2017 Digital Marketing Trends
As we approach the end of 2016, everyone wants to know what’s in store for the next year. Preparation in digital marketing is key, which is why we have written a complete list of the 2017 digital marketing trends you need to know – no matter what type of marketer you are.
SEO Trends 2017
The Rise of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
Accelerated Mobile Pages are an open-source protocol that allows webmasters to create pages that are capable of loading almost instantly on mobile devices. The idea behind this is that a handful of simple structural changes can make your site load up to 4 times faster and use 8 times less data. Already Google has started to favour AMP’s, giving them visibility in a carousel and a small lightning bolt icon to show their status.
Barry Adams, SEO Consultant at Polemic Digital seconds this notion, saying “Keep a sharp eye on AMP for eCommerce and the way AMP results will be highlighted in SERPs. Already we see Google highlighting the advantages of AMP to its users – if this takes a stronger hold, AMP could well become the new de facto standard for mobile web pages.”
Machine Learning Will Change the Way the Algorithm Works
Google RankBrain was released late last year and has since opened up the possibility of algorithmic machine learning. The extension of Google Hummingbird functions as a way to gradually learn more about how users phrase conversational queries. Google will most likely start releasing more machine learning updates beginning next year and it’s possible that we might even see machine learning in other areas such as marketing automation or data interpretation. A very welcomed 2017 digital marketing trend.
Jonathan Allen, President at L&T Co had this to say on the subject: “My money is on really basic tactics like natural/organic link building working better than ever in 2017. I think that will prove to be because RankBrain can actually test ranking your site against way more user queries than was previously possible, computationally.”
Personal Branding is the New SEO Weapon
With personal branding, you’ll have a much easier time securing guest posts, driving more traffic to your website and building user trust. As Facebook alters its algorithms more and more to favour personal posts over branded ones, personal branding is set to become a core SEO strategy in 2017. A very low number of brands have actually taken advantage of this tactic so prepare to see its popularity increase.
MarketingLand discuss how content marketing and personal branding go hand in hand but the balance is difficult to get right. Rebecca Lieb says,
“A personal content strategy must strike the often delicate balance between who a person is, professionally, and what that person is like — often revealed on more personal social platforms. It goes without saying that overly personal or salacious material belongs on an account that’s not under your real name, shared with close friends but not the world at large.”
Content Marketing Trends 2017
The Rise of “Dense” Content
It’s no longer the done thing when it comes to content marketing to produce the same fluff over and over, or to write shallow accounts of original content on the web. Early content marketing efforts focused on producing as much bite-sized content as possible, but there’s been a surge in “epic” content; long piece that cover a topic comprehensively. Since the market has been flooded with both types of content, we’re seeing a hybrid emerge: “Dense” content, which focuses on providing as much information as possible in the smallest amount – dense content – to appeal to readers.
On the contrary, Joshua Daniels – Founder and Managing Director at Go Amplify – discussing producing long-form content that has high value to your reader, saying “Creating long-form content (i.e., content that is 2,000-4,000+ words), combined with a good promotional strategy, will yield greater online visibility, as it will lead to more social shares and links, which will feed the organic growth.”
We reached out to Joshua to see what else he thought was going to develop for content marketing for 2017:
“The biggest content marketing surge in 2017 will be Facebook video. Brands will become much more creative with video marketing as Facebook is rolling out a dedicated video tab which reflects its vision to enable video as an integral part of its mobile offering. Brands will be able to deliver a feed of live videos based on your interests and subscriptions. This will be the most significant change to social media in years as Facebook is literally taking over YouTubes video power and influence.”
Video content is taking the marketing world by storm and there’s no sign of it slowing down next year. 2017 is set to see feature use of video, leading to higher ROI, conversion, brand recall and engagement according to Marketing Tech News. It’s also possible that we’ll start to see brands pushing content to support in-brand strategies and using complex formats like video. Also, According to Cisco earlier this year, by 2017 video is going to account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic and video-on-demand traffic alone will have trebled. That’s an incredible piece of news.
