In 2017 your marketing strategy must evolve beyond just your company website. As more and more trends, enter the market, it’s wise for you to learn ways they can benefit your small business.
The following trends can be applied to nearly any business to maximize customer engagement and capture more sales.
Better Analytics and Customer Targeting
Developing a system in place to obtain customer data is not an option. By now you must know who your customer base is, when peak times are, what payment methods they prefer, etc. Without that data, you will not be able to apply many of the trends and advances presented here and on future lists effectively. The good news is that now, in 2017, capturing any bit of data you need (and some you might not need yet) can be as easy as adding a short snippet of code or a new plugin.
Once you have that data Location Based Services (LBS) can come into play. LBS is what allows you, through a mobile device or web browser, to send offers and information to customers in a particular geographical area. You can set up the alerts or ads and let them play out automatically when a user logs on in a specific area or, if an app is involved, simply enters the area. Building apps with location based services can be relatively easy with the use of a top app maker.
Time-Based Marketing works in a similar way to LBS but regarding specific times. There is a perfect time for everything. Some of the rules, like those for emails and tweets, apply across nearly every industry. For other marketing methods, you may need to use that data you collected early to time your campaign perfectly.
Automation of small, mundane tasks is necessary to move your business forward. With the help of a little AI, many processes may be made smoother and more efficient – from automatically printing shipping labels and updating product listings to advancing research or finding new ways to move an existing product.
Chatbots are another way AI can be useful to your business and improve your marketing efforts. They can help lighten the workload of small customer support teams while still providing clients with timely and helpful information. However, these aren’t the simple chatbots you may have attempted to chat with before. If a modern chatbot is doing its job, you won’t even know you’re talking to a bot. It might not help you get new customers, but it will help you retain them.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Though your business may not produce a product related to the IoT you and your marketing team should definitely keep in mind that it’s there. From smartwatches to home appliances, the opportunity for collaboration is vast.
If you haven’t thought of marketing with the IoT before, consider how many places it exists: The electricity meter for your house, your car for insurance purposes or entertainment, your thermostat, maybe even your watch or jewelry. It’s not hard to see why so many experts see just about every device you buy becoming connected to the IoT and soon.
In late 2016, the number of mobile Google searches surpassed desktop and laptop searches. That means that you must have a mobile compatible website and optimize your content for mobile. Then you need an app if you don’t have one already.
In 2017 and moving forward, mobile phones and devices will become a customer’s first choice when browsing the internet. Chances are it will be where they first decide to look up your business or industry. Then their smartphone, particularly if you live in a developed country, will become the primary point of contact between your business and them. An app allows you to develop a useful bond.
Another new technology that has met with much success is that which allows “Instant Apps.” Instant apps allow a smartphone user to open an app without downloading it or using up much data or battery life. This lowers some barriers that frequently keep a potential user from using your app.
Companies that want to know how to build an app can rely on an app maker to build a solution for their business. These app makers make it more affordable for businesses of all sizes to compete with organizations with big budgets.
Emotional and Experiential Marketing
Every business these days seems to have a social cause. Further, the power of aligning with your customer’s emotions is becoming more apparent each day through research and case studies. Experiential marketing invites new customers to participate in something that is representative of your brand but doesn’t rub it in their face. It encourages them to connect in a unique way and gives them a moment to understand your brand’s values and point of view.
The experience itself can be event-based, part of an art installation or entirely digital – that part is up to you. The important thing to take away from this trend is that connection matters and these days people want a brand they can connect with on a personal level.
This one is self-explanatory. Content that you, or one of your customers, can interact with is an important marketing opportunity. From simple social media surveys to technologies that allow you to virtually try on a new product or run a savings estimate. Interactive content can even come in the form of games or utilize augmented reality to achieve their goals.
Video can give your brand or business an edge. In tests, just using the word video can boost email open rates by 19%. Of course, following through with a video or being known for producing high-quality visual content of any type will increase your social shares and the likelihood that potential customers will spend more time with your content. Don’t forget to optimize your video for mobile.
While you’re at it, consider using live feeds. They capitalize on the value of video while offering users a chance to comment on what’s happening in the moment (which brings in an “interactive” element.) Better, live feeds have lower expectations for production value. You could use live streams to showcase “backstage” versions of an event, give tours, or showcase a debate around your industry of local issues.
Native Advertising and Branded Content
Native advertising, in case you’re not familiar, is content that reads as editorial but is sponsored by a business looking to promote a particular product. Branded content is similar as it takes a product or service and creates content around it- think old-fashioned soap operas. Today, the content around your product is less likely to be a television show. It might, however, be a series of useful videos, an interactive app or calculator – even an ebook.
Next Level Social
Though social media isn’t growing as quickly as it once was, it still offers many opportunities. Now those opportunities can be tracked, measured, and repeated due to the better data capture methods mentioned above. That data can even be turned into sales thanks to many social media networks now allowing buy buttons to be placed directly into posts. These posts could be enhanced with interactive elements or targeted at a very particular base of prospective customers.
Beyond that, you can’t talk about social media without touching on “Influencer” marketing. Collaborating with an Influencer or another influential business that aligns with your own can grow your brand exponentially overnight. Though not guaranteed, the results are predictable enough to have created their own niche of industries looking to connect Influencers of all levels to businesses and sponsors.
Automation and Experience
As you can see, the overarching marketing themes of 2017 are automation and personalized customer experiences. Mastering the first will give you the resources to master the second. No matter who you are or what industry you are in, these are the trends that you must capitalize on in order to make the most of 2017 and be prepared for the future.
Originally published May 05, 2017, updated Sep 17, 2021