Every year I try to get a handle on the trends for the coming year. I reviewed several key online articles and bloggers to gather the hot trends for 2017, as well as marketing tips that will help public sector and non-profit marketers make better marketing decisions in the coming year
So here is a review of key marketing trends and tips for 2017:
The Internet has changed just about everything, including how organizations market. Campaigns that take months to plan, execute, and launch are still important, but at the same time marketers who aren’t also jumping into real-time will get lost in the shuffle.
In some ways, it’s nothing new, for decades, culture has influenced marketing, and marketing brands have influenced culture. But brands now have a brief span of time to react. If you don’t jump on something right as it happens, you’ve missed your shot.
Two trends are particularly responsible for the new world of real-time marketing: demographics and technology.
The Millennial generation is on the rise. This demographic segment is huge, and its members are the biggest consumers of media. Millennials are driving the real-time marketing growth because they are used to the instant gratification of digital media.
Then, we have technology itself. Smartphones provide our audiences with information, entertainment, rides and friends on demand. Five years ago, you could report or comment on an event the next day or even the next week. You could play off cultural images for months. Now, people can watch an event unfold live on Twitter one night and move on the next morning. Marketers must keep moving, too. Marketers should develop quick responses to mainstream life. The benefits of real-time marketing are becoming very important.
Today, people expect authenticity from the organizations that they deal with. They want to identify with the organizations that value the same things they do. And it’s just as important that you, the marketer, know which opportunities to pass up and how to jump on the right ones.
Here are a few things that can help marketers.
- Don’t unplug from social
Organizations that do real-time marketing well are always plugged-in to the social space. Pay attention to the buzz going on every day, not just around big events. Those cultural moments might provide the perfect opportunity, but staying plugged-in is the only way to be truly prepared to seize them.
- Cut through the clutter
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of noise out there. Be dynamic and personalized. Answer the question “What’s in it for me?” for your audience and keep the message adaptable to the platform.
- You can’t afford to sit still
Keeping up isn’t sufficient. You must be ahead. Read constantly, educate yourself on the content your targets care about, and put yourself in their shoes: What are they going to be most excited about, and how can you engage them on the next big trend?
- In a conversation, you must give and receive
Once you put something out there, be ready to engage in two-way conversations. This isn’t a world of broadcast messages anymore, and marketing isn’t just about push – it’s a push-pull system. Be willing to say, “We put it out there, and now we’re in a conversation. We have to engage.”
Having a successful marketing plan intact as you enter 2017 will ensure you are allocating your resources effectively, promoting and growing your business, and differentiating your organization from its competitors. Consider these 6 tips based on the top marketing trends of 2017 as you continue to develop your plan:
- Increase your social media advertising budget.
Major changes are happening for organizations in the world of social media, particularly Facebook. Over the past year, the platform has seen a decrease in organic reach to lead companies into paid advertising.
Paid advertising on social media is hardly ground-breaking. In fact, it’s possible you’ve been doing it for years. What is ground-breaking is the sharp increase in marketing budgets allocated to social media advertising experts expect to see in 2017.
- Don’t assume “mobile” means a smartphone.
Smartphones are not likely to become obsolete anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a new mobile device taking the world by storm. The number of people sporting wearable mobile devices (think smartwatches) is projected to increase in the USA by 60% this year. What does this mean for marketers in 2017? It means you’ve got a brand-new playing field to market to. You need to be prepared to produce content to fit the format for this new breed of potential customers.
- Produce more niche content.
We’re in the midst of a content arms race. More content is published daily than ever before (over 2 million blog posts per day), which makes it nearly impossible for small organizations to compete when it comes to broad content topics. There is just too much of it.
But before you decide your content is doomed to never reach human eyes, think again; along with this spike in production, there is a drop in the quality of content that is mass-produced. people have learned to alter their search to identify a narrower, more targeted range of content, therefore weeding out material that is vague and unfocused. If you can rise to the challenge by answering more specific questions, doing the research to identify what information your viewers truly need, and providing it, you stand a chance in this arms race.
- Make more videos.
