With only a few months left in 2016, the Vivial digital marketing team has been looking ahead to 2017. Keep reading for our top marketing trend predictions that will shape 2017.
It should come as no surprise that keeping up with the latest digital marketing trends is a great way to keep — and grow — your customer base and business as a whole. While you don’t have to be the next Seth Godin, staying in-the-know about the trends of marketing will help your business compete and make smart decisions about where to spend your marketing budget.
If thinking about 2017 digital marketing trends is a bit too overwhelming (after all, we still have a few months left in the year), check out our digital marketing trends of 2016 article.
You will notice that many of the marketing predictions we made in 2016 are actually the foundation for 2017’s online marketing trends. (Spoiler alert: it’s not a coincidence.)
Which 2017 digital marketing trend do you think will be the biggest?
Digital Marketing Trends in 2017
Cross-device marketing optimization
Regular readers of this blog know the importance of having a mobile marketing strategy for their business. With more than half of local searches occurring on a mobile device (i.e.: “locksmith near me”), businesses that have a mobile-friendly website and a strategy to rank in local searches are discovered by more customers.
While having a responsively designed website that is mobile-friendly is important, a significant portion of people still use a laptop/desktop/tablet computer at some point in their customer journey. Thus, your business should focus on creating a marketing strategy in 2017 that accounts for all devices a customer uses.
When taking a multichannel marketing approach to online marketing, you should take a close look at the behavior and demographics of your target customer.
Check out the stats below for a breakdown of device usage by age range: 1
18 – 34 years: Practically all Millennials are mobile users (97%), with 20% not using a desktop/laptop computer at all.
35 – 54 years: It’s no surprise that Generation X has the highest percentage of multi-platform users (82%).
55+ years: Members of the Baby Boomer segment still have a sizable (but shrinking) portion of people who use only desktop/laptop devices (down to 26% in 2015 from 40% in 2013).
How can you apply this research to your 2017 marketing strategy?
Focus on optimizing each channel based on where it fits in the customer journey. Let’s look at an example.
Example: Joseph the Locksmith
Joseph is a locksmith that provides services to apartment dwellers and local businesses in the Prospect Heights and Park Slope sections of Brooklyn, NY. He has a diverse customer base: young college students and first time apartment renters who accidentally lock themselves out of their apartments (Millennials), business owners who rely on him for his lock and security expertise (Generation X) and homeowners that have him provide routine maintenance on the locks and window guards in their apartments (Baby Boomers).
Joseph recently invested in a responsively-designed website and has also begun an online advertising campaign. Like any savvy business owner, Joseph wants to get the most bang for his buck with his internet ads, so he decides to focus on optimizing his ads across multiple devices.
Based on client feedback and demographic research into platforms (which he did in Google Analytics — a free tool that he plugged into his website), Joseph was able to apply the following learnings to his advertising campaign:
Mobile devices: If a college student contacts a locksmith to break into their apartment for them, it’s safe to say that they are using a mobile device to contact Joseph (after all, 97% of them have mobile devices).
To be discovered by this audience, Joseph has optimized his website for mobile with a click-to-call button and started running Google AdWords with the call extension feature. The flustered student only has to click a button on their mobile device to get in touch with Joseph.
Laptop/desktop/tablet: Local business owners research different options before choosing a locksmith; they want someone who is trustworthy, professional and has a fair price.
Since this segment is conducting research on multiple service providers, they do so on a laptop/desktop/tablet computer. Not only is it difficult to do more complex internet research on mobile devices, this group of local business owners fall into the Generation X segment that has the largest portion of multi-channel usage.
Joseph knows that once they have made a decision they will contact him on their mobile phone to schedule an appointment. However, he knows it is important to get in front of this audience early on when they are doing research on their laptop/desktop/tablet computers. The fact that they call on a mobile device is less important in this scenario.
The online ads that Joseph runs targeting business owners are primarily served on laptop/desktop/tablet computers. His messaging incorporates the positive Google testimonials he has received from happy clients. To stay top-of-mind, Joseph also runs remarketing (or retargeting) ads that follow the researcher around the internet for 30 days.
