Everyone wants to know what’s next in digital marketing, and this year is no different. So, what’s the next big thing? Where should you be investing your money? We’ve gathered together the predictions of some of the industry’s most influential digital marketers to help guide your 2017 digital marketing strategy.
I think 2017 is going to be an exciting year for Conversion Optimisation (CRO). Many organisation have come to realise that ad-hoc A/B testing doesn’t deliver consistent results. They understand that the need of the hour is a structured CRO program – one that consists of a dedicated CRO team, a suite of tools, and a process-driven optimisation methodology.
Organisations will look to follow such a program to systematically improve user experience and increase conversions on their websites.
The year 2016 saw machine learning, data mining, and voice search take centre stage in our digital marketing universe like few technologies before them. Our lives are now connected to the sonorous sounds of Google Home, Siri, Cortana and Alexa, the voice assistant of Amazon Echo. A huge chunk of our data is captured in the omnipresent Cloud on a daily basis. (Read more about the impact Amazon Echo and Google Home could have on 2017 here)
I predict that 2017 will be the year which will enable digital marketers to take audience targeting across all digital channels to the next level. This will be made possible by the data voice assistants capture about our audience; and in connection with this, we may see Bing increasing its share of search significantly as it continues to power voice searches via Alexa, Siri, and Cortana.
With the technology industry shifting toward an augmented and virtual reality future, something that is becoming widely available to the public, I can certainly predict that the heads of content marketers, in 2017, will firmly be fixated on how to break into VR. With such incredible visceral experiences, what better way to immerse your audience than to literally transport them into your world?
I also believe that growing audiences on YouTube and Facebook video platforms will continue opening the door to online influencers to become the best way to reach organic audiences on and offline. Finally, traditional methods of engagement won’t be left behind yet, video will still be supreme, closely followed by other engaging content such as GIFs and memes.
I expect title tag and keywords on the page to become almost irrelevant. And, right now, I see local search results where companies are being ranked for search terms that are not on the page, in the title tag or in inbound links. I expect to see more and more of this as Google begins to categorise companies by the whole website and not by a page.
I also expect a big shake-up of the SERP. Although SEO has slowly changed over the last few years, it has yet again become easy to game Google. Panda and Penguin changed the game but we are all used to working within these boundaries.
In the past couple of years, content marketing has become increasingly dominated by video, with autoplay functionalities, the rise and rise of Snapchat, and the introduction of Facebook Live and Instagram Stories. And whilst the pursuit of view counts isn’t going anywhere (even in spite of Vine’s demise), I think that in 2017 we will start to see a return to the written word. After a year of talking - Brexit, Trump, Clinton - and in a world where journalists are under immense click-bait pressure, features and honest, in-depth articles from passionate marketers will be a welcome relief.
For me, 2017 will be the year of customer experience. It seems digital transformation has kind of had its day; you’re either doing it, have done it, or it’s too late. Leading brands will start to now focus on engineering a uniformly excellent customer experience and this means integrating across online and offline channels; harmonising content strategies, campaigns and digital acquisition, to deliver what the customer wants and needs; where and when they want it.
Big data will provide the tools, driven by advances in artificial intelligence and cognitive analysis, enabling marketers to predict and react based on emotion as well as behaviour. Mobile will clearly lead the way.
For 2017, I would expect Google to continue to evolve the search landscape, in order to capitalise on the growth of mobile and local. I think they will continue their trend of removing the need for users to leave their platform; becoming more of a walled garden, like Facebook. I’d expect them to develop their mobile and local feature sets, and, in particular, evolve AMP for local businesses. Expect new ad types to go with any new features developed. One thing you can be certain of, Google loves to test new things, and this will give digital marketers new opportunities in 2017!
Our top three things to watch in 2017 are firstly, progression towards web 3.0 which has been loosely seen defined as the semantic web. While this will probably change how we approach SEO, the largest developments will be in the links between resources. In our sector (hospitality and travel) we’ll see travel, food, activities etc. all coming together, automatically inferring guest interest. Conceptually, this lends itself well to the growing suite of dynamic personalisation and content automation tools, which I think, will be more widely adopted amongst the small to medium sized businesses. Finally, we project that live interaction between business and customer via Live Chat will become the ‘norm’ with traditional contact forms slowly becoming obsolete.
In 2017, the focus of influencer marketing will be content over audience size. To date, most brands have hunted down the mega-influencers with huge followings. Working with these guys hasn’t yielded the results brands hoped to see any, actually, those brands who’ve worked with smaller influencers, with a specific and highly relevant audience, have seen a better return on their investment.
This year, ‘Pokémon GO’ introduced millions to augmented reality; though brands are yet to utilise this opportunity for mass market appeal. AR and VR are set to become a dominant trend in 2017 as companies introduce a 3rd dimension to their customer experience.
Chatbots have also become popular with AI now becoming a more prevalent and interesting resource. Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant, have led the way for Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google Allo, to help customers along the purchasing journey. You can chat to Chris Messina’s (Creator of the Hashtag), bot here: m.me/MessinaBot.
Mobile first – In 2016 mobile traffic overtook desktop for the first time, and Google is working on a new algorithm with a mobile-first index. This means that websites that aren’t optimised for mobile will fall down the organic results.
Facebook has introduced its ‘New Camera’ – an assault on Snapchat’s fancy filters and facial recognition abilities; and they’re also announcing a major live-streaming and exclusive broadcast deals, especially for the platform.
I think 2017 will bring a shift in the way that brands and marketing agencies interact.
Traditionally, brands bought SEO as a packaged ‘product’, which normally involved commoditised link building in the hope of increasing rankings. In theory, the more you paid for your tactical SEO, the more success your brand had.
However, we will soon see a shift towards SEO becoming a purely ‘strategic’ discipline, which relies on agencies’ expertise to consult on SEO as opposed to delivering outsourced resource. In the future, SEO will be about empowering clients to be better businesses in order to win in their respective markets.
Get in touch to discuss how Hit Search can help your business flourish in 2017.