Digital Marketing Trends
We are all aware that digital marketing trends are the future. Yet, we are all asking the same questions…
Will Facebook videos completely dub shared articles? Will advertisers jump at the opportunity to use Snapchat’s image recognition technology for ad retargeting? Will Instagram take it even further with their Snapchat inspired storytelling feature? How far will the development and innovation of Messaging apps go? WhatsApp just launched their own ’24 hour disappearing content’ feature only weeks ago, allowing users to update their status with a photo, video or GIF. Social buy bots today, all-in-one day-to-day living apps tomorrow. And just how much will mobile take over our marketing to come?
I have broken down and summarised the 10 digital marketing trends that I think will shape 2017, and why businesses need to consider these trends to stay competitive in the digital landscape.
Trend 1: Video Advertising has OFFICIALLY arrived
If you can faintly remember, at a time YouTube was the only platform where you could consume videos online and advertise. But now Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have joined the game. I am not saying YouTube is dead – they still have over a billion users and they reported that their mobile video consumption grows every year by a 100%.
It’s just, that the online-video-consumption trend has exploded. Users are able to stream videos wherever and whenever they want. Also, how many of you actually click on Facebook or Instagram ads? From personal experience, I see so many ads a day that I automatically, monotonously just scroll through my feed, and only if it really grabs my attention do I click on it.
We thrive on video. Just a few months ago, Facebook released their new ad called a Canvas ad – it includes video and moving visuals, building on the video trend.
Facebook’s algorithm actually prefers videos, and if you use native videos, they will give you an organic boost for free. Even Instagram joined the party with their easy, no cost apps like Hyperlapse and Boomerang, as well as their storytelling feature. Let’s not forget about Snapchat. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, then we suggest you get out from under there. Snapchat has exploded into this new, must-have social media platform for both users, brands and advertisers.
We have so many tools at hand – why not use them?
If you have an announcement, a product release, a new promotion, an event – basically anything related to your product, brand or service – create a video and share it across multiple social media channels. It’s there for the taking, and you don’t need expensive equipment and a group of 20 professionals to shoot the video.
We predict that this trend will continue to dominate the internet this year, and the years to come. Marketers and businesses that set out a marketing plan and budget for video could get a head start of their competitors that are not using it.
It’s been a long time coming. So, embrace it, use it and make a statement.
“According to hubspot, 90% of users say that product videos are more helpful when they make a decision. We as marketers need to tap into that consumer mindset, and give them what they want.”
Trend 2: Live video streaming is not going away any time soon
Since I am on the topic of videos, let’s talk about live video streaming. I briefly talked about it in my 2016 trends article. My thoughts are still the same. Video has gained immense popularity the last couple of years. With the emergence of all these new social media features and apps, live stream started to gain even more traction.
According to various sources, Facebook and Snapchat have reported that they receive over 8 billion video views daily. Twitter also signed a 10-million-dollar deal with the NFL to live stream football games.
The thing about live streaming is that it can be used in many different ways; it doesn’t matter what industry you are in, what products you sell or what service you offer, live streaming captures an audience’s attention. Why? Because whatever they are watching is happening right now.
And before you say “we don’t have the budget”, these apps are free. All you need is an idea and a strategy to execute your idea (whether it be a behind the scenes look, a product launch, a Q&A session or a grand opening), as well as a marketing budget. With live video, brands can reduce costs associated with making videos, and they will be able to still offer their clients a high quality and entertaining finished product.
Let’s have a look at two live streaming options:
Facebook invested quite a lot of money in this feature.
When using Facebook Live, every one of your page likes will be notified with a push notification. If you have a huge number of likes, you’ll hopefully have tons of people watching it. Once your live stream is finished, it will stay on your page as a regular video giving brands and clients the opportunity to download the video, edit it and reuse it somewhere else.
Wondering why I am focussing so much on Facebook?
It’s safe to say that Facebook, when used right, is becoming a key player in the marketing world. Yes, Twitter has a massive following and is very popular around the world, but their advertising costs are quite high – leaving us with Facebook. People tend to spend more time on Facebook than other platforms, because they have more friends and connections, as well as a feed of stories and status updates to enjoy. There is a sense of familiarity, and that’s what marketers tap into. We use their behaviour, likes, dislikes and online browsing to reach them with content they would want to see.
