The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing Trends 2017
It takes a superhuman effort to keep up with the latest digital marketing trends.
The extensive nature of this e-book demonstrates how much is set to change in 2017 and, even after interviewing 42 experts, we’ve probably only just scratched the surface.
This makes it a nightmare for professionals and small business owners alike to keep up with digital marketing progressions.
And simply keeping up isn’t enough if you truly want to take advantage of all the opportunities the online world affords.
For that you need to be ahead of the game.
Having an awareness of future trends and doubling your efforts in areas of potential growth can help catapult small businesses above slower moving organisations regardless of resources.
Because, whilst it is a minefield, the digital world is a great leveller and anyone can compete if they have the foresight to stay ahead of the game.
This guide was built as a way for small business owners and digital marketing pros to obtain that cutting edge for their 2017 strategies.
Within the six chapters, we talk to experts working at the forefront of digital innovation to garner their predictions for 2017’s hottest digital marketing trends.
It’s pretty extensive too. The 42 experts we’ve spoken to share sage advice on topics as varied as SEO, web design, social media and content marketing.
On top of that, in our ‘General Trends’ chapter you will find advice on everything from virtual reality and new software and tools to the changing role of the marketer.
Think of this guide as a 45 minute read to ensure a successful year in 2017; a small price to pay.
As ever, leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below and we’ll get straight back to you.
We hope you enjoy the guide!
Table of Contents
Use the links below to navigate through the book.
1. SEO Trends
Any business looking to upscale their digital strategy in 2017 can’t ignore search engine optimisation (SEO).
Optimising your website and content for search engines is a crucial practice but it’s not easy.
SEO can be a murky world and it takes time and patience to get real results.
It can also be overwhelming for small business owners who might not have the resources or knowledge to truly battle the big boys.
But don’t forget – the internet is a great leveller and even the smallest businesses can compete within their niche.
When we interviewed 11 experts in 2016 they highlighted a number of initiatives to help small businesses compete for search engine results and many of those mentioned still hold true going into 2017.
Still, that article focuses on things you should be doing right now. This guide is all about preparing you for the future so read on for all the SEO trends you need to know in 2017.
One of the trends that has been up and coming and will be much more broader in the coming year is the use of more technical related SEO efforts to obtain search results that include AMP listings, featured snippets as well as voice search which has an estimated 20% of all mobile searches.
While the larger business who have developers and SEO strategists on hand are already seeing results with these types of searches, most smaller businesses are not yet reaping the benefits usually because of the cost to hire someone to implement it.
By jumping on this technology to have more organic search small businesses can beat their competition!
Improve Your Site’s Content
1. The Long Click
Google is going to increasingly look at the experience you give searchers once they hit your site. They’ve always had the data; now their machine learning algorithms are using more and more of it to adjust the search rankings.
So for small business owners it’s all about the ‘long click’. If you can keep people on the page longer, you stand a chance of outranking your bigger, longer-established competitors – especially in places they might not monitor so actively, such as YouTube (second biggest search engine after Google itself).
2. The BuzzFeed effect
Why is BuzzFeed such a success? Because their headlines are insanely clickable – and this is changing SEO too.
In the past, SEO meant you had to have your keyphrase in the page title – which meant lots of ‘me, too’ lookalike links in the search results.
But in 2017 and beyond, instead it’s the outliers that will be rewarded – the search results that get the highest clickthrough (relative to position, and provided you also keep searchers on the page, in other words it’s relevant).
This means if you’re a small business owner you can focus on more compelling, emotional language in your headlines – and as search engines recognise you’re getting more clicks than your bigger competitors, you can climb above them in the search results.
Pay To Play
The biggest digital marketing trend for 2017 is the move towards a pay-to-play model in search and social. Both of these platforms offer incredibly granular targeting options so for the smaller business this does not have to be exorbitantly expensive.
Learning how to play the paid game on platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook enables businesses to laser in on potentially lucrative customers. Whether you need to focus on key geographical areas or specific demographics like age, gender, interest etc these tools provide a means to zero in on your most valuable customers.
