2016 was an incredible year for different marketing strategies, and the marketing industry shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, especially in the online realm.Now that it is January 2017, have you formulated your list of marketing strategies for the year?
Perhaps you feel that the entire task is too daunting?
Maybe you plan to copy and paste last year’s strategy in the hope that it will bring better results this year?
Well, the marketing field is going to change this year and marketers, entrepreneurs, and business owners need to prepare accordingly.
Forms of marketing need to be planned for; you marketing requires foresight, and you need to anticipate changes. Most importantly, you need to jump on the latest trends before your competition does.
So, what do we expect in 2017? While there are marketers who believe that the online space is going to expand even further with more companies entering the digital world every year, there are also marketers who foresee a complete makeover of how search engines give preference to the masses of data online.
Marketing is a complex and significant playing ground. The sooner you strike a nerve in your customers and prospects, the better you can appeal to them and stay on top of your competitors.
To make things easier, we’ve picked the major 10 types of marketing strategies to look out for in 2017.
10 Forms of Marketing to Look Out for and Use in 2017
1. Native Marketing is Soaring
Self-proclaimed content marketing superhero, Joe Pulizzi refers to native marketing as a kind of gateway drug to content marketing. This year, marketers and businesses cannot afford to miss out on the native marketing train.
It is estimated that spending on native ads is set to reach a massive $7,9 billion with it soaring even further in 2018 to $21 billion. What’s more, it is expected to expand across an array of online platforms.
So, why are marketers in love with this type of paid media? That’s easy – it fits organically. Native marketing doesn’t interrupt a user’s experience, so users don’t notice the difference between what is part of a website and what is paid advertising.
Typically, the content used for the marketing strategy is relevant, targeted, and useful, and that means native marketing can effortlessly fill the gap between banner ads and brand publishing. What’s more, this is an excellent way to build a social following and boost engagement with customers and prospects.
There is a wide variety of forms that native adverts can take, including:
- Sponsored LinkedIn updates
- Promoted Twitter listings
- Google paid search results
- Articles on tops sites like The Huffington Post and Forbes
- Content recommendations at the end of articles
If you’re not yet convinced of the benefits of native marketing, look at these statistics from Copyblogger:
- Nearly half of all customers don’t know what native marketing is
- Almost 50% of brands are already using this type of marketing as a part of their wider marketing strategy efforts
- 90 % of marketers plan to launch native ads
Building a Native Marketing Strategy
1. Define a GoalWhat do you want to achieve with your marketing strategy? Native ads can do 3 things for you:
- Build trust and brand awareness
- Draw subscribers toward your content
- Attract new readers to previously published content
What’s more, these ads can collect social approval, such as shares, comments, and likes on social media. In turn, your credibility receives a boost, and your brand can look forward to a myriad of viral opportunities. All you have to do is decide what your goal, or goals, should be.
2. Come Up with Quality Content
Content for your ad should be useful and attract attention from your target audience. What it should not do is “sell.” Four best practices to take note of include:
- Content should be more engaging than disruptive
- Content that the ad promotes can be published on your site
- Content should be of a high quality
Content should include a call to action that links to your social networks or blog tell your readers where you want them to go and what you want them to do
3. Think Outside of the Social Media Box
Native ads aren’t limited to social media. To increase your reach, write a few sponsored ads to run in relevant industry publications with the aim of generating and converting leads and building brand awareness. If you don’t have the budget to publish on the likes of BuzzFeed and Forbes, look into content recommendation services that will present your content on a larger publisher’s website.
An Example of a Native Ad That Really Works
BuzzFeed is a hugely successful viral hit factory. So, it’s no wonder the site opened up its readership to sponsors who could afford to place native ads on the site. One noteworthy ad put on the site’s “Community” pages was from HarperCollins. The piece was titled, 10 Quotes Every Grad Needs to Read.
Take a look at the bottom of the page, and you’ll see that posts made to this section are not vetted or endorsed by the site’s editorial staff. That means that HarperCollins have paid to get their brand in front of BuzzFeed’s broad audience. Other than the company’s logo above the social share buttons at the top of the page, there is very little to set it apart from other content on the site.
Why does this native ad work? Timeliness. For starters, the post was published in late June which happened to coincide with graduation season. Next, the basis of the post revolved around David McCullough, Jr’s commencement speech which went viral.
