The world of digital marketing is an ever-growing and evolving landscape filled with new technologies and best practices.
Things will continue to evolve in 2017 as the top digital marketing trends surge forward to keep up with the latest and greatest in social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), content marketing and shifting audience behaviors.
Marketing technologies introduced in 2016 will gain a higher adoption rate this year, and emerging consumer tech products (i.e. IoT connected devices, wearable tech, smart phones, etc.) will change the way we deliver and consume content.
So, without further ado, here are the top digital marketing trends that will take shape in 2017:
Social Media — Concentrate on Unique, Visual Content
Live Video: As more social media networks come out with live video features, there will be more opportunities for businesses to engage with their audiences in a more personal, real-time setting. Look to platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram’s live videos and Snapchat to create short videos that promote your company culture, host an interactive Q&A session or broadcast a tutorial/demo of your products and services.
New Social Media Ad Opportunities: With the rise of competition among platforms and influx of a content being generated, social media networks will look for ways to offer marketers new social media advertising options (i.e. interactive video social ads).
Businesses Focusing on Fewer Platforms: Three years ago, the main piece of social media advice was to jump onto as many social media platforms as possible. However, do B2B brands really get on Pinterest to make big buying decisions? In 2017, marketers should identify the outlets that best serve their business goals and then create lots of high-quality content for those channels.
Still not convinced that social media will add value to your company’s marketing strategy? Check out our blog post about why your B2B company should join the 96% of content marketers already using social media.
Content — Tell Your Story with Long-Form Reads and Video
Longer Blogs and Articles: Readers are tired of clicking on fluff pieces and articles that offer the same generic information. Aim to develop blog posts and articles containing 1,200-2,000 words, approximately 5-7 minutes of reading time. Make your content useful, meaningful or instructive; focus on the nitty-gritty of “how,” not just “what” when developing your own content niche that your audience will appreciate.
Storytelling: At the end of the day, people buy from people. Your clients want to know who you are and what compels you to do what you do. Use data to weave a narrative about how your product or service impacts businesses instead of displaying plain numbers and statistics. With the proliferation of branded content, people have more information than ever to help them make buying decisions. They want to know their dollars are supporting someone they identify with. Consider developing a solid company narrative to share on your website, if you haven’t already.
Video Content: Video is a powerful way to increase audience engagement. In fact, people are 10 times more likely to share, comment on or embed a video than text-based content. Utilize text captions, pop-up graphics and simple editing to create explainer videos, product demos, or recap videos from events. Many people watch video on their phone in public with the audio off, so experiment with captions and text visuals to accommodate viewing preferences. Be sure to share the videos across your digital platforms!
If you’re a little behind on developing your 2017 content marketing strategy, don’t sweat it. Our article on how to plan for 2017 and beyond can get you caught up.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) — Leverage Video Ads and Sophisticated Targeting
Video Advertising: Seeing a pattern yet? Video is expected to reign supreme in 2017, and video-based PPC ads are relatively uncharted territory. PPC ads with video will offer more opportunities to connect with potential customers on a personal and interactive level.
Audience Targeting Capabilities: Audience targeting features in PPC ad platforms have been rolling out in the last few years, but 2017 looks to be the year that these features are adopted by digital markets. Additionally, retargeting features, such as Facebook’s “lookalike” audiences, will help organizations create targeted audiences that share common interests with that of your existing customer base.
If you want a quick and easy guide to understanding retargeting, check out this blog post from Perfect Audience.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — Win Google Over with Dense, Mobile-Optimized Content
Dense Content: People want longer content that contains valuable information and not just another fluff piece, and Google is paying attention. Search engines are starting to prioritize “dense” content that provides a lot of impactful information. Instead of writing 400 words about a high-level topic, try writing a 1,000-word piece that compares various topics or goes into greater depth and aims to answer questions your customers may have.
Mobile: Since over half of all online searches now begin on mobile, it’s become increasingly important to optimize your content for these devices. Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) which allow a webpage to load almost instantly upon mobile viewing, have recently expanded in organic search results. This shows Google’s commitment towards mobile-friendly content optimization.
Need more info on the ever-expanding landscape of SEO? HubSpot recently published an eBook of “18 SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind in 2017” to get you up to speed.
Email — Superior Segmentation and Personalization Features and Interactive Elements
Segmentation and Artificial Intelligence: As more email marketing becomes automated, segmentation and personalization have become essential. Email marketing software algorithms are getting better at predicting audience behaviors based on the actions they have taken on your website. Artificial intelligence platforms like Boomtrain can handle many aspects of campaign execution. From choosing optimal subject lines, adjusting send times based on schedule and offering personalized and relevant content, AI will become an essential component of your email strategy.
Interactive Elements in Emails: Images and GIFs are becoming more ubiquitous and smaller in size, which makes them much easier to embed in emails. Consider incorporating interactive visuals in your email blasts to encourage clicks, but make sure your emails are also optimized for mobile devices. In a Litmus Software study conducted last year, 56% of people preferred to open email on their phone and 42% would delete the email immediately if it took too long to load.
Email automation is a great way to practice segmentation and lead nurturing, but marketing automation has plenty of other benefits for your sales and content strategies.
In Conclusion — Concentrate on Creating Accessible Content that People Will Value
When it comes down to it, people are fatigued from sifting through hundreds of thousands of advertisements that ultimately don’t speak to their needs or desires. Digital marketing trends in 2017 are all about honing in on a focused, high-quality strategy and developing tailored campaigns for extremely segmented audiences.
After being pummeled by content that doesn’t really offer any true value and barraged by bad emails for years, your clients and prospects want to feel like you care about getting to know them and their pain points instead of simply selling to them.
Take their preferred platforms—mobile or desktop—into consideration when developing your strategies. Quality over quantity, visual over text, and impact over frequency should guide your 2017 digital marketing strategy.