Last year, we predicted 12 digital marketing trends for the year ahead, many of which made their way into the mainstream digital marketing space - from changing social media algorithms and an emphasis on storytelling to influencer marketing partnerships and the importance of mobile - the trends we predicted helped us form our 2016 strategy.
Now that we are comfortably settled into 2017 and we’re ready to kick-start some big weeks of strategy and planning, we’ve explored emerging digital marketing trends. Here are 12 digital marketing trends we predict will dominate in 2017…
Smarter, more creative, content marketing
Content is king in the digital marketing space, and that will certainly continue to be the case in 2017, however, marketers will need to get smarter and more creative with their content marketing in order to stand out. The Internet is an increasingly crowded space and social media platforms are inundated with content, causing consumers to experience content fatigue, so if you want your content marketing initiatives to stand out, you need to be more strategic.
Data reigns supreme
Data is more readily available and is increasingly being used in all stages of digital marketing, from planning and implementation to optimization and reporting. For digital marketing success, data should play a huge role, and we predict a bigger focus on data to test, learn and adapt.
Influencer marketing will mature
For the last couple of years, influencer marketing has been an industry buzzword, culminating in 2016 as the go-to strategy for brands looking to navigate reach and engagement with their ideal target market in the digital space. Influencers are the voices of consumer marketing, and peer-to-peer recommendations have never been more important when influencing purchase decisions. So what is our advice for marketers who are doing influencer marketing in 2017?
This year, influencer marketing will mature and there will be a big difference between the brands that do it well, and the brands that don’t. No longer will seeding products to influencers without a budget, strategy or clear campaign objective work, nor will press releases sent via mail-out. We’ll see brands look to more creative campaign strategies and redefine their influencer marketing flow as influencer marketing is forced to mature.
On that note, micro-influencers will be the key to influencer marketing success in 2017. Micro-influencers are typically influencers with fewer than 20,000 followers on Instagram or a few thousand on Facebook and Twitter, but while their reach is modest, their influence certainly isn’t.
Micro-influencers are a cost-effective influencer strategy, their audience is engaged and local, they're the perfect recipe for a groundswell approach and more often than not, marketers receive more bang for their buck. In 2017, we’ll see more marketers shift their focus to micro-influencers in their influencer marketing strategy.
Virtual and Augmented Reality experiences on the rise
Following on from the overwhelming success of Pokemon Go in 2016, we’ll see the use of virtual and augmented reality more in digital marketing. Pokemon Go showed us that there is real opportunity in the virtual and augmented reality space, with the app earning $10 million a day in new revenue at one point. While most of the early adopters of the game have since lost enthusiasm, there is no denying the overwhelming success of Pokemon Go.
Video content has been trending for the last couple of years, with live video content being a big focus in 2017. Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Live features, coupled with a demand for more authentic and raw content will see marketers place increased important on live content across platforms.
We’re so sure of this prediction that video content, and in particular live video content, is one of our own points of focus this year so you can expect to see lots of live video content, behind-the-scenes action and pre-recorded mini-webinars on the Scrunch platforms soon!
Personalization becomes more important
Following on from this demand for more authenticity in social content and less perfection, we’ll see a shift to greater personalization in 2017. From Google Adwords campaigns and Facebook Ad targeting to email segments, personal, behaviour-based marketing is required. You can check out some personalization strategies here.
Personalization is especially critical in influencer marketing, where bulk, templated emails get you straight to the trash folder.
So how can brands achieve more personalisation with their digital campaigns to target a more specific audience? They go niche, in influencer marketing, in content marketing, in social media marketing and in Adwords campaigns. Niche audiences are more targeted and aligned with the brand, reaching them is less competitive and often, the conversion rates are higher because they are highly targeted.
To find a niche audience, zone in on a segment of your target market or a particular customer profile, and create digital marketing campaigns to target them directly, rather than your market as a whole.
Power of customer experience
Marketers should focus on the power of a positive customer experience, as that ultimately impacts acquisition, retention and loyalty, and attributes word-of-mouth referrals and conversations in the digital space.
On a similar vein, the power of a positive customer experience can be coupled with the importance of building strong, authentic relationships with customers, users, your target audience and your industry as a whole.
Engagement vs reach
Everyone gets caught up in the rat-race to gain the most followers on social media and rapidly increase reach, however, engagement should be the focus in 2017. Whether looking at your owned social channels or potential influencer partners, engagement is a better metric to measure the potential for ROI as there is really no point in investing in great content if you don’t have an engaged audience to distribute the content to across your own channels.
We know that an engaged community of loyal followers and brand advocates converts, so, we should place more focus on building engagement and relationships with social media users, rather than employing deviant strategies that build followers quickly, but have no long-term benefit or value. Here is some more reading about why engagement means more than large reach.
While Snapchat Geofilters are still in their infancy, brands who get on board now can achieve great results. A geofilter is an overlay filter on Snapchat (like the popular dog ears or flower crown) that is personalized for a brand, event or location and can contain a message or logo and is available based on a defined custom location. Here are the steps to create an on-demand geofilter for Snapchat.
Strive for virality
Finally, marketers in 2017 will strive to make their content go viral to ultimately land PR coverage and extended reach. So how do you make your content go viral? It’s all about understanding what types of content have potential to go viral, with humour and controversy being top of the list. Focus on storytelling, and ensure you have a good network for distribution to help it get off the ground.
What are you predicting in digital marketing in 2017? Leave a comment below - I’d love to hear what you think will be big this year!