15 Digital Marketing Trends that will shape the way we do business

The article is a tad long however offers a relatively succinct view of the 15 Digital Marketing Trends I believe will be prevalent from 2017> 

1/ Augmented Reality will continue to grow

Spurred on by the likes of Pokémon Go’s success in 2016 (peaking at $10 million a day in revenue) we will see more innovation in this area e.g. Augmented Reality within gaming, apps and ads.

2/ VR for Brands will continue to grow slowly 

Whilst I see a bright future for Augmented Reality overall and a bright future for certain types of VR in the short term (gaming, photography, video, viewing live sport, etc) I see the majority of brands operating outside the aforementioned spheres struggling to engage the few who have adopted these platforms during 2017 (barriers are largely social; always on camera and nerdy head sets).

However 2017 will be viewed with hindsight as the year brands learned the most about engagement, getting the platform to cost in, etc and I see 2018> as being bright for brands utilising VR well.

3/ Native advertising  

Native advertising (on social media and news websites as an example) will be a go to means of reaching consumers on the platforms they frequent in a non-invasive way during 2017.

Much has been made of programmatic advertising over the last 4 years however consumers see through the majority of programmatic banner ads (resulting in often low CTR / engagement / sales) and Brands know this as well hence Brands turning to more behaviourally platform bespoke targeting is inevitable

4/ Content / SEO Design

There is LOTS of content on the internet and 2017 will see Brands focusing much more around content platforms that cut through (AR, VR, video live streaming, platform specific, etc) and also focusing on content that cuts through in as short a time as possible that is designed around their user needs.

SEO will still be a key area of focus as a result to support content that in turn supports user need exploration.

5/ Social Media engagement will struggle to be justified from an ROI perspective

I could say something wonderful like ‘2017 is the year social + community engagement becomes fully justified from an ROI perspective’ however I just don’t see it for the majority of brands.

Social Media and digital community engagement can be clearly tracked in some sectors (B2B, pure digital plays, where tracking mechanics can be used through the line, etc) however as many brands operate in complex online/offline environments it will continue to be the role of digital leaders to put their necks on the line to justify increased investment in this essential area.

Without areas such as influencer engagement (from tier 1-3 influencers; all can play a part in your influencer strategy) brands will resonate poorly with their target audiences.

6/ Niche community targeting

Brands will further refine targeting during 2017 to engage hyper relevant audiences.

This will be done not only as it makes sense to engage those who will engage and are most likely to buy but also out of necessity due to cost and the way the Social + Search algorithms are being honed from a £cost perspective.

7/ Dark Social

Content that is being shared on closed social platforms (dark social) will exceed 80% during 2017. This will in turn continue to challenge Brands in areas such as attribution, engagement and ascertaining brand value from the content they create.

8/ Live Video Streaming goes mainstream

Live streaming (Facebook, Periscope et al) gained momentum in 2016 and will really take off in 2017; not only within circles of friends but also from Brands who are looking to develop more ‘in the moment’ content and the feeling of real brand connection

9/ Messaging Ads

The likes of Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp et al will play with non-intrusive advertising that compliments the conversations they are engaging in e.g. links to relevant clothes, restaurants, entertainment, etc.

10/ Marketing data Visualisation maturity

Big data has been the buzz word for a few years now but to make the most of all that data you need a way of visualising and manipulating that data; 2017 will see a step change in the areas of visualisation and interpretation that will in turn empower marketing teams to make better and quicker decisions

11/ Mobile Dominance

It’s been the year of mobile for 10 years(!) and 2017 will see the default for Brands being to target mobile user journeys before desktop (they should really be thinking multi-channel and multi click attribution but let’s see if that happens ;).

Big digital brands are also realising the need for more bespoke design around mobile customer journeys e.g. Google and the launch of its dedicated mobile SEO algorithm and Google Now being a good example of push personalised content.

Many consumers / countries outside the Western world have jumped straight to mobile as the go to device + with mobile payments seriously took off during 2016 (from apple pay > M-Pesa) we will see brands focusing on mobile customer journeys much more in 2017.

12/ App growth – continues (with challenges)  

There are many Apps that are simply lost in the Google and Apple app stores. This is often due to a lack of optimisation (App Store Optimisation – ASO), the fact they offer nothing over and above similar Apps/ responsive sites or due to them not being focused on user need.

The Apps that succeed in 2017 will be more niche (with obvious exceptions around areas such as gaming) and will have to be more intuitive, accessible and convenient when compared to their responsive website equivalents to survive.

13/ Internet of Things (IOT) > voice assistance, self and predictive services 

Whilst there are wild predictions for the growth of wearable tech (watches, fitness trackers, etc) the future of the IOT is still not as rosy as some make out during 2017.

Several big tech players are slowing dev and investment into areas such as smart watches, developments such as the Amazon Dash button are mere play things and embedding IOT into items such as clothing is still minuscule.

…Though conversely whilst the likes of Amazon Echo are still buggy (I’ve returned X2 due to various issues), voice assistants are infiltrating our homes and the likes of amazon Echo, Google Assistant and a new product release from Apple during 2017 will dominate

14/ Online advertising isn’t going to get any cheaper

As Social platforms continue to develop ways of monetising their traffic and areas such as programmatic display and PPC are still go to media I do not see CPM’s or CPC’s reducing in 2017. Yes supply might be increasing but so too is demand.

15/ CRO focus

As costs of media rise Brands will look to Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) to help keep overall ROI in check. In turn more Brands will hire dedicated teams and use enterprise tools such as Optimizely or VWO.

Bonus Point: Growth hacking growth

Linked with several of the ideas above; the principles of growth hacking (“rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business”) will increasingly infiltrate traditional businesses leading to new ways of working (alpha > beta dev becomes standard, user testing becomes the norm, social media R&D greatly impacting new products developed for shelf, etc).

The focus will increasingly be on growth and how digital marketing directly impacts that via test and learn activity / Agile Marketing rather than on digital marketing just for the overarching sake of the Brand.

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