Notice how the post adheres to BuzzFeed's highly popular listicle and .gif format? That alone makes it easy for readers to digest, and the headline has been crafted to reel in the site’s audience. There’s hardly any connection between HarperCollins and BuzzFeed other than the implied relationships between books and college grads. This ad is a “soft sell,” and therefore easier for audiences to digest than an ad that goes right in for the sell.
If you have used native ads and they haven’t worked, perhaps 2017 should be the year you master them. Can you afford not to?
2. Influencer Marketing
While influencer marketing has been around for a while now, it really began to take off in late 2016. It seems every business, and industry, has some sort of influencer strategy in place, but how many of you are executing one of the top forms of marketing in a way that makes sense?
Influencer marketing offers all the benefits of content marketing (discussed below) and more. While the content your business creates is lasting and aimed at driving traffic as it is read and shared across platforms, when you publish your content on an industry influencer’s site, you have the benefit of reaching an established audience and therefore driving direct traffic and leads.
If you are a startup, though, you may be wondering how to get going with influencer marketing? These five steps will get you started:
1. Define a Content Strategy and Plan
Content isn’t about throwing a few words around and hoping to reel in paying customers. It takes thought, and it takes planning. Start by defining killer headlines for your articles and then research the search terms and questions your target audience are looking for that they don’t yet have answers to.
Use a reputable keyword tool to identify questions and terms with relatively small competition to find opportunities to target your industry.
2. Weight Up your Topic Plan vs. Google SERP
Of course, you want your content to appear in organic search results. To do this you need to understand your competitors and their different marketing strategies, but it has been said that search results with few paid ads and more ranking articles are better candidates than product pages or home pages.
If your goal is to create content on your business’s own website, then you would need to ensure you compete against lower domain authority sites. However, one of the greatest benefits of influencer marketing is that you can take full advantage of higher domain authority for already-established sites.
3. Research Google Results for Your Chosen Topics
The easiest way to organize this is to create a spreadsheet for each author and capture data such as:
- Social engagement
- Author name and contact details
- Page views
- Domain authority
Collecting the data is as easy as clicking on the first couple of pages of Google and inputting the URLS of the pages into the spreadsheet.
If your business is not yet including influencer marketing in your different marketing strategies, it’s time to start. You just cannot build brand trust and credibility in this consumer-savvy online world without the influence of market leaders.
3. Mobile Marketing in 2017
Three years ago, mobile ranked in the top 3 list of marketing strategies. But, more companies have begun to adopt mobile responsive web design. The problem, though, is too many companies have seen less need to focus on it, and this has led to fewer opportunities for growth.
However, mobile has a massive impact on search marketing, and Google continues to work to its mantra of mobile first. This may seem a little misleading, as there is still a significant number of users using their tablets, laptops, and desktop computers, and there is always a risk that conversion of mobile responsive designs on higher resolution screens may fail. But, top companies are turning to adaptive mobile design which allows them to serve more contextual and relevant content, complete with calls to action, for users, and reduces load times.
While we realize that different devices are often involved at various points in a customer’s journey, a mobile strategy can certainly play a significant role in your multichannel marketing strategy. As research from Smart Insights shows, multichannel strategies are a lot broader than users who only use desktops or only use mobile.
In essence, as a marketer or business, you can no longer ignore the trend of mobile marketing. Optimizing for mobile and devising an effective mobile marketing strategy is something that you have got to do in 2017.
If you’re still not convinced, look at these statistics:
- 80% of internet users have a smartphone, according to Smart Insights. With so many mobile providers giving away free smartphones when customers take out a contract, this number is bound to continue increasing, and that is good news for your mobile marketing strategy.
- Informz reports that more than 36% of mobile users use either an iPad or iPhone to access their email, while 34% of users only use a mobile device to access their email. How many people in your office have an Apple device? How do your company’s emails currently look on those devices?
- A 2014 report from ExpressPigeon states that, even three years ago, half of all smartphone users reach for their smartphone as soon as they wake up. This is a big reason why email marketing remains invaluable. People are addicted to their smart devices, and when they subscribe to your newsletter, they are giving you permission to communicate right to a device that hardly leaves the palm of their hand. Be smart and ensure you don’t blow that trust by sending spam.
- Another Smart Insights report tells us that apps account for almost 90% of the mobile time, with the rest of the time spent on websites. While customers may want to do their research somewhere else, they do want to consume your communication through an easy-to-use app. This means your business cannot afford to miss out on providing an exceptional experience via an app.
