As a small business owner, you’re always playing catch up. You no sooner step in the door and hang up your cape – you are a superpower, after all – and the onslaught begins. It’s nearing the end of the year, and your newest mission requires a focus on what’s ahead.
Being prepared for what’s coming in today’s fast-paced, changing world means knowing what to expect in marketing. So leave your cape on the hook and take a look at the predicted trends for 2017.
1. Video and Visual
Using video is a huge trend that every marketer should consider in their visual storytelling plan. It’s a strategy that you can build on to create important ongoing messages.
In other words, don’t expect a “Chewbacca Mom” viral sensation, but focus on a visual program that reveals something unique about your company, product, or service. Video content rules the internet, with video enjoyment increasing purchase intent by 97% and brand association by 139%. Stay responsive to consumer trends by budgeting for video in your marketing strategy.
2. Immersive Experience Marketing
Who would’ve predicted that Pokemon Go would be so popular? At its high point, it was earning $10 million a day. Although the excitement has faded, the app shows us that augmented reality is a viable option with real potential for earning revenue.
The prediction is you will see more VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) games and ads from brands. VR is a computer-generated simulation of a real life situation where the user is completely immersed and feels the experience is reality. AR involves layers of computer-generated enhancements that blend into the real world so that reality and AR enhance each other but are easily differentiated.
VR requires the use of headsets, like Facebook’s Oculus, which is equipped with VR technology, and is used for training flight simulators for pilots. You’re already seeing AR technology on score overlays for televised sports and in pop-out 3D text messages. Expect to see the use of AR holograms increase in the future.
Both give the user an enriched, immersive experience that delivers visuals in what was seemingly only science fiction just a short while ago. AR is evolving much faster than expected and will be used more in all mobile devices as a way to communicate at a whole new level. By 2017, IDC (International Data Corporation) predicts that more than a billion people worldwide will regularly access apps, content, and date through an AR/VR platform.
3. Live Platforms and Live Video
The attraction of “being in the moment” in live streaming is going to push live platforms and video into greater use. In the past several years, we’ve seen these technologies emerge as a popular way to interact with customers. There will be new live platforms like Meerkat and Facebook Live, where more brands will be willing to try out the latest in content offerings.
Live video streaming has had its shortcomings with technical difficulties, and its television competition won’t be easy to beat. However, the opportunities for brands to host live webinars, workshops, and other events where the appeal of instant gratification and immediate feedback will rival the TV audience.
Experiment with 360 videos to give your audience a three-dimensional experience with YouTube 360° or Facebook 360, and expect to see new apps and platforms adopt the technology. With a faster internet and the expansion of mobile phone use, this is a trend that’s not going away.
4. Optimize for Mobile
For several years this has been a trend that’s made the list, and for good reason. It’s still making the grade because the impact continues as mobile use overtakes desktop in retail use for the first time this year.
Putting mobile first as you optimize your website makes sense when Google is working on the same thing. They will be indexing so that your site’s mobile version will be indexed first. This mobile-first indexing means you need to have a responsive site where the primary content and structured markup is “equivalent across mobile and desktop.”
Making your site content easily digested on a mobile device is more important than ever with this major indexing shift from Google. What was a mobile-friendly concern is now more of a mobile-centric requirement if you don’t want serious problems in your search engine ranking.
5. Cross-Device Marketing
The typical digital consumer now owns 3.64 connected devices. The number of laptops, smartphones, wearables, and consoles gives brands the ability to reach an audience on multiple devices and in manifold environments.
Because of the ability to find your audience wherever they go, in essence making them a moving data target, brands have an even greater opportunity to produce and distribute content that is customer-focused. Embracing the customer experience as the heart of your marketing strategy will give you an edge over the challenge of cross-device tracking.
Because transactions are often occurring in an app, and cookies are no longer sufficient to track users, it’s a balancing act to identify the audience. What you can do until there are innovative solutions out there is work to make customer service your mission.
Listen and learn from your customers and let them determine the experience that your company needs to adopt. Then make the changes in your services or product to address these concerns. Looks like some things don’t change after all.
Visual content may be on the rise, but text is as important as ever because most of our communication is still based on the written word. There’s a story to write that a picture (or video) alone can’t tell. Sometimes you need those thousand words.
The problem is that most marketers aren’t good writers. And bad writing is damaging for your brand. Your writing communication must be structured so it’s easy to understand and read. It must be free of errors – spelling and grammatical. Forget jargon and committee-speak. Say what you mean with clarity, brevity, and plain language, letting the lawyers revel in creating confusion for their readers.
Ask yourself “what’s in it for the reader?” When Samsung issued a press release on their Galaxy Note7, there was no mention of the serious nature of the phones catching on fire. It was a mere “incident” involving a “battery cell issue.”
We have to do better than this. Poor writing not only makes you look unprofessional, it can destroy trust. As the amount of content keeps growing and readers filter out the white noise by skipping posts and skimming articles, you have to make every word count.
Perhaps writing is more important now than ever before.