Not digital marketing trends in 2017

Not defining the digital marketing trends for 2017… doesn’t sound overly useful does it? Particularly when there is so much good content out there on this topic already.

The initial posts on ‘digital marketing trends for 2017’ appeared in the first half of this year. The intended effect to get in early and shape decision makers on their budgets for next year.

In the last two months, the content around 2017 trends has skyrocketed. Many of these posts have smart people providing insights on the direction of digital marketing.

So this is not a list to add to all the other lists. Instead, this article delivers on two main outcomes:

  1. Galvanise action — there is nothing worse than finding out you’re way behind the curve.
  2. Help you make decisions — for it can be just as useful to know not what to do.

Need more information?

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What’s the driver behind current trends?

Any prediction of trends (or not) should assess the primary driver. We know that the average human attention span has dropped by 33% since the year 2000 and is now at just 8.25 seconds. This is now less than the average goldfish attention span of 9 seconds.

The goldfish is now offended when compared to the average human attention span.

So what picture does this paint for 2017? It is all about attention.

Acquiring, retaining, re-acquiring, leading, re-acquiring and then securing that precious attention.

Whilst engagement is on the up, people are not consuming digital media in a vacuum. They are doing it despite the distractions of the world around them.

Your business is in a cycle of competition. With an ever decreasing window to achieve an impact.

Competition for attention is not just with your niche or industry. It is with every business, organisation and person generating digital media.

Opportunity cost is the key concept here. The user needs to decide to consume your marketing over all the other options of:

  • interacting with the device over the rest of world around them;
  • choosing one of your channels ahead of all other apps or pages; then
  • engaging with your marketing over all other content on that page.

Of which at any time they can lose interest, be distracted or interrupted.

So marketing needs to repeatedly gain that attention until, at the right time and place, action can occur.

That constant battle for attention is the driver for trends going into 2017.

Our list of things that are just not trends

1. Segmentation

Segmentation can be found on a few lists of recent trends. It is often associated with the growing analytics capability to define the user. As well as the consumer expectation of personalisation.

Segmentation and personalisation are not the same thing.

Segmentation was first defined in 1956. It is a process that develops a static view of different customers, grouped by a set of characteristics. Buyer Profiles and Personas are more advanced methods of understanding consumers and their behaviours.

Segmentation provides direction for your marketing.

Personalisation is the dynamic response of a brand to a consumer’s interactions. Identity-based marketing is an evolution of personalisation — where a person is identified across their devices and targeted by tailored marketing.

Personalisation provides a method to respond to the buyer as they navigate their distracted journey.

Segmentation is a fundamental of marketing that has been around for 60 years. So it is not a trend. Put simply, no marketer can afford to not apply segmentation.

Instead, the trend in 2017 will be personalisation and the growing capability to apply identity-based marketing.

2. Multi-channel marketing

The evolution of digital marketing, leads to new channels being created every day. Just check out this comprehensive list of marketing channels from SmartInsights.

New ways of engaging with customers (e.g. social media platforms) appear every day. This has led to multi-channel marketing being described as a trend. But having more options does not make multi-channel marketing a trend.

Choosing to use one or many channels for marketing is a strategy decision.

The choice comes down to what is best for your business. For example, Neil Patel suggests that you start with one channel for social media.

So multi-channel marketing is not a trend. The trend here is providing an omni-channel experience. That regardless of the channel or device, there is a singular or seamless experience.

3. Responsiveness

Internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC in 2014. Now mobile and tablets account for 63% of internet usage. The popularity of media streaming, means ‘upwards-responsiveness’ for large screens is important as well.

Responsiveness is a now a fundamental of design and has been for some time.

Not using responsive design is like buying a laptop without a WiFi connection. Sure you can do it, but it is not useful to the average person.

If you want a user to stay on your site, then responsiveness is a cost of doing business — not a trend. The trend here is how UX is starting to dominate design practices and how responsiveness is best achieved. This post on site navigation trends provides the perfect exemplar.

4. Search Algorithm updates

Hummingbird, Penguin, Panda, Mobilegeddon (part 1 and 2)… With every update there is a flurry of articles predicting the downfall of another SEO practice.

Source: Corerang

Why? Because organic search is an important part of many strategies. Changes to algorithms have led to changes in page rankings. This can mean a financial impact for a company. As well as transition costs for SEO teams as they re-establish their value proposition.

According to Google’s John Mueller, they make thousands of changes every year. Often announcements are made after the event and are scant on specifics.

Transparency is not Google’s aim.

Their stated aim is to “use clues to give you back exactly what you want.” Regardless of the marketing speak, they want you to keep using their search engine to find answers.

The trend here is not search algorithm updates. They are part of the environment. Google employs thousands of smart people. So it is no surprise that the algorithms are complex, with frequent tweaks to improve performance.

If there is a trend, it is the convergence of SEO, content marketing and UX design.

Successful implementation of these key disciplines provide a platform for increased conversion.

Our list of things not ready to be trends in 2017

5. Virtual Reality

Many trend lists for 2017 include either Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) or both.

AR is the enrichment of real world interactions through adding virtual components. The most recent example of AR is Pokémon Go — catching virtual characters hidden throughout the real world.

Pokémon Go is the most successful mobile launch in history. So no contest, AR is here and on the up.
Source: Gameranx

VR is not quite the same. It is the 100% creation of its own reality through technology. Because it creates its environment, VR requires its own consumer products.

PlayStation VR is the most recent product released. From early reports, it is a technological success. Facebook’s Oculus Rift is another product released in 2016 that has been a hit among enthusiasts. Other major players like Samsung, Google and Amazon have signalled an intention to join the market.

The challenge with VR is the accessibility to the average consumer and tech company. It is currently in the domain of the big name players. For example, the cost of an Oculus Rift is $599 USD. About the price of an average smart phone, but without the day-to-day functionality.

There has been some marketing success with VR. Just checkout these examples from the last 18 months. The massive advantage is that VR eliminates distractions. The consumer is 100% immersed.

Total immersion may provide a way of redressing the consumer attention span. But VR right now is missing the accessibility that is driving most other digital marketing channels.

On that basis, AR is a trend for 2017 and VR is a, “not quite there yet.”

6. Live Content

There is a lot of optimism in the market around live content. But the closure of Blab (a video streaming app with 3.9 million users) in August 2016 raised a few eyebrows.

The problem for Blab, as stated in their own plain terms:

“Most live streams suck…only 10% came back on a regular basis.”

Attention, that driver we discussed at the start of the article is at the core of the issue. Live content does not justify on-going attention. Right now it is just not interesting enough to prevent distraction.

Operating a live content service is expensive. For example, many events are already filmed. But to make the product interesting to the viewer, then investment is required in production. So the jury is still out on the ROI. There are visionaries and detractors on both sides.

For 2017, marketers will continue to grapple with how to make live content more effective. So, it is in the 2018 queue for now.

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There are tonnes of digital marketing trends. But here is a list of things that will definitely not be trends in 2017.

First, because these things are just not trends, they are either fundamentals of marketing or part of the environment:

  • Segmentation
  • Multi-channel marketing
  • Responsiveness
  • Search Algorithm updates

Next, because these things are still in their infancy and need more time:

  • Virtual Reality
  • Live content

Found this helpful for your decision-making in 2017? So too is our marketing course on how to grow your small business.

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