Companies are continuing to rely on traditional and digital marketing strategies to boost their sales and build their companies. For yet another year in a row, it is safe to say that content creation and distribution continues to become more integrated and important to the modern brand. Looking at 2017, you will see that most of the trends will have to do with better content, increasing mobile device use and a personalized approach towards target audiences. Many of the trends for this coming year are not shocking, but they are often overlooked by marketers and executives alike.
Here are our top 10 marketing strategies and tactics we believe you should be focusing on to stay relevant in 2017:
1. Influencer Marketing
With the rise of social media popularity, brands are finding an important voice can be found in influencers of their target audiences. Bloggers, celebrities, professionals and other influential voices can make a positive impact for a specific brand or product when they give an honest, positive review. Some brands will contact top influencers to offer them blogging opportunities or offer guest blogging services in order to ensure backlinks and getting their brand name in front of the relevant audience that their influencer appeals to. Many companies also offer their products or services for influencers to try and review for their audience. In 2017, you can expect to see more brands using influencers as a way to increase brand reputation and name recognition through channels that have already been established to reach the desired target audiences.
2. Purpose-Driven Marketing
Companies that focus their marketing on what they do, rather than why they are doing it, will fail to connect with their audience. The audience doesn’t care about the details of the product at first, but are more driven by the emotions or personal benefits that they experience as a part of working with the brand. From content creation to marketing strategies, companies need to consider the “why” driving their brands and direction. It is important for brands in 2017 to do more than company-centric branding that revolves around what is good for the brand. Instead, companies need to focus on what their customers most care about and market in a way that moves their customers to act.
3. Mobile Marketing
Mobile usage continues to explode, with Pew Research Center reporting over 67% of all American adults have a smartphone and 90% of those users claim they “frequently” have their phones near them. SMS messaging, in-app messaging, mobile optimized websites, mobile advertising and other forms of mobile-centric marketing are important for getting the attention of an ever-increasing user base that spends a lot of time on their mobile devices. As more and more users spend their free time on their mobile phones, companies need to make sure they are present on the device-specific platforms available for advertising, messaging and more. Companies are finding that even their content and emails should be formatted to work well for mobile, since most users browse social media, read blogs and check their emails on their phones regularly.
4. Social Advertising
Online advertising has continued to increase and expectations for 2017 include digital ad spending will surpass TV as the biggest ad platform. According to eMarketer, social network ad spending will be the biggest allotment, with a spend reaching over $35 billion in 2017 and making up 16% of all digital advertising. Social media is one platform where a lot of users are spending their time. Social advertising can take into account different user types and specifications in order to advertise to a more pinpointed group of users that better fit the kind of consumer likely to need the products or services offered by the company. In 2017, the focus on ad spending on social media platforms will increase to help companies reach their optimal audiences to increase click-throughs, profile followers and social mentions.
5. Solid Brand Identity
Every company is actively looking for new, relevant leads to increase sales. In 2017, you will likely see a trend of many brands focusing on solidifying their brand identity in order to drive leads. Along with purpose-driven marketing, a strong brand identity is needed to set your company apart from the competition. Without a solid brand identity, companies in a given industry tend to look the same to users. Branding helps set apart methods, price points, value and other intangible aspects of a company’s direction in delivering their products or services to their customers. Expect to see more brands recognizing the importance of pinpointing the aspects that set them apart from the completion and further looking for an industry niche they can uniquely fill.
6. Content Marketing Strategy
Content continues to be incredibly important for brands going into 2017. While content has been an important part of marketing for the past few years, many companies still do not have a solid strategy in place. A detailed strategy is essential for meeting goals, offering valuable content and improving outcomes. Surprisingly, only 32% of brands report having a documented content marketing strategy. The Content Marketing Institute notes that the most-effective marketers are more likely to document their strategies, but this year those who had a clear strategy dropped by 3%. While the trend in 2017 is yet to be seen, a documented strategy is an important step toward creating content marketing efforts that are successful and able to be adjusted to better fit the goals of your company.
In order to create a strategy that achieves specific goals, companies will need to focus on hard numbers. Many marketing platforms are now offering analytics tools to help marketers track their progress and reconsider their strategies. The analytics will continue to help brands solidify their content marketing strategies and adjust their approaches to better meet their goals. Not only do companies need to actually track and report analytics, but they need to carefully choose the right analytics that matter to their bottom line. While likes, follows and increased traffic are good things to measure, it is import important to find out how many new leads are sticking around for conversion and how many return visitors are signing up for increased contact. Companies need to pay attention to how their sales funnel is working and improve any snags, bottlenecks or leaks that might be holding up the process for qualified leads.
8. ROI Measurement
Every year the top question is “How to I show my content marketing strategy’s success?” Expect a continued focus to be placed on proving value in hard numbers in order to get management on board with continued marketing efforts. Companies need to watch their revenue for several months before they should expect to see an impact from their adjusted marketing strategies. This is going to be where measuring the right analytics is important for showing the return on investment that a good strategy should bring to a company. Brands should show how their marketing strategies are saving their sales teams time, how they are cultivating relationships with their customers and other ways they are indirectly saving money or building stronger connections with their leads. Getting positive word-of-mouth recommendations or social mentions through loyal brand advocates, for example, is more valuable than many forms of advertising. Brands in 2017 should be focused on showing the importance of their marketing strategies.
9. Website Personalization
Customers expect to be treated as individuals and not just another face in the crowd. 2017 will see more companies focusing their efforts on intelligent marketing tactics that use big data stores to advertise to customers on an individual basis. This may include offering users suggested products, information or other navigational choices based on the habits or preferences of the user. As users improve their website personalization, they will also have a better grasp of who their customers are and what they are interested in. Companies should take every opportunity to gather their own user data, especially since many major companies appear to be making a move away from cookies as a form of user identification.
10. Marketing Automation
With website personalization as a major factor in 2017, companies are going to need to handle larger groups of customers with the same kind of personalization and care in their content marketing. This is only reasonably possible when companies have marketing automation strategies in place to handle the routine messages, such as thank you emails, welcome notifications, abandoned cart emails, product suggestions, newsletters and more. Content can be set up and triggered by specific actions, preferably segmented to further personalize the message to the type of user it is being sent to. This allows users to bring a personalized approach to a very large group of users.
Overall, 2017 should be a good year for marketers and companies who are looking to strengthen their brand. With no major upheavals in the upcoming year, but plenty of room for improvement, many marketers will likely find themselves just improving on the areas they’ve already been working on. What new areas will your company be implementing to improve your brand for 2017? We’d love to hear your plans in the comments below, or please contact us to see how Workhorse can help!