Every year has new and surprising things to offer the marketing world. We’re exposed to new technologies, we become aware of new consumer trends, and we invent new techniques for various processes.
I made some predictions at the end of last year about how online marketing was going to develop throughout 2016, and I’m proud to say a number of these projections became realities.
Now’s the time for us to look back on the year and evaluate which online marketing trends gave us the most new impact, and which ones changed the game:
“Apps” is a general term, and a confusing one to see on this list because apps aren’t exactly new. However, a handful of breakthroughs in app technology (as well as adoption) have put apps even closer to fully replacing traditional websites—even if we’re still a few years off from the remainder of that transition. For starters, Google has released “app streaming,” which allows users to try certain apps within search results without ever downloading them to their phones. Plus, social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are working even harder to give their users complete app-based experiences, optimizing fully for mobile and preventing users from leaving the app whenever possible. App-based marketing is taking major strides forward, and those will likely continue into 2017.
Content marketers and technology developers alike are starting to realize the enormous power of personalization when it comes to content distribution and user adoption. Platforms like Facebook and Google are releasing more audience targeting features than ever, enabling advertisers and content publishers alike more opportunities to connect with their most significant audiences, and content marketers are digging deeper into specific niches to eliminate the competition and speak more relevantly to a smaller number of people.
Marketers are also using automation software in greater numbers, trusting algorithms and machine learning programs to handle the bulk of their responsibilities in areas like content marketing, social media marketing, and online advertising. Programmatic display advertising, which automatically buys and displays ads in different areas, becomes more popular and more powerful every year, and even long-established platforms like Google AdWords and Hootsuite are adding more automated functions to make marketers’ lives easier. While for the most part, this is a good thing, there are also some drawbacks to marketing automation, including a reduction of the “personal” feel of your brand and a possible decrease in your creative output—so take advantage of this trend carefully.
4. Strategic diversification.
Marketers are also finding it hard to see optimal results while only pursuing one or two major strategies. Because strategies like SEO can be volatile and unpredictable, and technology can change quickly for mediums like direct advertising, the best way to “hedge” your bets is to diversify your strategy. Not as many people are pouring their efforts into one “master” strategy, which is good, because every strategy has its own advantages and disadvantages. The only potential downside here is a lack of specialization; if you’re running 10 marketing campaigns, it’s hard to do any one of those campaigns exceptionally well.
5. New kinds of purchase decisions.
Buyers’ purchasing decision patterns are also changing, which has shaped the entire year of online marketing. Consumers are looking at more reviews and testimonials to provide information for their purchase, but they’re willing to move to the next stage faster—as long as they find the right information. This has shortened the buying cycle in some industries, and has greatly increased the importance of having a solid archive of reviews and ratings to show your potential new customers.
6. Better conversion opportunities.
Overall, 2016 gave us more opportunities to secure conversions from our customers, and website owners are working harder to get every visitor to convert. Signup forms are shorter, more visible, and more frequent throughout sites, and most companies are using incentives to encourage even more conversions (such as free content, discounts, or other offers). We’re also seeing more opportunities for conversions in different applications; for example, Google is offering more shopping options for advertisers, and even social platforms like Pinterest are working harder to hybridize “social media” and “eCommerce” realms.
7. Wearables and mobile.
We’ve been talking about wearable devices for years, but 2016 was the first year that smart watches really started to catch on. Other wearable devices and mobile technology (I could even count virtual reality here) are continuing their trends of growth, and online marketers have jumped on these opportunities. Content is becoming more concise and more digestible, making it easier to consume on the go, and apps are starting to become more simplified to cater to the mobile user. Mobile visibility has also taken steps forward with Google’s accelerated mobile pages protocols, which if implemented, can make your page load seconds faster—which is a big deal for mobile users.
With that retrospective complete, it’s on you to evaluate how your campaign changed and how it fared in this new online marketing environment. Did you hit your targets for the year? Did you successfully execute what you intended? If not, don’t see it as a failure; instead, try to trace your underperformance back to a root cause (or causes) so you can plan an even bigger, better, more effective campaign in 2017.
This article was written by Jayson DeMers from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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