4. Live Video Streaming Is Set to Launch in a Big Way
With the growth of social media comes the demand for content that is truly in the moment. Social media users want a shared vision of your world – the world they may have previously not had access to. Thanks to the rise of mobile users and faster internet speeds, live video is set to take off and become a trend all on its own this year, with more platforms and apps offering up some form of live streaming functionality. After all, even the first U.S. Presidential debate of 2016 was streamed live and drew in millions of viewers, and no doubt the inauguration later this month will do the same.
Live video has seen an upward trend in the last few years, but 2017 seems like the year it is going to fully take off and be used by more individuals and brands than ever before. That’s because streaming video allows businesses and brands to ditch the corporate veil and connect on a human level, while also enabling users to participate in ways the actually enrich user and customer experience.
Just how are businesses already using live streams as a successful form of marketing? With new ways to use live video cropping up frequently, there are several ways
1. Q & As and Customer Support
More companies are turning to live video as a way to answer questions during office hours.
2. Conversations with Users
The global news site, Experian, already uses live streaming functionality to talk about student loans, debt, credit, and how to manage and improve scores. They even use a hashtag, #creditchat, to make the conversation easy to find and easy to follow.
3. Influencer Interviews
What better way to reach out to your influencers than with live streaming? That’s what Nestle’s Drumstick did during a sponsored event to reach their Periscope influencers and create content that they promoted with sponsored tweets.
4. Product Launches and Special Company Announcements
Really drop the corporate veil and let your customers in on a far more human level with live video announcements and launches. In 2016, Nissan streamed the launch of the Maxima at an auto show in New York, and General Motors became the first car brand to conduct a Facebook live stream when they launched their Chevy Volt EV at the Consumer Electronics Show.
5. Promote Live Events
Live events can be anything from conferences and demos to performances, tours, concerts, and presentations. Music legends, U2 along with Spotify have already used live streaming to stream live performances, including the Dunkin Donuts summer music effort. What’s more, GE made use of drones that were equipped with Periscope to offer guided tours through their remote facilities. Even Mountain Dew and Red Bull have used live streaming for events, along with Taco Bell who streamed a mock press conference for fans.
6. A Look Behind the Scenes and Backstage Passes
If you are a video gamer, you will know who Madden are. The series had its marketing team make use of live video for a behind-the-scenes look at players that they could share with fans. Even the infamous TV show, The Tonight Show has utilized Facebook Live to give viewers and fans a glimpse behind the scenes of the show. Super-brand, Target, used live streaming to give fans a peek of their design partnerships and to promote fashion week. Speaking of fashion, DKNY has also used live streaming for sneak peeks, and Marc Jacobs previewed the 2016 fashion line via live stream.
These six ideas just touch the surface of what live video streaming will be capable of in 2017. If you are looking for innovative ways to enhance your different marketing strategies and actually reach your target audience, break down barriers, and create a genuine connection, the video stream could well be the answer.
5. The Ever-Changing Search Algorithm
Whether we like it or not, search engine algorithms are ever-changing. While it may seem annoying for marketers and businesses, it’s not a bad thing – there’s method to search algorithm madness. With the huge volume of information being added to the internet virtually every second of the day, the search engine giants have to keep updating their algorithm to determine which content deserves to get priority and rank higher in their search engine results (SERPS), and which can be overlooked.
While we may not yet know what 2017 holds for search engine algorithms, Search Engine Land suggests doing three main things after a big update:
- Don’t stress – updates aren’t in our control. It’s not worth trying to speculate, either.
- Don’t react immediately – sit back and wait a while. Don’t rush off to make changes to your site, instead, wait and see if the change has had an impact on your site. If you have already got your SEO strategy right, chances are, the site isn’t going to be negatively affected.
- Follow credible sources – the best place to start is at the Google Webmaster Blog. Go through the information on a new update and, if your site took a hit, you will quickly figure out what needs to be worked on.
The number one strategy, though, is to be helpful, informative, relevant, and original to your target audience. You don’t have to remain solely focused on Google’s algorithm, by the way, as you will want to take note of algorithms from Bing and Facebook, too.
Two particular things you will want to keep an eye on in the next few months include cross-channel marketing and optimization for user intent.
6. Cross-Channel Marketing Strategies
You probably already know that multi-channel marketing and cross-channel marketing are two very different strategies. Multi-channel refers to the process of establishing a presence across online platforms. Cross-marketing strategies, though, mean you make use of several channels to market your business or brand in an integrated way. For instance, if your target audience is browsing products on their mobile app but decides not to complete a purchase, you can push targeted ads their way, either via social media or email, based on their searches.