Who wants to look at boring text when they can watch a video instead? Not your audience, that’s who! As we approach 2017, 4 times as many customers would rather watch a video about a product or service than read about it, 1 in 4 consumers lose interest in an organization if it doesn’t have videos, and audiences are nearly 50% more likely to read email newsletters that include links to a video.
As you develop a marketing plan for 2017, be thoughtful regarding which content could be better delivered through a video. Helpful tip: if you’re looking to break into Snapchat in 2017, snapping clips of videos your company produces is a great place to start and will direct viewers to your more serious content.
- Increase your email marketing budget.
Let’s put these rumours to rest right now… email marketing is not dead. Far from it. That being said, there are some changes you can make to your email marketing plan in 2017. First things first, using a first name does not mean an email is personalized. Use tools like Hubspot to include links to relevant content and offers that will interest your audience.
Second, do not, include more than one call-to-action in an email. Many people receive up to hundreds of emails in a day, so you can bet they are skimming most of them. Your email should be as short as possible, concise, and have only one clear purpose. Otherwise, you run the risk of being perceived as just another annoying, spammy, overwhelming marketing email.
And finally, eliminate spammy subject lines. You have one chance to make a first impression, and consumers eyes are drawn to certain words that indicate spam. Check out this list of words to avoid to ensure your email actually gets opened.
As I pointed out in one of my blogs recently, developing a thorough marketing plan is essential to your success in 2017. The more strategic you are, the further your core message will reach. Think of your marketing plan as a map that will lead you to your goals, and be sure to make these changes to ensure you are keeping up with the times.
As I mentioned in one of my blogs a few months ago, 2017 is the year when Influencer Marketing will become embedded into Marketing & Communication activities. Organizations need to be more agile, and align their messages and content with what the influencer community really cares about. They need to invest in training internal subject matter experts to connect with the influencer community both offline and online to win over the key influencers. Authenticity, credibility, and engaging content will be pivotal to successful engagement to improve brand perception and trust with your audiences.
Video will be a phenomenal growth channel for 2017
An amazing year comes to an end, with mobile numbers sky-rocketing, viral videos breaking the internet, organic reach nose-diving and content marketing becoming mainstream. If this year saw the rise of online video, 2017 will see the explosion of video content on tiny mobile screens With 4G expected to become the norm, we’ll be getting a lot more videos in our news feeds. More than 50% of mobile data is already dominated by videos and this trend will see a sharp rise next year. Facebook is planning to add a dedicated video tab in their apps in a major redesign, aiming to become the home of videos on the internet. That’s just Facebook, YouTube is paddling hard to stay relevant, new platforms like Snapchat are right at the border and LinkedIn has jumped in the race with native video for B2B.
Behaviour-based e-mail marketing
Digital marketing in 2017 will be all about segmented & behaviour based email marketing. As consumers subscribe to more brands online, the volume of emails hitting their inboxes has only gone up in the past one year. This has resulted in higher unsubscribe rates and lower open rates. Consumers will not pay attention to your email if it is not useful for them. The best way to combat this would be to segment your email list based on consumers’ behaviour and send customized emails that are targeted to specific sets of customers.
When consumers notice that all the email communication they receive from a brand is relevant and useful for them, they will pay attention, stay subscribed and act on the emails.
- Interactive Content
There’s content you can read, and then there’s content you can interact with. The second variety tends to be more popular. Think of ways to get readers to actively participate instead of passively consume. Interactive content can include assessments, polls, surveys, infographics, brackets and contests.
- Influencer Marketing
What’s more effective than an ad in selling your product? A lovable social media personality speaking highly about your product to his or her fans and followers. Influencer marketing is on the rise, because people tend to trust recommendations from people they see as thought leaders. The right influencers establish credibility through each social media post or advertisement. When they work with organizations, it’s because they genuinely believe in them, and that trust is passed on to marketers’ audiences.
- Mobile Video
Have you looked at your Facebook feed recently? Chances are that 95% of it is video. And here’s a fun stat: mobile video views grew six times faster than desktop views in 2015. In fact, in Q4 of 2015, mobile video views exceeded desktop views for the first time ever. We now live in an age of mobile video, and it’s time we embraced it.
