Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

What does 2017 hold for digital marketers? We ask a raft of industry experts from the marketing technology and industry community


13. Test and learn – marketers follow the data

With marketers increasingly driven to achieve verified results, Expedia’s Pearson says more must commit to testing, learning and following the data.

“At Expedia, we always ‘follow the data’: It’s core to the way we operate and the way we make decisions about what’s working, and what’s not,” he says. “It’s important because the data is actually informing us about what people read, react to, click on, and book. Taking a ‘test and learn’ approach means committing to the scientific method to track results. Test a digital marketing approach, learn from the data, and make decisions about future activity based on the insights gained. Gut feel doesn’t cut it anymore.”

Promapp’s Berkowski sees rapid test and learn as vital particularly given the plethora of apps and digital channels now available to the marketer.

“What’s also critical is the ability to evaluate which digital marketing tools really make sense for their business and the way their clients become aware of, consider and purchase their product or service,” she says. “Distraction is a risk.”

14. Marketing gets more predictive

Modern marketers spend a lot of time analysing and assessing campaign data and translating it into actionable insights. But Act-On Software’s Huff says marketers need to shift the attention to using data to predict which marketing actions are more likely to succeed, and which are more likely to fail.

“There is a demand for marketers to be smarter and more predictable in their program execution and results. Because of this, predictive marketing technology will be one of the biggest drivers of digital transformation,” she says. “It’s about collecting and analysing engagement data over time and across campaigns to prescribe marketers with direction and insight on who to engage, when to engage, and what to engage with.”

Huff expects predictive marketing capabilities to be embedded within marketing automation platforms that will then evolve into the autonomous driving car of the business, where marketers can choose to leverage the prescribed course of action provided through predictive or overwrite it and use their conventional wisdom.

There is a demand for marketers to be smarter and more predictable in their program execution and results. Because of this, predictive marketing technology will be one of the biggest drivers of digital transformation

Act-On Software's Michelle Huff


15. Video marketing and personalisation gain popularity

Engaging customers is at the centre of every modern marketing campaign. Act-On Software CMO, Michelle Huff, says marketers should focus on retargeting outside of the inbox and video marketing with personalisation.

“With inbox overload, text fatigue and social post inundation, marketers need to look for new and innovative mediums to better engage audiences and increase conversion rates. This is where video marketing and personalisation come into play,” she says. “Video is a great way to humanise the brand and build trust with buyers and customers. Videos that speak to the recipient through personalised elements such as name, company and title, increase the response rate and contribute to the relationship building process.”

As video advertising becomes the dominant format for digital advertising, GroupM’s Lollback warns the industry to stop trying to shoehorn traditional 15 second TV ads into digital containers.

“Marketers need to create vertical video formats that cater for mobile devices as well as short attention spans of modern consumers,” he says. “All the modern platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Snapchat have high mobile usage and give users the chance to skip or scroll past ads - impact needs to be delivered in less than three seconds.”

Lollback expects video live streaming to be a big game changer in 2017 thanks to faster Internet speeds, more efficient data plans, mobile device consumption habits and large changes in broadcast rights deals.

“Joining social platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook launched live back in April this year and Twitter signed rights for live sport streaming we saw the focus of live streaming shift to social. In 2017, we will see an even further growth in this area, as consumers discover and eventually expect ways to consume content in real time,” he says.

“Relatively untapped in the Australian market is brands using live streaming for tutorials, product launches, and exclusive and behind-the-scene experiences. This is set to change in 2017.”

As video becomes the dominant advertising option, IAB’s Solanki warns attribution, digital effectiveness and cross-media effectiveness will all become even more critical.

“Think video content on mobile device and video content on linear TV,” he says. “I think if marketers are serious about success in mobile, they genuinely build their teams with a mobile-first focus – you don’t just add a couple of mobile heads but build an entire team around mobile.”

16. Marketing as a strategy gets holistic

Today’s successful marketing approach can’t work in a silo, but instead looks across the whole business, from people, processes to products, and tailors a solution to align systems, services and customer touchpoints. This is vital is the consumer’s experience of the brand is seamless and consistent across all channels.

With that in mind, Sitecore’s Anderson recommends marketers place more emphasis on defining and operating holistic experiences in 2017.

“While most are optimising relatively new additions to the marketing toolbox, few are optimising across all channels and devices,” he claims. “Consumers today skip across devices and digital engagement channels in the speed of micro-moments. For that reason, marketers in 2017 will need to take a step back for the holistic view in serving prospects and customers. Technology runs deep – time to stitch it together to match consumer expectations.”

17. Content is king

And if you hadn’t worked it out already, content is king in today’s marketing - and the push towards digital is highlighting its importance.

High-quality, original and engaging content will never get old, according to Meltwater’s Hickey. He advises to take their content to the next level in 2017.

“Audiences are more discerning than ever and with so many brands fighting for share of voice, engaging and retaining them is becoming increasingly difficult. This is why marketers need to be even more creative in the New Year,” he says. “It’s worth taking inspiration from media houses that have faced similar challenges in recent years. To make news articles more engaging to retain readers, they’re creating more integrated content, including different mediums like video, social and even virtual reality into their stories. They’re getting more creative, testing out new mediums and it’s something digital marketers should focus on.”

Genuinely understanding what audiences want is another important thing for marketers to be across. “Make sure you’re listening to them, understand what they find engaging, and how your content is being perceived. Marketers need to move away from an inside-out approach to communication, and adopt an outside-in view instead,” Hickey says. “It should be these insights that inform the type of content you are pushing out.”

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