Another important trend is the importance of the digital marketing mix – businesses have been able to focus on just a single field like organic search but now it’s important to have your digital ducks in a row with SEO, PPC, Social and Content Marketing. These are all diverse platforms and the big marketing wins for 2017 are at the intersection of key digital marketing disciplines.
Own your niche with long-tail keywords
Everyone is playing the SEO game. It’s hard to rank for general search terms when you have a small team and more limited resources. Longer keywords have less competition, and the leads are highly qualified. This is the difference between “women’s sweater” and “women’s 100% wool gray sweater” – fewer people may be searching the more specific term, but they’re sure of what they want and likely to convert. Small business owners should optimize their site and content for relevant, highly specific terms where they’re more likely to rank.
Get SSL Ready
Google has been pushing for HTTPS for the past two years with increasing fervor, but they recently announced that Chrome is going to notify users of insecure form features in January 2017 actively within the form, so surely the obligation of SSL for all sites and pages to rank well isn’t far behind.
Seriously – do not ignore SSL in 2017!
One trend for this year for Small businesses to really take an advantage is for them to take advantage of SSL. 2017 is going to be the year that SSL becomes a thing and with services such as LetsEncrypt out there, there is really no excuse. Google has suggested they will weight towards SSL results, and also Google Chrome will also highlight insecure forms. My recommendation for an easy gain is to switch as quickly as possible, and take advantage of the success.
A link free future?
We believe it is likely that 2017 will be a transition year in which the SEO community begins to witness signs that Google has the capability to deliver quality results WITHOUT depending on links.
Such a development will be the biggest single change to SEO in history and would completely change the foundation of ranking strategy; Google has always relied on links as a primary ranking factor.
However, Google’s artificial intelligence, “RankBrain” has allowed massive strides in search, allowing the search engine to intelligently ascertain which results to serve to users based on factors other than links such as user interaction.
Just this week, Google spokesman John Mueller was quoted in response to questioning about RankBrain as stating that they are already showing sites in results that have no backlinks among results that do, adding that backlinks are not the only way to show up in search.
Can we take this to mean that Google is on the cusp of a link-free future? We can’t know for sure. However, many indicators seem to point to this capability being a goal of search engines and that the goal is close to being achieved.
The takeaway for businesses
Businesses, particularly small and mid-sized, will struggle to compete if continuing to rely on SEO and digital marketing strategies that are primarily link-oriented.
Particularly, new businesses will find it very difficult to rank in competitive markets with established brands which users have shown Google and RankBrain that they accept as a good fit for their associated search.
Buzz, PR, and traditional exposure. As an SEO agency, we are already posturing ourselves to place a greater emphasis on content and landing real PR and media opportunities for clients rather than just links.
This is the perfect time for businesses to transition to an emphasis on PR since doing so also achieves powerful links which still currently help rankings and visibility while at the same time posturing for a future where links may not matter at all.
2. Social Media Trends 2017
Social media moves at lightning speed, with platforms competing for our attention at every turn.
The one saving grace for marketers is the fact that changes to social media platforms are far more transparent than those implemented on search engines, making it easier to react to trends and algorithm changes.
Still, it’s not easy to keep up and in 2017 you can expect plenty of big changes from every platform.
Read on to see what the experts predict will be the hottest social media trends of 2017.
The Rise of Messaging Platforms
2017 is going to be more and more about messaging platforms rather than traditional social media apps. Platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat will be huge, and they’ll also change the way small businesses interact with their customers. It’s an opportunity for small businesses to provide more engaging customer service and be online and ready to respond to queries and problems in a timely way. Rather than the legacy platforms’ approach to broadcasting your marketing message, the focus is going to be much more on sharing individualised messages and concepts with your audience in a more intimate way.
2016 will go down as the year of influencer marketing. From Instagram, to Snapchat. Influencer marketing was and will continue to be the “buzzed up” phrase for quite some time. Influencer marketing is an easy concept to grasp. You want to get your product in front of people with a build in loyal audience. Whether that audience be blog readers, YouTube viewers, Instagram stalked etc.
However developing relationships with Influencers often takes time. Who has time for time? Want to hack influencer marketing? Work with the pros who specialize in it. My favorite to use is famebit.com. They were acquired by Google a while back. Basically it’s a market place where brands can sign up and set their budget. Then see which influencers are willing to bid on your project.
