Report: 2017 Digital Marketing Trends

2017 is a promising year for all things digital marketing — the online landscape will continue to evolve at a rapid pace that can rival New Year’s fireworks. Consider this article a countdown to cutting-edge developments: think augmented reality and cognitive computing, along with exciting updates for mobile applications, content marketing and more.

Get a headstart on plotting your digital game plan with our insider’s glimpse into the changing digital world. We’re outlining 2017’s top trends as well as the challenges a business can expect to face — and some bonus predictions to keep you informed for the years to come.

1. Mobile Marketing


The search game for mobile devices is evolving. At the most fundamental level, you need to make sure your site is Google search friendly.

Then, it’s all about being there when the customer is looking for your product. Google calls these the “micro-moments,” meaning the solution you are providing to a problem needs to be there when a user is searching for it.

User Experience (UX)

User experience on mobile is a completely different ballpark compared to desktop. The screen is significantly smaller, and touch interaction means less space for different functions. Having a responsive site is a great first step, but the next level is to design a mobile site catered to the mobile experience. Was your website designed with mobile in mind?

Mobile Applications

Are you on the right applications? These are the types of apps to watch for in 2017:

  • Video messaging apps like Houseparty. Basically, it’s Google Hangouts, but simpler, more social, and with an interface that is skewed towards a younger Snapchattier audience.
  • AR / VR Games: these gaming apps are being cranked out by game developers at a rapid rate as virtual reality devices become more readily available. Expect more Pokemon Go-like games as well.
  • Interactive forums and chat rooms aren’t dead yet. If anything, internet users are more in search of community than ever.

2. Content Marketing

Content has been on our “next big trends” lists for four years running. But seriously, content will continue to be a key player in 2017.

Blog / News Section on Your Website

First, if you’re not a thought leader, you won’t be an industry leader. Not to mention that this is the best way for your audience to re-discover you over and over again. Our strategy is simple: create great content and boost it through paid media amplification towards your target audiences and retargeting lists.


Marketing automation has made email more effective than ever. Being able to target specific user actions means more customized content, and building better customer relationship repertoire. We have greatly expanded our content marketing and marketing automation service offerings and are integrating campaigns with tools like HubSpot and Pardot.


Internet video is growing at a rapid rate. Do you have a video strategy? While Snapchat and Instagram are fighting it out with full-screen video content, many other players are in the market, including Periscope, Facebook Live, and Houseparty (watch out for this one).
Houseparty: Group Video Chat App

3. PR and Influencers

Influencer Marketing

2017 will be the year of influencer marketing. Working with an innovative Key Opinion Leader gives businesses the value of earned influence without building it from scratch. This year had a boom in platforms for connecting influencers and brands, which is helping businesses connect with the right audience easily and more efficiently. Not to mention, it’ll help your SEO.


Online communities are still one of the most effective ways to spread information through word of mouth. If social media has connected people, then the sub-communities are what’s connecting people to topics of interest. Find the right brand ambassadors to reach your audience, and don’t underestimate the power of small but mighty online communities.

4. VR and AR

Virtual Reality: known as an immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality. It is a computer technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a user’s physical presence within that environment in a way that allows the user to interact with it.

Examples: VR headset apps and games.

Augmented Reality: a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data.

Examples: Snapchat geofilters, Snapchat face filters, Pokemon Go.


Create an Immersive Brand Experience

Both VR and AR offer a fully integrated and immersive experience, meaning the entire user experience can be crafted for optimal branding effect.

5. Cognitive Computing

Cognitive computing is the ability for a software to understand unstructured data and interpret them through natural language.


Though still in the early stages, chatbots are quickly becoming a hot topic for personalized customer interactions. Whether it’s customer service or simply brand interactions, chatbots will automate the basic functions of social media community management.


Top 5* Challenges to Anticipate

1. Businesses slow to adapt to new technology.

Most businesses are slow to move to emerging platforms when it comes to new technology adoption.

2. Attribution to different marketing channels and proving ROI.

The ideal situation would be for a user to see an ad, click on it, and then convert. But this is reality — user behavior doesn’t really work like that. Attribution to marketing dollars will continue to be a challenge as the number of business-to-consumer platforms increase.

3. Lack of control over all marketing channels.

The lack of consistency in user flow is what will disrupt a good marketing strategy. Ways to combat this are to invest in building landing pages, and staying consistent with your messaging.

4. Early adopters make things cool and then uncool faster than ever before.

This graph will speak for itself.

5. Changing purchasing behavior.

With the rise of review sites and information in general, people’s purchasing behavior and decision-making process is changing as well. These are the areas consumers are spending more on:

  • Experiences
  • Digital products and software subscriptions
  • Supporting a cause for social good

*Loosely voted on by 6S Marketing’s in-house digital professionals

Trends for the Next 5 Years

1. Big Data

Extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. Data is collected online through your current marketing channels, but big data is referring to data on EVERYTHING.

How can this be broken down simply and applied to your website and business? Retargeting is the practice of showing specific ads to people that have been on key pages of your website before. These people are far greater and more likely to do business with you, if they know and have seen you before. If you are not running retargeting, this is low hanging fruit.

2. Automation

The method of operating a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum, to systemize repetitive functions. Marketing automation is the process of automating repetitive marketing actions, such as email, social media, and website actions. Automation doesn’t have to be expensive — even tools like MailChimp have launched this functionality the last few years. The content and strategy requires resources and budget to develop, but once it’s running, it can run itself.

3. Machine Learning

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can teach themselves to grow and change when exposed to new data.

In the field of marketing, machine learning would be software making use of data collected on customers to automatically target best candidates. An example is Google Optimize in the Google 360 Suite, which is in beta. Currently, these are the type of tasks performed by analysts.

4. Internet of Things (IoT)

A proposed development of the internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. The collection of data from all “smart” devices means more insights to human behavior outside of the digital space. IoT is currently accountable for $17 billion of the market in 2016; it’s expected to grow to $75 billion by 2025.

The Internet of Things

One Last Word

Though acclimatizing to new trends can seem like a mighty task, a good digital strategy is built on the ability to predict change and adjust campaigns. Ensure that your team is dedicated to researching new developments and adapting your channels as the market grows. Being digitally proactive is a sure step to success in 2017.

If you’re seeking some help in bringing your campaigns up-to-speed, contact one of 6S Marketing’s experts for a consultation.

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