Although we’re still working out the kinks of this technology, it’s clear that livestreaming will continue to push the boundaries. A big step in this direction was Instagram’s integration of a livestream option into its Stories feature. We’re going to see a lot more live broadcasts in 2017.
Chatbot technology has become much more sophisticated. A great example is Facebook, which invests a significant amount of resources into bot programs that provide users with news updates, personalized responses and more. Are you talking to a human or a bot? If you can’t tell, then the bot is working as intended.
- Virtual and augmented reality
One of 2016’s biggest highlights were watching a screen-afflicted population carry their mobile devices out into the world to catch, yes, Pokémon. The biggest takeaway from this phenomenon was augmented reality’s ability to drive real business results. This has become a seriously viable option for marketers looking to bring the online into the real world.
- Short-lived content
What gives Snapchat its appeal? The fact that the content disappears. Snapchat’s rampant rise in popularity did a lot more for the world of social media than just give users another platform to choose from. It showed the value of disappearing or short-lived content. This is a key attraction for Generation Z, the cohort famous for having an eight-second attention span, and is why you should be integrating short-lived content into your content strategy.
- Mobile First Strategy
The future is mobile. Internet traffic is now coming more from mobile devices than desktops. If you’re not catering your content, ads and online experience to a mobile user, then you are missing a massive opportunity. And remember: It’s not just about “optimizing” for mobile; it’s also about making sure that piece of content gets integrated with a user’s lifestyle on the go.
Personalization means segmenting your content to reach different types of audience members based on their preferences, habits, etc. The most common form of this strategy is through lists, where certain content gets sent to certain types of users based on which lists they’ve opted into. In a world of too much content and not enough time, personalization is a huge win for organizations looking to earn the attention of their consumers.
- Native Advertising
Viewers, followers and consumers are getting wise to the tricks of advertisers, and it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain their attention and earn their trust. Native advertising means integrating your advertising efforts into content that already provides value to readers and viewers. For this reason, it tends to be more effective. Look for ways to weave your products and offerings into a larger narrative, instead of just blasting people with ads.
- Marketing Automation
Why do the same thing repeatedly when you can do it once and automate the rest? Automation is becoming extremely powerful (and popular) among marketers and businesses who are looking to scale and expand past trading hours. As apps, such as Marketo and Hubspot become more intuitive and affordable, automation will become more common.
- Purpose Driven Marketing
One of the most effective ways to extend your story is to give it a feel-good element. Businesses that partner with nonprofits or charities, or set up internal programs that “give back” in some way have a much stronger presence because their story resonates with the hearts of consumers. (This will be an excellent opportunity for nonprofits to develop partnerships with the private sector in 2017)
- Data Driven Marketing
There are two types of marketers: those who want to use what’s popular and those who use what works, regardless of whether it’s popular or not. Data tells you what’s really moving the needle, and the truth is that every marketer needs to be conscious of it. If you aren’t fluent in Facebook ads and conversion ratios, for example, then you’re missing a crucial part of every marketer’s essential toolbox.
- Social Media “Buy” Buttons
We are moving into an age where purchasing doesn’t need to happen on a third-party site. Users are on a social platform, so why should they have to leave to buy something? “Buy” buttons are quickly turning social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest into social shopping experiences.
- Dark Social
The hardest part about tracking traffic, conversions and shares is that you’re not always sure what the sources are. With the rise of encrypted and private messaging apps (where people still share lots of content with each other), you may want to invest in tools, such as Google Analytics that can measure, to some degree, where this “dark” traffic is coming from.
- Embrace The lOT (Internet of Things)
Should your thermostat talk to you? How about a refrigerator that informs you when you’re low on milk, and then gives you the option to place an order immediately? Everyday objects are beginning to connect to the internet, and this trend is going to open doors for marketers to integrate with the everyday lives of consumers. Watch this trend closely, because it’s going to boom!
- Beyond Viewability
Currently, most organizations use viewability to measure their success. Instead of solely focusing on views or clicks, marketers should measure their ROI on things such as sign-ups, downloads and purchases. This requires going beyond CPMs and looking at the performance-based metrics instead.
This year is Canada’s 150 anniversary so consider tying your organization’s activities to this special year.
Happy New Year.