There is no scientific way of telling what digital marketing trend you should be following in 2017. Instead, you can look at what the experts say and hope they are right. As you will see in this blog, though, the experts do not always agree with each other. Consequently, my advice to you regarding the digital marketing trends of 2017, is this:
  • read this blog and be aware of the general digital marketing trends
  • decide what digital marketing trends match your company, the abilities of your employees, the wishes of your customer base, and your marketing budget
  • create an effective yet flexible (digital) marketing strategy for this year and the next few years to come.
In this blog, I use three articles. The first one is by Nikhil Aggarwa, content manager at Adreno Technologies, who has compiled a list of digital marketing trends for the year 2017. He urges you to focus on these, so you can formulate effective digital marketing strategies and online campaigns.

The second article is by Kit Smith, content writer at Brandwatch, who has taken a year’s worth of reading about marketing every day, looked at the developments that seem to be gaining traction, and extrapolated some predictions for 2017. He agrees with many of Aggarwa’s predictions but also says that there are some trends that everybody will mention, but that will not go as hard as expected. Coincidentally, Aggarwa predicts one of these maybe not so trendy trends as a trend for 2017.

The third article is by Dave Chaffey, CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights, who has crowdsourced the importance of the different trends rated by the popularity of each trend. In this article, you can see the opinion of 2,352 marketers from around the world represented in an easy graph. I think this poll gives a handy, final overview to consider when contemplating your digital marketing focus for 2017.

The 12 Digital Marketing Trends of 2017

These are the 12 digital marketing trends that you can expect in 2017.

1. The increasing dominance of video ads:
Aggarwa claims that, though video advertisements are nothing new for social media giants like YouTube and Facebook, the news of Google entering the fray with in-SERP video advertising will change the whole spectrum of online advertisement. There is an increasing acceptance of video ads among users and he expects different types of video ads popping up on our screens very soon.

Smith says: “It feels like my entire Facebook feed is already taken up by video, but I am sure there is room for more. Facebook has driven profits by embracing video, and is likely to continue. It seems we cannot get enough of video, so expect the powers that be to serve up even more.”

2. More live video:
Video will be big in 2017. Not only will the video ads discussed in the previous point dominate, live video will dominate as well.

Live video has suddenly become the internet’s favorite shiny new toy, Smith says. When Meerkat entered the market, it was an entertaining novelty. Now, Twitter (via Periscope), Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram have all released live video offerings as well.

Many of these networks are promoting their live video quite heavily, and it is something that will stand out in the saturated world of content, so Smith can see plenty of reasons why brands would want to get involved.

Smith also expects the two worlds of live video and influencers to collide in 2017, with product placement and sponsorships becoming a regular feature of influencer videos.

3. Mobile will completely dominate desktop:
As Aggarwa says, we have seen how Google virtually phased-out all websites not optimized for mobile. He says that the ubiquitous presence of hand-held devices and the fading away of desktop traffic clearly indicates that mobile search and mobile optimization should be a top priority for digital marketers in 2017.

Smith calls mobile a digital marketing trend that is on the list every year but still deserves to be there. The relentless increase of users accessing the web through mobile means its importance continues.

4. Dedicated apps will find their way:
An app offers all the features of a mobile-optimized website but in a more intuitive, convenient, and accessible way. Aggarwa says that Google has offered app indexing, which will certainly bring in advantages to having a dedicated app in the future. He claims that we are still years away from apps completely replacing websites, but that business owners are realizing their potential, and that 2017 will be a pivotal year in mobile app development.

5. Social conversion is coming:
In 2017, the online communities will not be bound to company-consumer conversations or attracting new prospects only, Aggarwa claims. Instead, they will provide opportunities to improve conversion rates. Social media will work as new conversion channels and offer tools to convert prospects directly into buyers.

6. Search algorithm will change. And change again.
Search engine algorithms will continue to change. With the enormous amount of information being added to the internet every second, Aggarwa predicts that search engine giants will keep on updating their algorithm to decide what content should get priority and rank higher in search engine result pages. He advises you to remain original, informative, and helpful to your audience, and to focus on Facebook’s algorithm and Bing’s algorithm in addition to Google’s algorithm.

