2017 is well on its way. As the year unfolds more technological advances continue to hit the market. As a result, more and more marketing trends are making their way into a business. If you want to stay ahead of your competition, you should never pass up a chance to examine how the other side is adopting these strategies into its marketing plans.
Trends in business don’t always mean starting from scratch. But they do open the door for budgets to be reexamined and replenished. Which is why you need to choose what trends you choose to follow.
After all, marketing strategies are a large portion of your budget. So deciding where to spend that budget will determine your business's’ success for the rest of the year. Thus, accuracy in choosing the strategies to invest in (and how much) is crucial, especially for smaller organizations that lack the vast reserves of an enterprise company.
Where To Start
Before investigating new and emerging trends, it's important to look at the previous year. Marketers know the importance of measurement and evaluation. Without these vital steps, it would be impossible for a business to accurately determine what works, what doesn't and how positive or negative the ROI of each tactic is.
Again, accuracy is everything. It can be easy to get overly excited about a new marketing trend and want to implement it immediately, but investing in the wrong strategies has the potential to be extremely damaging to the bottom line of your company. Making room in your marketing budget means investing less or not at all in some of your existing efforts. That said, businesses have to be careful not to drop spending too much in areas that provide them with good returns.
Thus, before rushing into the future, your first step should be to evaluate how efficiently you spent last year's budget. Where did you experience the biggest gains? What about the most significant losses? By comparing and contrasting the success of each tactic, you will begin to understand how to adjust spending for the new year. Perhaps, you want to cut back spending on print advertising because you saw the weakest returns from this action. Or, your customers are less active on social media channels than you initially predicted and spending should be cut here instead.
As you adjust and reapply your available budget, then comes the time to start drooling over that new trend (or trends) you've heard about that you can't wait to give a shot. Undoubtedly, you'll free up some of this budget and thereby create the opportunity to experiment with something new, such as mobile development, more diverse content offerings or another fresh trend. For smaller businesses, managing spending can be difficult. Sometimes, you have to take a risk and scale back your successful areas of spending, to afford the costs of new technology or meet emerging customer needs.
To limit how much of a risk you're taking, doing a little homework is key. To make the task of researching trends and their potential to help your organization easier, here is a compiled list of the top marketing trends for 2017.
1.) Businesses Continue To Push For Mobile Centricity
If you were to ask most marketing gurus or consultants what the one new strategy to invest in is, they'd advise you to turn your attention to mobile development. As consumers continue to increase their use of their mobile devices to search, shop and interact with brands online, the need to meet this shift in behavior increases.
Previously, this meant ensuring that your website loaded, functioned and appeared correctly on a mobile device. Now, this is the bare minimum of what consumers expect from a brand’s mobile experience. This is especially true given that the cost of to build an app has come down in the last year thanks to app builders. Which means smaller companies are already beginning to afford and implement mobile apps for their brand.
As more and more companies develop apps, they increasingly become an important and expected dimension of any brand. If you have yet to develop a competing mobile strategy, 2017 is the year to move beyond just offering a mobile-optimized website and start planning and researching the ways to deliver value to your customers and revenue to your business through a mobile app. Mobile app development is longer limited to the big brands with a large budget. Smaller organizations have some of the best app makers available to create an affordable mobile solution.
2.) Diverse Content Offerings Provide Bigger Returns
Content, particularly written content like a blog, article or a social media post, has become the bread and butter of marketers looking to generate customer engagement and improve the customer experience for their brand. Unfortunately, as more and more companies produce blogs and content, it gets tougher to stand out. As a result, companies have to begin exploring new types of content to supplement the typical and expected blogs and articles.
Blog content is popular because it provides a lot of value and it doesn't require a large investment of time or money. It also doesn't require that much creativity, since they are mostly informative and based on research. With a little creative collaboration and brainstorming, however, you can strategize ways to produce and implement content like quizzes, polls, assessments and others.
Weaving together different content types helps break up the monotony of the routine articles and blogs. Sometimes, the less common content types are more engaging simply because it's something that the target audience doesn't get to see as often. As a result, content like quizzes, polls, etc. can boast big conversion rates.
3.) More Data-Informed Decisions
Mobile development isn't the only marketing tool to become less costly to invest in. There's a growing number of affordable data analytics solutions as well. These self-service platforms allow a smaller company to begin performing simple analyses of their marketing data. Some solutions scale with the user's ability. So, as you get more comfortable with understanding and performing your analysis projects, you can begin exploring more complex correlations for deeper insights.
Analyzing data allows an organization to learn more about its customers and their behaviors, the effectiveness of the company's strategies, how to invest their budget and much more. Making the right decisions at the opportune times is essential to improving and growing your business. Entering data into the decision-making process allows for more accuracy and thereby greater success when determining what the next step is.
Data is also a means to keep a keener eye on the competition and what they are doing. You can leverage a competitor's publicly available information, such as their social media metrics and interactions, to make comparisons and learn more about the enemy. You may unearth valuable insights into what's working for them or where their vulnerabilities lie.
4.) Video Content Continues To See High Engagement
Aside from written content, visual content is also an effective means to provide value to the customer and enhance the client experience. Compared to the age before the smartphone, video content is inexpensive and easy to produce. Everyone is walking around with their personal video camera. They are also walking around with a screen to view videos as well. That's a substantial factor in why so many of today's consumers would rather watch content than reading it.
Videos are also very easy to host and share thanks to services like YouTube, Instagram, and Vimeo. A creative marketing team could produce strong video content to help satisfy any number of goals. For example, if your product or service is complicated or technical, explaining it via video achieves the goal of educating consumers. Or, you may just want to produce light, entertaining videos to add more diversity than only offering written content to an audience.
5.) Companies Battle Over Having The Best Customer Experience
Consumers have more access to more brand options in the connected Digital Age. This makes it difficult for a business to stand out based on things like quality and price alone. Today's customer is looking for more; they want a brand that offers a valuable and flawless experience. Value, in this sense, can be generated through providing powerful content, offering a rewards program, being helpful and responsive on social media channels and everything in between – anything that benefits the customer.
The customer experience also needs to be consistent. Every time a consumer interacts with your brand, their experience should be the same. In 2017, businesses will begin focusing on tightening their customer experience across various touchpoints and personalizing the experience for each customer. This trend is fueled by better data collection and analytics tools. It means no matter which channel or in what capacity a consumer reaches out to your brand, you'll have enough information about that individual to serve their needs and preferences.
No matter what year it is, there is one marketing trend that never fades and that's studying what's to come. By reading this, you are already on the right track to improving and growing your brand, customer experience, and revenue. While these trends aren't listed in any real order, the first trend – mobile development – is an area of primary concern. Arguably, it has the strongest potential of any of these tactics.
Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps — making mobile apps affordable and simple for small businesses. We’re a do-it-yourself iPhone, iPad, Android & HTML5 app platform that allows any small business to simultaneously create, edit, and manage mobile apps without any programming knowledge needed. Think of us as “WordPress for mobile app creation.” Many of our customers are mobile app resellers — marketing or design agencies that use our platform to cost effectively build mobile apps for small business clients.