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7 Best Digital Marketing Trends of 2017

With the first month of 2017 behind us, we wanted to take a moment to look ahead at some of the most exciting digital trends expected to emerge in 2017. From the rise of the chat bot, to the fall of the banner ad, to our data becoming even bigger, to mobile being the new desktop, 2017 promises to deliver exciting new developments in digital marketing!

Chat Bot Take Over

That is not the name of some bad B sci fi movie, it is actually happening right now. In fact, some experts are calling 2017 the year of the chat bot. Though not a new functionality, it has been predicted that 2017 will see a big step forward in the use of this technology. The technology exists and is becoming more and more sophisticated. With the ability to opt in, the bot has access to immediate user data that allows for personalised recommendations and an overall more meaningful online customer interaction. Given our current technological advances and our drive to put the customer experience at the centre of everything we do, it is no wonder chat bots will be taking over in 2017.

Descent of the Banner Ad

As users became more and more accustomed to consuming online content, they are also increasingly avoiding engagement with traditional banner advertising. In addition, ad blockers are becoming increasingly prominent so some users are not even being served at all. Driven by our need to continue to be heard online and the banner ad’s increasing inability to drive traffic, we will see a significant spike in native advertising. Native advertising is sponsored content served to the user in the same space / format as editorial content. Because it conforms with content that users are already consuming, the barrier to engagement seen in traditional banner ads is removed. Many publishers are beginning to offer expansive advertising packages with native advertising as a core offering. 2017 may mark the beginning of the end for our old friend. See you later banner ad!

Reality Check

Ever since the Pokemon Go outbreak of 2016, digital marketers have been scrambling to jump on the AR bandwagon. As defined by Mashable, Augmented reality is a live view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Like AR, virtual reality mimics a real life experience except does not rely on our view of the physical world as a key input. Both AR and VR are expected to be on the top of today’s digital innovator’s to do list in 2017. The focus is currently on improving the overall experience; lighter headsets, enhanced 3D graphics, and better content. Soon we will be attending live concerts, taking weekend city breaks, and shopping in our favourite store without leaving our living room. Actual real life experiences is so 2016!

Plan to Fail

If you are a digital marketer, I have no doubt that you spent much of the past year looking at customer journeys, user flows, and painfully detailed ecosystems. But you may have missed one crucial exercise, the failure map. Our user flows and customer journeys often map our ideal customer experience and end happily, showcasing user conversion. But what about the customer who fails to find the information they are looking for? Over half of the world’s population will be online in 2017, which means we will have to account for the less savvy user. The failure map allows us to map less favourable use cases to ensure we accommodate clear and intuitive cues that will be suitable for all levels of users.

Are you planning for CRO?

Conversion is typically defined as the point at which your web user becomes a customer and is often considered the most important KPI. Based on brand goals, conversion can be defined in multiple ways. Often, conversion will be defined as purchase, other times it will be defined as user registration, or creating a customer profile, or downloading the brand app. Your conversion rate is the percentage of site visitors who are completing this action. Conversion rate optimisation is the methodology involved in improving your site’s conversion. Generally speaking, you would employ this when you find you are not achieving a favourable conversion rate. A common method used would be A/B testing. If your conversion is defined by user registration rates, you could A/B test the sign up offer to see which garners the most actions. Heatmaps are also used to illustrate where users are clicking the most, which can provide insight on which site CTAs are competing with your defined conversion. Obviously UX testing is a great way to gain insight into current user pathways. Regardless of site performance, given the importance of this metric to campaign success, ongoing conversion rate optimisation should be a focus in 2017. After all, an unfavourable conversion rate is nothing to CRO about.

Video comes A-Live

The importance of video in the digital space is certainly not news. As content consumers, we are inundated with video content everywhere we go online. The fact is before reading any text, 60% of site visitors will watch a video if available. Landing pages with video lead to 800% more conversion. The emerging video trend of 2017 appears to be the emergence of live video. Platforms such as Periscope and Facebook Live now offer a platform for brands and businesses to connect with users in a live and real time video format. Buzzfeed recently hosted a live stream that illustrated various people wrapping elastic bands around a watermelon until it exploded. Apparently people tuned in for an average of 40 minutes! Proving that one, people will watch anything and two, the value of the live video format is to allow users to see an action/event unfold in real time. Hint, may be a useful idea for a product/campaign launch!

Mobile is even more First in 2017

Much like video, mobile has been at the top of every trend list for the better part of the last decade. But, we would be remiss if we did not include this one on our list for 2017 as well. At this stage, we don’t make any decision regarding our site design/functionality without first understating how it will work on mobile. Our site designs start with mobile and work their way out to the expanded desktop format. As a digital marketer, mobile is considered a primary user touchpoint. 2017 will be significant for mobile search as Google announced a mobile-first indexing, which will primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to inform search rank. Clearly, Google implemented this in response to the increased volume of mobile based searches. So, bottom line, if your site is STILL not responsive, please exit your time warp and make that your number one priority for 2017!

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