Ahhhhh December, the holidays are officially right around the corner. Holidays provide a great opportunity to reflect on everything which has happened over the past year, whether they be personal or major world events. 2016 was quite a year, as we got to witness events we didn’t know we would ever see. Leonardo Dicaprio finally (and much deservedly) won his first Oscar award for Best Actor, the Chicago Cubs achieved baseball glory for the first time in 108 years and, of course, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.
Let’s get to the reason you’re all here though and what 2016 looked like for digital marketing. As always, the landscape is quick to change and marketers have to be ready to adapt. I would bet my student loan we won’t be sitting here next year discussing the exact same year in review! However, some of these trends will be carried over into part II of this post (so brace yourself), when I offer my thoughts on what we can expect to see unfold in the world of digital marketing in 2017.
Trend #1: Content Marketing Continues to Grow
Content marketing has been trending upwards for a few years now, but it really took off in 2016. Marketers are still scrambling to figure out the perfect recipe to generate the highest ROI when it comes to content marketing. Are my posts too short? Am I posting often enough? Are my posts relevant and are they reaching my audience? I’m sure many marketers would love to unwrap the answers to these questions and many more this holiday season.
However, the answers usually lie in your data. Trust your data will show you what consumers are looking to learn and what they are willing to share. Then use this data to ensure you are connecting with your visitors in a meaningful way. Track content engagement to see what is working and what is not. Soon enough, you will see trends in your results to show you which content length or post frequency is resonating with your audience.
I can’t imagine content marketing will just fade away in 2017. So if you haven’t already set your strategy, you have just found yourself a new year’s resolution. Keep in mind, simply using words to catch a reader’s attention is not good enough anymore. You have to be genuine and provide value, first and foremost. Also, consider augmenting your content with multiple forms of media, like images and video, to help you to stand out from others in your industry.
Trend #2: Live Streaming Video
Live streaming became much more mainstream in 2016, as services such as Periscope, Facebook Live and Meerkat aimed to help businesses connect with their consumers on a more human-to-human level. Video has provided companies a new and innovative way of storytelling for their brand.
Live streaming video is still a relatively raw marketing technique, as businesses are still figuring out ways to optimize their strategies. In an age where people are less inclined to read and with the ability to give customers exclusive access to your brand via the power of video, you can expect live streaming to gain more traction in 2017.
Trend #3: Pinterest Advertising
When it comes to social media advertising most companies tend to think Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest, however, with its 100 million+ active users, provides a medium for companies to promote products through simple, high-quality images. The app already allowed users to browse through pins and potentially make purchases, so it was only a matter of time before ‘promoted pins’ took off. Pinterest itself has already reported $300 million in revenue for 2016, which is approximately three times more than 2015, thanks to advertising operations. We’ll see if Pinterest continues to fuel its growth through advertising revenue in 2017.
(Image taken from Marketing Land)
Trend #4: Social Media Advertising Costs are on the Rise
Gone are the days where you could post on Facebook and all of your followers would be able to see it on their timeline. For maximum visibility, it is now recommended you ‘boost’ your social media marketing efforts. With social media being as important to marketing, as syrup is to pancakes, there is more competition than ever for businesses to grab the attention of consumers via social media.
So here we are in a perfect Economics 101 situation, where price is being driven up by the law of supply and demand. The trick for digital marketers moving forward will be to manage their budgets accordingly and striving to get the most out of their social media marketing practices by truly identifying their audiences and hyper-targeting their messages.
Trend #5: Marketing Automation
Marketing automation has also been trending upwards for a few years. In fact, in 2016, on average, 49% of all companies use marketing automation technology, while 55% of B2B companies have adopted marketing automation programs (MAP) according to Emailmonday. Comparatively speaking, only 42% of companies had automated some form of their marketing practices in August 2015.
Implementing a MAP with a proper strategy has been proven to help businesses increase productivity, sales revenue, leads, customer retention and more.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for part II where we predict what we expect to be trending in 2017!