Small businesses can capitalize on influencer marketing, because many “new influencers” may be under valuing their time. So, while someone with a 5 million person social reach, might be a tad expensive. Someone with a 20,000 social reach, but those followers are hyper engaged with their content, might end up being a better value.
You can also go “old school” and reach out to influencers yourself. Just know that, not all Influencers are in it for the money. Some just like the attention and making other people feel good. So before you go and try and throw money at an influencer, build a relationship first. Comment on their posts, like them. Make sure they recognize your name or handle. Happy Influencing.
Live video is going to be big in 2017
We were seeing glimpses of it at the end of 2016, but it’s really going to dominate on social media come next year. Why do I say this? Because Facebook is trying to destroy Snapchat with its combination of Instagram and Facebook Live. They’re incentivizing the action and trying to get more live content on the platform. That means live video will be front and center on social media in 2017.
For many small businesses, it’s going to take some work to get on this trend. However with some clever thinking you can figure out how to make live video work for you. Maybe a live chat in your industry makes sense if you can get enough interest. Or take some interesting aspect of what you do and share it with the world. For one of my adult recreational sports clients, we started broadcasting live games on Facebook with some success. You can make a case that live video can work for anyone.
Quality over quantity
In light of recent algorithm changes on platforms like Instagram and the growing volume of social content being generated every day, it will be harder than ever in 2017 to build a social following. One tip from Meagan for brands hoping to cut through the noise on social in 2017 is to prioritize quality content over quantity and to create more content that entertains and delights rather than tries to sell or directly promote. Quality and entertaining content resonates, drives engagement, and gets shared. That’s what will work in 2017.
Optimising Ad Performance Despite Surging Prices
One major trend is the surge in digital ad prices, which can be particularly straining on small companies who many not have the money or resources to invest in digital advertising. Ad prices on Facebook increased by 9% in the second quarter of 2016, year-on-year. More recently, Facebook’s CFO cautioned on an earnings call that their ad load was nearing maximum capacity, and would meaningfully affect revenue by mid-2017. Subsequently, Facebook share price dropped by almost 8% after the announcement – a telling sign that the rising digital ad price trend is likely to continue.
However, if small businesses plan their game right, their social media ad spend won’t necessarily have to be affected. There are products specifically geared towards SMBs that can track and predict the performance of ads and adjust campaigns on the fly to optimize ad performance. One such product is ReFUEL Spark, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze ad composition and maximize its targeting and performance, thus reducing ad spend.
The lines between social media and e-commerce are blurring. In 2017, expect to see more brands and retailers look to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram for opportunities to showcase and even sell products directly to consumers. Consider that, according to a recent study we conducted:
– 24 percent use social media to look for specific information on products and services.
– 37 percent consider themselves impulsive shoppers.
– 20 percent have already made a purchase directly through a social media site.
– 47 percent admit to having purchased something because they saw it on social media.
As social media adoption among all age groups continues to climb, expect to see more brands and retailers turn to social commerce as a viable retail channel.
Shopping on Instagram?
In 2016 Instagram attracted more interest from marketers but many of them have been frustrated by the inability to add hypertext links in Instagram posts. Lately Instagram has made more marketer-friendly overtures: they just launched trials of shoppable tags that allow clickable links for some e-commerce sites and Instagram Stories links. It’s likely that this trend will continue in 2017 and Instagram will become a powerful source of referral traffic for marketers. If you haven’t yet invested in the platform, now is probably the time.
3. Web Design Trends 2017
Web design trends are constantly changing and evolving. From the technical to the aesthetic there’s a lot to keep up with.
Last year, most trend studies focused on the use of big, bold image or video backgrounds with clean design favoured above all else but how those were implemented would vary widely from designer to designer.
There’s unlikely to be too much of a departure from such trends but the experts below have pointed out some important elements to be aware of through 2017, give it a read!
The year for video
My advice is to start using more video, and finding ways to make it part of the overall user experience, instead of just embedding YouTube content. Think big hero shots that move, playful backgrounds, and interactivity the user can control.
