Best practices for digital marketing in 2017: How to take advantage of the latest trends

A successful digital marketing strategy needs to keep up with the latest marketing trends.

The evolution of technology is changing the way we form a digital marketing strategy. This creates a growing challenge for industry professionals to keep up with evolving trends and find the best way to incorporate them into their marketing plan.

This is an up-to-date look at best practices for digital marketing in 2017, and at how marketers can take advantage of cutting-edge technological developments to create their strategy.

Content marketing to meet content needs

Content marketing has played a significant role in the evolution of digital marketing. There is a growing demand for content in 2017, and it’s imperative for any brand to develop a content strategy that aligns with wider goals.

But focusing on content doesn’t mean focusing on quantity over quality – in recent years it has become more important than ever for brands to prioritize relevant and in-depth content.

Written content is not expected to go away anytime soon, but the rise of visual content, both images and videos, has given brands more unique ways to stand out and showcase their creative side.

Video marketing has been one of the single biggest trends in digital marketing over the past year, and it will grow even more as social networks evolve more towards featuring this type of content.

Yes, content is still king – provided that you know how to use it in the right context.

Read more on how to create great content that resonates in 2017:

Video advertising

The rise of video has been a major trend not just in content marketing, but also in advertising. Video ads tend to be more effective than other varieties, as they can capture the audience’s attention in the most engaging way and leave an impression that encompasses both sight and sound.

Video content has the power to create compelling ads that can increase brand awareness, of the association with a particular product.

There are many creative tricks for creating successful video content, ranging from adding captions to your videos – making them understandable even while muted – to finding the ideal length to engage an audience without delaying the actual message.

We can expect the video trend to grow even further as major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat do more to facilitate video advertising and build their business models around it.

For more tips to create the perfect video content for your marketing strategy, check out:

Marketing automation

Marketing automation can facilitate a digital strategy by offering an improved and relevant experience to users.

It is the practice that helps marketers automate tasks with the use of triggered events that occur in set moments. The proper application of marketing automation can make channels like email marketing and social media vastly more effective – hence why more than 55% of B2B companies have adopted marketing automation technology.

Some examples of marketing automation in action include:

  • Automated replies to improve social customer service
  • Automated posts on social media for set occasions
  • Automated email messages with a set trigger (registration, customer service inquiry, confirmation of purchase, etc)
  • Integration with a CRM system to better align marketing and sales leads

The best marketing automation tools can be customized to every brand’s needs, from interaction with the customers to the proper approach when exploring new prospects.

Despite the time it takes to initially set up various triggers, it is a process that ends up saving precious time in the following communication, while the benefits go beyond the saved time.

According to Nucleus Research, marketing automation drives an increased sales productivity of 14.5%, and also leads to a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.

It’s the power of intelligent technology that can become a vital part of a marketing strategy and we’re expecting this practice to develop even further in future years, especially with the rise of artificial intelligence.

For more on marketing automation and how to get started, check out:

Data-driven marketing

The use of data together with marketing automation can bring about huge benefits for a digital strategy. Brands have begun to realize the myriad opportunities that data provides to get an insight into customers’ needs, helping them to improve sales and customer satisfaction.

According to Ovum, the big data market may reach $9.4 billion by 2020, up from just $1.7 billion in 2016. This prediction indicates the untapped opportunities that data can offer when used effectively.

Personalization is crucial when crafting a new digital marketing strategy, as this proves how a company knows the best ways to approach a target audience. A combination of segmentation and personalization makes customers and prospects feel more valued and their behavior offers important insights for marketers.

As social media offers us a great variety of analytics, it’s a good idea for more companies to become more strategic with the available data to create a plan on how to become more useful for their audience.

For example, Facebook offers the option to target custom and lookalike audiences by adding an existing list of people to explore further relevant leads. This is a great example of how existing data can lead to retargeting to either convert known prospects or find new ones.

For more on using data to fuel your marketing strategy, check out:

Mobile marketing

According to comScore, US users spend an average of 87 hours per month browsing on a smartphone. The increasing usage of mobile phones makes it critical to devise a mobile-focused marketing strategy.

A mobile-focused marketing strategy should consider:

  • Speed
  • Accessibility
  • Readability
  • Different type of content consumption
  • Visual focus

From mobile-optimized pages to tailored mobile advertising, creating dedicated mobile marketing may seem time and resource-intensive, but it is an extremely worthwhile investment in 2017.

Mobile web usage overtook desktop for the first time globally in 2016, and mobile display ad spending was also seen to outstrip PC and tablet spend in the same year – showing that mobile usage is a trend that continues to snowball. Increasingly, users are accessing information on their mobile devices first and foremost.