When it comes to the topic of altering content to appeal more to SEO, Michael Bonfils, CEO & President at International Media Management spoke about creating content that focuses on psychographic behaviour as well as specific segments of the customer journey: “For example, Joe is a powerful German executive. Based on his persona and the psychographic “category” he fits in, we are developing content that is tailored to not only Joe, but also to the entire category of similar Joes. This means, changing content to be shorter, but more proactive. So far our tests have shown extremely favourable results by creating content that’s specific to motive and behaviour on a global level. Basically 99 percent of content is just generic and not tailored to a persona category.”
Expert Opinion: Micro Influencers
The Huffington post has suggested that part of a successful digital content strategy involves nurturing a growing community of followers – something that can be facilitated through partnerships with brand advocates or micro influencers.
We got in touch with Jessica Gow, Content Marketing Consultant, for her take on micro influencers:
“The use of micro influencers is a stand-out 2017 trend for me (especially for growing fashion/beauty brands), as it’s something that many companies no matter their size or budget, can try next year, and should produce effective results as long as enough time and effort is spent on finding authentic influencers who have a genuine interest in/need for a product or service.”
In an informative piece on influencer marketing on LinkedIn, Jessica states something that we thought was incredibly important to understand:
“Popularity does not equal influence, and authenticity is perhaps the real key to creating powerful content that will truly resonate with its target audience. The best results of influencer outreach occur when the chosen influencers themselves are genuinely passionate about a brand or product, and are excited to feature it in their posts. These people may not always be the ones with the most followers or the largest communities, but the influence they do have will be significant.”
Email Marketing Trends for 2017
Next Level Segmentation
Kevin Gorge at Business2Community reveals in its email marketing trends of 2017 that you’re going to require something much more than just your typical profile-based segmentation. Consider factors such as ‘What time of day do my subscribers open my emails?’, and, ‘what type of emails do they actually open?’. Integrating this type of data with other customer information will help you stay ahead in the game next year. Some subscribers like when you send emails more often and some like one only every now and then – you’re going to have to really understand the interests of your subscribers when you’re planning your segmentation.
Mobile Optimisation for Email
A study by Litmus revealed that 56% of email users prefer to open emails on mobile devices and 42% of them delete an email if it doesn’t display correctly according to a different study by BlueHornet. It’s now becoming essential to think mobile first when it comes to your email campaigns – there’s no option but to create responsive emails – single column templates being the best solution. The content of the email must be written with mobile users factored in too. The main copy, the CTA and even the subject line will need to be short, crisp and straight to the point. Mobile users don’t muck around – make sure your CTA is easy to respond to on a mobile device to truly reap the rewards of your email marketing next year.
The Interactive Emails That Will Win 2017
GIFs and videos have always brought more interesting elements to emails, and have moreover been supported by various email clients making them the most sought after. Videos in emails took a back seat in 2016, but are predicted to make a comeback this coming year with thanks to iOS 10 supporting videos in email. Want to get in on the action? Here are the interactive elements that will be winning email in 2017:
Countdown Timers – A sense of urgency is classic marketing, but it’s a sure fire way to increase conversions. An interactive countdown timer is the perfect way to integrate this into your email communications. You can use it to generate curiosity about an upcoming sale, or use it to remind users about their carts or the validity of a discount or offer.
Scratch Effect – Humanity has a deeply curious nature and the scratch effect in emails is the perfect way to push on this pressure point. The scratch effect – which as you’ll guess is providing codes that appear after they’ve been scratched – work amazingly well when it comes to displaying offers. It’s like a scratch card, and it’s pretty cool.
Rotating Banners and Sliders – Less complicated, but both elements offer the chance to add multiple images that can be linked to respective pages. Rotating banners also provide another key benefit – the opportunity to add multiple calls to action. While sliders have a 2D effect, rotating banners have a 3D effect.
Social Media Trends 2017
What used to be classed as a traditional, big deal television event is now a bite-sized social media live stream. Heidi Besik, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe says,
“We will see brand advertisers begin talking about platforms like Twitter and Facebook as a new form of television. And as consumers get increasingly more comfortable (and familiar) with video, we will see a shift in organic content where brands beginning building out dedicated video teams and putting together an infrastructure that decreases turnaround times and gets content out faster.”