In 2017 video will be critical, and the businesses who succeed will be those who can playfully integrate video content into their website.
The Human Touch
In an age where machines learn and the commodification of design is extreme, custom illustration and hand lettering brings human-ness and charm to digital spaces. In 2017 we will see a proliferation of these techniques on the web.
Schema markups right off the bat
Structured data is nothing new, but since it’s an amazing way to jump to the top of search results and get your site noticed, web designers are going to have to include this markup in the sites they build and will get increased requests to include it in sites that don’t have it. It’s still too much of a ‘hassle’ for a regular, non tech savvy website owner to do themselves.
Decline of hero videos
Hero videos will see a decline: with the mobile-first frenzy reaching its peak in 2017, we’ll be seeing less of websites with slow loading hero images and hero videos.
Progressive Web Apps
Storytelling & Animation
The best way to engage visitors on the web is through storytelling, and web designers are catching up with this idea, integrating them into grids to tell compelling brand stories to hook visitors and decrease bounce rate. This largely includes having impactful visuals and dynamite content.
Animation is not new but only recently new technologies has enabled web designers to integrate animated gifs and videos into web layout without compromising loading speed time. Use them to make navigation and menus, loading (waiting), hover, galleries, scrolling, page backgrounds etc. more interactive.
Modular Web Design
We are focusing our efforts on the death of template-driven web design. This means less focus on a web “page” or “template” and more focus on reusable parts, or modules, that create pages. Think object-oriented programming as an analogy.
Use of this enables website administrators to get more comprehensive control out of their CMS platforms, whether custom or off-the-shelf, and also gives them flexibility to focus on continuous website design improvements, thus limiting the future need for the “all-encompassing” website redesign project which unfortunately is something business owners seem to do every 2 years or so.
Ignore AMP at your peril
AMP pages are going to get priority from Google for mobile search results. No savvy content marketer, worth his/her salt, will want to miss this train. Ignore AMP at your own peril.
Continued use of web video
But not just any web video will do, with increased competition for eyeballs the digital video content has to look great and it also has to be optimized for mobile.
Simplification of web navigation
Today’s web users expect instant gratification – that is the ability to find exactly what they are looking for without clicking around. If the browsing experience isn’t intuitive or easy to navigate, i.e., complicated by a bunch of bells and whistles that look pretty but don’t help the user experience, expect them to move on and move on quickly.
1) Motion Design
It had a very powerful start in 2016, it provides a high-level interaction with the user. Besides, there are many tools available that enable creating animations. Definitely hot, fresh and promising in 2017.
2) Custom Scrolling
Scrolling techniques have stopped being the same, they are now moving towards the new innovative ways. We are sure that in 2017 we will see some new suggestions that can blow our minds.
3) More empty space
From our experience, the rule “the less is more” is pretty solid, the amount of empty space is growing alongside with the size of mobile/tablet screens.
4) Brand New Design Tools
The market is now over-saturated with design tools. But they all provide different features. The one universal tool combining all existing ones (Photoshop, Macaw, Sketch, Principle) is highly anticipated. It will allow us to concentrate on design and not on the search of the right tool.
Continued use of animation
One of the biggest trends we see continuing into 2017 is the implementation of animation into web designs. While this isn’t a new integration, we don’t see this trend going away. These animations can range from small gifs or hover animations that increase interest on that particular page and guide the user experience to full screen animations that can be integrated to work with a parallax website or be used as the entire focal point for the homepage. These animated integrations provide an interesting way to engage and communicate with users which is why we’ll see a lot more of them incorporated into web design in 2017.
Responsive web design
Responsive web design will become more important than ever, but with a twist. Google’s switch to mobile indexing means web professionals will have to balance creating a mobile-friendly, conversion-focused experience with authoritative and comprehensive content. This could prove to be a bit of a challenge because text that isn’t well laid out on mobile can be a conversion killer.
The website design industry will head further down the mobile-friendly rabbit hole and Google will keep using its influence to push web designers to create better mobile user experiences.
HTTPS will continue to be pushed for increased security and it’s likely we’ll see this given more weight as a ranking factor.
