2017 is officially here which means it’s time to review our digital trends to watch for the new year. 2016 saw mobile overtake desktop, video overtake traditional content, and behavioral emails replace the traditional email blast. So, what can we expect to see in the next 12 months?
Omni-Channel Marketing Takes the Cake
Surely, the biggest buzz-word du jour is “the omni-channel experience.” With more and more consumers switching seamlessly from mobile to desktop and utilizing multiple social media platforms to engage with brands, it has never been more critical to align your strategies. If you don’t currently provide a customer focused experience between mobile, in-store, social media and your contact center, you could be missing out on sales and positive brand exposure.
From a customer service standpoint, breaking down the silos between your digital and traditional departments will be critical as customers tweet, call, and email all in the course of a single issue. According to AdWeek, only 28% of marketers polled have ever used cross-device identification, we are expecting to see that number grow significantly in 2017.
If your current strategy is multi-channel rather than omni-channel, 2017 is the year to integrate your unique customer journey across all touchpoints.
IoT Grows for Business and Consumers
The Internet of Things has been waiting patiently on the horizon as the “next big thing” for a couple of years now. 2016 saw things ramp up from a consumer perspective with the increased prevalence of smart watches, home assistants such as the Amazon Alexa, as well as connected thermostats and smart door locks. However, the growth hasn’t yet been the explosion of IoT that some analysts predicted. 2017 just may be the year to change that. In fact, Forbes predicts that IoT devices are expected to exceed mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices by 2018!
So, what does this mean for companies utilizing the technology to create unique digital experiences? Companies will increasingly utilize smart technologies to better understand customer behavior, to deliver services, and to improve products. Marketing for wearables remains in its infancy, but 2017 is the year where we will see how these strategies pan out. Beacon technology presents a largely untapped potential to deliver customized, localized ads and information (both to wearables and smart phones) and ease the purchase journey for consumers while collecting valuable customer data.
From an enterprise perspective, IoT will be found streamlining every step of the process from manufacturing to shipping to transaction-level data. Of course, with all this data comes the need for more sophisticated analytics. The demand for improved algorithms and data visualization tools means IoT and big data analytics will be in high demand in 2017 and beyond.
Brands Experiment with Augmented Reality
With the release of Facebook’s Oculus Rift early last year, many were predicting VR would dominate 2016. In reality, it’s remained a highly niche market focused on techies and gadgetophiles. In comparison, augmented reality (AR) has seen much broader applicability and usage in everyday life.
While AR games comprise a lot of the market right now (anyone still playing Pokémon Go?), more practical applications will continue to gain traction in 2017. Think of an app to leave a breadcrumb at the grocery store that pings you when you walk in, reminding you to get eggs. Or a navigation app that overlays real-time data on the road ahead including speed limits and road conditions. This practical AR will continue to take market share over the coming year.
For businesses, AR marketing will grow through the use of virtual showrooms and creative, hype-building campaigns such as the Pepsi-Max Bus Stop. Research firm IDC predicts 30% of consumer-facing companies are expected to experiment with AR and VR as part of their marketing strategies in 2017 in the form of new apps, games, and digital marketing.
Live Streaming Replaces Traditional Video
This trend has already started with the launch on Facebook Live and it is not slated to slow down anytime soon. People spend 3x longer watching live video vs. video that is no longer live, and Facebook reported that 44% of company pages had posted a live video in May, up from just 11% in January.
People are more likely to comment and interact with live video and brands are quickly adapting to the demand. This year even the Presidential debates were live streamed, drawing tens of millions of viewers across Facebook, YouTube, and sites like CNN. Expect more large events (think concerts and professional sports) to be streaming live in 2017. With faster internet speeds and the ubiquity of smartphones, live streaming is more accessible than ever before and will only continue to grow as more consumers and brands utilize the technology.
As we move through 2017, we’ll continue to see data ruling the digital landscape. This means paying close attention to what that information tells you about your customer behavior and tailoring your digital strategy accordingly. As omnichannel, IoT and AR continue to grow in the new year, it’s how you use those avenues to answer the needs of your customer that will set you apart.