When it comes to Facebook Live and other platforms’ media, Kendall Bird, Associate Social Manager at Collegis has some advice for you:
“As you envision your social media strategies for 2017, be thoughtful about each platform and your followers. Why are they watching Facebook Live, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories? Are you differentiating your accounts to fit what your followers are interested in? Why are they following you? Consider conducting an competitor analysis of what they are doing on these platforms products, focusing on what is successful for them and how you can better those efforts for the brands you are managing. Always remember, you are building a community – would you want to be part of it?”
When you think of influencer marketing you probably think of either a major celebrity’s Instagram account littered with brand names, or you think of the famous bloggers who just so happen to be into particular products at any given time, but influencer marketing goes well beyond this now. It can include hashtags which start genuine conversations as well as other organic, creative ideas. The innovation behind influencer marketing is likely to flourish in 2017, we believe. It isn’t just going to develop for typical products, however.
An Expert Opinion from the Brand Relationship Strategist at Fractl, Ashley Carlisle states that “As more research is becoming available to prove influencer marketing’s ROI, B2B and other types of B2C companies will likely join. These brands especially better work with powerful middle- and micro-influencers as they often have more influence over a more intimate, targeted audience – which also translates to more engagement.”
There’s a chatbot revolution happening, and it’s primarily fuelled by the adoption of bots by major social media messaging platforms like Google, Facebook Messenger and Microsoft Skype. Kevin King discusses for AdWeek the fact that there are now billions of daily users of messaging platforms who are used to engaging with brands in the feeds – the platforms hope they can enable marketers the ability to scale, “creative one to one engagement opportunities called ‘conversational experiences”. These will bring together past revolutions in eCommerce and text services while highlighting the potential of artificial intelligence.” Kevin also shared an incredibly informative 2017 digital trends report which we love. Check it out.
Smart Insights has noted how increasingly popular it has become for people to turn to private social messaging instead of engaging with social media. In February 2016, WhatsApp announced that it hit the 1 billion user mark. The four most popular messaging apps – Messenger, WhatsApp, QQ Chat and WeChat have a wider community than the top four main social networks. Back in November Facebook announced that advertisers can pay to highlight their brand in users’ News Feeds and clicking on the ad would take them directly to a chat window with the brand. In 2017 efforts are said to shift from social networks to messaging applications – probably because of its Dark Social potential
Increase in Paid Social Media Advertising
It’s getting harder and harder to garner decent reach from purely organic social traffic. This year Facebook changed its algorithm which caused less traffic to be sent to content sites. The platform has instead been placing News Feed priority on friends and families rather than brands and companies. This of course means if you want your brand to be seen, you’ll need to revert to paid social media advertising. There’s an increase in competition when it comes to spending too, but it’s forecast that by 2017, marketers will spend up to $35.98 billion on social advertising in the US alone says Sarah Fairley at Filtered Media.
Zenith Media also states that global advertising expenditure in social media will grow 72% between now and 2019 rising from $29bn to $50bn in their Advertising Expenditure Forecasts. Social media advertising will account for 20% of all internet advertising in 2019 up from 16% this year.
In fact, social media ad spending is expected to surpass that of newspapers by 2020 according to Fortune. The rapid expansion of social media platforms on mobile devices as well as faster internet connectivity means that there’s a huge shift in the way people get their news. The media industry has been shook by this rapid shift in advertising trends, with firms moving their ad budgets from traditional sources such as newspapers, to websites found on computers and mobile phones.
Expert Opinion: Social Media Integral to Organic SEO Reach
Stoney deGeyter, CEO at Pole Position Marketing in short believes that,
“As search results get more targeted toward personalisation, this will create a sort of confirmation bias in search results. Google will tend to show searchers what they have already become familiar with or sites that are a close match. This will force many small businesses to invest deeper into social media marketing in order to build brand recognition and traffic just to be part of the “confirmed sites” that Google and other search engines will show to searchers, based on their known preferences.”