There will be an increased importance of structured data (schema) within websites to help search engines drive ultra-personalized search results.
4. Content Trends 2017
Having a good content marketing strategy can help you attract and retain visitors to your website.
It’s not easy to create stand-out content though. The internet is absolutely saturated with blogs, videos and all kinds of content.
In 2016 alone, an average of 300 hours of video was uploaded to YouTube every minute.
That doesn’t mean it’s futile to create content, we’re constantly advising people to create blogs, videos and infographics.
Because of stats like this:
B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
Over three-quarters (76.5%) of professional marketers and SMB owners who use video marketing say the tactic has a direct impact on their business.
Let’s see what the experts suggest you focus on through 2017…
Focus on video content
The biggest trend for small businesses in 2017 will undoubtedly be video marketing. This is by and large an untapped resource for unique small businesses. That doesn’t mean that there is no competition just limited in scope.
For instance there may be plumbing DIY tips from a plumber in New Jersey but there may not be one for a plumber in Frisco, Texas. So what small businesses need to do is utilize their unique expertise matched with their geographical location.
YouTube has quickly moved to becoming the number 2 most utilize search engine on the Internet. Second only to Google. People are eating up video marketing.. And with things like virtual reality headsets, this will only continue to rise as a prominent form of direct marketing.
Upgrade your content
If 2016 was the year of the content marketing, then 2017 will be the year of the content upgrade.
Content upgrades allow small business owners who have been diligent in their content marketing efforts to start repurposing their content as a list building asset. It can be as simple as turning your most popular blog post into PDF checklist or cheat sheet.
Brian Dean, a popular SEO blogger, used this strategy to boost conversions by 529%. The trick is that the content must be valuable. It needs to complement or add-on to the original post.
The content upgrade is then “gated” so readers must opt-in to receive it. Why does it work? Imagine reading an article that just solved the exact problem you were searching for. Then, at the end, there’s a call-to-action to opt-in for a printable 12-step check list that walks through the problem. Would you take it? Of course.
Use Immersive Video
Videos are no longer just one dimensional, as shoppable films and 360° videos break the fourth wall and immerse viewers. Mass adoption of immersive video will depend on new technology that could be developed in 2017. At the moment, distribution of these video types is limited to a few platforms, such as YouTube 360° and shoppable video. For brands, pre-roll is still the largest source of inventory, and it has limited capabilities to implement immersive video. Brands need to understand that although immersive content can engage users in exciting ways, it is restricted to a few available platforms.
Grab attention with video
As we approach the end of 2016, there are some new and upcoming methods within social media platforms that are worth looking into. Video content has continued to gain traction this past year, especially the short and attention-grabbing videos – which are the future. The goal for video in 2017 is stand out in text-dominant news feeds such as those on Facebook and Twitter. If small businesses carefully curate brief yet engaging video content for 2017, they will be sure to stand out compared to all the still photos and images that has become standard in 2016.
A Digital Marketing Trend for 2017 is interactive content. Interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content, enhances retention of brand messaging and has reusable value, resulting in repeat visitors and multiple exposures. Small business owners can use companies to help build these tools, or they can use tools a quiz, for example, you can use tools like Qzzr to build quizzes or Calculoid instead of developing a solution from scratch.
There will be many new trends coming forward–including the ability to easily run split tests–but I would say the biggest trend is going to be the reliance on video content. Video content has been important for a few years now, but the importance is continuing to grow and small businesses are now more able than ever to capitalize on the importance of video content. With platforms like Youtube Director and lower cost video production companies.
Video advertising is also becoming easier for people to do with the roll out of additional Adwords video advertising options.
5. General Digital Marketing Trends 2017
Despite the comprehensive nature of the guide, the experts gave varied responses to which digital marketing trends they feel will be pivotal to success in 2017, so on top of the categories above we’ve added in this general section which covers the best of the rest.
There are exceptional nuggets of wisdom in this section provided by top marketing professionals.
They’ve focused on everything from artificial intelligence, holistic approaches, result measurement, the growing need for personalisation in digital and why chat applications are a great way to reach and engage your audience!
