What’s trending in digital direct marketing for 2017
Success in marketing is led by those who anticipate changes in the industry and react to trends (often before their competitors). The digital universe is constantly changing; therefore, it would be extremely difficult to comment on every change within the industry. However, here are five of the (arguably) bigger changes we feel are on the horizon for 2017, and which will be critial for digital direct marketing
1. Mobile dominance
There’s no question that 2016 was a big year for mobile. With approximately 88% of Americans now owning a smartphone, opportunities are almost limitless for direct marketing in terms of effectively reaching your audience.
A “mobile first” methodology goes far beyond simply having a responsive or adaptive website. Mobile usage has forced a change in strategy for everything from email marketing to targeting options within digital advertising channels. While we will continue to work on our laptops and desktops, they are continuing to be relegated to secondary Internet devices. More time on the Internet continues to be spent on mobile phones. Reacting to this trend, Google (once again) changed its search engine algorithm in Q4-2016 to focus first on indexing mobile websites.
In 2017, mobile will continue to dominate Internet usage. Look for mobile search and mobile optimization, across all digital mediums, to be an ongoing challenge for marketers. And an opportunity for direct marketers in particular.
Additionally, look for increased reliance on real-time, location-based marketing. Facebook, with its dominating user base is arguably best-positioned here with its “local awareness ads.” These ads allow you to geo-fence people who are physically near a targeted area at a specific time. As retailers also continue to experiment with Bluetooth-enabled tracking beacons, marketers will have greater ability to place offers delivered at the right place and time to their customers.
2. Increased focus on CRO and customer experiences
“Do more with less” remains an ever-increasing need. Campaigns have historically delivered a 1% to 3% conversion rate. Today, marketers are realizing that it’s important to maximize every potential conversion touch point.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is not a new buzzword for digital marketers. However, 2017 is going to mark the year in which these principles are applied to all marketing tactics including websites and landing pages. Revenue and lead generation are huge drivers for this. Look for direct marketers to spend growing portions of their budgets funneling efforts to CRO in order to maximize the efficiencies of their tactics.
As for enhancing each customer’s experience, look for personalization in the form of 1-to-1 messaging to be more front-and-center. This trend, offering highly personalized services, has been fueled by the consumer experiences with companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix. Personalized Internet experiences will become more streamlined and intelligent. They will be leveraging data from multiple available sources such as CRM, geo-location, demographics, and social media. It could be as simple as recommending new products to suggesting updates to an insurance policy.
3. Focus on developing high-quality content
We are inundated with information, fueled by years of companies clamoring to focus on content marketing. Despite all of the available content, we still skim social media posts and ignore articles. We filter out messaging. It’s all become noise. Look for 2017 to focus more on measuring content marketing ROI. This will be achieved by developing high-quality content – content that your audience will actually want to view and share.
This trend will be fueled heavily by the increased desire to consume video-based content on platforms that include Facebook Live videos, 360-degree videos, and YouTube. Video ads will also continue popping up within our screens. Finally, look for interactive experiences to further take hold (e.g., interactive infographics, quizzes, surveys, and story-telling).
4. Data visualization will become even more critical
We’ve been talking about “big data” for years. We rely on multiple data sources that provide a good deal of qualitative information. They tell us who is buying what, where, and when. Beyond this, very few companies know how to leverage the exabytes of data that they have been diligently collecting. One could argue that our brains aren’t made to process vast amounts of numerical data.
The key to leveraging this data? The ability to interpret it so that it’s easy to translate into more actionable insights. Now that technology is starting to catch up, look for further demand on direct marketers to provide predictive analysis and business intelligence. Visualizing complex data simplistically will become even more important.
5. [Bonus] Increased support for augmented reality and VR solutions
Raise your hand if you predicted that Pokémon Go would have been the phenomenon that it was. Me either! Leveraging your phone’s GPS, camera, and a bit of imagination, we witnessed people getting out from behind their desk or off their couch to chase fictitious characters like Charmander and Venusaur within a mixed reality environment.
Yes, smartphones can be adapted to provide a VR experience using a simple device such as Google Cardboard. But Facebook (Oculus), Microsoft (HoloLens), and Samsung (Gear VR) are placing enormous investments in the hardware needed to make a higher quality VR experience. The technology is in its infancy right now. But expect marketers to attempt to further capitalize on the success of AR/VR technologies in 2017.
What are your predictions for digital marketing trends in 2017? Which will have the biggest impact? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Otherwise, learn more about DMW Direct’s digital direct response marketing capabilities and how we might be able to assist you.
Special thanks to everyone who helped to create this video, especially Steve Motter and Pat Donoghue (Production) and Kevin Breen (Post-production).