January 20, 2017
Without a doubt, the global digital economy represents the strongest potential of untapped revenue in recent years. According to eMarketer, $1.915 trillion was earned throughout 2016 solely through eCommerce. That’s trillion, by the way; not million, not billion, almost two, freaking, trillion dollars. It isn’t hard to understand why smart businesses have shifted their focus from traditional forms of marketing to capitalize on this massive global opportunity.
Truthfully, going into 2017 with just a website isn’t going to cut it anymore. Innovative marketing techniques have outstripped traditional methods tenfold, and to compete in the digital world, a business needs to implement multiple strategies just to make a mark. The best advice is to focus on some of the top marketing trends of 2017, so your business can establish itself before it becomes too crowded.
Content Marketing of 2017
Engagement is the defining factor in the newest trends in marketing. Social media has shattered the barriers between a consumer and a company. A study published in the Harvard Business Review says that modern consumers ignore blatant advertisements. It is too easy to research outrageous claims that used to be the staple of television commercials. When a company screws up, the entire world can hear about. While this might seem like marketing is dead, it’s not. It’s thriving.
From the flames, marketing has been reborn in the form of quality content that improves a consumer’s life without a conditional purchase. That last part is key. Quality content marketing provides unconditional value. No tricks like, “For the low price of $19.95.” We have all been wary of those gimmicks since the second that they emerged. With near universal access to the Internet in post-industrialized countries, we will simply find another business that doesn’t feel like they are about to pull a con. The uninformed consumer is gone.
There are several variations of content marketing, and while it is recommended to try multiple strategies, the major negative element is that content marketing requires a large time investment. There is no quick, easy way to get around it. To pull off a successful content marketing campaign, a business will almost always need to hire someone to generate the material. A couple of posts will not be sufficient, because aside from the content itself, consistency is paramount to ability to materialize results. Who cares if you posted a video a year ago? Why should I subscribe if you don’t produce content now?
Fresh Take on Traditional E-mail Campaigns
While this concept might seem old, within the context of content marketing, e-mail campaigns are a new beast. Try to think of all the junk mail you get in your inbox. How much of it do you read? How much of it do you even open? Using a direct e-mail campaign in 2017 needs to have two elements, the subscribers needed to opt-in and each message needs to sound personal.
These are important because if you have built trust with your consumer, then a direct e-mail campaign has one of the highest ROI of all of these strategies. The secret of tapping into that ROI is by continuing to provide value through the e-mail. This can come in the form of tasteful sales promotions, relevant educational content, or simply having the ability to entertain an audience. If your audience wants to read your stuff, you will dramatically increase your conversion rate.
The Birth of Content Marketing is Blogging
This is another form that has been around a couple of years, and is probably the genesis of the whole content marketing movement. It is like direct e-mailing in the idea that they are both primarily a written medium, but blogging can be a bit easier to implement because it does not require an extensive opt-in e-mail list.
To succeed through blogging, it’s important to not only develop relationships with your consumers, but also with the authorities within your niche. Guest posting, reblogs, and back links are all generated from developing relationships with people who might not be your target demographic. These methods are catalysts to turn a small blog into something huge. An added benefit of blogging, is that the new content helps elevate the search engine ranking of your website. Who doesn’t want to be No. 1 on Google?
Infographics are a Fusion of Art and Writing
Take eye catching design elements and fuse them into the headlines you see in a blog post, the result is an infographic. In a way, memes are a simplified version of an infographic, and this has proven to be one of the most effective forms of viral advertisement in the digital world. To get a solid idea of an infographic, just type it into Google (It is 2017 after all).
The image itself helps tell a story, and the graphic proves to be more effective at grabbing an audience’s attention than if it were only text. Many times, infographics will be used in conjunction with other forms of content marketing and act as a door on social media. The image catches someone’s attention, then they click to get more info.
Engaging Videos Dominate
YouTube has revolutionized video production because anyone can make their own pseudo-television channel. The truth is that a large segment of the population would rather watch a video than read a post. Due to this nature, a prolific amount of content is generated daily. Businesses that use video marketing as more of a documentary, rather than a commercial, find huge amounts of success on YouTube. Try to document part of the processes it takes to run your business, and use this to entertain and educate your audience.
Podcasts Foster Deep Educational Content
Like YouTube, though not quite as mainstream, podcasts are the equivalent of independent radio. I’ve noticed that there is a larger cross-over between people who read blogs and listen to podcasts, than people who solely watch videos and listen to podcasts. The lack of visual stimulation can make this form unappealing to some audiences.
The best podcasts will always have strong personalities as hosts and will generally introduce guests to keep things fresh. Instead of being strictly scripted, most sound like a recording of a conversation, and the depth of the topics allows audiences to draw immense amounts of value.
Moving away from the content marketing trend of 2017, mobile development is the next major wave of this new year. According the Pew Research Center, average consumers are plugged into their Smartphones almost every hour that they are awake. This has resulted in vital importance being placed on mobile-friendly, digital content. While many people assume that means having a mobile version of your website, the mobile-centric trend of 2017 goes into much more depth which includes learning how to create an app for some businesses.
A website is contingent on a browser and Internet connection. In some cases, this is no problem. A customer goes to Google, searches for your website (hopefully you show up on the first page, but that is a separate topic entirely), and clicks to find you. 2017 will be the reaper to this soon to be archaic process.
Instead of completing a bunch of additional steps, customers will scroll through their apps and click on the business that they wanted to find. Due to downloading crucial data before it is used, apps increase user experience and provide a direct link to your content. No worrying about your search ranking, no hassle of trying to get good service. One click, done. 2017 will result in more businesses using the best app makers to rival websites.
Social Selling/Relationship Media
The last major marketing trend of 2017 does not focus on new technology, but rather a refinement on something we already have, social media. Most businesses have treated their social media accounts as a free way to advertise to potential customers. Advertising Age seems to believe that this doesn’t work nearly as well as anticipated. In a similar vein as content marketing, consumers are too perceptive when it comes to a company trying to sell a product. An ad on social media is still an ad, and they are largely getting ignored. This is the crux of the change.
Social media was never intended to be a free form of advertising, instead it was supposed to be used to maintain a massive network of relationships regardless of location. 2017 will see more companies embrace this philosophy and use their social media accounts to engage with their customers. The goal is not to sell, but to build a relationship. After a relationship, has been formed, subtle social selling is far more effective. Effective social selling turns cold prospects in loyal consumers.
2017 is positioned to be an explosive year in more ways than one. Regardless of one’s political beliefs, the economy shows ample potential for those who are willing to brave a new front and become a pioneer. By the end of 2017, the above trends will likely be the dominant methods of securing new business and maintaining relationships.
Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps — making mobile apps affordable and simple for small businesses. Bizness Apps is a do-it-yourself iPhone, iPad, Android and HTML5 app platform that allows any small business to simultaneously create, edit, and manage mobile apps without any programming knowledge needed. Think of it as “WordPress for mobile app creation.” Many of its customers are white labeled mobile app makers — marketing or design agencies that use the platform to cost effectively build mobile apps for small business clients.