Looking forward requires you to look back first
It is human nature to look back, and it is harder for many of us to look forward. Looking forward requires evaluating past decisions; learning and analysing where we have been and where we now want to go; and then ultimately making a decision and choosing which path to take. At Spitfire Inbound we have spent some time looking back and would like to share some of our forward looking predictions for marketing in 2017 with you.
Here are the 9 key trends of 2017 from the Spitfire Inbound team:
1. Immersive online content
Engaging content, shareable content, clickable content - well, now it is time for immersive content. We’re seeing this trend everywhere. Live video is on the rise with the introduction of Instagram Stories and Facebook Live; Pokemon Go changed the way consumers are looking at augmented reality.
"Users are ready for an online experience and live video experiences will take off like never before,” says Maricelle Gouws (IMC).
2. Video, video, video
Although many said 2014 (2015, ad nauseum...) was the year of the mobile, in our opinion if you’re not already mobile optimised in 2016, you’re behind the curve. The same stands for video: you should already be utilising video for your brand.
Video is a trend to watch in 2017 and, as a communication tool, it will continue to grow.
"If you're not already producing video as a marketer, you’re losing ground to more agile competitors," - Darren Leishman, Spitfire Inbound CEO
Visibility encompasses and extends on the trend of measurement. Both marketers and brands will be looking for greater visibility - measurement matters and we need to measure what matters. In order to have greater visibility we will continue to see a rise in the role of data scientists, data visualisation specialists and marketing technologists. Big data is real and growing everyday and we need to ensure that we are able to gain insights from this data - from the individual prospect through to the companies that are interested in our products.
"Technology is essential and boosts marketing efforts and activities, but insights and strategy remain human, " says, Alison Leishman.
4. Start with the customer
In order to start with the customer however, you need to understand your ‘why’. Why do you exist? What do you stand for? What problems do you solve? What solutions do you offer? Why do customers choose you? Why do you share content? Why do you make sales? You also, of course, need to understand your customer (visibility will help you with this). As you understand your why, and as you manage to learn more about your customers, you will be able to not only create personalised emails and online experiences, you will also be able to create personalised campaigns.
"There will be fewer large marketing campaigns with one focus, but smaller campaigns with a narrow and personalised focus." Lucille Moreton
This will be a trend not only in relation to the individual but also to each piece of content we create. With the advancement of the ability to target campaigns - through inbound marketing, paid social campaigns and paid search - there will be a move towards driving sales through paid campaigns as well as driving overall awareness. With increased visibility into marketing activities these will become more precise and marketers and brands will be able to use them to their full potential.
"There are audiences waiting for you, make sure you capitalise on the opportunity," says Sarah Mills, Operations Manager.
Visibility will result in specialisation in roles and marketing methodology. Competition will then lead to even further specialisation. Marketers will continue to compete for an ever decreased share of the pie. Service providers who are highly skilled in specialised areas will continue to remain relevant and be able to differentiate themselves from the competition while retaining profit margins. The message is specialise or suffer - this is why inbound marketing will remain relevant in 2017.
Technology will continue to evolve at an ever increasing pace, and advancements in artificial intelligence will be one of the most significant areas of innovation going forward. In 2017 we predict that Chatbots, one manifestation of artificial intelligence, will extend beyond its current boundaries - this technology will become more freely available to the consumer beyond Siri and Watson.
These are going to become something of the past. Historically we have spoken about breaking down the marketing and sales silos but in 2017 we predict that it is not only the marketing and sales silos that will be broken down, the silos within each will also be something of the past. The entire organisation will contribute to the marketing efforts. To do this it is critical than both teams are working towards aligned business goals.
"Companies that are focused on sales enablement through effective inbound marketing will continue to gain market share. Sales enablement is about providing highly trained, specialised sales people with a consistent flow of highly qualified leads," says Darren Leishman, CEO.
9. Content Distribution
Content is an increasingly competitive space for brands, with more and more brands taking on content strategies. Great content is key, but getting your content to the right people is just as important. In fact, without a good distribution strategy, your content is dead in the water - and that's where email and social media take on an important role. It's important to remember that email and social media are content too! Poorly written emails, or spam disguised in an email, become a huge turn off for customers. Well written social media is also key to distributing your copy.
"An excellently written blog post or thought leadership piece can be hidden behind bad distribution copy, and that's why email and social media are the next content trend," says Samantha Steele, Content Strategist.
And there you have it. Keep following us as we expand on these themes throughout 2017!
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