One thing for certain about digital marketing is this: It never stays still for long. Techniques that until recently worked quite well suddenly become redundant … while new techniques come along that you only seem to find out about once everyone else is experiencing success with them.
Digital marketing is all about staying ahead of the curve and getting in quick when new techniques take off so you give your business a head start. So it’s important to keep up with the latest developments.
With that in mind, here are some of the main changes that you can expect to see throughout 2017 and beyond.
Greater Focus on ‘Instant’
The younger generation has grown up with instant communications. Social media for them has always been a part of their adolescent lives, and they have become used to getting what they want when they want it. Hence the rapid rise of social platforms like SnapChat. There is only one direction that this is going in, and that will mean there will be even more focus on instant communications over coming months and years.
Just look at how live videos are taking off. This is the ultimate in instant entertainment. Live videos present brands as honest and genuine—there’s nothing you can edit out of a live video.
BuzzFeed’s famous exploding watermelon video is just one of the live videos to make a huge impact. This live-action visual storytelling is compelling, and it’s the perfect way to share information quickly with anyone, particularly Generation Z.
It’s also fair to assume that new social channels will emerge this year. They’ll come out of nowhere and become the new SnapChat. They’ll incorporate more images, more spontaneous interactions, and have more focus on instant communications. And if you target a younger audience, you’ll want to be one of the first to get involved.
Is It AI’s Time?
Could 2017 be the year of AI? I doubt it. It’s still too early for AI to have a meaningful impact on marketing. But we cannot discount it either. AI has just beaten the best Poker Pros on the planet, an incredible (and a bit scary) feat.
AI is going to change the world, and it will almost certainly change marketing. It is already being used by Google in its search results—take a read through this Wired article to find out just how smart things are getting with the help of deep neural networks. So while AI may not have a huge impact on your marketing this year, it certainly will in the near future.
Growth of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is already important. The idea of using brand ambassadors with huge reach and influence is not new, but it is going to become a go-to strategy for more brands. The way in which influencers are used will also change. For example, live video could come together with influencer marketing in a big way through product placement and sponsorships, so expect to see more of this.
Interactive Content Marketing
Content marketing is bigger than ever—just look at Smart Insights’ top digital marketing techniques for the year as voted by over 2,300 marketers. Once again, content marketing is right at the top of the list. But content marketing, like other types of marketing, is constantly changing.
More brands are likely to take a more interactive approach to their content marketing, which could involve launching interactive apps or infographics. Content increasingly needs to stand out to get noticed—and that means constantly making it more interesting and providing a unique experience. How could you make your own content more interactive?
Move to Accelerated Mobile Pages
Moving to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) is something that every business should be seriously considering right now. AMP makes the mobile web browsing experience so much faster with almost instant page loading times. The difference compared to other websites that are not AMP is huge. The big benefit is the better user experience. Consumers are quickly understanding that if they click on an AMP link in the search results, they will be rewarded with a superior mobile experience.
That will encourage more mobile clicks—especially if web users see that your pages are AMP and your competitors’ pages are not. And while it is not a ranking signal for Google yet, who’s to say that won’t change?
As with interactive content marketing, immersive marketing will also become more important over the coming months as brands seek new ways to engage audiences and stand out from all the content out there. One of the big developments has been 360-degree video, and brands are already experimenting with this (see here for one example).
But it will also include augmented reality, which really took off last year with Pokemon Go, which is almost certain to have a big impact on advertising. For a look at some great immersive campaigns, you only have to look at SnapChat, which is proving itself to be a platform for some really experimental marketing.
Brandwatch lists examples of some of the best SnapChat campaigns of recent times, like the ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’ series of disappearing messages for SnapChat users, and you can expect to see more of these.
Personalization Using Big Data
Personalization has been a big trend for a few years now, but it is going to go even further. Big data will be used more and more to create a personalized experience for customers. Big brands like Netflix have been doing this for a while, but smaller brands will start doing it more too. As a result, one-to-one marketing will become more commonplace, and maybe even expected.
Native Advertising Grows
One trend that’s becoming apparent is that it’s getting harder and harder for ads to get noticed. As a result, we could see native advertising become even bigger over the coming months. More people are using ad blockers and organic reach on social media is lower, which means native advertising could become the perfect way to get noticed.
Times Are Changing
When it comes to digital marketing, times are always changing. These are some of the most important areas to follow over the next year or so, so keep them in mind, and experiment with them in your own marketing. Of course, we could all be surprised by something completely unexpected, and that’s why it’s so important to keep up with all the latest trends and follow what other brands are doing. Whatever you do, don’t get left behind.