Joseph uses a similar marketing strategy when trying to reach homeowners that are part of the Baby Boomer generation. He chooses different keywords that are centered around home lock and security maintenance to ensure his ads are seen by local apartment owners.
As smartphone adoption proliferates and new types of devices enter the market (i.e.: the Apple Watch, Amazon Echo Dot), marketing technology companies must be able to attribute data and behaviors from all the different devices a person uses to a single ID. Cross-device attribution to a single ID is the one area that programmatic advertising has yet to overcome.
However, the most recent wave of acquisitions of cross-device startups by large martech giants is a good indication that digital marketing in 2017 will continue to focus on understanding the end user’s identity across channels and devices, giving advertisers like Joseph the Locksmith the capability to use digital advertising in completely new and innovative ways.2
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms in digital advertising is nothing new. Case and point: Google AdWords uses a mathematical algorithm that associates a user’s search query with advertiser keywords and assigns a “quality score” to the ad. Since Google is a pay-per-click platform (which is why it’s so popular with small businesses — there isn’t a minimum spend and you can turn it off anytime you like), the algorithm uses information it gathers from many different sources to serve the ad to the user most likely to click on it.
The 2017 digital advertising trend that we’ll witness when it comes to AI algorithms involves optimizing all creative components (such as colors, fonts, copy). In this survival of the fittest digital advertising concept, the parts of creative that remain are used in further iterations of the “better” ad.
If you are more of a visual learner, visit Electric Sheep and download the software. Electric Sheep is run by thousands of people — and their computers — across the globe. When the computers go to “sleep,” the Electic Sheep comes to life and the computers communicate with each other via the internet, sharing the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as “sheep.”
If Electric Sheep is a little too Burning Man for your taste, you can also check out this Fast Company article about one of the first billboards to use AI.
Facebook Live video
In 2015, Periscope, the live streaming video platform, catapulted to the front page of news sites when Twitter quickly scooped it up and integrated it into their technology. Fast forward one year and Facebook has launched Live, a way for people, public figures and Pages (that’s you, local business owner!) to share live video with their followers and friends on Facebook.
Facebook Live is the result of two trends we cited in our 2016 digital marketing trends article:
- Widespread adoption of smartphones
- Increasing amounts of web traffic from video
With Facebook owning four of the top six most downloaded apps (Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp), it’s no surprise that the social media giant would want to leverage this competitive advantage and create a product line just for this growing audience.1 Welcome, Facebook Live!
Facebook Live is very easy-to-use and businesses of all types can use live streaming to increase engagement with their Facebook followers. To get started on Facebook Live, simply click on the Live button in your News Feed, write a short description of what your audience is going to see and start filming.
If you aren’t convinced that Facebook Live is going to have an impact on digital marketing in 2017, the fact that this new product exists underscores just how important video has become to the social media behemoth. Facebook knows that its customers watch 100 million hours of video — every single day.3
Facebook Live is planning that the next 100 million hours will come from videos that their customers create themselves (filming and streaming on Facebook, of course).
Many businesses are unsure how they can use live streaming as a way to promote themselves because the video format insinuates hours of editing, hiring a videographer, etc. We wrote an article that includes ideas and tips that you can use to incorporate live streaming into your local business’s marketing plan quickly and easily.
Mobile messaging apps get more popular
Mobile messaging apps (such as Facebook’s Mobile Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat and WeChat) allow users to communicate with contacts in a space outside of public social media networks.
As Facebook grew in membership throughout the 2000’s (and continues to grow), there was never a shortage of rumors that the social media network would begin charging a subscription fee to users in order to stay profitable. Those rumors never amounted to anything because Facebook knew it would be far more lucrative to collect members’ information and use it to sell advertising to businesses.
Fast forward to today and, just like early Facebook rumors, mobile messenger app owners know that users do not want to pay a subscription to use them (app owners have committed to being free in the past). At the same time, users also do not want to see paid advertising inside these apps because it feels like a violation of privacy. While paid media options on mobile messaging apps will be limited, this is one of the last areas that can be monetized from a social media perspective.
