2016 was no doubt an eventful year in the world of marketing, with content reigning king and digital targeting capabilities evolving to powerful new levels. As we kick off 2017 we’re taking a look at the top trends that will shape the way we communicate with and sell to customers in the very near future.
1. Marketing Automation
With the explosion of inbound marketing via platforms such as Hubspot, automation has become easier (and more essential) than ever before. Lead nurturing strategies have become recognised as crucial to support the time and energy invested in content marketing. The most effective lead nurturing strategies incorporate automation at many stages along the way to free up time for the sales team and provide an exceptional level of communication with potential customers. For example, if a customer has downloaded a white paper from your website, they will then be added to an automated lead nurturing campaign containing a series of relevant and timely emails. This effectively helps maintain communication and, if executed well, will help push them further down the sales funnel in the process.
Example Automation Workflow
Source: Zapier Marketing Automation Software
2. Native Advertising
Native advertising is a relatively new term to the industry, and it’s all about advertising designed to not look like advertising. As consumers continue to become more aware of being ‘sold to’, credible third party sources are becoming an increasingly preferred outlet for them to consume information.
In recent years, ‘advertorials’ have skyrocketed in popularity as they allow brands to communicate their message from a perceived ‘third party to consumer’ perspective, rather than traditional ‘brand to consumer’ blasting of marketing messages. Native advertising is taking this to the next level, with ads being designed to blend in with the content that consumers are opting to digest, rather than stand out as a blatant piece of advertising. That is, make the ad look like it is part of the magazine or website that it is being placed so the consumer believes it is part of the content they value. The benefit? The advertiser has an opportunity to engage consumers attention for a little longer than they may have been able to with a traditional ad.
Native Advertising: This Ad by CompareCards.com appears like a standard news article on Yahoo.
3. Social Media “Buy” Buttons
Tested in 2016, social media ‘buy buttons’ on platforms such as Facebook are allowing consumers to complete purchases without navigating away from the site or app. What does this mean for consumers? A quick and seamless shopping experience. What does this mean for businesses? An opportunity to significantly increase conversion rates by shortening the purchasing process. That is, by utilising social media buy buttons, the journey from discovery to purchase can be made by your customers almost instantly, rather than requiring them to explore various channels to achieve the same outcome.
‘Shop now’ and ‘buy’ buttons introduced to Instagram and Twitter.
4. Video and visual storytelling
Building on the trend of 2016, communicating your message via photos and videos is going to become an even stronger focus in 2017. Why? They have the ability to connect immediately with the viewer, conveying emotion and clearly communicating messages that can often be difficult to concisely capture in words. It is also far more memorable for the consumer to receive messages in this format, and they are much more likely to retain the information presented to them.
Visual storytelling, particularly video is also making an impact offline with the emergence of video brochures. This innovative product gives brands the opportunity to stand out from competitors and make a real impact in the eyes of their consumers.
Video brochures are being used to clearly communicate marketing messages in a unique and premium format.
5. Dedicated Mobile Strategies
Mobile strategies are nothing new however it’s the significant shift in focus that’s worth noting in 2017. Every business knows the importance of having a mobile responsive website, however with views on mobile devices continually creeping higher than views on desktop, responsive should only be a temporary solution – especially if you are running an ecommerce store or have a high traffic website.
Mobile websites are designed specifically for mobile devices, whereas responsive sites a designed to automatically adjust the layout to better suit the available screen size. Responsive websites don’t always adjust to the most user-friendly layout and certain pages are sometimes a little ‘clunky’. If you expect users to spend a significant amount of time on your site, or if you’re committed to providing the best user experience possible, it might be time to look at developing a mobile specific website.
Many businesses are taking this to the next level and developing all of their content including online ads, articles and experiences to the mobile user, seamlessly integrating themselves in to their customers on-the-go lifestyle.
Domino’s opted for a dedicated mobile site due to the heavy reliance of their customers on this platform.
With ongoing advances in technology facilitating these shifts in the way we market products, 2017 is shaping up to be a very exciting year. Brands now have more ways to stand out than ever before, and sound execution of any one of the above trends is bound to get the attention of your target market. Tell us, what will be the most exciting element of your 2017 marketing strategy?