6 Key Digital Marketing Trends to Budget for in 2017
As you plan for 2017, which digital trends should you budgeting for? What approaches will help make your marketing efforts more engaging and effective?
Deciding on what to concentrate on is no easy feat. After all, there are now seemingly endless digital channels and tactics available for marketers to invest in, including traditional platforms and emerging technologies.
To help you look past the fads and focus on what matters, we’ve combed through recent research & analysis reports to identify a few of the key digital trends that are predicted to have a major impact. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but each of these areas is one that every marketer should at least be thinking about in the year ahead.
1. Data Cleansing and Quality Control
Big Data has been an important trend for a few years now, and rightfully so. The vast amount of information available to marketers is truly transformative; it can be used to significantly improve everything from messaging to targeting.
The problem is that many firms have concentrated their resources on data collection and haven’t focused much on data quality/management. A recent survey of enterprise workers found that only 40% are very confident in their organization’s data quality management practices, 76% don’t have a data quality plan, and 94% believe business value is being lost as a result of poor data quality. Moreover, 95% of respondents expect the number of data sources, and the volume of data, to increase significantly in the near future.
To succeed with Big Data—to truly harness its current and future potential—it’s necessary to reexamine your data infrastructure and quality. Budget some resources next year for taking a step back and looking to see if your systems are connected properly, if your existing data is error-free, and if your organization is structured properly to capitalize on potential insights.
2. Marketing Automation Systems
Here’s a simple fact: it’s become almost impossible for an organization to manually execute digital marketing effectively. There are now too many complicated platforms and tactics—triggered messaging, real-time ad bidding, cross-channel remarketing, etc.—to manage without the help of digital tools.
That’s why investing in the right marketing automation systems is so important. An analysis of companies’ digital strategies found that 91% of marketers who rate their efforts as successful say automation is “very important” to the effectiveness of their programs. These marketers say the top benefits of automation include better lead nurturing, analytics, segmentation, and email messaging.
If you haven’t embraced marketing automation tools, 2017 is the right time to do so. Even if you have already invested, this could be the year to take things a step further and go all in.
3. Content Analysis and Audits
The story of content marketing is similar to that of Big Data: over the past few years, brands have realized its importance and have invested heavily.
While this focus has helped to improve messaging and audience connections, many marketers are still not sure exactly how much. In fact, only 43% of B2C marketers and 44% of B2B marketers say they have clarity into the success of their content marketing efforts.
To determine the effectiveness of your content, and to maximize the impact of your spend, it’s essential to run consistent analyses/audits. Budgeting for these regular check-ins will allow you to see which pieces are having an impact and understand what areas to move away from.
4. In-Depth Content Pieces
For a while, there’s been a common belief among marketers that content needs to be short and sweet. In this digital age of constant distraction, it’s been thought that what consumers really want is “snackable” pieces.
It turns out this assumption isn’t always true. A recent analysis of corporate blog posts found that the pieces that are shared most on social media are fairly long, between 1,200 and 1,400 words, and have fairly difficult language complexity. That may be why a survey of bloggers found that the length of the average post has increased by 19% over the past year.
Given this apparent hunger for longer pieces, think about investing in some in-depth content in 2017. You may be surprised to find that your audience wants full meals more than snacks.
5. Messaging and Chat Engagement
For many marketers engaging via chatbots and mobile messaging tactics seems difficult to justify. After all, with all the other outlets available, why invest in these mainly one-to-one communication platforms?
Here’s the flaw in that argument: messaging apps have become absolutely central to the lives of many consumers, especially younger ones. Messaging apps now have 4 billion active users worldwide and they are three of the top five most-downloaded apps in 2016.
Marketers ignore this trend at their own peril. Communication is fundamentally shifting to messaging apps, and it will be essential for every brand to engage on these platforms soon. While 2017 may not be the year your brand figures out how to fully capitalize on their potential, it could be hugely beneficial to invest in some experimentation now.
6. Short-Form and Live Video
Finally, video has been one of the hot areas to invest in for a number of years, and that shouldn’t change in 2017.
While spending on the format can often feel daunting—the cost is higher than text/graphics and distribution can be difficult—the effort is worth it. Why? Because video is increasingly popular and effective. The amount of live video watched by consumers jumped by 20% in 2016 and 52% of marketing professionals now say video is the type of content with the best ROI.
It’s important to keep in mind that this shift is being powered largely by social networks. As consumers see more and more videos on services like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, they’re becoming more video-first with digital engagement. However, they’re also becoming accustomed to different types of videos—such as live, short-form, etc.—from what marketers have traditionally developed.
In other words, even though video should remain an important part of your marketing investment, the format of your pieces may need to change significantly in the year ahead.
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