Why are these online marketing tactics so critical for companies to implement?
The sheer scope of the internet is now almost unimaginable, with 3.5 billion searches per day on Google, 1.71 billion Facebook users posting 1 billion pieces of content daily, 500 million Instagram users, more than 1 billion each on Youtube and WhatsApp, and 63.4 million new posts on WordPress blogs each month.
How can you possibly be heard above all of that noise?
The good news is that with a smart, focused digital marketing campaign, you can build your brand exponentially, attract more loyal customers, and stand out above all of those companies that are floundering and falling short with their online marketing (and there are a lot of them!)
I won’t burden you about the complex changes to Google and other search engines,
like the introduction of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), mobile-first indexing, voice search and Google’s Penguin 4.0 algorithm update, or delve into the blossoming of chatbots or virtual and augmented reality in 2017. Instead, I’ll focus on the practical cornerstones of your digital marketing. Without mastering those first, you don’t have the foundation you need to reach any higher.
Here are my 17 blogging, social media, and online marketing recommendations for 2017.
1. Double (and triple) down on video
If you think video formats exploded online in 2016, wait until you see what’s in store in 2017! In fact, growing with video is the biggest factor for social media platforms that thrive (Instagram, Snap, Facebook) and those that are faltering (Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn.) Across the board, videos see higher audience engagement than other formats of content. While big brands are jumping into native video marketing with relish in 2017, this is the only place small businesses and individuals can compete on equal footing, with user-generated videos getting 10x more engagement on YouTube than videos posted by major brands!
2. Paid ads are the new norm
Sorry to tell you, but sharing your company’s content on social media without paying for reach is like throwing a coin in a fountain and expecting your wish to come true. That’s because social networks have decided to monetize through paid ads and boost for reach. With Facebook, for example, that means only 2%-15% of your audience will see your posts organically! The good news is that you don’t need a big budget to improve your reach exponentially if you target your campaign and manage it correctly.
“You have to run Facebook ads, and you have to do it now.” –Gary Vaynerchuk
3. Content creation the #1 SEO tactic
Gone are the halcyon days where you could place a few keywords and throw a little bit of money into SEO and see your company rise to the first page of Google. These days, the one true way to ensure search engine placement is through content creation, augmented with keyword and SEO strategies. In fact, 72% of digital marketers now say that content creation is their most effective SEO tactic. Therefore, blogging, Q & A's, profiles, interviews, fact sheets, reports, white papers, custom memes, images, graphics and infographics will be more important than ever in 2017.
4. Market segmentation and increased personalization
The world wide web is far too enormous and competitive for you to expect a consumer to just Google your product or service and see your name pop up. In 2017, it’s essential that you get laser focused with market segmentation, as well as personalizing your messages to specific demographics (and even individuals!) if you really want to connect and make an impact.
5. Snap, Instagram, Pinterest keep rising
Instagram will keep exploding in popularity in 2017, with the highest levels of engagement across all social media platforms behind only Facebook. While it still lags in marketing ROI, that could change drastically with the introduction of Instagram Shopping in 2017.
Meanwhile, Snap will continue its role as social media upstart with more ephemeral innovations expected, and Pinterest still boasts the highest level of consumer behavior influence among all social media, with 55% of users buying something off the platform.
6. Disappearing content
Speaking of disappearing content, Snap (formerly SnapChat) will keep blazing a new trail in 2017 when it comes to expiring content. In fact, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook have all imitated Snap with some features that are temporary, or ephemeral. Even if you're not particularly active on Snap, companies should experiment with some disappearing or expiring content to create urgency and keep an audience engaged.
7. Twitter, Google + down
It’s sad – and somewhat surprising - to see, but Twitter is looking more like a lovable dinosaur, including a 20% plunge in 2016 and users abandoning the social media pioneer for more dynamic platforms. Likewise, Google+ is as dead as disco, and maybe still alive for intrinsic SEO benefits and accompanying services like Google Docs, YouTube, etc. Many digital marketers will be jumping ship from these two in 2017 and investing their time and money elsewhere.