7. Online advertising will become more expensive:
Following a tremendous growth in digital marketing practices over the last couple of years, the competition for online space and dominance over the internet is going to expand further, Aggarwa says. As the demand for top advertising spots rises, the prices for online advertising will increase.

8. Unique, high-quality content will be the key:
Unsurprisingly, Aggarwa predicts that content will remain an essential part of any online marketing campaign in the years to come. The influx of professional writers and video producers will make content marketing more competitive, and there will be a huge demand for niche-based writers who possess knowledge and expertise in their subject matter. What will not change, though, is that it is key to write unique, high-quality, and interactive content that readers can connect with.

Smith calls the success of content marketing a mixed bag, as it has given consumers entertaining, informative content, but it has also seen a lot of rushed content published in the race to expand content volumes.

According to Smith, this increased competition has seen market leaders and innovators look for new ways to engage their audience, and developments in various technologies are helping to drive this phenomenon. For example, Facebook and YouTube have introduced 360-degree video, and some brands have already begun experimenting with the format for an interesting and innovative experience.

Marketing campaigns that push the boundaries cannot be universal, Smith thinks, but he finds it interesting to see how marketers continue to experiment in 2017.

9. Conversion Rate Optimization to offer high ROI:
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) may not sound like a new term to most digital marketers, but Aggarwa thinks it is time to introduce it on your website and landing pages. Conversion rate optimization helps you track user behavior on your site and identify elements that are producing the highest number of conversions. Instead of allocating a huge budget for advertising, marketers can use CRO to funnel more of their existing traffic into sales.

10. Growth hacking will continue to evolve:
Aggarwa says that growth hacking is here to stay and that it will evolve further in 2017. The need for digital marketers to quickly grab their audiences’ attention through social media channels, viral marketing, and organic ads in 2017 will take growth hacking to an even bigger level. I am not sure if I agree with Aggarwa here.

You may wonder why I question this point. I have written a blog on growth hacking, called Growth Hacking Demystified for Entrepreneurs, CEOs, and Startups. In it, you can read that not everyone believes growth hacking is actually a thing. Some people see it as a misunderstanding of online marketing. I am of the opinion that time will tell.

11. Using all the big data:
Big data has been around for a few years now, but Smith claims that getting the most out of all this data is still a challenge to many.

Market research firm Ovum estimates the big data market will increase from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $9.4 billion by 2020. As businesses mature and put new structures and roles in place, big data will begin to become increasingly useful and utilized.

One of big data’s way of being useful is personalized customer experience and marketing. One-to-one marketing will slowly become more prevalent as brands weigh opportunity and cost and find ways of introducing it into their messaging.

12. Native advertising:
Native advertising is an old method, but Smith thinks that market forces should increase its prominence in 2017 because the diminishing penetration of many ads – through ad blockers, reduced social media organic reach, and the decline of banner ads – will see an increase of native advertising.

Two maybe not so trendy digital marketing trends of 2017

Some predict these two items will be trends in 2017 and others predict they will not.

1. Wearable technology and smart devices:
In the past few years, we have seen the unveiling of the Apple iWatch, Google Glass, Moto 360, and other similar smart devices that can be worn on-the-go and keep you connected with the digital world.

According to Aggarwa, the year 2017 will see more of such smart devices and innovations in wearable technology that will change the entire landscape of local marketing. Digital marketers will focus on the potential of wearable technology that can diminish the difference between online marketing and “real” marketing.

Smith says that the tech of wearables will improve, the prices will go down, and more people will embrace wearables. However, Smith just cannot see wearables becoming a mainstream concern by the time the year is out. Still, usage will slowly continue to rise, he thinks.

2. The Internet of Things:
There are billions of connected devices, from thermostats to smart cars. And yet, Smith says, the biggest Internet of Things news in the U.S. this year was the massive DDoS attack in October caused by weaponizing low-security connected devices.

The Internet of Things has some exciting early uses. Some industries see a lot of value from IoT, but for most people, it is a slow crawl. Developments will continue to creep into our lives, but Smith feels people are expecting too much too soon from it.


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