An improving economy. Higher employment. A curious presidential election in the United States. The mainstreaming of powerful new technologies like machine learning. One thing is for sure: 2016 wasn't dull. It was an exciting year for marketers, too, with new tools and new tactics making significant inroads in both the consumer and B2B sectors.
Moving forward, we expect that 2017 will be a challenging year for businesses and marketers. Although the economy is ostensibly strong, growth will come only to those organizations that execute well on all fronts. At Walker Sands, we're seeing several 2017 marketing trends that create opportunities for businesses to make gains in the year ahead. Here are a few of our predictions for 2017.
- Investment in marketing automation tools. In 2016, several Walker Sands clients asked us to help them implement a wide range of marketing automation tools, ranging from platform solutions like Pardot, Marketo and Hubspot to niche automation tools like OptinMonster and Leadlander. We, along with our clients, were pleasantly surprised by the strong results that came from deploying these tools. In 2017, we predict a booming market for marketing automation tools, as companies realize that they can't compete without them. Spend in this category will rise, but companies will quickly realize that the tools don't magically produce
- Crushing marketing silos. With all the new innovations in marketing over the last several years, organizations have been busy bees, bolting on new functions, hiring new staff and engaging new agencies. The result has been the institutionalization of dysfunctional marketing, with poor internal communication and meek attempts at integrated marketing. In 2017, expect many marketers to break down the silos and dramatically improve results through "big idea" integrated marketing campaigns that don't miss a beat.
- Agile marketing. Marketing departments will embrace Agile, the management framework loved by IT folks. Google it if you're not familiar with it. This prediction comes from author Scott Brinker who wrote Hacking Marketing. We completely buy into this prediction. In general, you'll see more computer science majors working on marketing projects, as companies realize that great marketing is, well, great, but great marketing with great tech is out-of-this-world effective.
- Social media reality check. The social media phenomenon hasn't necessarily slowed down, but marketers that went "all in" on social without fully understanding the ROI, as compared to other marketing spend alternatives, are now a few years into the effort and have good metrics on whether social helped to achieve business objectives. Our forecast for 2017 is that many companies may dial down their investment in social and shift marketing spend to other more productive channels.
- Mobile marketing. "Mobile device marketing may represent the most important marketing shift this year" – we wrote that in 2010 about 2011, and it remains true today. For better or worse, the smart phone is becoming the go-to place where humans spend most of our time. Accordingly, smart marketers will be working hard to master this fast-evolving domain in 2017.
- Video. Sadly, people don't read anymore. We need info fast and we are now accustomed to being entertained not just in the movie theater but wherever we engage with a brand. At Walker Sands, we've seen our video projects for clients send prospect and customer engagement metrics through the roof. Odds are, we're not the only folks who have clued into the marketing magic of video.
- Something big. Hard to say what it will be, but we are predicting something earth-shakingly big, new and exciting will be developed and brought to market in 2017. We're talking something akin to the mainstreaming of the Internet in the early 90s. No, not chatbots or the other bright shiny red objects you're reading about in the news. Way bigger than that. Once we marketers see it, there will be a massive rush to tap it to help us hit our marketing and business objectives. Count on it!
Put the Right Marketing Budget in Place
At Walker Sands, we focus primarily on helping clients that sell to other businesses (B2B marketing, or Business-to-Business Marketing). If you're a B2B company, you'll want a great B2B marketing budget in place for the upcoming year. Towards that end, we've created a phenomenal B2B marketing budgeting template and e-book that will get you started. Enjoy!
Ready to Have a Great Year?
Other marketing trends will undoubtedly arise throughout the course of 2017. At Walker Sands, we're prepared to help you ride these waves and come out on top, leaving your competitors in the dust. Bad mixing of ocean and desert metaphors, but you get the idea.
You're the kind of person who wants to be on the cutting edge of marketing, aren't you? If so, we invite you to get in touch with us so we can discuss how we can help you exploit upcoming 2017 marketing trends to your company's advantage.