The world is transforming faster than ever, and who would have thought 5 years ago that our user behavior and our buyer’s journey would be completely different now? And the funny thing is, most people still don’t realize it: „It worked in the 90ies and it still has to work today.“
Some of the predictions are a bit scary, because you have to nail those new approaches or you will end in mediocrity. In this article, I’m going to share some of my predictions for marketing in 2017 and hopefully save you from failing.
1. Inbound marketing will explode in popularity
Consumers tend to ignore or even condemn most of the conventional forms of advertising. This is an ongoing trend, maybe the oldest I mention in this article, but you will still have to deal with it. This is where you have to find a way to get the attention of potential customers. The formula for success is quite simple: Find the place with the most attention for your product. The variable to be outstanding is creativity. Last, but not least you need a good product, because the best marketing will not succeed if your product actually is really shitty. Think of all websites providing reviews and user ratings.
Inbound marketing is going to absolutely explode in popularity in 2017. It’s all about helping people to identify their problems and then show them dynamic solutions. You will position yourself as the expert with the competent solution to all of their problems. People respond to and make purchases when they see expertise. It is that simple.
Inbound marketing is going to outshine traditional advertising and will become the new gold standard in marketing.
2. Content marketing will get more creative
Content marketing to this point has been mostly about ebooks, blogging, and other written materials that generate email subscriptions. These strategies are still on top overall, but brands are going to have to get more creative with the format of their content in order to distinguish themselves from the competition.
Visual content will only become more important as time goes on and search engines get better at reading and analyzing images in order to figure out just what your website is about. Hey, more emojis and more GIFs that can be crawled for search results! Yeah.
In 2017, content is going to get shorter, sweeter, more unique and even punchier than it already is. You have to nail it at the first glimpse.
3. Content marketing will become more niche
Online marketing is going to get more crowded. As a result, you’re going to have to stop marketing at a general or broad level and instead get down to the nitty-gritty. Instead of writing a blog post about „How you can optimize customer experience online“, you’d do better at writing about „How to delight your customers through customer service chatbots in Facebook Messenger“.
Merely scratching the surface of a commonly discussed topic isn’t going to get you very far or cause you to stand out from the crowd. Think about your customer. Why should they read your post among the thousands of others that are out there? It’s better to serve a niche audience, go deep and then expand from there.
4. Chatbots are changing our conversations
Chatbots are a complete game changer. Short: Engagement beyond clicks in real time! Bots have the potential to inspire purchases, increase the number of items in shopping carts, and 24/7 customer management is a huge step forward. It’s no longer found only in the realm of science fiction: advances in artificial intelligence have made it possible to answer customers‘ queries with „human touch“.
Those bots here are basically the marketing guy, the sales associate and the customer service person all rolled into one. You have a powerful force to be reckoned with due to the fact that it never sleeps and is always ready with a prompt reply.
5. Video will reign supreme
Try to find someone who doesn’t love videos. Good luck with that. All marketers agree that videos will bring you the highest ROI, and that all marketers should be producing more videos. Platforms for social videos like Facebook are riding this tide and optimizing their feeds to make everything simple and intuitive for their viewers. Everyone should operate more with videos – especially on Facebook. I see Facebook as no. 1 platform for videos in 2017. Remember: Find the place with the most attention.
Having more videos is also going to improve your SEO, especially as the major search engines videos high. And one last short note: make your short videos work without sound!
6. Facebook Live will fully take off
Life is lived in moments. We all demand more in-the-moment content, especially in social media networks, and marketing needs to reflect this fact. Facebook Live is now providing a way for users to view into a world they’d previously been unable to access. Facebook has recently announced plans to take their already popular live video system and expand it to heights they’ve never been to before.
The first update to this will be the ability to stream a live feed with two people in different locations, basically like a remote interview. The announcement also includes the cool idea of using waiting rooms as well as pre-scheduled broadcasts.
With all of these updates in mind, figuring out that your marketing strategy has to include Facebook Live appears to be a no-brainer. Being live comes with its own risks though. Some may worry what they should do if they mess up or how to handle technical difficulties with their equipment. Unfortunately, there are so many things that can go wrong. However, you have to think this way: while you’re chewing over all possible risks, there are a ton of other brands out there who are already engaging the audience they have in some pretty exciting ways. Why are you still waiting?
If you want to be successful you have to take the first mover advantage. Don’t stick because of romantic feelings with a certain media or social platforms. Sorry for repeating again: Find the place with the most attention! In 2017 it’s Facebook for sure.
7. Increased focus on customer experience
Customer experience is everything when it comes to marketing. Metaphorically speaking: It’s the heart of marketing. The last decades there’s always been a marketing focus in the industry, but today’s successful businesses have embraced the idea of being customer focused above all else. Simply put, if your customers aren’t happy, you’re not happy. Only when you follow a „customer first“ approach you are able to create effective marketing strategies and positive digital transformations.
And what’s about „mobile first“? All I say: it will become mobile only in the next 24-36 months. Get ready, now.
8. There will still be b***s***t marketing
It’s a known fact that today brands are spending more on content marketing than they are on advertising. This trend gives all indications that it’s going to continue into 2017. But the sad thing is it’s still common to hear that a company will stick to old marketing strategies instead of branching out to something new. I often hear „Let’s wait until it’s a proven platform. Let’s wait and see what’s the ROI.“ These people missed Adwords, they missed Twitter, and they will always miss the platforms with the best attention.
The name of the game today is business strategy, not tools. For instance, the ingenious marketing tool Hubspot won’t help at all if you still send out a subpar bulk email and focus solely on cold calling. There will always be people who try to explain how cold calling with a 1-2% conversion rate is going to be enough for you, or how that crappy newsletter from 2006 is still the pinnacle of communication, or that talking about product features instead of customer needs will drive up revenue.
Fact is: If you do it right you will generate more leads with content marketing then with traditional ads. Content marketing is more cost-effective than other forms of marketing, and companies are getting a better engaged consumer community. And it’s is still cheap. Facebook is really affordable – it won’t be in 36 months when all big brands realized that TV ads don’t work anymore. Btw: Did you know that at major sport events on TV Twitter has the highest peaks of activity during commercial breaks? No one is watching it! And as a 2nd sidestep another fact about digital transformation: More people watch eSports on Twitch than watch the World Series or NBA.
In chats I sometimes hear from other marketers, that their CEO, COO, CFO, etc. says she/he is not on Facebook and that content marketing won’t catch her/him. Maybe… but you can reach out to all the influencers in her/his company. An easy example: Create some piece of valuable content and promote it on Facebook as „Does your CEO/COO/CFO know …?“, and target it to „all employees of company XY“. In B2B the cool thing is that you exactly know the name of your customers and prospects. You can be sure that the right person will get (many) messages from the companies influencers.
Think disruptive and creative
As a marketer you need time playing, tinkering, experimenting, and debating. If you don’t have it there are basically only two possibilities that will be viable in 2017. Either work for a company that does marketing the 2017 way or leave the company and stop wasting your talent on a place that refuses to change and adapt.