The Top Five Marketing Trends That Will Define This Year
This past year was marked by businesses giving an increased focus on digital channels as a way to reach new audiences. The general trend will continue in 2017, with some specific channels growing at a much faster rate. Unless you want your business to be left behind, you need to know about these marketing trends.
The truth is consumers are sick of old-fashioned, interruptive marketing. They don’t like being distracted with someone’s sales pitch. This is why “relationship-driven marketing” and “inbound marketing” are growing at ever faster rates.
Many people are surprised to hear that native advertising has existed since at least the 19th century. This is because many people don’t truly “get” what native advertising is.
A native ad is simply an advertisement that appears in a given medium, without looking like an ad. The way it accomplishes this is by taking on the look and feel of that medium’s regular editorial content.
While native advertising has existed in some shape or form for hundreds of years, it’s only started becoming a major player in recent years. In fact, it’s growing at such a rapid pace it might even “destroy” other forms of advertising.
The fact is, people are seeing so many obtrusive and interruptive ads that they’ve developed “ad-blindness”. People automatically tune out anything on the net that looks like an ad.
Did you notice that phrase “looks like an ad?”. Therein lies the rub. Native ads don’t look like ads. They look like very valuable and interesting (related or relevant) content.
You probably witnessed the viral attention that Pokemon Go generated last year. It was one of the vehicles that introduced the concept of augmented reality (AR) to a large number of people. At one point it seemed like every other news story or meme was about this game.
The app earned a huge amount of money, around $950 million in fact. So, this is quite the hint when it comes to the earnings potential of utilizing this cool, new concept. If you can create a different kind of reality for your customers, you have an awesome marketing strategy.
Very few marketers are utilizing AR for marketing campaigns. This means the competition is still low. If you’re fast enough, you can enjoy some of that first-mover advantage in your industry. However, this doesn’t mean that you want to rush into it. Try to make sure you have the right strategy and plan. There’s no point in being first if you don’t succeed.
There’s a reason we mentioned a mobile app as an example of Augmented Reality. While augmented reality exists in many forms, the mobile option is the most accessible for small businesses nowadays. This is true whether you get your own app built, white-label someone else’s pre-built app or just buy an advertisement inside of a popular AR app.
Specific examples of using AR will depend on your business and what you sell
For some businesses, AR visualization is a good choice. Let’s say that you sell furniture. You might develop an app that lets users visualize how each piece of furniture will look in their home. They open the app and point the camera at their living room, and then scroll through the options of sofas that you offer. The app would let them “see” how each one fits their living room.
If your business includes physical locations, you might use AR to offer additional on-location guides, tips, and promotions. As the customer walks into your store, they will get on-screen hints, special offers or arrows pointing them to certain parts of the store.
Another popular option involving physical stores merges AR with another increasingly popular technology – barcode scanning. You can have an app developed that lets a customer scan the products in your store. The app would then display (augment reality) with popups containing additional info about said product.
If you want ideas more specific to your business, please let us know about your unique needs.
While similar to native advertising, content marketing is actually different. Some people get confused because they focus on the similarities. “Ok, so they’re both a form of valuable content meant to ultimately create a lead or customer, so what’s the difference?”
It is actually very easy to explain the difference. It’s about who owns the medium where it is published. If you have a company blog and post valuable content, this is content marketing. If you go to some publisher and ask to place (or link to) your content from their site for a fee, this is native advertising.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy with long-term benefits. Native advertising is more short-term in nature. You only get the publisher to feature your native ads for as long as you’re paying.
With content marketing, you’re creating valuable content that will attract people for years. There’s a one-time cost of producing it, but that’s it. You don’t pay for any views from thereon out. The disadvantage is that it takes time for “lift off” You might produce the world’s most valuable content for your company blog, but few people will see it in the first weeks (or even months) of publishing.
In the long-run, dollar for dollar, you get way more traffic, leads, and customers from content marketing. In the short-term, you get “better results” from native ads. It’s about how you measure the “return on investment”.
This is why smart marketers in 2017 will be combining the two. You can work on a long-term payoff strategy at the same time as the immediate pay-off strategy. But it also means you’re using native ads to promote your own medium (full of content). So the strategies actually have overlap and aren’t fully separated.
