Top 3 Digital Marketing Trends for 2017

We had a funny old year in 2016.

Brexit, ‘The Donald’, fake news stories… never before has the web seemed so gloomy and yet so farcical at the same time. For marketers, many plans that were built around the year’s busy shared agenda were put on hold or thrown into complete disarray as the potential perceived brand alignments became too dangerous and divisive. As a result, many businesses found themselves playing the role of willing wallflower against the back-drop of a political media-frenzy.

This upcoming year still has more of the same in store for us, with Trump taking the reigns as ‘leader of the free world’, Article 50 looming ever closer, Scotland’s place in the UK/EU uncertain and Theresa May’s plans for the future of business in the UK rolling out just as party leadership elections start all over again. And that’s not mentioning the ongoing situation in Syria or the increasing tensions with Russia and North Korea.

There’s even another Armageddon prediction. Something to do with a solar eclipse and a seven-headed beast. Seriously… 2017 has it all.

After what was for most a year of standstills in 2016, is there any room for marketers to manoeuvre in 2017?

Outreach & Influencer Marketing

Reaching out to people to build authority, authenticity and reputation is nothing new. For a long-time, the best digital campaigns have included outreach tactics as an important strategy for the ethical acquisition of SEO links as well as engaged referral traffic. In 2016 it became commonplace to extend this philosophy to include influencers on social media.

If the trend continues (and there is no evidence to suggest that it won’t) then 2017 will see even more SME businesses adopt this strategy. As a knock-on effect, these influencers will become harder to engage as more marketers vie for their attention.

Perhaps more worrying for SME marketers is the fact that big brands are starting to move into this sphere too. More traditional link-acquisition sources are becoming exhausted for large marketing departments; plus they have seen the successes that small businesses have had with influencer marketing. This, combined with the direction that Google seem to be heading in, has created an urgency amongst bigger brands to focus their awesome content creation capabilities and brand association sway on influencer engagement.

Even if you’re already doing guest-posting, outreach, shared content campaigns and influencer marketing, it is very likely that starting in 2017 you will have to up your game. Your competition is no longer the up-and-coming fighter brand you know so well. Nowadays your approach, promises, negotiation skills and content must compete like-for-like with national (maybe even global) brands.

Mobile

Ok so every year since about 2010 has been hailed as “the year of mobile”. Just hear me out though.

  • In summer 2016 Google officially released news that the volume of mobile searches had overtaken desktop searches (or at least it had in 7 countries, including the UK, US and Japan).
  • A little later in the year, Google released the “Mobile Friendly 2” update, putting more pressure on website owners to improve mobile UX.
  • Then, right at the end of 2016, Google announced that they will be moving towards a ‘mobile-first index‘ where they will crawl and index your mobile site and use that as the primary source of ranking signals.

It has been poor form to ignore your mobile user experience for more than half a decade already. In fact, things have evolved way beyond that to where the best marketers are integrating the mobile experience with TV and even offline channels. Marketers will continue to develop their mobile strategy for many years to come, further cementing the mobile-first mentality in marketing departments – but 2017 will mark the beginning of a truly mobile-first landscape, where the mentality becomes a must not only for UX reasons, but for SEO too.

Video is coming-of-age

It should come as no surprise that video is deemed to be one of the most engaging forms of content on the web. In 2017, video production service providers have finally caught up with the needs of customers in the digital realm. Videographers and film producers are becoming much more savvy to the requirements of digital marketers and where the onus used to be on the agency to ensure that video was produced with the right resolution, dimensions, file types and length, nowadays it is not uncommon to hear that advice coming straight from the video company.

Unfortunately, many businesses are still getting lacklustre results from their video marketing because of a rather oldschool obsession with “going viral”. The occasional piece of content released solely with that intention is ok, but there are now many more tried-and-tested uses for video. One example being adopted by bigger brands is video customer service – essentially offering a library of video FAQs, explainers and guides.

It’s time to think smarter about video. The braver amongst you might also want to look at developing a plan for Snapchat. If 2017 is set to be ‘the year of’ anything, it will be the year of video.

What to do…

From fantastical forecasts to corny cliches, every January I read wild suggestions about what to  expect from the coming 12 months. The long and short of it for 2017 is the same as for every year as far back as I can recall… you’re going to have to step up your game due to increased competition, you’ll need to commit to diversifying your content and you’ll still need to pander to your mobile users and their rapidly evolving tech.

As you were then…

Posted by Paul

Paul is our Head of Marketing and strategy specialist. He has worked on award-winning campaigns for household-name brands, SMEs and public sector organisations since 2003.

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