We know that multi-channel marketing strategies are not a new concept. But, cross-channel marketing serves as an extension thereof. The number one goal of this type of approach is to create a consistent brand presence for your company across multiple channels. This allows users to move seamlessly between platforms and devices to make a purchase from you.
According to the fourth annual Cross-Channel Marketing Report from Econsultancy, over 70 percent of respondents claim that cross-channel marketing has a significant impact on improved conversion rates. But, this marketing strategy can only be effective if you know your target markets and you are familiar with their consumption habits. The biggest challenges companies face here are:
- Knowing what the right message is for their target audience
- Finding the perfect time to release that message
- Using the right channel for the message
There are already several resources and tools to help, but cross-channel marketing is still relatively new, even with the growth of mobile usage. Today’s consumers are more connected than they have ever been, so there is no doubt that the need for impressive cross-channel marketing strategies will continue to rise in 2017.
7. Optimization for User Intent
While keywords will continue to play a prominent role, typing in simple words will give you simple results. Today’s consumers know what they want, and that means search engines continue to get better at identifying user intent. What this means is that users tend to enter full phrases or queries into search engine boxes which then gather data to provide more useful results.
This year, brands are going to have to place greater value on optimizing your digital content based on intent as opposed to specific keywords. When it comes to developing your SEO marketing strategy, you will have to:
- Explore – what are is your target audience searching for? What will bring them to your site? What questions do they want your content to address?
- Optimize – once you’ve done your exploration and gathered research data, as well as identified areas you may need to improve upon, you can make the changes that are necessary to boost your ratings. Use your research to tell the customer’s story by ensuring your content reflects the audience’s experiences.
- Amend – always keep up-to-date with analytics and algorithms to see what is and isn’t working so you can amend your site and content accordingly.
Algorithms don’t have to be as daunting as they may seem. By keeping current and being open to the idea of flexible marketing strategies, you can ensure your pages rank higher this year.
8. Content Remains King of Marketing
At the beginning of this piece we discussed native marketing, and in some instances, you may consider it to go hand-in-hand with content marketing. Sometimes they do, but content marketing should actually play a significant role in any type of marketing strategy.
To recap, native marketing is a way for you to distribute your content. Content marketing is a far more strategic marketing technique that involves creating and then distributing relevant information to attract your target audience.
Content marketing, unlike native marketing, is not a paid for transaction. Instead, it is an ongoing process that can be integrated into your overall forms of marketing. It serves as the cornerstone of all types of marketing plans, and it certainly works for all kinds of brands since everyone uses their content differently. The main point to remember is to be consistent. If your brand voice is engaging, funny, and witty, it’s guaranteed to engage your audience.
Two Brands That Really “Get” Content Marketing
1. Lyft and Uber
If you’re looking for examples of unique, forward-thinking content marketing, look no further than the heated battle between Lyft and Uber. The competitors remain on the cutting edge of content innovation, even if they do take different paths.
Uber is focused on experiential content marketing. From directly engaging with their customers via social media to developing engaging blog posts about the cities they operate in, Uber gets it.
Conversely, Lyft’s content marketing strategy is quite aggressive. It’s in your face. It tugs at your emotional heart strings by using personal stories and real experiences. Lyft’s goal is to get customers to see the company as more than some ride-sharing app.
Both companies are excelling at content marketing, which goes to show that there is no right or wrong path to reaching your customers. The idea is to identify a strategy and go with it, complete with unique content and relentless attitude.
2. Denny’s Diner
Sometimes, the most successful brands are the ones you may not think about. Take American diner chain, Denny’s. When people think about progressive content marketing, they probably don’t think about Denny’s. But, that is exactly what should be happening.
Take a look at the Denny’s Tumblr Blog, it is pure genius. Instead of penning boring, old blog posts that nobody’s really going to read, let alone share, the company creates side-splittingly funny memes, images, .gifs, and other breakfast-relevant content. This is the type of content people share.
How is your content marketing strategy looking for 2017? Does it need a little work? Are you going to reach and engage customers with it?
9. Conversion Rate Optimization to Improve Website Experiences
Have you used conversion rate optimization (CRO) techniques before? CRO is higher now in popularity than in previous years, but, is your business missing out on a better data-driven approach to increase sales and leads from your website?
It seems that there are two types of people practicing CRO: strategists and tacticians. Strategists seem to focus on building a strategic process that they can repeat over and over again, and that will create an impactful hypothesis that will help them fulfill their business goals. On the other hand, tacticians focus on following marketing best practices and improving metrics, especially conversion rates.
