We hope you had a relaxing festive period and wishing you a happy new year!

As mentioned in our review of the most popular posts from 2016, we know many of you enjoy our annual trends updates, and this year we have another roundup of the key trends from the top sources for you.

Our 2016 trends post this time last year contained some key trends which transpired to be big news in 2016;

Update on evolving trends we identified last year

1. Mobile & Non-Desktop Improvements

With the continued emergence of mobile being just as (or even more) critical than desktop or tablet performance, this trend will continue into coming years and websites and social channels must be prepared. We anticipated the rise in social and mobile commerce, and social media advertising, which continues to be a priority for many businesses into 2017.

2. Personalisation

Personalisation was another key trend to further develop in 2016, with the trend expanding across retail products through to email marketing planning and social media targeting, often through effective CRM software and strategies.

3. Content marketing

Content marketing enjoyed a boom in 2016 across both B2B and B2C and in its various guises. As we quoted last year, Smart Insights identified that the relatively sudden emergence has left many businesses without a content marketing strategy, which is now critical for many businesses to work out how to track and optimise this key opportunity. As with many areas in marketing, we identified that content should be relevant, timely and the focus should be on quality over quantity.

Interest in Content Marketing over the last 5 years

Interest in Content Marketing in the UK over the last 5 years (Google Trends)

4. Video

74% of all traffic will be video in 2017″ – Syndacast

Video was important in 2016, but is critical into 2017; all brands need to be considering their video marketing strategy. In 2016 we have seen streaming services such as Facebook Live video and YouTube live take centre stage, and YouTube results becoming even more important in SEO. Brands such as Virgin and Red Bull have taken off with Facebook 360, and Facebook’s own Oculus product has launched. Facebook’s canvas ads can be effective with the right products and targeting, meaning that richer and virtual reality experiences are increasingly important to break through in 2017.

5. Emerging Platforms

In early 2016 we picked up Snapchat and Periscope as ones to watch, and the transient nature of their content is a key trend which resulted in Instagram introducing their own Snapchat-esque ‘Stories’ product in August. Snapchat have enjoyed exponential growth throughout 2016, including the highly popular Spectacles product.

6. Automation

This trend took off in 2016, with Facebook announcing that bots would be launching for Messenger, and programmatic and predictive algorithms continue to improve targeting and efficiency over time.

7. Customer Centricity

The customer is still king – just look to social media customer service channels for proof. As Marketing Week reported, customer service is now a daily priority for many marketers, with 83% stating customer experience is now more central to their role than it was five years ago. The importance of data insights and personalisation is again key here; customer expectations are that brands have a sophisticated level of data and intelligence and advertising and messages should be appropriately targeted.

The new trends for 2017

According to Hubspot’s ‘The Future of Marketing‘, there are 5 key trends and methodologies which will be important for marketers to maximise into 2017;

Data-Driven

All about analysing your own data against your KPIs and utilising your data to make more informed decisions, as well as being informed by A/B testing.

Personalised

Linked to the data gathered above, and taking personalisation a step on from 2016, integrating more than standard interests and behaviour. Anticipation of customer needs is now the expectation so any less is likely to let your brand down.

Integrated

All marketers need to be able to look at their activities holistically, and alongside spend and ROI, in order to adjust as necessary. Integrated includes strategies for always-on and campaigns, across digital and offline.

Native

Paid advertising is evolving. It’s still going to be pay-to-play but we’ll likely see more sponsored content on publisher and influencer sites than ever before. As noted in Entrepreneur, one of the key benefits is that there is minimal disruption to the user experience.

Mobile (& Beyond)

Developing on the 2016 point, responsive websites are now the only way forward for our multiple device culture and SEO performance;

“Since the release of its “Mobile Friendly” update in 2015, Google doesn’t just consider mobile optimisation an important factor for user experience, it uses mobile optimisation as a ranking factor.” – Hubspot

Further key trends and opportunities for 2017 include;

Brand reputation management

As discussed above, brands need to be tuned in and proactive in managing customer relations online, and this now extends to full brand reputation management online.

Storytelling

Brands need to get more creative and compelling telling brand stories online in 2017, in order to breakthrough the noise and create a deeper and longer-lasting engagement.

Influencers & online PR

Linked to the ‘native’ point above, the importance of influencers, how brands underestimate or misunderstand them and how they could help you win at social channels like Snapchat, Instagram or YouTube.

Automation of inbound

The opportunity presented by content marketing & lead generation / automation (combined). Automation can be applied to many areas and sizes of marketing within businesses.

Continued shift from organic to paid social media

As highlighted by the Content Marketing Institute, creators and brands alike are becoming increasingly frustrated with the regular algorithm updates made by social media channels, and in some cases boycotting posting or their channels. There will be a continued shift in focus in 2017 away from organic towards more paid content, but it seems more important than ever for brands to capture an ‘owned’ audience wherever possible.

Smart Insights readers also voted for the trends which they felt would give the biggest incremental uplift in 2017 leads and sales;

Smart Insights 2017 trends

Next steps

Start planning your marketing for the coming year and calculate where trends are best utilised in your business. Read the 8 benefits of planning to start your 2017 marketing success and feel free to get in touch to see how we can help.

Good luck with your 2017 plans and we hope this year is prosperous for you!

If you liked this post you may also enjoy … Calculate your 2016 ROIs.

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