8. Guest blogging
One of the hottest ways to gain exposure is guest blogging, or offering content to someone else for them to post on their own blog or website. This can be a blog but also an article, Q&A, infographic, video, interview, report, guide or chapter from your book. When you guest blog, you're exposing your content (and your name and contact info!) to a brand new audience, who are introduced to you as a trusted and credible authority in your field. The great part is that it's a win-win for whoever is hosting your guest blog, because they get a new audience, more content, and back links, as well.
9. Images, infographics, and visual content are vital
Just how critical are images and visual content to your online marketing? Numerous studies prove that our brains prefer images over text when it comes to taking in, comprehending, and retaining information. Called "Pictorial Superiority Effect," this neuroscience proves that visual input is far more likely to be recognized and recalled. In fact, participants in research studies remembered only about 10% of the information 72 hours later when it was given to them audibly (spoken), but had astounding 65% retention levels when the information was presented with an image, too.
10. Mobile officially takes over
2016 was the year when mobile traffic usurped desktop traffic for internet use. In fact, mobile web and app use won't merely uptick in 2017, but start to distance itself – especially with the roll-out of Google's new Mobile-first indexing. In fact, almost 80% of time spent on social media is now on mobile devices, and we're expected to have 6.1 billion additional smartphone users by 2020. Smart brands will make sure they're set up and optimized for mobile use first and web second, as well as explore the possibility of a mobile app if it's a good fit.
11. Social media expands with real time, live streaming, and 360 degree
2016 was the year that we saw social media take a leap forward in terms of technology that enriches user experience. Facebook started with live streaming for celebrities (and now, every person who wants to show their cat live). Twitter did the same with its Periscope, and YouTube is expected to do the same in 2017.
Whether you love it or hate it, get used to real time and live streaming content, as it’s going to change the face of social media interaction, and your business would be wise to keep up –BUT only with content and information that's valuable to the consumer.
360° video and photos will make a big jump in 2017, too, with businesses now able to shoot 360° views of their office, hotel, restaurant, home for sale, etc. to display to potential patrons.
12. Creativity and authenticity are essential for effective marketing
To be heard in a very loud room, companies (and their digital marketers) need to get creative, posting imaginative, original, and authentic content. Consumers don't want perfect; they want real, and that means telling genuine stories and sharing customer problems, solutions, and experiences online.
13. It’s all about user experience
User experience, or “UX” as it’s known in the business, should be your focus in 2017 even over highlighting your company’s story, products or solutions. That also means you can have fun to celebrate that experience with them, offering giveaways, polls, quizzes and other shared, interactive content.
14. Build communities (and keep growing that subscriber list)
Speaking of UX, it's more important than ever to build your audience online but do so based on user characteristics, needs and interests, not just because you think they should be following your company. That way, you can build communities (or “Tribes” as Seth Godin calls them). While the subscriber email list may seem outdated, it’s actually more relevant than ever, allowing companies to take the next step in the customer relationship by reaching them directly with valuable content aside from social media.
15. Social selling becomes more prevalent
In the past, consumers typically became aware of products and services via social media, and then migrated to the company’s website (or a third-party seller’s website) to purchase them online. But in 2017, companies will focus on selling directly through their social media sites, made possible by innovations with Facebook, Instagram selling, and others. Currently, just 12% of consumers purchase something from Facebook or Instagram (while 55% of Pinterest users do!) but look for those numbers to skyrocket this year.
16. Native advertising is the best new organic marketing tool
It’s not enough to just have an A-B conversation with your potential consumer base online anymore, so smart companies are utilizing employee advocates and brand ambassadors to help spread the world. Called “native advertising,” the use of social media brand ambassadors and employees to help spread the word has risen 191% in the last three years. Studies show that companies that focus on unleashing social influencers and brand evangelists, whether on the payroll or not, will see a 7x return on marketing costs.
17. Collaboration is paramount in 2017
This year, it’s not enough to create great blogs, engaging images, and entertaining videos and share them online. While all of that is necessary, the distribution channel of where you share them might be just as important as what you create. Collaboration with referral partners, networking, guest blogging and content sharing will help you reach an exponentially larger audience in 2017, gaining new customer influence and boosting sales like never before!
Would you like to see my report on social media, blogging, and digital marketing from 2016? Click here to request it for free.
Make it a great year!
The Schriever Creative Agency