Top 7 Digital Marketing Trends for 2017

Digital media marketers, ASSEMBLE! 2017 is gaining momentum fast, so we’ve been getting our minds right for the next wave of digital marketing trends. The future is knocking on all our doors and sending very suggestive emojis.

Here are our predictions for marketing trends in 2017:

1.) Are you my data?

Markets will need to look beyond vanity metrics and focus on understanding behavioral data; what customers value, what drives their engagement, how they buy, what they search for, and how they think. No more guess and test. Markets will start focusing on the right data and seeing customers as individuals. Once you understand the customer’s unique tendencies though multi-touch attribution, you understand their behavior, their journey, and the right mediums through which to communicate. The marketer can then anticipate the decisions that the individual customer makes and formulate the appropriate strategy. AI and Machine Learning tools are going to be major players in this data party. You can dive even deeper into data with our Put Big Data To Work blog post.

2.) Marketing Autobots

We’re not quite at the Westworld  level of artificial intelligence, or even the Rosie the Robot Maid level from The Jetsons for that matter, but AI is going to shake up marketing in a big way this year. Anyone can easily test building their own chat bot with wit.ai, which will be the among the best ways for businesses to communicate with the public. If Facebook opens up paid media messages… Fuhgeddaboudit! (Forget about it.) Spam that talks back. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. It’s the future. Bot building may lead towards using artificial intelligence to automate programmatic advertising with creative that’s personalized by user experience and Facebook data. Think of artificial intelligence as creating a brain from scratch, one that works faster, crunches bigger data, and can define websites that you want to buy space on, all determined by the Terminator AI. IBM Watson Analytics, for example, is a social analytics tool with an AI twist. We’re taking it for a spin ourselves and it’s a pretty smooth ride so far. Google Trends lets you understand current search trends at a glance. Both Facebook and Amazon are rolling out AI tools that will give insight into how people interact with each other, and the buying habits of consumers. By leveraging all these heavy hitters for search, community, and purchase behavior, their collective intelligence will open the door for marketers to target their audience with pinpoint accuracy.

3.) Omni-Tool Integration

Last year, marketers were focused on an omni-channel approach, where the goal was to serve the right content at the right time, no matter the channel. 2017 will be different. Now, marketers need to shift their attention to an omni-tool tactic. By evolving into full-stack marketers, they’ll start using the right tool at the right time depending on which phase of the marketing funnel the consumer currently occupies. Users will start to take their unique journeys from brand awareness to point of purchase and tools like Google’s User Explorer will help us track and get a better idea of which user journeys drive the biggest business impact. The number of SaaS tools grows by a few hundred each year; there are about 3,800 out there right now. That’s an ocean of tools for marketers to know about & grasp how to use in their marketing technology stack. Challenge accepted.

4.) Interactive Content

Live content is old news. Yes, brands will continue to get the hang of using Facebook Live and Instagram Stories (not to mention old faithful: Snapchat), but we need to keep our eyes on the horizon for the next shiny thing. This year is going to be all about dynamic content & ads. It looks like Facebook may be opening up their api to allow content captured from cameras other than phones. For example, Tastemade used the iPhone controlled Mevo camera, a pocket-sized live event camera that lets you edit on your iPhone while you capture video. Facebook also lets users stream drone footage directly to the platform, and they rolled out Facebook Slide Show, which lets advertisers easily build lightweight videos from a set of photos or an existing video. Live events, in real time, with unprecedented production value. Interactive content is also going to be an area of focus, with tools like Ceros that tee up marketers to quickly create interactive e-books, infographics, etc. Designers can whip up illustrations and graphics in Photoshop/Illustrator and then drop them into Ceros to animate or enable clickable actions. Creative teams can take their pick from a range of effects with pre-built backend code, and produce e-books that are essentially microsites in just a few hours. As if more captivating content created in a streamlined process wasn’t enough, Ceros will also provide helpful data about where people click, time spent, and what sections of the e-book see more engagement.

5.) The Reality Show

Digital ads, social media, and websites will continue to look for the most effective ways to capitalize on the admittedly mind-blowing technologies of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality. We’re not saying that giant shark holograms will pop out of billboards to sneak up on a very stylin’ Marty McFly, but Pokémon Go already showed the world the incredible potential of AR, and the world listened. In 2017, AR will also be used for more practical purposes, such as people getting their information through a product like Google Glass. VR, which provides a notably different experience for the end user than AR, has a lot more potential than just video games. It’s poised to change the way retailers see stores and how consumers shop altogether. The online shopping experience will mirror the real-life version, where you can wander the aisles of a store and try before you buy, all without leaving your home. If you’re in the brick-and-mortar setting, retailers can offer experiences specific to their product like Tommy Hilfiger’s virtual reality catwalk show. The accessibility to VR is growing with the introduction of affordable hardware options like Google Cardboard, so brands will be more likely to roll up their sleeves and start creating that kind of deeply immersive content. Our collective 360 video skills will also continue to be honed and become even more mainstream. Brands that don’t embrace immersive visuals and videos will be stuck in 2016.

6.) Under the Influence

The influencer game is changing. It’s definitely still about the “cool kids,” but now these world traveling bloggers need to really earn their money. Instead of paying buckets of cash to influencers to drive impressions and potential traction towards your brand, the optimal way to get your stuff in front of the right customers will be to use new tools like Social Native to activate micro-influencers. They only cash a check when engagement happens on their branded posts. By tapping into their existing audiences, content can be dished out to a specific demographic, with higher odds of being noticed since it comes from a source in which they’ve already invested their time, trust, and “Likes.”

On the B2B front, employee advocacy is another thing to keep an eye on in the coming months. LinkedIn’s new brainchild, Elevate, allows companies to empower their employees to share content. Well played, LinkedIn, well played.

7.) New Social Networks

2017 came just in time to still have a real chance at rocking the social networking landscape. It’s hard to imagine anything unseating Facebook or Snapchat from their thrones of glory, but anything is possible with the roster of developers and dreamers out there.

  • Houseparty –Meerkat creators’ new app lets you add friends from your phone contacts and video chat with up to 8 people in “rooms.” Its current audience is primarily teenagers, but that could dilute as it continues to pick up steam.
  • Facebook at Work – A platform designed to help co-workers stay connected and share information, similar to how they would share information with their friends and family. It will also let users set up events, collaborate on projects, message each other, and set up groups. It’s a social network for social professionals.
  • Rich Kids – The world’s most exclusive social network, aspiring to offer the wealthy a platform for fancy folks willing to pay for a $1,000 monthly membership. That price tag is supposed to scare off the masses. We predict that tactic will succeed.

The real question is why are we on platforms? Well, it’s a simple answer: People are there. Once all the regular folks show up, brands will follow like corporate groupies. It’s basically a case of “If you build it, brands will come.” We couldn’t resist squeezing in a Field of Dreams reference.

2016 was a benchmark year for digital, but 2017 clearly has some impressive tricks up its sleeves. So strap yourselves in, people. It looks like the future is actually here.

Which trends will you be keeping a pulse this year? Let us know in the comments!

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