The Role of the marketer is changing
Marketing already owns or is a key stakeholder in journey initiatives, according to 84% of marketers. Next year marketing leaders are expected further cement themselves in the role of primary revenue growth architect.
Artificial Intelligence Debut
48% of marketers intend to invest in predictive analytics. Expect SMBs to get more data-driven in how they allocate budget and prioritize key campaign decisions.
What to champion?
In, most marketers will be investing first in online ads (30%) and events and marketing (30%), but high performers are focusing more on the experience, investing in events and marketing (35%), and referral and loyalty programs (29%), to get ROI from creativity, proof points, and buyer incentives to drive referrals and repeat purchases.
The Rise of Holistic Marketing Technologies
In 2015 and 2016 we saw the rise of new platforms that allow for the execution of holistic, multi-channel marketing campaigns (rather than single-touch technologies that focus on a specific marketing channel or function). These platforms manage cross-channel campaigns so that they can control each and every touch-point that the brand has with its users, as well as analyze and dynamically optimize toward personalized customer journeys. This is all being done on a scale that can’t currently be achieved by existing technologies or even large marketing teams.
The rise of these holistic marketing technologies will only increase in 2017 as businesses and marketers can no longer afford to spend so much time “babysitting” complex marketing stacks. These technologies will allow small-business owners to focus on larger picture projects and running their business, instead of losing time to lower-value tasks.
Businesses and Brands will Take Back Control of their Marketing Initiatives
Another trend that is already taking place and will dominate the 2017 discussion is businesses and brands taking back control of their marketing initiatives. This will manifest in two primary ways:
(1) Brands will demand complete transparency from agencies in terms of the actual media being purchased, who takes cuts from every dollar spent—to the point that they no longer agree to complex deals that are hard to track or advertising campaigns being managed in black-box accounts that are not accessible to the client.
(2) They will more and more take media execution completely in-house in order to regain their full control of what’s being done. Paired with new technologies that will streamline the process, smaller businesses will be empowered to run complex campaigns that don’t take all of their precious time.
Ability to Measure the Overall Effect of Multi-Channel Marketing Initiatives
The ability to tie together and measure the overall effect of mutli-channel marketing initiatives is going to gain significant attention in the coming year. While there has been significant interest in this area in recent years, the reality is that most marketing departments are still working in a siloed fashion, where dedicated teams are assigned pieces of the media budgets and execute independent of one another. Often times they use offline multi-channel analytics tools to get a sense of effectiveness, which for obvious reasons, makes no sense.
As holistic marketing technologies continue to rise, marketers gain a more holistic view of their campaigns effectiveness, and analytics tools will emerge to measure these more controlled and less diffuse campaigns. This will allow small business owners the ability to direct their efforts to the most effective elements of their marketing campaigns.
I think a trend we’ll see in 2017, is that more app owners will personalize the way they engage their users while they are in the app.
This is something that has become common for websites over the past few years, and now app owners are catching up. The name of the game is shifting from user acquisition (site traffic equivalent) to optimizing the experience of the users while they’re in the app (or site).
For this to be done right, app owners and marketers need to understand who their users are. This can be achieved with various technologies (app analytics, geolocation tools and others) and by understanding what the user is doing in the app on real-time. i.e what they view and what they click on.
Personalization is combining this data to provide the absolute best experience for app users with contextual guidance, offerings and promotions.
This approach will get users t come back, which is a far more important than the number of downloads.
An easy way to personalize the app user experience, is with an automated, in-app, codeless marketing platform such as Insert.
The growing focus on personalized customer experience
Today’s shopper has the expectation that – given the amount of data available about them – brands should know them personally.
With a growing focus on elevating customer experience and service, businesses will increasingly look for ways to help them understand individual buyers, what motivates them and what drives them to make a purchase. Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) allows them to harness powerful algorithms to find patterns in each set of customer data and then look for repetitions in these patterns to better understand an individual shopper’s unique preferences and behavior.
Subsequently, this newfound customer intelligence will give businesses the capability to improve customer experience and engagement by delivering messages, deals and offers that are relevant to them, at a time when that offer would be most relevant to them, and in a manner they expect to be communicated with.
