It’s already the New Year, which means 2017 is right around the corner. And what a year it’s going to be! Marketers around the world are expecting the year to bring unprecedented opportunities, as well as some notable setbacks.
The year is already two-thirds gone and it’s been an eventful one. Google had one of the biggest product upgrades in history with the release of its twice-a-yearly, marquee update, the Pichaiverse. Facebook’s Libra coin, cryptocurrency, and the impending arrival of the World Wide Web 3.0 are just a few of the huge news stories that defined the year.
This blog post will highlight 10 online marketing trends that will dominate 2017. We’ll explore how marketers should prepare for these shifts, and how technology will play a crucial role.
1. Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence are the Keywords of the Year
It’s no secret that AI and machine learning have been taking the consumer world by storm in recent years. We’re seeing intelligent agents that learn and improve as they go, and it’s going to be crucial for marketers in 2017 to keep up.
According to HubSpot Blogs research, people are searching for “SMB (small and medium business) marketing automation” more than any other keyword this year. In fact, “SMB marketing automation” even topped the search list in 2016.
Other search terms that came out on top were:
- email marketing automation
- marketing automation
- content automation
- marketing automation software
- email marketing software
- marketing automation platform
- marketing automation tool
Based on our analysis of the top 10 search terms, it’s clear that businesses that want to improve customer experience and cut through the noise should consider investing in marketing automation.
2. Mobile is King and Focus on User Experience is the New Focus
If you’ve been publishing content on the internet for more than five years, you’ll know that mobile usage has been on a steady climb. In 2016, people spent more time on their phones than they did watching television and more than 80% of all internet traffic – a total of 3.9 billion sessions – was viewed on a smartphone or tablet.
The user experience matters as much as the product when it comes to attracting and engaging customers, and mobile UX is going to be extremely important to marketers in 2017. In fact, Statista research predicts that by 2021 over 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be consumed from mobile devices.
Even though mobile users spend less time on websites than desktop users, businesses need to put in the extra effort to ensure that the user experience is as good as possible. In particular, UX on mobile is going to be vital in creating a satisfying experience for customers, leading them to spend more time with your brand and engaging with it in the future. To improve UX, marketers should follow Google’s lead and implement the three pillars of mobile design:
- UX (user experience)
- UI (user interface)
- A/B Testing
With these three pillars in mind, mobile design projects should be approached thoughtfully and strategically, and not haphazardly.
3. Content is Still King, but Distribution is the New Focus
It’s been a big year for content, and not just because we’re in the middle of an unprecedented content boom. As platforms like TikTok and Instagram evolve and grow, so too does the scope and importance of content marketing. In a nutshell, content is still very much king when it comes to digital marketing, but the emphasis is now on creating compelling content that can be distributed and consumed on multiple channels.
Even if you don’t have a massive following on TikTok or Instagram, you probably interact with content on a regular basis. From viral videos to inspiring blogs and web shows, content is all around us and it’s never been more important to capture and keep a reader’s attention. This trend is even more relevant to smaller businesses, which may not have the budget for high-profile influencers. However, they can produce a large amount of content for much less money.
The key is to create compelling content that encourages people to engage with you, subscribe to your newsletter, and maybe even make a purchase. While video content is becoming more popular, text can still be just as effective as a form of content. When crafting your content strategy for the year, you should consider creating a mix of both.
4. Analytics, Metrics, & Visibility are Top Priorities
Even if you follow all the tips and tricks for content marketing and have successfully marketed a product or service using content, you’ll still want to know what’s working and what isn’t. In other words, you’ll want to track the results of your efforts.
Thankfully, digital marketing platforms have made it easy to measure and track the success of your efforts, including content. The catch is that not all analytics platforms are created equal, so you want to make sure that you’re choosing the right one. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of information available online, so you can research the best fit for your business.
As a marketing manager, your job is to guide and lead the efforts of your sales team. One of the main responsibilities you have is to ensure that each marketing channel and strategy is performing as expected. This means keeping track of the results of all the campaigns and adjusting your approach based on what you learn from analysis of the data. In order to do this you’re going to need to prioritize your analytics needs and wants. Specifically, you’ll want to focus on the following metrics:
- Website traffic
- Mobile traffic
- Email traffic
- Social media traffic (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)
- Search engine traffic (e.g., Google)
You should also consider looking into metrics that you can verify are accurate and reliable, such as session volume, bounce rate, and conversion rate. It’s also helpful to look into metrics that can be used to compare your performance to competitors. For example, you might want to see how your articles compare to those published by your competitors in terms of distribution, engagement, or earning revenue. However, keep in mind that these numbers can be very deceiving and should never be used as a sole measure of success.
5. Personal Branding is the New Norm
If you’re not using your personal brand in your marketing efforts, you’re seriously limiting your reach and opportunity. At a time when many marketers are struggling to stand out in a sea of sameness, having a unique identity that represents your brand can be the difference between success and failure. In fact, according to HubSpot Blogs research, 79% of consumers have an identity that represents a brand, product, or service. To ensure that your personal branding is consistent and easily identified, you need to ensure that all your marketing material – whether online or off – reflects your brand’s identity. In other words, you need to develop a personal brand strategy and work hard to ensure that your personal brand is integrated and reflected in all your marketing materials (e.g., logo, signage, web banners, and social media posts).
In a nutshell, having a personal brand is very much an essential tool for any marketer. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a natural born entrepreneur or marketer, chances are you’ve played a role in creating and growing your company. By incorporating your unique experiences, values, and perspective into your personal branding, you’ll be able to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and communicate your brand’s unique personality to potential customers. Plus, you’ll be able to cite examples of how you’ve applied your personal brand in your marketing materials, increasing the likelihood of a person being able to connect the dots between your brand and your marketing material.
6. Product Awareness, Shopping Experiences, & In-Marketing Activities are Major Factors
Even if you’ve been around for centuries, you’ll still want to work hard to ensure that your customers know exactly what you offer and why they should choose your product or service. As retail landscape changes, traditional methods of attracting potential customers – like billboards and television spots – are being replaced by digital marketing channels, which allow you to target and engage with consumers at scale, even if they’re unaware of your brand.