The digital marketing landscape is changing… again.
At DigitalMarketer we spend a lot of our own money on testing. We are testing tactics in dozens of markets including…
- Survival and Preparedness
- DIY/Home Improvement
- Finance and Investing
In 2016 we drove millions of clicks from paid traffic, sent 107,442,263 emails and generated 4.7 million unique pageviews to the blog.
(RELATED: The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing)
As a result, we detect new trends in digital marketing months (sometimes years!) before they go mainstream.
Here’s what the DigitalMarketer team and I are seeing as we enter 2017.
I’ll go ahead and kick it off…
Ryan Deiss, CEO & Co-Founder
Email will finally get some competition.
Let me be clear… email is NOT dead. Every year some chucklehead proclaims a new app or tactic (Twitter, Facebook, Texting) will kill email. Email isn’t going anywhere just like direct mail is here to stay.
That said, in the same way email was a significant competitor to direct mail, I am seeing some “new kids on the block” (<< you’re welcome anyone over the age of 30) that threaten email’s dominance. Facebook Messenger, in particular, is an application I had my eye on as 2016 came to a close.
Facebook Messenger now gives you the ability to communicate both one-to-one, but also one-to-many. We’ve began testing the building of subscriber lists in Messenger and the upside is big. In the same way we are able to send offers, content and transactional messages (such as “Your order has shipped”) in email, we are now able to send these communications via Messenger.
But here’s the kicker… while these messages can be sent one-to-many, the CONVERSATIONS created by these mass communications can be picked up by you, your customer service team, or your salespeople one-to-one.
Pay close attention to this trend. Just as enormous retargeting lists have been built over the last few years (a prediction I made in 2015), massive subscribers lists will be built on apps like Facebook Messenger in 2017.
Richard Lindner, President & Co-Founder
The year of the “internal agency.”
Let’s face it: The days of the nameless, faceless (and soulless) brand are over.
To succeed, companies of the future will need to become increasingly authentic, and even (dare I say) human. As a result, owners and executives will find it increasingly necessary to deploy an INTERNAL team of marketing and branding specialists who can speak with a consistent and compelling voice.
In other words, companies will need to build their own “internal agencies.”
Does this mean the death of the outside marketing agency?
Quite the contrary.
Outside agencies will still be essential both in helping to scale winning campaigns, and also come up with new breakthrough ideas.
But the “voice” and “soul” of the brand…the day-to-day marketing…that should be fully owned and control by the company, and no longer outsourced to an outside team.
Molly Pittman, Vice President
Last year, “branding” ads (giving prospects value first before asking them to buy), became even more essential to the customer journey.
Our traffic campaigns scaled by integrating more engaging ads that entertained and educated ice cold traffic.
Facebook (and other traffic platforms) enhanced features on their platform to help create a more appealing experience for the user… everything from Facebook Messenger ads to improved video ads.
This year, prospects will have even more touch points with your brand before they buy.
As consumer behavior evolves, we will see more and more of a need to use multiple channels and mediums to connect with prospects and customers. Even brick and mortar stores will see an increase of online research done before a prospect even walks into the store.
Consumers now EXPECT almost immediate communication with brands, and those that provide it will get the sale.
I just signed a new apartment lease in Austin and… guess what? I have done all of my communication (whether setting up a tour or asking questions about amenities) through Facebook messenger. They respond within minutes. It’s amazing.
We must be wherever our market is. No excuses.
Just like last year (and years before that), the need for a fully fleshed out traffic system to build relationships and to “look like a real company” become even more essential.
This means that you will run multiple ad campaigns at one time to move people through the customer journey.
Because of that, this year, I foresee attribution actually becoming LESS important.
I believe we will see companies looking at their traffic strategy in a more holistic way.
Instead of focusing on the immediate ROI of an individual ad campaign… I see companies looking at broader metrics like… how much did I spend in total? Did I break even? How many customers did we acquire?
This will allow media buyers the chance to run the branding ads that are so very, very important to reaching cold traffic and scaling a company.
Russ Henneberry, Editorial Director
Farm your content, or watch it wither on the vine.
Compared to 2015, the DigitalMarketer blog in 2016…
- received 127% more traffic from search engines.
- reduced the number of posts on the blog from 1,189 to 312. Yep, we deleted and redirected 73% of our blog in 2016 and will remove more posts in 2017.
- published 58 brand spanking new blog posts as compared to 95 in 2015—a 39% decrease in new articles year-over-year.
For over a decade, content marketers have been screaming from the rooftops, “Create great content and MORE of it!”
This mantra has created a glut of outdated and, in many cases, mediocre content on our websites for our users and Google to slog through.