A major challenge with mobile marketing is to turn prospects into conversions. As mobile users tend to be on the go, they lack the time and attention to focus on an advertising message or a brand that is less than completely relevant to them.

It is important for companies to focus on native mobile messages, while a multi-channel approach can ensure consistency across devices.

What’s the best way to facilitate mobile shopping, mobile search, or even mobile communication? These are three key questions for brands trying to capitalize on the growing mobile trend.

New innovations are opening up in this space all the time, from augmented reality apps to chatbots, which could potentially offer a solution to such challenges.

For more on creating a successful mobile marketing strategy, check out:

Social media for customer service and conversion

Social media marketing is now going beyond the number of likes and followers a brand has to become a valuable tool in the attempt to improve customer care.

Social customer service is on the rise, and many brands use Facebook and Twitter to answer their customers’ questions as quickly as possible. Facebook, for example, even facilitates this communication with a series of features, such as automated messages when you’re away, instant replies, or the introduction of Messenger chatbots to offer instant communication and quick transactions.

Moreover, social media and CRM can be a powerful combination, helping companies understand their audience and organize their communication in the most structured way.

Thus, a conversation that starts on social media can now be part of a company’s CRM, keeping track of all the interactions, the stage of each prospect or client, and the next steps to follow.

Social media is not just about brand awareness and increased engagement anymore, as the maturing state of many social networks also allows brands to drive conversions and turn leads into customers through the appropriate nurturing.

Further reading on how to do more with your social media:

SEO in a mobile-first world

SEO has been considerably affected by the growing audience on mobile, which is crucial to bear in mind when crafting an organic search strategy.

A presence in search is key for many brands to build awareness of their product and to be present when consumers are conducting research during the buying process. As such, it’s important to understand it as much as possible, along with the changing search habits of users.

Search engines are becoming more intelligent in interpreting users’ queries, and a good mobile experience is increasingly important to rankings – especially with Google’s mobile-first index slated for imminent launch.

Relevant and informative content is still key, but it’s also important to consider how speed, optimization and mobile experience can affect search traffic.

Another interesting angle is the increasing importance of local SEO, especially among mobile users who are performing “near me” searches whilst out and about. More brands are trying to “think local” in an attempt to reach a highly specific audience and offer the best value for them.

This can be achieved by understanding how mobile local marketing works and how users search for queries when looking for a very specific answer or service. Also, local SEO can be perfectly combined with the rising trend of voice search. According to MindMeld, 60% of users have used voice search during the past year.

As its adoption keeps increasing, it is offering a big opportunity for companies to take advantage of the growing number of mobile searches, along with the need to understand the power of search using natural language.

More resources for developing a mobile-first SEO strategy:

Prioritize relevance in your influencer marketing

The relatively recent trend of influencer marketing has become popular enough to create a new generation of internet stars who became popular through their engagement with their followers on social media.

Many brands turn to influencer marketing to promote their products, as social proof can be very effective. However, it can be challenging to find the perfect match that offers the desired ROI at the right budget.

As influencers’ payments grow, the expectations are higher. However, if a brand doesn’t find the right type of influencer, the number of followers an influencer has will not guarantee success.

Relevance is the factor that can make or break an influencer marketing campaign, which is why brands have begun exploring the idea of “micro-influencers” – influencers with smaller, but highly engaged and relevant audiences.

For example, if a brand wants to promote a facial care product, a beauty blogger with 50k followers can lead to better results than an athlete with 150k followers.

Moreover, the rise of influencer marketing has made customers more hesitant towards promoted products, which means that it’s important to seek for collaborations that seem genuine to users. This can be achieved by proper product placement and an authentic campaign that is focusing on value along with the promotion.

Another key aspect to consider in influencer marketing campaigns is measuring the results of the collaboration. It’s a good idea to set specific goals before starting and track the efforts throughout the campaign in the most tangible way.

This can minimize the danger of spending a budget without a measurable result or a set ROI.

For more on getting the most out of your influencer marketing campaigns, check out:

Conclusion

An attempt to take on board the best practices for digital marketing strategy needs to consider all the changes taking place across various parts of the industry.

Thus, before updating your digital strategy, it’s a good idea to review your existing goals and decide on the best ways you can reach them.

Is your existing strategy stalling your progress? What’s the best way to improve it? Which of these aspects can bring you closer to the desired conversion, or the increased traffic?

How can digital marketing enhance your relationship with your customers?

Most of all, do you allocate the right time and budget to each trend to explore how your business can benefit from it?

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