The digital marketing sector experienced rapid growth and rapid change in 2016. From web design to pay-per-click to social media, the digital landscape reshaped itself in a hurry.
At Qiigo, we got to watch the year in digital marketing unfold first-hand. That front-row vantage point has given our experts insight into what to expect in 2017. Below, our key team members lay out their predictions for digital marketing in 2017, along with what brands can do to stay ahead of the game…
Rick Batchelor, CEO
“2016 was an exciting year for digital marketing, and 2017 promises to be nothing less than a roller coaster. We’ve hit the mobile tipping point, with more Google searches now performed on smartphone than on desktop. The future of digital marketing is literally in your customers’ hands. Even more importantly, your digital marketing options and the data that drive them are more precise than ever before, and smart brands are already taking advantage.”
- Forget all the talk about virtual reality for a second. The big tech change to keep an eye on is the rapid rate of A.I. advancement. Google’s machine learning capabilities have skyrocketed over the past couple years, allowing Google to precisely target users with relevant search. Those capabilities are going to end up in marketers’ hands sooner or later. This means big things for brands looking to micro-target their consumers.
- Speaking of targeted ads, it’s no secret that they’ve taken off in the past two years. Don’t expect this trend to slow down. Targeted ads are crushing non-targeted ads in terms of ROI. As competition for ad real estate becomes more fierce, targeted ads will become more and more precise.
- Google and Facebook continue to suck up more and more of the global digital marketing spend. Yahoo’s now dead in the water, and Facebook has steamrolled every platform in its path. Looking for a seat at the table? Be prepared to play by the big boys’ rules.
Web Design: “From Mobile First to Mobile Domination”
Paul Hatcher, Digital Director
“If you’re not thinking mobile-first in 2017, be prepared to get left in the digital marketing dust. Mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic last year, and that gap will only widen. Users have already started to tune out brands without mobile-optimized content, and Google now uses your mobile site as the basis for all of your rankings. Without a mobile-first website in place, expect to lose ground across the board.”
- Future-focused brands will invest in smart technology-friendly design, making it possible for devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo/Alexa to understand their content.
- Conversational mobile interfaces will become more widespread and a crucial technology for small business websites, allowing these businesses to better optimize digital customer care.
SEO: “Google Shifts to Hyperlocal Results”
Mark Ihlenberg, VP of Operations
“Over the past twelve to eighteen months, we’ve seen a big swing in the way Google approaches local content. We’re now seeing more and more hyperlocal results, targeting users’ neighborhoods and street corners instead of just their nearest city. This will be a real local search game-changer for brick and mortar businesses.”
- SSL certification is becoming more and more important in modern search rankings. If you haven’t jumped on the HTTPS bandwagon, brace for a drop in your rankings.
- Google has revamped local rich snippets, making it easier for users to learn about your business in search results instead of clicking on your website. Investing in rich snippet optimization will help you capture in-search leads.
PPC: “Personalized Ads Go Mainstream”
Ryan Manaois, SEM Analyst
“Audience targeting and personalized ads have been growing more and more robust over the past two years, and brands are just now discovering some of the ways they can micro-target prospects with personalized advertising. Expect micro-targeting to take off in 2017.”
- Google got rid of right-rail desktop PPC ads in 2016, expanded ads within search results, and reformatted ads to give marketers more flexibility. PPC marketers need to stay on their toes, as Google’s tinkering shows no signs of slowing down.
- Shopping ads will become more and more prominent, making up a bigger and bigger chunk of revenue for online retailers.
Social: “Facebook Local & Ad Completion on the Rise”
Jack Monson, Director of Digital Strategy
“Facebook has quietly been upping the robustness of its local business pages, and brands are just now cluing into what that means. Don’t be surprised if your business’s Facebook page suddenly becomes the center of your local digital marketing strategy and the number one place for customers to learn about your business.”
- Nearly 10% of the world’s population is now on Instagram. Expect brands from sectors you wouldn’t expect to start finding creative ways to tap into this market.
Liane Caruso, Director of Social Media
“Every year, Facebook’s paid advertising becomes more and more precise, attracting more and more competition to the marketplace. Advertisers have flocked in droves to Facebook’s retargeted ads, and latecomers will drive up prices as they try to shoulder their way to the front of the pack.”
- Video is about to hit its peak, but some brands are holding back because of the cost of investment. This has left the door open for bold brands to make a play while the market’s still heating up.
Content Marketing: “Content Keeps Its Crown”
Ginny Hornby, Director of Content Marketing
“For years, we’ve been told that content is king in digital marketing, but now we have the numbers to prove it. Content marketing claimed 13% of all digital marketing investment in 2016, the number one spending category (digital ads were second at 11%). Customers are now more resistant to ads than ever, and brands that invest in engaging, high-value content will continue to reap the benefits.”
- Creating quality content matters, especially with the glut of mid-level content on the market. Invest in content that users actively seek out and craft it with the level of authority you need to earn users’ trust.
- As Facebook and Google become more efficient filters of what’s seen and what’s not, in-platform content on Facebook and AMP content on Google will become more important.
LLM: “Accurate Listings Crucial as Ever”
Mark Ihlenburg, VP of Operations
“Local listings management remains the bedrock of local marketing in 2017. Despite this, we’re still seeing businesses that lose customers to inaccurate listings, or who can’t build a local search presence because of problem listings in online directories.”
- There’s still a massive market of small businesses with mismanaged local listings, but you’re going to see more and more start cluing in. The earlier brands fix listing issues, the sooner they can get ahead of the competition in local search.
Keep ahead of your online competition with help from the digital marketing experts at Qiigo. Call (888) 673-1212 today to build a digital marketing game plan for your brand in 2017.