1. Live video
Facebook really kicked off this phenomena with Facebook Live and now we have Instagram jumping on the bandwagon as well. And now social media users are demanding more in-the-moment content. Thanks to increased Internet speeds and our obsession with our mobile devices, live video is a natural fit for our busy lives. With more apps and platforms adding live streaming funtionalities, 2017 looks to be the year of live video.
2. Influencer marketing
You've likely seen some influencer marketing on your social media feeds even if you didn't know you were seeing it. Maybe you noticed a Snap on your Snapchat feed of a reality TV star promoting a great face cream or an Instagram photo of a celebrity with their McDonald's coffee. All of these things are influencer marketing! Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand's message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead ask influencers to help you get the word out about your product.
Why does influencer marketing work? You've heard the saying "the best form of marketing is word-of-mouth." right? Well influencer marketing is kind of a form of word-of-mouth. Except instead of trusting your consumers to talk to their friends and family about you, you're trusting well-respected celebrities or social media influencers in your space to talk to their league of loyal followers about your brand! This type of marketing has been proven to be incredibly effective and a recent survey revealed that 84% of marketers plan on executing at least one influencer marketing campaign during the next 12 months.
3. Augmented reality
We witnessed the beginnings of modern augmented reality with the phenomena that was Pokémon GO. Few people would have predicted that it would take off like it did, earning $10 million per day in new revenue during its peak.
It's true that enthusiasm for the app has died down amongst all but it's most dedicated fans but it's effects will live on into the new year. This app entirely on it's own showed the rest of the tech space that users are ready and excited about augmented reality (AR) experiences. It's also shown marketers that there is a huge potential for earnings in this space. With Google's VR/AR headset and Samsung Gear VR (that I, for one, saw so many commercials for in the last two months I could probably sell you one myself) increasing in popularity, expect to see more brands coming out with AR games, AR ads and attempts to capitalize on existing AR apps.
4. Data visualization
With buzzwords like data-driven marketing and big data continually spiraling around the marketing space, it's no surprise that data will continue to be incredibly important moving into the new year. Having the ability to track everything someone does online gives us, as marketers, an incredibly opportunity to learn about our target markets and ensure we're providing them with the information they need, when they need it. As marketers, data is becoming increasingly important but even the most experienced data analysts frequently have problems understanding what the data is saying. Thankfully, technology is catching up to the interpretation aspect of data analysis. Dozens of data visualization tools have entered the market already but, in 2017 more and more businesses will implement them in their organizations. I also expect the technology to become more sophisticated and data visualization to become increasingly important in every industry.
5. Niche market targeting
It's no secret that the internet is becoming increasingly crowded. Although the number of available consumers has remained steady, millions of new businesses have flooded into the space. What's the solution for businesses to overcome this problem? More specific niche market targeting. Appealing to a narrower range of demographics with a more specific topic will not only ensure you're appealing to more qualified leads, it will also allow you to cut through the clutter and provide your audience with the information they're really looking for. I expect to see more targeted advertising and content that is relevant for more targeted markets.
6. Marketing automation
You probably know by now that we're kind of obsessed with marketing automation. And we're incredibly pleased to report that we don't see it going away in 2017. In fact, we see it becoming more relevant than ever before. Businesses are increasingly adopting and optimizing marketing automation in their organizations. Take this chart for example. it shows the upward projection of businesses adopting marketing automation and that is continuing to increase year-over-year.
As marketing automation continues to hit it's stride and more businesses understand the value of it, I expect to see more companies evaluating what processes they can automate and continuing to implement higher-level marketing automation functions.
7. Unique, high-quality content
You've heard the cheesy phrase "content is king" before (probably even from us) and that won't change in the coming year. Content will remain an essential part of any online marketing campaign in the next year and beyond. I do anticipate, however, that content marketing will become more competitive in 2017 and beyond. As more marketers recognize the importance of becoming a thought leader and producing informational and educational content, they will continue developing more content and the barrier to entry will be more competitive. Take these stats for example:
- 88% of B2B marketers use content in their overall marketting strategy
- 88% of businesses are employing content marketing and 76% of content marketers plan to produce more content this year than last
- 75% of marketers are increasing investment in content marketing
So how do we break through the competition barrier to ensure that our content is being found by our prospects? The key is investing in unique, high=quality, interactive content that readers can connect with. Providing basic information to your audience will no longer cut it. You need to spend more time determining what is valuable to them and how you can provide them with that information.
8. Growth hacking
"Growth hacking" was one of the key phrases of 2016 but, I've found that a lot of marketers still aren't entirely sure what is is or how important it will continue being. Growth hacking is the concept of focusing entirely on the growth/rise/scaling of a start up. It is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business. This is huge in marketing because increasing users of a product or service quickly and efficiently will help ensure that a business can expand quickly and reach success earlier.
Growth hacking exists to quickly identify the best channels for a particular company's growth. Due to it's speed and success in encouraging growth, I anticipate this will become even more important in 2017 and beyond. In fact, the need for digital marketers to quickly grab their audiences' attention through social media channels, content marketing and organic search in 2017 will take growth hacking to an even bigger level.
For more information on growth hacking, check out this definitive guide by Neil Patel & Bronson Taylor.
Are these the only digital marketing trends we should expect in 2017? NO! If this year (and my past years of experience) will prove anything, there will likely be some new technology or marketing tactic that will come out of the woodwork just to surprise me and everyone else. But, based on the last year and some of the things we're seeing going into the New Year, I'm willing to bet that these eight things will be increasingly important into 2017.