As 2016 nears its end, organizations are facing more and more challenges when it comes to digital marketing. With growth and revenue a priority for most businesses, 74% of marketing professionals this year have focused on converting leads to customers, while over half prioritized increasing traffic to their website.
Alongside accelerating inbound marketing being a top priority, technologies continue to evolve while social platforms seem to have a life of their own when it comes to growth. Take the current shining star in the app world Snapchat, only launched in 2012 the application has dominated headlines this year piquing interest amongst brands and investors alike raising nearly $650 million in six rounds of funding and its founders demonstrating such belief in their product they rejected a $3 billion buy-out offer from Facebook.
This is the reality of digital. It doesn’t just move, it skyrockets, and as technologies continue to evolve so do customers. As a result, the marketing activities of organizations also needs to move apace to keep up with both its application of digital technologies and developing the knowledge and skills to use them.
So while 2016 continues to witness developments in the realms of social media, VR, mobile marketing and user experience to name a few - what does 2017 hold? To help keep you in the loop, here are five digital marketing trends to look out for next year.
1) In-store marketing
In-store marketing may not sound like a branch of digital marketing, but in 2017, the relationship between physical and online sales techniques is expected to narrow even more.
In a smartphone dominated world, 80% of millennials use their phone in-store and 74% claim to be willing to receive location-based mobile alerts. For an organization with an optimized mobile strategy, capturing customers in-store through digital techniques will provide an effective means of conversion.
“In order for retailers to compete with the 800lb gorilla that is Amazon, they must provide shoppers with a unique in-store experience with tailored-made engagement. Leveraging location-based marketing through a retailer’s branded mobile app allows retailers to drive traffic through relevant, contextual mobile marketing” - Eric Newman, VP of Products & Marketing at Digby
A fine example of this comes from American supermarket Target. The store launched a reward app to present their customers with special offers as they walk through various departments of their stores. Today's advanced beacon technologymakes it easy for marketers to place relevant offers into the hands of their customers.
2) Live video
As consumers become savvier and more tuned into their digital surroundings, they have a greater desire to connect with brands and follow their stories.
Online video now accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic and this year has seen a huge rise in video sharing, and video content creation, particularly in the realms of social media.
Platforms such as Periscope and Facebook Live now make it easy for brands and businesses to connect with their fans and followers in real-time and get their message across by streaming live broadcasts and promoting them in advance, and as people's thirsts for video stimulation increases, so will the need for live video content.
Earlier this year, BuzzFeed broadcast a Facebook Live video of people placing elastic bands around a watermelon, eventually causing it to burst. According to reports, audiences tuned in for an average of 40 minutes without even realizing it. Live video broadcasting is expected to ramp up even more in 2017.
3) Expiring social content
As social media consumption continues to rise and the big players are monopolizing the market, we can expect significant changes in social from next year and beyond.
Facebook bought WhatsApp, Twitter purchased Periscope, and as social becomes more consolidated, the way in which these platforms operate may very well change, and it's up to businesses and their marketers to keep their eye on the changes to remain ahead of the game.
One big digital marketing trend that is expected to blow up in the world of social media comes in the form expiring content. Expiring digital content offers brands and businesses a means of cutting through the noise and clutter, and gaining the attention of their target audience without spending massive amounts of capital.
One of the pioneers of the expiring content movement is Snapchat. To create a real sense of urgency, the platform gave customers a limited time to read or view content before it disappeared. This consisted of watching 10-second videos that disappear after one view, and then related to other bigger Snapchat stories.
The tactic proved so successful that Instagram copied the model, causing a rivalry between the two platforms. Expiring content is becoming an effective means of brand advertising and it’s set to blow up in 2017 and is a trick not to be missed.
4) Wearable mobile devices
There are currently 7.22 billion active mobile devices in the world - that's more technology in the world than people, so it's easy to understand the importance of smartphone marketing and its relevance to an organization.
In 2015 the wearables market exceeded $2 billion; this year it is set to hit almost 3 billion and is expected to reach over 4 billion in 2017. Much like the emergence of mobile, brands and businesses will have to develop their websites and platforms to suit the needs of the needs of the average wearable user, and ensure they are optimized for small, more interactive screens to ensure a quality user experience and prompt sales.
5) Interactive Content
According to digital marketing expert, Aaron Agius, interactive digital content is going to come into its own in 2017.
In the current digital landscape, engagement is everything, and marketers succeed when their audience not only consumes content but also enjoys and acts upon it, which is why interactive content will be so important going forwards.
Compared to 36% for static content, interactive content generates conversions moderately or very well 70% of the time. In addition it works as a competitor differentiator and proves effective in educating buyers, no mean feat in a landscape that sees customers turn away from traditional methods of purchasing in favour of online reviews and research.
“By its very nature, interactive content engages participants in an activity: answering questions, making choices, exploring scenarios. It’s a great way to capture attention right from the start. Individuals have to think and respond; they can’t just snooze through it.” - Scott Brinker, Author of ChiefMartec.com
With digital technology getting more sophisticated all the time, the scope for brands and businesses to engage with consumers is seemingly endless, and it is going to prove even more valuable in 2017.
Interactive can come in many forms, from quizzes and polls to calculators and contests. The question is: which interactive content will you develop to engage with your audience? Food for thought.
2017 isn't far away and now is the time to take heed of the new and the developed digital marketing trends that are beginning to emerge. Start planning and gain the expertise you need now to ensure success tomorrow.