If you can’t serve ads to mobile messaging app users, what other solutions can you create to give paying businesses access to your members?
Expect mobile messaging app owners to provide new options for reaching consumers via their platforms to businesses in 2017 as usage continues to grow.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
Conversion rate optimization is an internet marketing strategy where the goal is to increase the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers (or take your desired action).
When marketers start tossing acronyms and industry-specific jargon into the mix, many local businesses zone out because they don’t believe the tactic can help them reach their specific goals.
However, I would be willing to buy a coffee for any business owner that hasn’t used some form of CRO:
A/B split testing: have you broken down your audience into different segments and tried out different messaging with each? If yes, you’ve used CRO!
Response tracking: do you run coupons and deals that you track back to sales? If yes, you’ve used CRO!
Advertising test by audience: do you have multiple different ads that you use in different newspapers (because the audience has different behaviors and purchasing patterns)? If yes, you’ve used CRO!
One of the biggest benefits of conversion rate optimization is generating more leads or sales without investing unnecessary money on “fluff,” such as website traffic that originates in Siberia (если вы не продаете зимние куртки россиянам). Conversion rate optimization has been evolving for a few years and we predict that it will find its stride in 2017.
It’s worth noting that CRO is often tied into the user experience of a website, something Google takes keen interest in since they don’t want to send a searcher to a website with a poor design. In fact, Google recently began penalizing websites that serve pop-ups and interstitials on mobile devices.
The internet of things (IoT)
The IoT is the concept that any device with an on/off switch can be connected to the internet (and, therefore, to each other). Examples include coffee makers (my personal favorite), lights in a room of your house, wearable devices like the Apple Watch and even cars. When all these devices are connected to the internet, they gather huge amounts of data about a person’s behavior, choices and habits.
A recent study by Gartner reported that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices.2 While nobody will argue that the IoT will only continue to grow in size as technology becomes more affordable and widespread, how can you — a local business owner — use it for your digital marketing strategy?
As more and more people connect to the IoT and provide it with data, it becomes a more robust marketing and sales tool that businesses of all types can capitalize on.
For example, my IoT refrigerator tells you, a local grocery store, that I purchase milk every 7 days. You can now show your business’s digital ads to me right when I’m making a decision about which grocery store to visit for my weekly milk purchase. The ability to provide highly-targeted ads, based on data the IoT provides, isn’t a scene from The Jetsons…it’s the future of marketing using the IoT.
Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR, respectively)
I would be remiss if I didn’t include virtual and augmented reality in this list of 2017 digital marketing trends. After all, I have friends (and family members) over the age of 30 that spent a good portion of the summer trying to catch Pikachu. While the Pokemon Go craze has certainly proved to be a traffic boon for local businesses that can attract players (free wifi, anyone?), the challenge remains that many of these players don’t actually make a purchase (refer back to the CRO section for the rationale for focusing on sales).
In the same vein, virtual reality (think: Google Cardboard) is another developing trend that is difficult for the average local business to incorporate into a marketing strategy. In fact, research firm Gartner have estimated that AR and VR won’t actually be productive technology for businesses for the next 5-10 years.4
Therefore, for this article, I focused on practical digital marketing trends that businesses of all types and sizes can use as a part of their 2017 marketing strategy.
Our chairman and CEO, Jim Continenza, recently penned a piece for Business Insider that provides the perfect recap of all these 2017 digital marketing trends and where the industry is heading.
For the past several years, the advertising technology industry has been emerging, growing, and shifting in response to new customer behaviors. Content marketing, social media, texting, search engine optimization, location-based services, and data analysis are all ways today’s businesses find, reach, and engage with customers. And largely, the ad tech industry has been fragmented — looking for its identity. The industry is loosely defined and operating in silos.
While technology and customer behaviors continue to evolve, the one thing that will not change is the need for small and medium businesses, franchises, and Fortune 500 companies to make direct connections with customers and to interact with customers in real time.