We published only 58 new pieces on our blog in 2016 and spent more energy on identifying old, outdated, and mediocre pieces and either removing them completely or improving them.
Today, and in the future, your content marketing success will be tied directly to the quality and MAINTENANCE of the content you create.
Lindsay Marder, Managing Editor
As we roll into 2017, the demand for visual content is becoming even more imperative.
Yes, I know—I’m not predicting anything just about every other marketing organization in all the land hasn’t predicted since around the dawn of time. However, the world wide web of content is about 5,283,573,948x larger than it was back then, and readers are getting sick of…reading.
There’s so much new content being published every day, that readers are desperate for:
- images that catch their eye and force them to stop skimming
- video that delivers the information quickly, efficiently, and entertainingly
- infographics that present information concisely and attractively
- graphics that are congruent to the social message that got them to click in the first place
… and so on.
At DigitalMarketer, we spent 2016 testing different mediums to deliver our content, including all of the above.
What’s performed best?
Video posts that deliver the content like this one:
Infographics that summarize huge processes and blog content like this one:
Congruent images across our blog content and social content like in this Facebook post…
…and this blog post:
Bonus: this image was actually a GIF that performed phenomenally in both mediums!
So, as we move forward with 2017, we plan to optimize our content for visual consumption and are predicting we see increased engagement across all channels—including all social media.
Like I said, every marketing organization is betting their bottom dollar on visual (with some presenting great evidence to make their case), so be intentional and mindful in strategy, quality, and intention of your visuals.
Always be thinking of your reader and how you can give them the best content experience and you’ll have a great year.
Justin Rondeau, Director of Optimization
2017 will be the year of the visitor… or the year businesses actually start taking their visitors’ needs seriously.
DON’T STOP HERE, THIS IS ONLY HALF OF MY PREDICTION!!!
In 2016 I focused on proving that “Best Practices” are a useful tool in the optimizer’s arsenal, which many of my pals in the industry didn’t really appreciate. My final thoughts on this was that best practices become useful BECAUSE they help meet the expectations of your visitor. If you don’t meet their expectations… well, they leave.
So this year I think optimizers will have a hyper-focus on the user experience and will develop new reports and new research strategies to identify what the visitor actually wants. There will be some stumbling because a lot of people will try to ASK their customer what they want and what someone tells you they want is always very different than what they actually want.
So this year is where optimizers and marketers will find a better way to harness user data which leads me to my full prediction…
My prediction is two fold:
- We will design and optimize based off of our visitor’s needs and not our preference.
- We will begin to use what I call “Passive” user testing, i.e., a user test where the visitor is unaware they are in a testing environment over active testing, i.e., a user test where the visitor is aware they are in a testing environment.
Suzi Nelson, Community Manager
In our recent post on ecommerce predictions, Babak Azad from Round 2 Ventures predicted 2017 will bring a shrinking market that will effect businesses across the board.
That means brand preference is going to become more important than ever. In short, consumers will become more loyal to specific brands and prefer continuous service from one company, rather than shopping around.
It all comes down to how much value your business is bringing to the table. Community can play a powerful role in building brand loyalty and decreasing the churn rate of your customers.
Take a look at this graphic from the Harvard Business Review:
Theoretically, in order for your brand/product/service to bring value, it first has to meet a functional need of your customer. If it also meets emotional needs—like making someone feel less stressed or entertained—you’re offering even more value.
Community fulfills value elements near the top of the pyramid, especially creating sense of affiliation and belonging.
That is an extremely powerful value proposition that will give your brand a leading edge in establishing brand preference over the competition.
Giving your customers a chance to connect with other people who are experiencing your brand will, among other things…
- Increase word-of-mouth recommendations
- Increase retention / decrease churn
- Increase customer loyalty
- Increase customer satisfaction
2017 will be all about winning the hearts and minds of your customers and establish yourself as the brand of choice. Customer communities will provide a lucrative opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Marcus Murphy, Director of Sales & Monetization
My biggest predictions for 2017 revolve around sales… better yet, selling.
More specifically, how selling has to and will change this year, BUT not everyone will get it right.
EVERYONE is talking about artificial intelligence or AI. Non-sales proficient businesses who think automated AI is their new “sales team” are in for a rude awakening and likely some pretty frustrated “customers.”
However, it’s not just sales inept organization that risk screwing this up…
I predict the businesses who embrace this little miracle of technology to need to use it to “start sales conversations,” not close sales.
Using AI, if used correctly, can be the differentiating factor in your business in 2017. Trust the power of human conversations and build your sales process around starting sales conversations.
That’s our predictions, folks… what’s yours?