Digital marketing is a different kind of beast. Much like a bucking bronco, it is extremely difficult to get, and even more so to keep, under control. Unlike traditional advertising channels, digital marketing and advertising changes every day. Not every week. Not every month. Every single day. If you are not continuously educating yourself, and refining your process, it is very easy to get left behind. Discover the top 5 digital marketing trends for 2017, and learn how to take your efforts to the next level.

Digital Advertising is the Most Popular Channel in the Nation

We all know that digital advertising is popular, but did you know that digital ad spend surpassed television ad spend earlier this year? In September, eMarketer reported that digital will represent 37% of US total media ad spending. By the end of 2017, US digital ad spend will reach nearly $72.1 Billion, compared to $71.3 Billion in ad spend via TV. Digital has experienced the most growth in advertising spend of any ad channel over the past five years. If it weren’t for the Olympics and the Presidential election also coinciding this year, the disparity could be even larger.

This explosive growth is driven by a couple key factors: mobile and video advertising.  As more users are utilizing their mobile devices for web browsing, advertisers are adjusting their strategies as well – thus we see an increase in overall mobile ad spend. Video ad spend has grown equally as impressive, and will account for nearly 15% of digital spending in 2017. Display advertising accounts for nearly half of total ad spend, with Facebook raking in the largest piece of the market share. Animated and video ads are becoming the primary player ranking in this space as rich media has proven time and time again to produce better results – specifically in the form of increased clickthrough and conversion rates.

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Mobile Traffic is Surging: Smartphone Users Are on the Rise

Statistically speaking, nearly 15% of you are reading this article on your smartphone right now. Nearly a year and a half ago, comScore reported that the number of mobile-only internet users surpassed desktop-only internet users in the U.S. As leaps and bounds are made in mobile innovation, more and more users are turning to their personal mobile devices for their internet browsing.

Not only are phones getting quicker, but websites are loading faster as well. Web users are extremely impatient nowadays, and it is reflected in their behavior. A study conducted by Google, The Need for Mobile Speed, found that 53% of mobile sites are abandoned if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Let’s be clear, if you want to make sure that you are holding onto your customers, make sure your website is loading appropriately. Easy enough, right?

Another key factor that is contributing to the surge in mobile traffic is responsive website design.  Go ahead and take the next few seconds and perform a quick test for yourself; pull out your phone (or open-up a new window if you’re already browsing on it), and load your website.  What do you see? Does your website provide a good user experience? If the answer is “yes”, give yourself a pat on the back, you are already on the road to success. If the answer is “no” …shame on you! How do you expect the customer to have a good experience if you cannot provide them with one? Let that one simmer in. Perhaps a call to your web development company is in your near future.

For 2017, the number of smartphone users worldwide is expected to reach 2.32 billion. That’s billion with a “B”. Is the importance of aligning your strategy to reflect these trends starting to sink in yet? Make sure that you are taking the necessary preparations to maximize your mobile marketing into the new year.

User Experience is More Important Than Ever – How to Personalize Your Messaging

Is there anything more compelling than a generic ad offer that provides no value-added incentive? Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical. In what parallel universe would something like that work? Or maybe the better question is, in what decade? Something like this may have worked (albeit not particularly well) in the past, but we are only a few short weeks away from 2017, and if you want to succeed in this new year, you must personalize your user experience.

How are you interacting with your customers throughout their buying journey? Is your messaging consistent with their level of intent? Are you effectively moving them down the sales funnel?

Every customer touchpoint is crucial in the sales process, and it is exceedingly important that you have a sound strategy in place to resonate this. Providing a top-notch customer experience will increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, and keep customers engaged with your brand at various levels of intent when moving down the funnel. Are you familiar with the phrase “out of sight, out of mind”? You should focus your efforts to shoot for the opposite effect.  Whether your customers are looking for information, looking to learn more, or are ready to buy, make sure they keep your brand at the top-of-mind.

Social Media Connects Companies to Consumers & Facebook is the King

Social media is special. It’s the new(ish) kid on the block that evolves quicker than any other online marketing channel. Even the oldest social networks were born this millennium. Social networks not only offer a substantial number of active users, but provide an extremely high level of user engagement. Users are encouraged to share, discuss, rant, rave, and connect with other users across the world. Many social network platforms even provide games which increase site engagement even further. Some may offer methods to share photos, or statuses, while others are primarily utilized to provide rapid communication.

When it comes to social media, Facebook reigns supreme.  Facebook is the market leader; and was the first social network to surpass 1 billion registered users.  As of September 2016, they were sitting at 1.71 billion monthly active users. What differentiates Facebook is their exceptional, and extremely effective, ad serving platform.

Facebook provides an extremely cost-effective platform for advertisers. With robust audience segmentation options, and relatively inexpensive ad costs, Facebook is a preferred alternative for many companies to connect with consumers. Advertisers can remarket/retarget past website visitors throughout their desktop or mobile news feeds, or provide right-hand side ads.  Additionally, advertisers can utilize the Instagram ad network to extend their reach.  Facebook also offers custom audience creation, yet another unique feature that helps marketers deliver a consistent message to their audience.  By uploading email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, or several other parameters, you can create extremely targeted audience lists that convert at much higher rates when compared to traditional targeting methods.

Predictive Intelligence: How to Leverage It & Sell More Today

Do you want to know what every successful company has in common? I’ll let you in on the big secret —data driven decision making. I know it sounds simple, but sometimes decision makers get so caught up in what works, and forget to question “why?”. It’s easy to lose sight when you are experiencing positive results, but what about when those results start to slip? Do you continue to make the same mistakes over and over, hoping that the results will change? Albert Einstein was credited with the saying, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Simplify your process and allow the data to drive your decision making.

Information is useless if you don’t know what to do with it. You must be able to interpret the data, and devise a strategy that will help you achieve your goals. One of the beautiful elements of digital is that you can track practically anything. You can analyze your keywords and ads and see what drove the most traffic. You can compare your website pages and see which ones are providing the best engagement and user experience. You can even review your geographical targeting and see which areas are providing the most value to you. The possibilities are endless; however, the strategy must be concrete.

Use the data to reach your customer at the right place, at the right time, via the most efficient channel. Leverage the data to create detailed targeting and more sophisticated, personalized messaging. Predictive intelligence has resulted in remarkable improvement in sales conversion rates, and in extreme instances has resulted in a 450x increase in conversions from marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads. Utilize the data to hone in on your buyer personas, nurture your leads with personalized messaging, optimize your marketing budgets, and identify future opportunities or solutions. Take full advantage of your data to sell more today.

What it Means for You

It’s quite simple: adjust your strategy or be left behind. In an ever-changing environment, the survivors are proficient in two key traits – adaptability and flexibility. In a dog-eat-dog World, whoever can adapt the quickest will have the best chance of staying afloat.  Innovators and industry thought leaders have the unique ability of being flexible. They are continually refining their process to align with the latest trends and best practices. The best advice I can offer for moving forward in 2017 is to keep you ears open and your eyes straight ahead. Adjust your strategy, achieve your goals, and conquer your market!

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin