particular) to become even more popular. From behind the scenes to personalised customer service, marketers will have to consider live streaming and video to keep their brands relevant and engaging. With consumers’ growing appetite for real-time information and ‘in-the-moment’ engagement, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a large event gathering more audience through a YouTube or Facebook live stream than on a major TV network.
Pro tips: For maximum reach, make sure to repurpose your videos across multiple platforms and include captions that narrate the content. Many consumers watch videos without sound in order to not interrupt whatever they’re doing. So be fast, be visual and be silent.
2. Mobile First: Authentic Experiences
Mobile traffic now far exceeds desktop traffic. Mobile users should be the key priority of your business. Translating the desktop experience to mobile isn’t sufficient. You must think mobile-first in order to better engage mobile users.
Consider utilising new technologies and channels such as augmented reality, messaging apps and chatbots, and progressive web apps (think of them as websites built using web technologies but acting like apps).
Significant considerations will have to be made around mobile data collection and how to apply the insights compiled. Will this be the year where marketers see a proper conversion funnel that’s fully on mobile (versus mobile being the breaking points in many industries still nowadays)?
The mobile focus will be specifically critical to target the emerging markets and the “Next Billion Users”.
3. Native Advertising
Viewability and the rise of ad-blockers continue to challenge traditional digital advertising formats. 2017 will see further development in native advertising in the form of sponsored stories and advertorials but also new ad formats that morph to their host’s layout. Native advertising offers a more subtle and less intrusive approach to engage with visitors. It also provides more genuine valuable content that sits seamlessly alongside other pieces of organic content.
You should thus think about the core message that you want to communicate and create a modular execution of that message so it can be reconstructed across each channel with consistency.
4. Content Marketing: Polarized & Immersive
Rushed content published for the sake of adding content volumes will be highly disregarded. Content marketing will continue to play a critical role but only the entertaining and informative pieces. Content marketers have traditionally posted content on their own platforms such as blogs. We will see increased variety of social media platforms providing more options as to where we publish content (think LinkedIn’s native blogging platform Pulse, Facebook’s Instant Articles for example). The main challenge however will be to decide which of these options are worth investing time and energy into.
5. Serverless Computing: Code Without Infrastructure
With increased data and infrastructures transitioning to the cloud every single day, expect to see a growing number of businesses migrate to serverless architectures in 2017. Also known as event-driven infrastructures, a serverless platform helps companies reduce their operating costs while gaining scalable capabilities. Allowing a true platform-as-a-service environment, serverless dynamically runs corresponding actions triggered by specific events for increased performance and scalability.
Services such as AWS Lambda functions provides a solid environment to experiment with these new architecture. Fully migrating an existing and complex application to a serverless infrastructure will take time however, as most of the core operating principles will need to be rethought and rebuilt from the ground up.
6. Messaging Apps: Integrated & Inclusive
AI and machine learning progresses, but ever so slowly and with no visible impact in the way we operate today. Probably the most significant influence that AI will have in 2017 will be on messaging apps. We will see more messaging apps learning from WeChat by integrating payment and automated or human B2C communication (e.g. KLM on Messenger).
Inspired by the WeChat phenomenon, we will see the development of more integrated messaging apps with add-on features. From cab booking, to food delivery, to game playing and online banking. More transactions will take place through messaging apps and the companies behind them will invest heavily on turning them into a central system where users will spend more and more time.
7. Phygical: Physical Meets Digital
Online, offline, and somewhere in between… 2017 will continue to blur the lines between physical and digital worlds. Expect digital channels to start merging into the physical world and vice versa. Brands have a massive opportunity to customise experiences in response to shoppers’ moods with technologies such as motion detectors and facial readers.
While online purchases will continue to grow in 2017, more users will want to collect these same purchases in an offline physical store. This will be especially relevant in emerging markets where the cost of delivery is often high and the reliability of their system relatively poor. Customers in such markets will prefer to pick up their items at a delivery point instead. The trend won’t be limited to emerging market however, as we’re seeing Amazon opening up offline stores in the US as well.
If you’re in the business of selling physical goods, we recommend that you run several experiments in 2017 to better understand what your customer wants and how you could further grow your sales by offering multiple purchase, experience, and delivery options.
8. Influencers: Digital Savvy Content Creators
Influencer marketing has been around for some time. But considering the challenges marketers face with social algorithms, and generic content overload, influencer marketing is poised to diversify, specialise and play a renewed and central role in the marketing mix in 2017. Original and unique content creators, their direct impact on sales will remain mostly unclear though. We will see more technology platforms popping up to better measure engagement and effectiveness.
Combine influencers with video marketing trends for enhanced performances (think digital savvy Snapchatters and YouTubers).
2017 is going to be yet another exciting year. Digital marketing is set to continue cementing its position as cornerstone for modern business success.