Back in December of 2014, we made a few predictions about the future of internet marketing. Any prophet worth his or her salt should get one or two prognostications correct... Turns out we did OK!
Here's what we predicted and what actually happened.
Prophecy # 1- Commercial transactions would continue to move quickly to our phones
The Mobile Manifesto has been made clear to marketers. Facing a mass movement to the small screen, the primary place for commerce is now the palm of the hand. According to the Financial Brand, in 2016, 78% of consumers made at least one purchase on their phone. 36% bought a tangible item, and 33% made a payment of some kind- that's up from 16% in 2014.
The Financial Brand
Since most people do a bit of their shopping online now, you should expect that phone use for buying had increased, and indeed it has. In 2010, a measly 4% of spending occurred on a handheld. In late 2016, it had grown to 21%
And there's no reason to suspect that the trend won't continue. With new handheld devices appearing with lowering prices, even the most trustworthy of portable computing machines- laptops- are threatened. As the "Internet of Things" (IoT) continues to develop, you'll also see a shift from devices like a pocket- or hand-sized screens to wearables that interact with networked surroundings like tabletops, walls or It's windows. It's hard to predict when, but there will come a day when carrying a little slab of silicon and glass seems quaint.
A Caveat: People don't like mobile ads. Funny how one of the elements driving development of connectedness is anathema to users. It does depend on whether or not the ad is built with current best practices or not. The most hated are regular old pop-ups (73% of those surveyed by HubSpot). Any kind of mobile ad was second with 70%. Billboard and magazine / print ads escaped with a 21% and and 18% hate rate, respectively.
Prophecy #2- Social Media Spending Goes up
Hootsuite uses data from Statista.com to tell us in an article dated November of 2016:
"Social media advertising budgets have doubled worldwide over the past 2 years—going from $16 billion U.S. in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016."
"Social video ad spend is expected to double once more in 2017 to over $4 billion dollars. This would account for a third of US digital video ad sales, and 20% of social media ad sales."
And there are caveats for this one as well. It's actually rather tricky to promote products and services on what are perceived as personal conversations or customized news channels. Follow the basic rules of politeness and you should do OK.
Prophecy #3 Content will continue to reign supreme
Yes, content is still the king of internet marketing strategies. Companies that write / share / post / tweet are consistent winners in the battle for digital eyeballs. Consumers have actually come to expect that vendors, suppliers and retailers will be open and informative about their commercial interests to a degree that was unheard of 15 years ago.
From a 2016 Forbes study:
"62% of B2B content marketers are “much more” or “somewhat more” successful with their content marketing than they were last year. 63% of B2Cers say the same. That’s a shift from the year prior, where a mere 30% of marketers were saying their content marketing was effective."
As Search engines get smarter and gain the ability to "think" more like a real person, you'll see a movement away from bales of short blog articles that are boring rehashes of the same topics and toward fewer pages of longer content pieces that are more in-depth and truly useful to the reader.
"In the past, content marketers were content to publish “McPosts” (fast, cheap, little value, and frustratingly similar to everything else). Bloggers would craft posts in an hour with little outside research or consideration of value. More pages = more results, they assumed.
But times have changed. Where Google was once our master, now we serve actual people. Value has become the standard."
Dennis Hammer, Audience Ops
"Value" often equates to length. This is a very telling chart that illustrates the trend toward value over quantity:
The hot spot for pagerank is right up there at 1950-2000 words.
Internet marketing professionals are catching on to making content sing in the key of profit. Watch for more interactive content by super-creative people such as drawing a curve on a graph to see how your predictions match others' and unlocks more information about the topic. Also, be ready to create more diverse content like video and "ephemeral" content- think snapchat or Instagram stories.
Companies will continue to mature in their use of content, using content as a competitive weapon. The next mountain to conquer in 2017-18 will be the best ways to present content on mobile devices. Not many people are going to scroll through a 600-word blog entry on their tiny screens.
Prophecy #4 Email Marketing Continues to Thrive
Here's what we said in 2014:
"As SEO (Search Engine Optimization) gets more sophisticated, smaller businesses will revert to a sure-fire, under-control strategy: email. Smart marketers will add a twist, though. As long as high-quality content is being produced for online search purposes they will figure out how to leverage it for use in emailed form."
Litmus, an email marketing group that automates the creation, testing and analysis of email selling, surveyed 1200+ marketers to rank the most important email trends for this year, 2017. The top answer was interactive email. In other words, content pulled into the email itself instead of gated by a link in the email body. Your landing page content will find its way to the invitational email itself.
That's definitely leveraging your branded content for use in emails! One best practice that remains in effect is making sure your emails are worth opening, and with more and better ways of mediating content, emails will continue to be effective. Like the jeans-and-T-shirt look, email marketing may well thrive for the foreseeable future.
Some trends to look for in email marketing are:
Using Big Data to (hopefully) humanize and personalize interactions through emails. Because of the few companies that are ahead of the curve on this, we have started to wonder why Airline X is still sending me price alerts after I've bought my ticket. (They should know that!) Or why I get a coupon for dog food that expires before my dog is even halfway through the bag I just bought?
Use of video inside emails, especially when we send an email to a phone!
Continued growth of workflow-triggered emails, like shopping cart abandonment or welcome / thank you notes.
The marketing environment keeps changing quickly! We know it can be a dizzying experience, trying to keep up. Never fear, United WebWorks is here! We keep on top of the waves of change like a surfing ninja. Call or click to learn more about how we can turn your website into a lead-generating machine.