SEO Consultant Bill Hartzer says something similar: “Diversifying your efforts, such as including strategies other than SEO like social media and paid search is key in 2017. Focus on tracking every single visit to your website so you know where visitors are coming from.”
Mobile Trends 2017
Expert Chris Humber: The Future of Mobile Marketing
We reached to expert Chris Humber to get his take on what’s in store for mobile in 2017:
“Having already passed the tipping point, mobile traffic is outpacing desktop in nearly all categories. In response, Google has already stated a new mobile first search index is on the way in 2017, regulating desktop results to a supplemental index. With voice search on the rise, I anticipate we’ll see an increase in intelligent bots (think weChat) allowing consumers to communicate directly with brands to make purchases & book travel regardless of device (including amazon echo, Siri, Cortana, Google home). Brand owners should look to incorporate new technologies to gain a first to market advantage.
Additionally, I expect we’ll see an increase in app adoption whereby consumers will default to best in class mobile apps which will be punctuated by search. Expect more search results (especially organic) to open content in app as opposed to remaining within mobile browsers. All in all, marketers should look to build mobile first strategies and brands must be willing to adopt new technologies to succeed in an ever changing mobile landscape.”
Buying on Mobile
We’ve been extensively discussing mobile all year at Spot Studio, but we’re officially telling you since it’s the new year that smartphones are now central to the lives of most UK residents. According to the eMarketer UK Digital Trends for 2017: Mobile is Key report, the UK is gonna be home to 43.6 million smartphone users next year and rank third in the world for smartphone penetration. Shopping with mobile devices is already massive in the UK and is set to be bigger next year. The number of mobile shoppers ages 14 and over will reach an estimated 40.1 million – almost 89% of the country’s digital shoppers and even more of these shoppers will click to buy on their handsets. Retail mCommerce sales in the UK are set to leap by over £5.5 million in 2016 to £25.74 billion by several billion pounds each year through 2020. Mobile’s share of UK retail sales will climb from 6.3% to 7.6% in 2017. Brace yourself, mobile sales are coming!
One of the most important factors is that your business is visible via mobile search. Make sure your website is responsive, meaning it automatically adjusts to the device it’s being viewed on. Like we said in our SEO section, the rise of AMPs comes in heavily to mobile marketing trends too. Ensure you don’t lose customers over poor functionality. The next thing necessary for marketers is for them to identify key mobile word searches for your industry. What questions are your potential customers trying to answer that your service or product can sort out? Once you find out the questions, you can answer with a content-based solution. We also touch on this in our content marketing section.
Mobile is also shaping the way for localised search. A study conducted by Google from May 2016 revealed that 76% of people who search on their mobile devices for something nearby visit the business within a day. Twenty-eight percent of these result in a purchase. “Near Me” searches have increased by 174% year over year and it continues to climb. Google has announced new ad units for local results, which will be further integrated into Apple Maps which can provide brands with new opportunities to capitalise on local-intent qualifiers in search.
The difficult thing about this is that activation requires consumers to have a brand’s beacon-enabled app installed which lowers adoption rates. Google’s launch of Nearby extends the boundaries of current beacon technologies by reducing its friction, so this is going to be an interesting development to watch out for next year.
It appears that customers are more comfortable than ever using their mobiles to pay for goods and services. Make sure your business is setup to accept mobile pay. ‘Buy’ buttons already exist on various platforms including Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, it has never been so easy to buy on tablets and mobiles. If you’ve noticed the ‘Buy’ button on News Feed then you’ll have also noticed that instead of sending you to another site for payment, you’re able to purchase directly from your news feed effortlessly. Because customers don’t have to jump through those extra hoops, the potential for hesitation and distractions is decreased. As awareness goes up and retailers continue to implement the tool, this is only set to increase in 2017.
eCommerce Trends 2017
Next year, many retailers are going to start working with data aggregators that basically compile data on millions of products: price comparisons, reviews, descriptions, images etc. There are aggregators that contain enough data on millions of pieces of clothing to actually recommend the perfect sizes. Merchants will be able to link their sites to these databases so they can automatically update product information so say goodbye to crap product descriptions and uncertainty.