Have a look at these Facebook live business examples
That said, Instagram launched their own live video streaming feature last year, which was bound to happen as Facebook bought Instagram. The one key difference though is that the video disappears immediately after it’s been broadcasted. There are also no replays. This feature amplifies that sense of urgency even more and kind of forces you to watch the video, otherwise you will miss it.
If the video you want to broadcast is more private or you want to show it only to a specific group of people, you can send your live stream directly to a group of your followers. They can watch it and replay once, but then it is gone.
Read more here how 3 brands are revolutionising Instagram marketing with live
In summary, video live streaming will be among the list of 2017 trends and will continue to evolve.
Trend 3: Influencer marketing – consumer and brand collaboration
Influencer marketing has always been around. And most probably you have been a victim of the trend without even realising it. We all follow bloggers, vloggers, celebrities and influencers on various social media platforms and if they post about the latest fashion trend or new coffee brand, you are subconsciously being convinced that you need this product as well.
We tend to see social media merely as an advertising channel these days, and we usually brainstorm and strategise new ideas on how to launch a product, promote an event, sell a product, or get leads on this channel. Here is the thing though, why are we not using what’s right in front of us? If you do a bit of research, you will find that there are thousands of brand influencers on social media platforms. They have a big following and a great customer reach.
People are not just empowered and influenced by brands anymore, but by the people they follow on social media. Brand and consumer collaboration taps into that personal connection that all brands are looking for. If a brand makes it possible to co-create content with consumers, it could be incredibly powerful.
Have a look at examples of influencer marketing campaigns
With mobile devices, there are so many opportunities for consumer and brand collaboration. And in the last 6 months more and more brands started using some kind of influencer marketing strategy. If you are going in this direction, look for influencers that like your product or brand. Start commenting on their posts and keep them in mind if you want to enable them. If you do it right, then the results could be great.
What makes it even easier, is all the available channels through which they can communicate: Snapchat, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, WeChat, Twitter. It’s a long list of never ending opportunities.
My prediction is that more brands will start turning to “real people” and influencers as part of their marketing strategies.
Trend 4: Messaging apps are growing fast
Messaging apps have grown at a staggering pace. Snapchat started out as a messaging app and now has over 10 billion views per day. We have a billion people on WhatsApp and 900 million on Facebook Messenger. 2 years ago, those numbers were 50% smaller. The popularity and number of users have doubled in size.
Of course, in Asia they have their own apps, with WeChat in China and Line in Japan. But let’s have a look at WeChat. Not as big in Western countries, but in China it is the big predominant player. The whole of China is on WeChat. Why?
You can do absolutely everything on WeChat (within realistic boundaries of course). You can buy tickets for shows, make a reservation, shop online, pay instore, transfer money to your friends, split bills when you are out, order a cab and pay for it via the app, buy wine, donate to charities, and the list goes on! Basically, you do everything you need to on one app. It’s either already existing features within WeChat or other companies that are building mini apps (bots) inside WeChat.
Following WeChat’s success, Facebook Messenger was launched. The app also supports bots, which means people can now send personalised messages to consumers via the app. This could be anything from latest news, shipping orders or order confirmations. Bots will transform the way we communicate with the consumer, but I will elaborate on that in trend 5.
So how can we use messaging apps?
With mobile usage increasing and people always being ‘logged in’, there is massive room for brands to reach more consumers on these apps, but it does not necessarily have to be through advertising. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are all about reaching customers directly, and talking to them on a space they are comfortable with.
There are a few ways in which brands and digital marketers can use messaging apps to their advantage.
Real-time Customer Service and FAQ’s: Brands can communicate and answer customers personally on these messaging apps. You can state any concerns or questions you have and will receive an answer immediately.
Sales and Promotions: At the moment, social is not driving sales and there are many reasons why. Either it lacks a level of integration or it’s a trust issue. Whatever the reason, you can still ‘sell’ products through catalogues until social ecommerce becomes the norm. Use demographics and send customers a catalogue of your latest products, promotions, product launches or even exclusive access to a 24-hour deal.
Entertainment: Give customers access to fun games or competitions.
