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Predicting trends and understanding them are essential to effective marketing, be they cultural trends, marketing trends, technological advances, social media, or cultural change. Understanding and analyzing trends allows you to predict which marketing strategy may be the most effective for your business. Technology and digital marketing are developing rapidly and having a direct and substantial effect on the global culture. The popular marketing strategy or focus one year might shift dramatically in the next couple of years. In order to be relevant and gain needed exposure, marketers need to pay attention to the latest trends and newest technology.
Marketing firms, software producers, and others regularly produce reports to examine the previous year’s hot trends and make predictions for the coming year. You can get an idea of the direction of marketing development from these reports. Some widely read marketing reports come from sources such as Salesforce, Hubspot, and Ascend2, and Scott Brinker’s marketing technology landscape supergraphic, released yearly, gives a visual oversight of the martech industry.
Some of the most interesting strategies to marketers in 2017 involve interactive content, dynamic personalization (content that changes according to a customer’s context and behavior), intelligent email automation, influencer marketing, and multichannel analytics. Some of the media channels attracting interest are video, applications made for mobile technology, live streaming, virtual and augmented reality, and temporary content.
Forbes has found that businesses are looking at executive branding (promoting executives as individuals), artificial intelligence, visual content, native advertising (where advertising and content mesh), agile marketing (increasing speed, adaptability and collaboration), collaborative marketing (amongst marketing, sales, and service), and experiential advertising (experiencing the brand). Forbes is also paying attention to purpose-driven (nonprofits, charities) marketing, social media, “dark” social with encryption (Google Analytics and getsocial.io can measure some of this data), the Internet of Things (IoT) as in everyday objects connecting to the internet, and influencers, who according to Chute, marketers believe have the potential of reaching 70% of niche audiences.
The predicted trends from previous years can be very useful to look at, as many of them are either relevant the following year, or reveal long-term patterns in buyer behavior and marketing campaigns. Some of the successful predictions of growth areas and trending media for 2016 were interactive content and visual advertising on social media such as Instagram and Snapchat (Snapchat was used in the U.S. 2016 presidential campaign). Other touted channels were video ads on Facebook and on mobile apps, IoT (including wearable tech) and virtual reality (Volvo created a virtual reality test drive) or augmented reality (as in Pokémon GO).
Another important trend is ad blockers, used by over 25% of internet users. The majority of internet users (78%) believe ad blocking has a positive impact on their experience. However, according to Hubspot’s Adblock Plus research study from 2016, 68% are ok with seeing ads if they are not annoying, and 31% accept ads when asked how to help support websites.
Salesforce’s “State of Marketing Report 2016” shows that the top marketers find channel orchestration and the integration of digital marketing channels and overall marketing 95% effective or very effective. These top marketers are spending more money on digital marketing, with a 21% growth in spending predicted over a 10-year period (2011-2021); there has been a 98% growth in mobile app usage between 2015-2016, and marketers are looking at predictive intelligence and data analysis to create intelligent, personalized emails. In 2016, marketers spent 70% of their total marketing budget on digital marketing channels; 97% of marketers plan to increase or maintain this level of spending. These statistics correlate with most of the priorities marketers have stated above.
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