Several brands and retailers have already started using the TrueFit data aggregator which currently works with over 400 shoe and clothing brands to provide shoppers with the perfect sized garment based on their measurements and current wardrobe. Another program is Etilize – a product information aggregator specialising in home electronics that provides structures and standardised data on over 2 million products. A retailer is now able to synchronise its website with their database to almost instantly broaden its service offering and to double check the accuracy on each product image, specs, owner manuals and more. Product info is adapted for 30 countries and is available in 20 languages. Nice.
The 2017 digital marketing trend of Artificial Intelligence is one we’re particularly excited about. Next year, fully automated chat agents that answer consumer questions and act as the first point of contact with brand will become dramatically more popular. Soon they’ll be as commonplace as automated phone systems – except more interesting and interactive. Contrary to what some may think, store sales staff will become more important than ever as they’ll become increasingly more involved in the online experience. To add some substance to the predictions, we’ll tell you that the buyer conversion rate is 5 to 10 times higher following a chat session and live chat users spend more – between 5% and 30% more than the average shopper.
In terms of people using it already, Taco Bell in the US who have the TacoBot which allows users to order food by messaging. What a time to be alive. Pizza Hut and Burger King have been doing similar, allowing customers to order grub through Twitter and Facebook Messenger.
H&M, Victoria’s Secret and Sephora have also been using chatbots on the Kik platform. Perhaps one of the most interesting examples is the interactive CELEB STYLE chatbot – it analyses celebrity looks and tells consumers where they can get each wardrobe item – and it engages with them like a friend telling them some gossip.
If you’re wondering what platforms you should be keeping an eye on, then you know what we’re going to say. Facebook Messenger now has 1 billion users, and as does Whatsapp. The UK sees 36% of mobile web users using Whatsapp but always keep an eye on your target demographic. AI Trends confirms these trend predictions by discussing how consumers are craving more immersive, personalised shopping experiences, and AI is the key to this. AI is giving retailers the opportunity to learn about their customers and what makes them tick like behaviours, tastes and preferences.
Technological updates in brick-and-mortar stores as well as consumers’ mobile devices mean the end of the traditional wallet for a lot of people next year. Payments are made possible with more than just your classic smartphone. You can now use rings, bracelets, watches and other “wearables”.
Kit and Ace stores do not accept cash payments and don’t even have cash registers (they sell minimalist and technical apparel). Each one of their 54 locations, including the 23 in the US and 10 in Canada is equipped to accept credit card payments and mobile – but no cash. During the Rio Olympics Games, VISA gave its sponsored athletes a payment ring that let them make purchases at around 4,500 points of sale at the Olympic venues by tapping the NFC-enabled ring on the payment terminals.
Mastercard launched a partnership with BMO in 2016 with the “selfie pay” system that identifies the shopper using biometrics – or – the selfie. It’s mainly just used to verify online purchases, but its potential for cashless transactions are clear to see. According to the Selfie Pay website you can complete a transaction in less 5 seconds with a 95% photo matching technology. It’s available on Android phones and tablets and will be available on iOS soon. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops over 2017.
Out of all the 2017 digital marketing trends this one is perhaps the most innovative. According to the 10eCommerce Trends 2017 report, technology such as Emcien, Windsor Circle and AgilOne promises to be very lucrative for retailers next year but particularly B2B companies where orders are larger and sales cycles more laborious. Let’s take another one, the SAQ – Quebec’s liquor store’s Inspire card “is a loyalty program that not only gives the government corporation better insight into its customers’ purchasing habits, but also more information about their tastes and preferences; qualitative AND quantitative.” With this wealth of information, the SAQ can determine the probability of a customer purchasing certain products and in certain situations which can ultimately create personalised, unique promotions for each individual. So really, not only can it predict when they’re going to buy a bottle of wine – they can recommend the perfect one. Bottoms up!