Have a look at how brands are using messaging apps for marketing
This trend will become more popular in 2017, and the easiest way to do it is to communicate and act like your customers do: share content, create groups, be personal, interact with them on a personal level. And yes, it will be a challenge for businesses as we go forward, but it’s a great chance for you to launch your strategy and enhance your customer experience.
Trend 5: Social Chat Bots
With this new tech, everything will be automated. Customer Service will now be robots that can handle enquiries 24/7. You will be able to have direct interaction with customers anytime and anywhere. Content recommendations will get better and autonomous self-driving marketing automation will be one of our most valuable tools. These mini apps within a messenger app will help anyone trying to reach people on mobile.
Have a look at 5 chatbot examples used by luxury brands.
As a company, you can build a bot or an experience that offers a specific benefit – for example, checking up on weather reports, booking a table at your favourite restaurant, browsing through clothes until you find the right item, asking health questions etc. All of these bots differ in the solution they offer, but ultimately it will make it possible for businesses (brands) to be more personal and more streamlined in their communication with people.
Let’s have a look at Facebook Chatbots
Facebook chatbots, which are incorporated in Facebook Messenger, are one example of the chatbot revolution. Ever since Mark Zuckerberg announced in 2016, that third parties will be able to use Facebook Messenger as the platform to create their own chatbot, it has gained immense popularity. Why? It’s able to promptly communicate with people, without any human presence needed.
But there are always pros and cons to every new piece of technology. These chat bots require sophisticated maintenance and technical skills, and there is always the possibility that the tech could be too smart.
So, will this be a trend? The Chat Bot revolution had a rocky start with many failed bots, but this trend could become one of the go-to-communicators for brands to reach customers in 2017 and onwards.
Trend 6: A few Social Media trends to watch out for
1. Video and live video will continue to grow in the next 12 months. Marketers will start posting more entertaining, educational or innovative video content on Facebook.
2. Search will grow even more. Even though Google still leads the way in search, Facebook has seen an immense increase in searches. In the future who knows maybe Facebook will start asking money to advertise on their search result pages.
1. Live video/ broadcasts will increase rapidly. In 2016, Twitter’s Periscope partnered with the NFP to live stream all games.
1. More business tools will become available on Instagram. Businesses will be able to find new customers, get the market insights they need and stand out from the competition.
2. Live video and content with an expiration date will continue to flourish and marketers will start to use it more.
Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube
1. Promoted pins and Pinterest ads will pick up in 2017.
Have a look at these tips to create your own promoted pins campaign
2. LinkedIn will evolve. Just recently they revamped the entire look and feel of the platform.
Trend 7: Expiring social media content
Social Media content with an expiration date has exploded. In the past, every social platform had their unique features: When Instagram started out, it was merely a photo sharing platform where people could show the world their life/ adventures through photos. Pinterest was merely placing your inspiration, ideas and tastes onto one platform. Even Facebook, though more advanced in advertising, was also just a sharing and advertising platform.
But in the last few months, we’ve seen a major increase in expiring social media content features. Snapchat was one of the first platforms to use expiring content. There is something about content that disappears either within 24 hours or immediately. Customers know that if they don’t read or watch the content now, it will disappear. And most of the time they don’t want to miss out. It creates a sense of urgency.
So naturally other social media platforms followed suit.
Facebook created Facebook Live, which is not really content with an expiration date, but it still creates that immediate, real-time marketing that users love. Instagram copied Snapchat and launched their own Instagram storytelling feature, allowing users to post videos and images that disappear within 24 hours. They have also introduced Instagram Live: Users can do a live broadcast which disappears immediately once it’s finished. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp also adopted the expiring content feature just recently, proving that this trend is becoming more popular.
Have a look at 5 examples how brands are using Instagram stories to enhance their messaging
Expiring content has become part of the evolving social media landscape. We recommend incorporating this trend in your digital marketing strategies for 2017.
Trend 8: Mobile adaptation and multi-channel experiences
Mobile reached global takeover levels in 2016. It’s now a must in every digital marketing strategy, and you can’t avoid it. Google also announced that they prefer mobile friendly sites, and will favour those that are mobile responsive.
But, we should take into account that we are now tasked to change the human mind, and convince them that mobile experiences are just as trustworthy as desktop. That may take a bit of time, as we have been using desktop for years, and the trust formed will be difficult to transfer.
