Wondering what will drive digital sales in the coming year? Ready to make decisions about what to spend 2017 marketing dollars on for the best return on investment? I’ve outlined my 10 predictions for 2017 digital marketing trends and the reasons I chose them. Before starting my predictions for 2017, I wanted to look back at what I predicted last year to see how well I foresaw the future. Last year I suggested investing in:
- Mobile First – this started impacting brands in the spring
- Personalizing the customer experience – emails and posts that were more personal universally did better this year
- Content marketing – most companies increased their content marketing in 2016
- Collaborate with Influencers to promote content – again this prediction showed positive results
- Technical SEO – Penguin rolled out finally and there were other significant algorithm impacts
- Reputation Management – this continues to increase in importance
Overall, if brands followed this outline, they should have done very well last year. This year, many of these same tends continue, and I think companies can safely continue with these marketing strategies with a few exceptions and additions.
How I Came Up with My Predictions for 2017 Digital Marketing Trends
I had the privilege of speaking with two West Chester University marketing classes last week on the topic of preparing our digital marketing strategies for 2017 and farther into the future. These “Gen Z” students expressed frustration with advertisements when they are searching the web, and led me to really think about the impact Ad Blockers will continue to have next year.
I also looked at my 2016 predictions (most of which did come about and can be seen here https://www.boomtownig.com/dmtrends/8-guidelines-planning-2016-marketing-budget/) to see if these will carry forward into 2017, and I reviewed our many client’s analytics and sales data. I reviewed industry surveys and conducted some informal surveys of our clients. The results are as follows:
Marketing Budgets for 2017
Marketing spend was down last year on average to 7.5% of company revenue, although for BtoC companies it was 10.2% of revenue. Marketing spend will flatten or even increase a bit continuing into 2017 with BtoC marketing spend leading the rest of companies. This is due to more competition for advertising real estate, a larger focus on mobile reach, and the increased cost of tracking marketing return on investment.
According to a Forester Research Survey showing the estimated allocation of marketing dollars across channels, in 2016 companies allocated 30% of their marketing budget to online and this is expected to increase to 35% by 2019. This includes SEO, display advertising, search advertising, social media, and mobile marketing. For the first time, in 2017 online advertising will exceed television advertising spend, according to eMarketer.
This makes sense, as more and more people are consuming video on their mobile or tables instead of from network television. According to Neilson’s comparable metrics report between 2011 and 2016, traditional TV viewing by 18-24-year-olds decreased over 9 hours per week, falling 38% since 2011. Advertisers are moving money out of traditional television, print and radio and into digital.
Companies should pay attention to digital media consumption and the following 2017 digital marketing trends, so that they can position their 2017 marketing dollars to the greatest advantage.
1. Better customer experience
The customer is always right, even when the customer is virtual. Customer experience is the heart of marketing for every industry. The only way to compete is to nurture, sustain and foster the relationship you build with your customers, but getting a slice of their attention is becoming harder day-by-day. For example we see people demanding a better online experience when shopping. In 2017 companies should invest in their website info structure so that they can provide:
- Lightning-fast response time from click-to-click
- A responsive site that performs well on any device
- Up-to-date product and inventory data
- Chat and phone 24 hour customer support
- Rock solid security
- Rewards for having an account, VIP coupons and specials, history of recent purchases – other personalization including custom landing pages for customers with history
- Easy to understand shipping, tax, and return policies
- Ability to checkout as a guest
- Cross sell and bundled product upsell
- Video reviews, star reviews, independent reviews
- Products and services that offer unique content like guides and comparisons
- In particular, B To B sites should add the user friendly experience of an eCommerce format to enhance the online sales process.
2. Marketers need to be able to measure ROI – even in terms of connected data.
Companies are demanding that marketers show them a return on investment, in order to make budgeting decisions about how best to engage with customers. To do this they need to accurately measure marketing data.
Measuring marketing is tough. With more channels and different devices how do marketers measure attribution? Google analytics and other tagging tools allow for attribution reports but ad blockers and an increase in people who delete cookies can skew data from these reports.
In 2017, companies will spend a lot of money on data reporting in order to try to tie business objectives to profit, revenue, customer retention, and customer satisfaction (a difficult metric to measure).
Businesses will collect ROI data from email, social media, paid advertising, direct, search, referral and affiliate, and print, radio, video, etc. in order to get a clear picture of where to invest their marketing dollars. They need technology like a tag manager to analyze the complex relationships of multiple marketing channels on customer data.