For example, some consumers may prefer to be contacted with coupons, offers or sales notifications through their email or their phone as soon as that coupon, deal or sale is active. Some consumers may prefer to be contacted only when they are currently shopping and are near the store.
Reaching Consumers Through Chat Applications
Chat applications like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Kik & more are slowly becoming valuable tools in digital marketing. Utilizing bots through Chat Apps can help companies save time & money on customer service, you can push new content to subscribers, alert users to daily specials and even tell stories… Ecommerce gets more and more conversational and if you know what your customers want, you can get it to them more easily.
Small Businesses can tap into this to save money on resources they might not be able to afford like full time customer service reps or content generators.
A More Discerning Web
We have seen a lot of small business owners starting to realise that the pay and spray attitude is no longer appropriate and isn’t giving a decent ROI. A more considered approach with a decent strategy behind the actual web marketing seems to be growing and with it this is giving three main trends that we see growing in 2017.
1) Better Content
Good quality decent content that visitors do not have to pay for is now being used more and more. Sites realise that to stay on someone’s radar you need to provide decent content that actually addresses customer requirements and isn’t just a whole lot of opinion and very little substance.
2) Genuine Value
The use of “mailbait” downloads that add people to “newsletters” is at a peak and I suspect this will be less used by grown-up marketing teams. No one actually needs another newsletter, which is just thinly disguised sales material. Instead in the B2B market place a rise in actually useful tools, software or online content that contributes to the users day will become more prevalent. Thus building a list of people who are actually already engaged with the company before being asked to buy something. SAAS will become BIG!
3) Aggressive Filtering
The use of ad-blockers, spam filters and other pieces of software to reduce the digital “noise” will become more widespread. This will feed into the topic of content and value as mentioned in the points above and will fuel a move to more genuine value online from companies seeking to engage with their target audience.
So to summarise, the web will become more discerning over the next 12 months, and users will find better ways to filter out the unwanted and unnecessary and companies who are not prepared to offer them genuine value will find themselves shouting into a void as the filters reduce their overall reach.
Businesses Going Mobile
A leading trend in 2017 will be the increased use of smartphones for work, especially in traditionally non-digital sectors. We are entering a period of transformation for “real world” sectors and smartphones will play a huge role in digitizing work. Previously non-digital sectors include everything from landscaping to property management to parking operations.
One way this plays out is simply moving a business toward digital and getting them off of paper forms. The reaction can be astounding when an owner understands the optimisation possible when they run a business through their smartphone rather than using paper work order and invoices. Plus, research shows that getting off of paper is more profitable for businesses — an average increase of 17.5 in revenue for field service companies, for instance.1
Small business owners make up the core of Useful’s business. They know digital can lead to a lot of efficiencies and we just give them the steps and app possible to make the switch.
Live platforms like Periscope, Meerkat, and Facebook Live have quickly become a popular way to engage with customers and the technologies will encourage more brands to test out new ad products in the space.
Augmented Reality Apps
This summer, we witnessed an AR cultural phenomenon with Pokémon Go. In turn, it has excited a lot of other marketers, apps, and consumers about the future of AR. Get ready for more direct use of AR within apps, both immersive experiences and tangentially related ones. We’ve only seen one phenomenal story so far. This begs the question whether AR in general will go the way of the failed attempts of Google glass and 3D TV. It’s a complex technology, challenging to implement for brands, and is only now starting to be adopted by consumers en masse.
Expect chatbots to improve significantly and to be used in new ways and despite the many bot failures, chatbots could still dominate the future of messaging apps. Their future depends on the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Brands tend to use viewability to measure success. While it’s important to ensure that a brand’s video campaign attracts eyes, viewability is table stakes and doesn’t necessarily move the needle. It’s time for brands to move away from media-based outcomes, such as views or clicks, and shift towards tangible business objectives such as sign-ups, downloads, and purchases. To focus on business objectives, agencies must go beyond CPMs in favor of performance-based metrics. Additionally, the industry needs to develop reliable attribution models to help connect the dots for marketers. Attribution technology is improving, but it is not foolproof.
