digital marketing trends in 2017

You can’t build a successful website without understanding the basics of digital marketing and search engine optimisation. We know our stuff, which is why the sites we create work so well, delight our clients and get found by the right audiences. But what is the digital marketing industry as a whole saying about likely digital marketing trends in 2017? Here are 5 predictions you might like to watch this year, plus a healthy, stable dose of devil’s advocacy to provide balance.

360-degree video – Introducing ‘immersive’ marketing

Content marketing excellence means giving people lots of lovely, fresh, entertaining and informative content, designed to meet their needs. But as more organisations take up the content marketing baton and run with it, competition has become increasingly fierce. As a result, cutting-edge, digital marketing teams are taking things a step further to engage audiences. The 360-degree video has stepped into the gap, introduced successfully by Facebook and YouTube, and the new darling of a host of big-budget brands. The 360-degree video is set to be one of the biggest digital marketing trends of 2017.

360-degree images certainly deliver an excellent experience. But hang on a second, if you spend all your time chasing the next big thing, you miss out on making a top job of the current big thing. If you haven’t maximised the hell out of video marketing yet, forget any emerging digital marketing trends. Get busy creating fabulous quality regular video content instead.

You don’t have much hope of people engaging with your 360-degree video if you can’t engage them in your ordinary video content. There’s still infinite amounts of room for non-360 degree excellence, and it’s no good trying to run until you’ve learned to walk.

Internet of Things, wearable tech, augmented reality and AI

The Internet of Things is now a potential digital marketing tool. It keeps appearing on influential lists of digital marketing trends in 2017. They say that in some sectors, AI, IoT, and wearables will soon become crucial to all digital marketing strategies.

The Internet of Things is much vaunted, but so far it hasn’t taken off. Maybe it’s because consumers don’t see a real need to control their fridge, heating system or whatever remotely. Perhaps people find communications between appliances just too damn creepy, too far en route into the uncanny valley.

Gadgets like Amazon Alexa can help diagnose illnesses, and their Fire TV stick lets you order Uber cabs and takeaways. They’re fun. But where does the marketing side of things appear? Are digital marketing teams wanting to get their hands on these devices and send adverts through them? It isn’t necessarily an appealing thought in a world where it’s already hard enough to escape digital marketing messages. Have the people predicted this brave new world considered what consumers want?

Artificial intelligence is one of the significant digital marketing trends, especially in a year when a machine beat a human poker player for the first time. But strip away the dramatic headlines, read what the scientists developing AI tech have to say. You realise we are an awfully long way away from creating a machine with anything like the intelligence of a flea, never mind the human brain. How might AI find its way into the marketing mix? While it’s talked about a lot in the abstract, nobody out there has pinned it down quite yet.

Big data storms the stage

It’s big data… one of the significant digital marketing trends in 2017. Market researchers Ovum reckon the big data market will boom from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $9.4 billion by 2020. Plenty of experts predict the rise of big data for 2017. But they previously predicted dramatic data revolutions for 2014, 15 and 16, and it hasn’t happened yet. What’s going on?

Roll back time to the 1980s and direct marketing firms were touting personalisation as the next big thing, driven by better-than-ever consumer data. That was then, and this is now. It’s a great message, and it seems to make sense. The more you know about people, their motivations and their past behaviour, the better you can predict their future buying behaviour. But does it pan out that way in the real world? The jury is still out, and digital marketing teams are still trying to figure out what real-world uses big data might ultimately deliver.

There’s more. Plenty of consumers are not at all happy with the way big brands already collect their data and store it. They almost always do so without permission and rarely if ever paying us for it. This disquiet is only set to increase. Brands can’t use that data to analyse consumer behaviour when prevented from harvesting the data. The stellar rise of adblocking provides early evidence that people are not happy with the way behaviour-based advertising follows them around the web.

Personalisation hits the big time

You could send the same email message to everyone in your prospect database. Or you could segment the data into logical chunks? For example, one-time buyers, multiple purchases, not bought yet, local people, and create a tailored message for each segment. Logic says segmenting and personalising should deliver the best results, way better than a blanket approach. Segmenting and personalising data is on of the core digital marketing trends of 2017.

One thing big data does deliver is the ability to split people into groups and treat them accordingly. If you have the potential to segment and target wisely, you’d be crazy not to. And by all accounts, cutting-edge marketers are already doing it. One caveat – and it’s something far too many people forget – make sure you can decode your results at the end of the campaign and attribute responses and sales accurately. Otherwise, you won’t have a clue whether all your efforts had the desired effect.

Mobile matters

In 2016 Google announced its new mobile-first web index. And mobile traffic overtook desktop internet access for the first time. There are rumblings that people use their mobiles in a very different way, for research and checking things out before buying via a desktop machine. It’s understandable when the eBay mobile app, for example, doesn’t offer anywhere near as much product detail as the desktop site. If you do your due diligence and searching on mobile but gravitate to your desktop machine to make the purchase, you’re not alone.

Increased search traffic on mobiles says two things. One, it’s more important than ever to make sure the mobile version of your website ticks all the right user experience and digital marketing boxes. Two, you don’t want to neglect your main site just because a bunch of digital marketing experts say mobile is the future. You need both, and they both have to be excellent to give you the exposure and focus you need in a crowded online space.

Digital marketing trends in 2017

All this new and innovative stuff is very exciting. But content is still king. It’s important to apply a common sense filter to digital marketing trends and predictions. It’s more important than ever to take these predictions with a pinch of salt. You still can’t beat creating the best quality, most appealing, unique, relevant, useful and entertaining content you can. That content is the very essence of what attract peoples, make friends and influences people. If you’d like to discuss how we can optimise your digital marketing strategy, we’d love to talk