In a few days, 2016 will be a thing of the past (for better or worse). The calendar will turn to the year 2017. After you recover from your NYE hangover, it’s going to be time for you to think about the marketing outlook for your business and industry for the coming year. Each year brings new innovations, advancements, and challenges that can help or hurt your business.
Look how far the internet has come as a marketing channel. Search engines, social media, communities, banners, video, audio; over the last decade or so, each of these platforms have changed and evolved in DRAMATIC fashion. Whereas written blogs used to be all the rage, images and video are now the preferred content of web users.
Everything has an expiration date, and every successful marketing tactic eventually runs its course. In order for your business to stay on the cutting-edge of digital marketing, you need to prepare for the innovations that 2017 will bring. Doing so will ensure that your business continues to grow and thrive while beating your competitors who aren’t keeping up with the Jones’.
Here are 7 digital marketing strategies that I believe are going to be vital to the industry this year. Whether you learn it for your business or choose to outsource your marketing efforts, these are great areas to keep an eye on to be sure your business isn’t clinging to ineffective marketing tactics from the past.
1. Mobile and App Knowledge.
In case you hadn’t heard: 65% of digital media and internet usage came from mobile (cell phones and tablets) in 2016. While I don’t agree with the consensus ‘DESKTOPS ARE DEAD!’ speeches circulating amongst marketers, there is no denying that mobile usage is greater than ever before. This means that knowledge of mobile applications, mobile web design, and mobile content optimization are imperative for success in 2017 and beyond.
2. Analytics and Statistics Mastery.
At its core, effective digital marketing (and a decent return-on-investment) is driven by data. When running campaigns, or measuring website traffic, nothing beats the raw numbers that tell you the story about your web presence. This will not change in 2017, or beyond, for that matter. Being able to study and analyze the numbers behind everything you do online means that there is no need to speculate about what is and isn’t working.
If you don’t have working knowledge of your web analytics, I highly recommend that you hire someone who can do so for you. It’s impossible to maximize the value of your digital marketing efforts without being able to understand the story behind your online efforts. Be sure to make this a priority in 2017.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
With the rise of social media and its ability to drive website traffic, many marketers and business owners believe that SEO is dead. As someone who manages SEO for numerous large websites, I can tell you this couldn’t be further from the truth; organic search far trumps social media in regards to driving website traffic, and I expect that to continue in 2017.
SEO, like any other digital strategies, will advance as well. Just a few years ago, SEO was very technical in nature. Now, effective SEO can be driven by content, relationships, and influence.
Understanding SEO has always been an important skill for digital marketers and business owners alike. Maybe one day, in the next few years, it won’t be as important. For 2017, however, there’s no doubt that being able to boost your organic search traffic will help your marketing efforts immensely.
4. Social Media Marketing (SMM)
As mentioned above, the rise of social media marketing has been astronomical in recent years. So much so that marketers believe it is slowly weakening the effectiveness of SEO. While I don’t believe that to be true, I absolutely understand the importance of being well-versed in social media marketing.
Social Advertising will continue to rise with even more options for advertisers. Social media advertising is projected to generate $11 billion in revenue by 2017. That number is up from just $6.1 billion in 2013. Why are businesses pouring in such astronomical amounts of money? Well, because it works! Social platforms offer a fantastic ROI. If for some reason your marketing efforts are failing, they give you every ounce of data necessary to make the proper adjustments.
Social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The only place social media is going is up.
5. Content Marketing
Content marketing is such a dominant discipline because creating great content is a surefire way to ignite your online presence. Content marketing also works seamlessly with other disciplines such as SEO, social media, email, etc. It is a no-brainer investment for marketers and business owners alike. Great content increases consumer trust and builds credibility with the target audience.
Content marketing isn’t easy. However, it is incredibly effective, as it is the cornerstone of digital ad strategies for the foreseeable future. Great content marketers are able to produce engaging content while staying ahead of online content consumption trends. Do not take it lightly.
We are starting to see an interesting influx of the psychological study into the marketing industry. One major reason for this trend is that businesses are trying to understand their prospective consumers like never before. Different advertisements promote different levels of brain activity. The parallel between art and science is definitely present within the marketing discipline. Understanding consumer’s online behaviors can increase optimization rates and ROI for all marketers.
I believe there will be a greater emphasis on the science of consumer decision-making in the future. The emphasis will help understand cognitive biases that drive irrational human decisions.
Good marketing is, and always will be about connecting humans to the services and products they need. Marketers aren’t robots. We need to be able to connect with our audience, understand their wants and needs, and help them solve their problems.
With the ever-increasing reliance on technology, it is now more important than ever to incorporate the human component into your marketing strategy. Social media and online communities allow marketers to learn about their audience better than ever before. Businesses who fail to leverage these tools, end up falling behind the competition.
Marketing is only effective when it makes connections with the target audience. Be sure to put an intense focus on understanding your prospective clients. Doing so will help you provide your customers with the products and services they need. It will also help you stay ahead of the competition.
No one knows exactly what the future will bring. Understanding past marketing trends, can give us the information needed to make educated guesses about the future. One thing is for certain: digital marketing will be more important in 2017 than it has ever been. Digital ad spend continues to increase to record numbers. Investment in content and other online marketing tools continues to grow. Whether you are a marketing genius or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make sure that your company is prepared for the future. Take it from the people who study marketing for a living. Here’s to your success in 2017!
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