The internet has brought us many benefits as marketers. In some areas, it involves subtle shifts (such as print to digital) and benefits. In other areas, it involves creating possibilities that were unimaginable in the pre-digital world. One area where things are starting to get really exciting is this whole personalization thing.
It used to be that personalization was limited to using a couple of tags when sending emails: Things like mentioning the person’s first name or gender. However, over the past couple of years, marketing tool providers have been creating ways for “business to business” (b2b) marketers to utilize ever fancier forms of personalization.
This trend will only continue in 2017. In fact, you can expect a lot of people to go overboard with trying to personalize and customize every aspect of marketing. Our advice would be to track where this trend is heading, but don’t go overboard.
Utilize better personalization options where they appear, but don’t rush into overdoing it. After all, a good marketing strategy is about many different things. There’s no one magic pill that substitutes all else.
The personalization you use will depend on your business model
“But how do we use personalization in our business today?” we hear you asking. The answer is that it “depends”. Because we can’t cover every possible scenario here, we’ll only look at some of the more popular ones. For a more personal answer, feel free to contact us.
Advanced Personalization in Email Marketing. Nowadays quality email service providers allow you an unprecedented level of personalization. With “email triggers” you can have the software send different offers or emails based on the differing behaviors of individual subscribers.
This includes which kinds of emails they do or don’t open. Which kinds of links they click or do not click, etc. If you utilize this well enough, each subscriber might actually have a completely unique and individual experience.
Personalized Recommendations in e-commerce. This isn’t a new form of personalization. E-commerce giants have been doing it for ages now. What’s new is that nowadays this kind of technology is now accessible to smaller e-commerce businesses. If run an e-store you want to look into it and implement personalized recommendations.
Communicate with actual individual customers. This one isn’t automated, but well worth doing to improve your brand reputation. You want to occasionally engage individual customers (or potential customers) in social media as well as online forums, q&a sites etc.
Another rising trend is the chat popups you see on the websites of businesses. They pop up and say something like “Hi, this is Bob, I’m a manager at this company, let me know if you have questions about our pricing”.
Personalized (smart content). If you use an integrated marketing automation system (such as HubSpot), you get access to some amazing personalization capabilities. A solution like this allows you to track where the customer is in the sales cycle, and vary the content based on this knowledge.
For example, the first-time visitor would see different content than someone who’s an avid reader of your newsletters. The DemandZEN team has extensive experience with Hubspot and most other major marketing automation solutions. So if you need help, our team is ready to hear from you.
Purpose-driven marketing is not a passing fad. The idea behind it is this: pick an inspiring purpose for your business, and center everything around this cause. This is “purpose-driven branding”. If you tailor your marketing around this same purpose, this would be “purpose-driven marketing”.
A good example is Apple. You can say their purpose might be defined as such “We make the latest technology simple and effortless to use”. And then everything they do revolves around this purpose: From how they design their products to how long they wait before implementing a new technology.
Their advertising then takes this central idea and puts all of the focus there. All of their ads focus on showing how everything “just works”. Everyone and their grandma can use the product in an intuitive and effortless way.
Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing a trend emerge with businesses adopting the purpose-driven model, and it seems this trend is growing.
Outsourcing your marketing & sales
Understanding marketing trends is only the first step. Implementing them in a holistic, all-around strategy is another thing altogether. Unless you run a fortune 500 company, you probably cannot dedicate an entire team to studying and mastering each of these trends.
It’s no wonder then that we’re seeing a rise in the number of companies who are deciding to outsource marketing. In fact, the general trend of outsourcing an increasing number of areas in a business has been growing for a while. Smart companies are increasingly figuring out that you cannot “excel at everything”.
If you’re in an especially competitive field, you want to pick your battles and figure out your strong points. Then outsource most everything else. It is the only way to get big-business results on a small business budget.
A growing number of companies are starting to figure out that marketing is no different. In 2017 you can choose to outsource your IT, graphics design, parts of customer service or anything you can think of. You can look at any aspect of your business and choose whether to do it in-house or to outsource it. The same is true with many aspects of marketing.
As it happens, DemandZEN can help you outsource a variety of marketing and sales related tasks. We offer a variety of services to help you reach your marketing goals and reduce your sales-related workload.
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