The results can be astounding. Let’s take a closer look at conversion optimization on a higher level.
Conversion Optimization – An Overview
Typically, websites have two types of conversions:
- Those that drive revenue and support your business goals
- On-page actions that act as a kind of micro-conversion
On-page actions are elements like form submissions and add-to-carts, whereas revenue-driving conversions include quote-request leads and e-commerce sales for the sales team. Both types of conversions see conversion rates hinge on six distinct factors:
- Clarity – how clear is your call-to-action, core message, and value proposition?
- Value proposition – this is the sum of all the benefits and costs of taking action. What does your customer perceive to be the overall benefit?
- Distraction – what’s the first thing users see on your site? Is it helping or hindering your primary goals? What is on the page that is off-target or conflicting?
- Relevance – how closely does the value proposition match your customer’s needs? How closely does the content on the page match what they expect to see from you?
- Urgency – what should users take action right now? What tone, presentation, offers, and enticing incentives will move them to immediate action?
- Anxiety – are there any elements missing from your page, or already on your page, that create uncertainty in the user’s mind?
Both strategists and tacticians need to understand each of the above elements if they want to improve their conversion rate.
10. The Need for Data Visualization is Set to Expand
Data is any marketer’s lifeblood. You need the quantitative information to tell you who is buying what, why, when, and what messaging has been or will be the most efficient for them. However, even data analysts often have issues understanding precisely what the data tells them. Our brains just weren’t made to process massive amounts of numerical data.
Thankfully, technology is beginning to catch up to the interpretation of data analysis, and there are now some data visualization tools on the market. In 2017, though, just about every company is going to want to start using the tools and those who don’t will be left at a disadvantage. The technology is set to be more sophisticated and, in turn, data analysis is going to be greater than ever.
While we have already discussed how important it is to tell a compelling story in your marketing strategies, you also need to leverage data. Visual design is set to be an important piece of the puzzle. Here are a few steps you can use to tell a compelling and data-drive story:
1. Gather the Data
There are several ways to gather data about a topic, such as using business intelligence tools that give you information about past performances and predictions about future events. For external data, you may want to send out a questionnaire, or even conduct a survey.
2. Understand the Data
The right tools will create data visualizations that are easy to understand. For instance, think about all the apps on the market that can be used to show our calorie intake, the number of steps, and sleep patterns.
Take a look at your data and determine where it came from and why you collected it? What audience have you gathered it for?
3. Create a Narrative
Once you have the hard facts, decide what you are going to do with them. The data could show you that you really cater to dozens of individual buyers, so you will want to be creative. Evaluate information like income bracket, gender, age, and purchasing patterns. Once you’ve done all of this, you will need to remember that you should not be overly data-driven in your marketing strategy as you want to retain the all-important human element.
Overall, content publishers look for fresh perspectives and well-researched information. As a content creator, you need to pair the relevant statistics with your content to tell a visually appealing story.
Bonus Type of Marketing Set to Take 2017 By Storm: Growth Hacking
Growth hacking is on the rise, and it set to evolve even further this year. That’s because the need for marketers to grab their audience’s attention as quickly as possible via social media channels, organic ads, and viral marketing this year is going to take growth hacking to an all-new and impressive level.
This is by far one of the most exciting digital marketing practices, and it is set to continue demonstrating its massive potential in the face of all odds. There are already an array of digital marketing strategies and trends that need to be altered if they are to remain at the focus of search engine giants and user attention.
The biggest mistakes companies are making falls under unrealistic expectations. They seem to think that having someone who is growth driven in their corner will launch them into a kind of superstar status. However, done right, growth hacking is a fantastic launching point for small businesses and startups.
One of the best examples is LinkedIn. The site found the “hack” of keeping its focus on corporate networks instead of aiming for mass appeal. By only inviting professionals to the site, LinkedIn managed to push interest to an elite minority who, in turn, generated enough interest to turn the site into the powerhouse we use today.
Growth hacking is another flexible type of marketing, and you will need to change your strategy if you want to truly take advantage of your changing user base and your brand’s needs.
From content marketing to mobile marketing strategies, newer techniques, and live streaming, 2017 is set to be a big year for marketing. Every year, focuses, trends, and techniques change and the key is to be flexible enough to change with your user’s needs so that you can continue to reach your target audience, and not only that, reel them, engage them, and build their trust.
Have you included any of these 10 different marketing strategies in your 2017 plans?