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By: Mike Corak

Earlier this year in Cincinnati, I had the pleasure and honor of presenting to the AMA chapter on digital trends and prioritization. Here is a link to that presentation.

Interacting with a smart and informed audience base, we had a great discussion on what digital marketing trends were shaping up to look like in 2016, specifically identifying where marketers can make the most headway against business goals versus concentrating on shiny objects.

Recently, I was asked to provide some thoughts on how the industry is progressing against these focal points, the purpose of this post, and again privilege and an honor. The eight trends we discussed included:

  1. Customer Experience is #1;
  2. Mobile Maturity;
  3. Content Quality Over Quantity;
  4. What Happens if Google Isn’t Your #1 Traffic Source (Traffic Diversity);
  5. Local Gets it Right;
  6. Influencer Marketing is Here to Stay;
  7. Top Performance from Integration; and
  8. Staffing Scrappy

As one can imagine, annual surveys and stats aren’t necessarily available just yet, showing how companies have progressed, but speaking from personal auditing experience with hundreds of organizations thus far in 2016, I will communicate the progress against these trends ahead of the “What’s Hot for 2017” onslaught!

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Not new news as you’ll see uniform focus recommendations from about every analyst in the industry, CX is and will be the top opportunity for most organizations. Gains here improve engagement, transaction, and loyalty in measurable ways, and make assets and media work harder.

I’ve yet to run into an organization in 2016 that has CX completely dialed, though we are beginning to see some break away from the pack. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at Nordstrom, Coca-Cola, and Adobe (who by the way has some killer trending information published in their partnership with Econsultancy.

These companies talk the talk and walk the walk, prioritizing user needs, and translating that to improvements for every touchpoint across all channels.

Prediction for 2017

We’ll continue see recommendations for fragmented components of CX like Personalization, Conversion Optimization, Relevance Improvements, Technologies and more, media through assets and experiences. This is a good thing, but remember none of these are silver bullets on their own. Having a broader view of the overall customer experience opportunity, and a plan to prioritize these opportunities based on measurable impact (typically starting with conversion points up through the funnel into media) is a much better approach for most rather than running after laundry lists of micro-improvements or starting with costly technology solves. Apologies Adobe

 

MOBILE MATURITY

In some ways, components of mobile maturity are seen in Customer Experience. Consider for example content and experiences that are mobile friendly and designed for the needs of a mobile user. This remains an opportunity. I’m seeing a higher adoption of responsive design, and would anticipate the number of sites with mobile friendly implementations to rise from 50% to 75% or so. But being mobile friendly in design isn’t enough.

We must continue to build interactions that meet mobile user needs. And this isn’t just for your website.

Are your emails responsive? Can a customer download and redeem your coupons without printing? Are your loyalty programs designed for mobile interaction? Do you understand what offers, content, topics, and media target audiences are most interested in engaging with by device? Are you location aware in your efforts? Do you have localized content and experiences? Are your ad units mobile aware in calls to action and referring content? There’s much work to do here, and we’re frankly scratching the surface.

Prediction for 2017

2017 will push marketers through foundational mobile engagement necessities into real mobile experience building, media targeting, and measurement. What’s your Pokemon Go opportunity? LOL! All joking aside, your company has great opportunity to create out of the box experiences, even businesses, but it will be hard to capitalize on the opportunity without sound foundational coverage.

 

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CONTENT QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

We’re making progress on this front, but the truth remains, there is more low grade content and experiences than eyeballs online, and it’s a real problem. Eliminating non-performing content and experiences is as important creating new ones. Start with elimination and consolidation, move to quality improvements, and then add extremely relevant and quality content and experiences to your mix. This is the formula, and we’re making progress being intermediate content strategists and marketers on the whole, but the vast majority of organizations have a way to go.

Prediction for 2017

We’ll continue to get better at this through the next few years, building internal and agency disciplines.

 

TRAFFIC AND EXPOSURE DIVERSITY (AND SOME INFLUENCER MARKETING)

Today, most organization’s traffic still comes from organic search, followed by media in most cases, and then split between many other sources. The argument here is that as search competitiveness increases, and media becomes more expensive, reliance on these channels will become less efficient and more resource intensive. Are we here today? No, this is meant to plant some seeds. But getting ahead of this fact, excelling in established channels like social, and experimenting with new media is critical as many of these channels can’t be simply “turned on”.

Prediction for 2017

2017 will continue to present a laundry list of opportunities. I recommend saving at least 10% of your budget for experimentation, media and earned/owned, in an attempt to learn for the future. If you’re not doing influencer marketing for example (you should be by the way), try it. If you want to explore testing theories based on metrics anomalies, now is the time. Test and experiment – never stop.

 

LOCAL GETS IT RIGHT

When it comes to local marketing, most organizations have tackled local search, or are at least on their way. There are optimization improvements, but the map world is looking much better than ever. Unfortunately, this is where it ends for most. Local marketing opportunities in digital, working many times hand in hand with mobile, offer opportunities for relevance and personalization across all channels.

Prediction for 2017

Marketers will begin mapping out fully integrated local marketing programs in 2017 and see great return in doing so. CX, content, social, email, media, and of course search programs will benefit. This takes LOTS of work, but the pay-off is huge.

Wrapping things up, integration is and will remain an opportunity for years to come, though we’re seeing lots of movement here and improvement. Hiring for digital acumen as well as skill set still remains an opportunity, and we expect to see more movement here in 2017 as well.

 

 

dac-group-blueAbout Mike Corak
Mike Corak is the VP/GM at DAC Group, one of North America’s leading digital performance agencies, and largest independent. Mike oversees the Louisville office’s operations, contributing to agency growth throughout the southern US, supporting localized branding efforts and providing consultation in digital brand strategy and performance marketing for the agency and its clients.

Mike has developed and implemented winning integrated digital strategies for hundreds of companies including Bank of America, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, ConAngra Foods, ConocoPhillips, Farmers Insurance, FedEx, General Electric, Nike, and Walt Disney. Previously, Mike co-founded and launched content marketing agency Ethology, and led strategy teams at Ethology, Off Madison Ave and iCrossing. Mike is a graduate of the University of Arizona, serves on charity and trade boards including SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization), and is a quoted and practicing thought leader. Connect with Mike @MikeCorak and on LinkedIn.

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