Humanise your brand & gate your content
Humanizing your brand to stand out, build relationships, and secure client trust needs to be a focus for marketers in 2017. Consumers are looking for experiences now more than ever and will choose a brand with personality that provides a unique experience over run-of-the-mill companies.
For lead generation, gating content to build your database will do more harm than good in 2017. Provide rich content that encourages consumers to engage with your brand regularly and keep coming back. You’ll remain top of mind and warm up your lead overtime.
1) Mobile SEO – A Big Drive
So far, search engine optimization was focused on promoting desktop websites to rank high on major search engines. But, with the changing user behavior, when most of the searches are being done on mobile, even Google suggests mobile as a big drive for 2017.
It’s clear, business owners need to revamp their SEO marketing strategy and re-think target keywords and focus on gaining attention of mobile users, this year. Moreover, with voice search feature getting louder and louder, and keywords being replaced by phrases, it’s undoubtedly a smart move for business owners to focus on conversational search, and make a huge leap forward.
2) Keep an Eye on Your Customers and Seek Out Feedback
Existing customer feedback is critical, as they influence search engine results, and when exposed to new customers, increase their awareness, and give a chance to businesses to develop a closer relationship with them.
3) Go App Way
It’s an era of apps, and missing the chance to incorporate apps in 2017’s marketing strategy is sure to drop the revenue and audience of any business. Moreover, with apps gaining worldwide popularity, and becoming a one-touch solution for end users’ needs, it’s clear that the year is going to see apps as a big drive. As the world is moving to augmented and virtual reality, connecting with customers in innovative ways is sure to help businesses build a long-lasting relationship and increase their scope in 2017. Besides this, apps can also prove to be perfect for entrepreneurs in making their staff work smarter, improve their productivity, and reduce the cost of revenue acquisition.
Appy Pie is a cloud-based mobile app maker, which allows individuals with no technical skills to create custom apps for their businesses. With monthly plans ranging from $12 to $40, this DIY app builder service is comparatively reasonable for any size business. With a business app, entrepreneurs can send daily push notifications to customers and view their app stats with Google Analytics. Appy Pie is also planning to allow clients to sell products via their business’s app, tapping the growth of mobile shopping in 2017.
Tools to augment strategies
The proliferation of marketing channels in 2016 has nearly crippled digital marketers — just take a glance at the growth of the Marketing Technology Landscape in 2016. The plethora of options and areas to test your marketing efforts is overwhelming for marketers, leaving many to stick to their tried-and-true methods with little experimentation and innovation. I believe this will manifest itself in two major trends in 2017:
(1) The consolidation of marketing channels and technologies will continue to grow at a rapid pace.
(2) Marketers will begin to use tools to augment their strategies so they can experiment and stay on top of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape that’s in front of them. They will need to find ways to automate their digital strategies and rapidly innovate and make adjustments to their digital advertising in order to stay ahead of the innovation curve and utilize the constantly evolving digital channel ecosystem.
6. Final Thoughts
There’s a lot to take on-board in this digital marketing trends guide. At times there is some conflicting information too, albeit not as much as I initially expected.
More importantly, you will have noticed some recurring themes throughout the expert’s analysis.
Why does this matter?
If two or more experts are suggesting one trend will be hot in 2017 it’s more than likely that it might come to fruition.
Remember, these guys live and breathe digital so it’s worth taking note on the areas the experts highlighted multiple times.
With that in mind, here’s the ideas that most frequently crept up:
- Video will be imperative in 2017- whether filmed live, showcased on your website or used across social media
- Brands need to work on humanising their image and personalising the message they send out to consumers who increasingly crave individualisation
- Chat applications could help SMBS reach their target audience more easily and cost-effectively than paid advertising
- Google looks likely to favour websites with SSL certification
- Animation in web design will sustain its popularity in 2017
- Shopping on social- the line between social media and ecommerce is blurring
- Schema or structured data will become more prevalent in website design
- A focus User Experience (UX) and quality content will continue to be of the utmost importance
That’s some seriously useful advice from a myriad of top digital professionals.
So take note and try to take action – the experts have spoken!
If you’ve got anything you would like to add to this trends guide feel free to write in the comments below and I’ll get back to you!
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