2016 has been an exciting year full of unexpected booms and busts in the marketing and technology world, making us look toward 2017 with eager anticipation. So what predictions came true and which ones started with a bang, but ultimately fizzled out? Let’s take a closer look:
1. Blended Marketing Continued to Dominate in 2016
To the surprise of no one who monitors these kinds of things, mobile marketing continued to dominate the web as I predicted back at the end of 2015. However, just as the incredible rise of ad blockers on the web has filtered out much of the advertising noise, so too are consumer bombarded by omni-channel offers that don’t really meet their needs, or happen at inopportune times.
As a result, consumers are being much more selective about the apps they install, the sites they visit and the emails they receive. If you’re not doing enough to stay at the top of their minds in ways that aren’t intrusive, you’re giving yourself a one-way ticket to UnsubscribeLand.
This is why many businesses look at omni-channel as more risk than reward. Do you really want to be everywhere the customer is all the time? Does the customer want you to be? Are you more of an elegant butterfly in their minds, or a pesky fly? If you don’t take the time to refine and chart your marketing course appropriately, they’ll make that decision for you.
Social media and mobile media continued to blur the lines with integrated shopping, recommendations, videos and reviews – creating an even greater push to get noticed among the amalgamated chunk of product pitches, retargeting ads and “I’m-an-authority-look-at-me” videos. As more and more advertisers step up to the plate, they look at what others are doing and then copy their efforts – rather than test on their own to see what their unique audience would respond to.
And, in an effort to get in on this big, blended push, Google shifted its search results to include video, recent news, location information and other details to help match the user with their search request even faster and more thoroughly than before.
So if everything’s coming together in a more finely-tuned customer experience, what didn’t really take off as well as we expected it to?
2. From Lifestyle Apps to Augmented Reality
I had originally predicted that 2016 would see the rise and greater adoption of lifestyle apps – meaning apps that people installed as a reflection of who they were. These could be a combination fitness-weather-diet tracker app rather than having apps for all three of these items. But the looming spectre of data overages constantly nipping at their heels means developers have tended to go easy on what’s available via app versus the much more open and accommodating web.
What stirred everyone’s imagination was augmented reality. The undisputed summer hit was Pokemon Go, but it, too, failed to gain much traction after the initial buzz wore off. Still, it was a masterpiece of gamification and as mobile becomes more powerful, we can look forward to seeing what augmented reality can do – particularly when you’re able to bring together the aforementioned apps into an all-in-one experience that isn’t just helpful, but subtly addictive too.
3. Talk To Me – Dash Buttons and the Internet of Things
Voice-guided search, wearable devices and innovations like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are starting to bridge the gap between the internet you access on your computer, and the internet you access everywhere.
Awkward attempts to blend e-commerce with that always-on, on-demand functionality has come out in the form of Amazon Dash buttons – WiFi connected devices that let you instantly order your favorite household products, but they’re more of a novelty than a really useful and innovative design. Watch them become as memorable and curious as the CueCat.
What will be changing for marketers is an increasing investment in understanding analytics and getting a truly cross-channel view of the consumer. Rather than throwing out a bunch of things that the company “thinks” the customer might want, they’re finally gathering enough intelligence (and enough of an understanding to know what to do with it), that they can track a consumer from a search on their home computer to a product description page on their mobile phone, to an order form on their company laptop.
This is known as advanced attribution, and it’s going to change the way we market to customers in ways we probably can’t even imagine. But think of the potential of engaging that consumer at the right time and place, on the right device, when they’re at the right stage of the buying cycle, and you can see precisely how much of a game-changer this technology is.
4. A Bigger Focus on Tools and Services that Fill in the Gaps
Things like predictive analytics and personalization tools are great – but they’re mostly in a vacuum. That means you can’t really leverage them to see the big picture, as well as the granular details you need in order to make decisions with confidence.
Expect innovations in 2017 to help bridge the gaps with many of these services, allowing for greater integrations with existing systems and a better, visual picture of what all that information really means. Kissmetrics is one such type of service. Rather than plop a bunch of analytical data in your lap, it zeroes in on who is doing what, and allows you to track and monitor their engagement across devices.
Other types of services that are not even part of the analytics industry are popping up to fill in the empty spaces left by other innovators. Uber, Airbnb, Amazon Echo/Google Home and many other services like these are becoming ubiquitous in our lifestyle because of the service they provide – a service we never even knew we needed until we saw its potential.
Tools like these are poised to change the way we market on the web, and you can expect even more integrations with popular software and SaaS products to broaden their reach and capabilities.
5. The Power and Passion of Social Media – Who Decides What You Get to See?
Although this doesn’t just apply to marketing, the U.S. election was watched, dissected, ranted and raved over across social media platforms. So much so, that “fake news” and allegations started littering people’s news feeds.
But this then begs the question – should you encapsulate yourself in a bubble – seeing only what you want to see, or should companies give you a little bit of everything and let you choose accordingly? Who decides? Social media has a very powerful and passionate audience on its side – and a significant amount of data that it’s going to have to make some definitive and perhaps unexpected decisions on. After all, not offering a balance can affect user engagement, and losing user engagement is the one thing that no social network wants to imagine – it’s their lifeblood. How they plan to approach this particular conundrum remains to be seen, but you can bet that eventually they’ll be forced to decide – and not everyone may agree with the results.
What Do You Think is in Store for 2017?
Do you think we’ll see some surprising changes on how we market to consumers in 2017? What do you think will happen? Share your own predictions with us in the comments below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!