The easiest way to do so, is not by changing your whole digital marketing strategy to mobile, but to create a multi-channel experience. Even though mobile is growing at an immense pace, people are still using their tablets and desktops. So, instead of just focussing on mobile, we must create experiences for mobile, tablet and desktop.
An example would be retail: People are not fully convinced to shop online on their phone, because it’s a new foreign concept that we don’t trust yet. It would be wise not to rely on just mobile shops for your sales. Keep the online store on desktop, and gradually introduce them to the new concept of buying on their mobile online. An example would be to offer them a reward or membership app, giving them the option to buy either in-store or through the app.
Have a look at 5 examples of omnichannel retailing done right
The experiences we create from now on must be more dynamic, useful and easy to use. Our digital marketing strategies should focus on cross-device, multi-channel marketing tactics. Cater for each persona and generation, especially millennials. Millennials are by far the most multi-device marketing savvy.
The focus ahead? Don’t take mobile lightly. 2017 and the years to follow will become even more mobile driven, and one day maybe all our experiences will be completely mobile driven.
Trend 9: Snapchat will not go away
We can no longer dismiss Snapchat as a marketing tactic. It’s not just a messaging app anymore. And if you can remember (those of you who did read my 2016 trends article), I listed it as one of the 2016 trends. And we were right – real time, influencer marketing started leading the way for marketers.
Have a look at these snapchat campaigns and why they work
With over 10 billion video views daily, it’s not a novelty, but something most businesses should consider. Obvious factors such as your brand voice, product, service, target market etc. will dictate whether it’s the right medium for your brand, but if it is, try it and measure the results. The platform allows brands and marketers to advertise on the platform directly to their target audience.
Snapchat goes hand in hand with the rise of the video and live video streaming trend: Real-time content that tells a visually entertaining, engaging story with a time constraint. Again, this links with another trend that’s picking up; expiring social media content. Can you see a pattern forming? Snapchat incorporates various other trends that we mentioned above.
The key takeaway would be to not dismiss Snapchat, just because you don’t understand it. 2017 will show an increase of brands using Snapchat as an advertising medium, and will only grow in popularity.
Have a look at these brands and how they used Snapchat as an advertising medium.
Trend 10: Data prediction and digital audio
In the past year, I was shocked by how many agencies do not rely on data or tracking for advertising.
With the advances in technology we have the ability to collect data, track success and optimise for better results. We can study customers by capturing the right data i.e. age, region, education level, race, gender, career, the device they use. With this data, we can create customer profiles, predict where users will be online, choose the right social media platforms to advertise on, optimise websites, create the right advertising and alter an experience that speaks directly to the target audience.
And now, we are scratching the surface of new way of targeting; digital audio.
There are only a handful of experiences that are as personal as audio. It’s by no means the most known channel, but it’s always been a very personalised experience, whether you are creating a personalised playlist, streaming a radio station based on your preference or listening to a podcast.
And just like mobile adaptation has increased exponentially, so too has listening to music on a mobile phone with headphones. Imagine tapping into that very targeted, personalised experience and directing relevant advertising to a customer based on their listening habits.
By advertising in the middle of a music playlist or radio stream, brands can place themselves into a very routine experience of their target audience. Digital audio is part of every aspect of our lives: driving, running, exercising. Without realising it, we are consuming a huge amount of audio every day and this consumption is what makes audio advertising so effective.
Spotify for example, is giving marketers and brands the opportunity to target listeners with relevant messaging. Marketers can target specific groups of users based on their listening habits, age and gender, as well as report whether users clicked on the ad or not.
Have a look at the ad formats Spotify offers
Targeted audio advertising will make it so much easier for marketers to reach audiences on a different channel.
I am not saying that this will become the biggest trend in 2017. It might only become a trend in 2018. But we should not ignore audio advertising, and give it a chance if you have the budget and room for experimentation. It’s an exciting step towards the future of online marketing.
This year’s trends have revealed a very interesting pattern. Something we all suspected would happen. Video, mobile and social are leading the way. My newsfeed is buzzing with video articles, ads and news. So, which of these digital marketing trends will work for you in 2017? Let’s chat about it.