3. The size and quantity of ads on Amazon, Apps and Search
Showing in the top position is optimal, and more than half of our eCommerce clients’ conversions are from Pay-Per-Click advertising. For these reasons, in 2017 companies will spend more on advertising on Apps, on Amazon, and on search.
- Amazon offers free shipping, consistent shopping experience, Prime, reviews, and also ranks in search, and many people use Amazon as their go-to product shopping channel, completely bypassing search engines.
- An increase in real estate for product listing ads on Google means (60% growth for Google in 2016) companies will have to pay more for:
o Optimizing product feeds and keeping them current
o Structuring shopping campaigns to manage bids
o Using negative keywords to segment campaign traffic
o Using a smart bidding platform
4. Personalization and programmatic ads
- People want to feel special – and companies recognize this, even going so far as to add their names to shoes or soda cans. When surveyed, almost 9 in every 10 consumers admit that personalization has influenced their buying decisions. Companies that use programmatic technology to personalize ads will get the best return on investment from their ad spend in 2017.
- Email marketing for most companies is not personalized – except for adding the client’s name, and possibly their geographic data. As companies get better at automating customized emails they can better segment emails and show social ads to people who already bought certain items, or expressed interest in these items.
- A customer’s history of Search on Google, Bing and Amazon influence results in future searches and can be incentivized with specific sales. This not only holds true for search engines, but also for search functionality within a retail site or blog. Companies with the most user-friendly search results will be winners in 2017.
5. How much video and other content people are consuming
- It still applies: content is king. Companies that create useful, honest and unique videos will stand out. Our Google support rep shared that Google is hyper focused on video for the future, and that by 2019 more than 80% of content consumed will be video. You can read some of Google’s video predictions here: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/whats-next-entertainment-three-predictions-from-google-australias-head-marketing.html
- According to an Animoto survey this year:
o Video has a 300% click-through rate when used in email
o 4 times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.
o 4 in 5 consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important.
o Attention span = short video is best to convey information
- Facebook sent lots of money this year, changing its entire structure to incorporate video streaming – so Facebook is betting big on video.
6. Search engines’ local and mobile changes
- As more people consume content on mobile phones, Google has stated that there will no longer be a desktop algorithm and a mobile algorithm. There will be just one, and it will be mobile. This means that the rules for geo-targets and differentiating reviews will apply to all websites. Google has supplied best practice guidelines for the time when the algorithm will change and mobile content will be prioritized.
- Companies should structured data to mobile device search from now on.
7. Do social media marketing in a different way.
It’s been very difficult to justify social media marketing, but most companies feel that they still need to do it in 2017. Companies should use social media to sell and personalize ads because this is a proven tactic.
Companies should plan to use social media to engage with customers – personally – and to make questions on social media much more personal.
- Ask customers how you can help them.
- Respond quickly.
8. The IoT Data.
Data from the Internet of Things will start to play a part in marketing in 2017. There will be billions of connected devices telling marketers when to push a out a product or service.
9. Mobile AI and App sales.
- The AI on your phone (Siri) will get better and start to understand your preferences. This data will go to Apple, Google and others and deliver timely ads programmatically when you search verbally.
- Apps that provide mobile alerts when consumers are in store or nearby will continue to improve because of beacon technology.
- Mobile wallets will be standard features of new smartphones.
- Mobile order-ahead to avoid lines.
10. Content Marketing will change.
- Interactive quizzes, surveys, live streaming and other video will be used more often on social media like Facebook, YouTube, SnapChat, and even in LinkedIn especially for product announcements, webinars, virtual tours, tutorials, and events.
- Reaching influencers so that they can push your content out on their networks will be more important and will be done via social media.
- Businesses will use more storytelling in their case studies and other content marketing.
- The death of push advertising as it is replaced with native advertising due to Ad blockers. So no more display ads or pop-ups to interfere with content consumptions, it will be much more subtle.
- Shift in B to B content marketing – making it a more “ongoing” business strategy. Like a case study every month or so.
As marketers over the last 10 or 15 years we have become accustomed to the impact of technology on consumer buying habits. Smart TVs, connected devices, virtual reality, and continuous connectivity have moved away from science fiction and now influence the way companies market. What new changes will 2017 bring? I invite your comments about 2017 digital marketing trends.
1. The CMO Report.org
2. Forester Research 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions
5. Marketing Profs