The new year is an ideal time for marketers to branch out of their comfort zones and take advantage of emerging trends and developments using the tools we all love. Here at ShortStack, we’re always looking for ways marketers can implement new ideas into their promotional efforts, and then share what we learn with our readers.
In this, our first post of 2017, we’re offering four predictions — based on research — for marketing and promotion trends we’re likely to see throughout the year. At the end of the year, we’ll revisit these to see how accurate we were!
Trend #1: Marketers will embrace machine learning and automation
Machine learning is using artificial intelligence (AI) to learn customer trends and behaviors. This can take the form of automation to streamline customer loyalty, or using chat bots to help customers better connect with a company’s support resources. We’ve also seen platforms integrate more AI-type features to help get customers more quickly acquainted with a certain product or service, taking tutorials and wizards to the next level.
According to SmartInsights, marketing automation will be one of the top marketing trends of 2017. Luckily, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to automation, so marketers can get really creative with it to serve the needs of their business.
Marketing automation will be one of the top marketing trends of 2017.
If this seems daunting to you, we recently created the ShortStack Guide to Marketing Automation to help you use ShortStack more efficiently, even as an adjunct to your other favorite marketing tools. Automation is just one branch of machine learning, but it’s a good introduction to how automation can help you reach your goals.
Don’t worry, we’re not on the precipice of a Westworld future (yet), and using automation doesn’t have to mean sacrificing authenticity. When used thoughtfully, automation tools can handle some of the more menial tasks so you can spend your time on connecting directly with your target audience.
Trend #2: Marketers will focus on omni-channel and mobile-dominant promotions
We’ve written extensively about the benefits of omni-channel promotions, which refers to promotions that are created to be accessible from multiple platforms, such as a Campaign published to Facebook, embedded on a website, added to an Instagram bio, and shared as a landing page. We predict that this is the year we’ll see more marketers take this approach, branching outside of just one social media platform. As a result, marketers will likely see an increase in leads collected from multiple sources. With ShortStack, you can see where leads came from, making it easy to create segments of these users.
Many marketers will take this a step further this year and think about promotions that are almost exclusively mobile, thinking beyond the desktop experience, and creating campaigns and landing pages made with the mobile experience in mind. This means campaigns that are readable, and easy to use on mobile devices.
A recent report from eMarketer delved into the data about multiscreen marketing campaigns, which refers to campaigns that are promoted across platform, such as a television ad with a mobile landing page to capture data from those who were interested in the ad. Experts stress the need to make the mobile experience top-notch, as smartphones and tablets “account for more than half of internet-connected devices in US households,” according to eMarketer’s 2016 data.
Trend #3: Marketing campaigns will feature live video
If 2016 was the year live video really took off, thanks to apps like Facebook Live and Periscope, 2017 will be the year that marketers really get creative with it. We’re expecting to see live video become an active part of many promotional efforts worldwide. As of now, it’s still hard for marketers to capture data from live video to use for follow-up efforts, but you can try creating a landing page to take advantage of the interest in your livestream.
According to a recent article on Social Media Examiner, marketers are tapping into live video tools like Snapchat and Periscope to incentivize engagement. And while HubSpot names live video one of the top four marketing trends of 2016, it’s still new for most business owners. Marketers can look at successful examples such as Lowe’s Black Friday offers life stream, which broadcasted on Facebook Live to 32,000 people.
Because of success stories like this, we predict that live video will be embraced not just by larger companies with larger follower bases, but smaller businesses, too, as a way to help build brand exposure. Instagram just announced their live video feature, and marketers can also experiment with Facebook Live and Periscope. Facebook Live even includes a live audio feature now, so it will be interesting to see if live audio also has the same appeal as live video.
Small business owners and marketers can take advantage of these free tools. It helps to create some buzz about your live stream, especially if you’re broadcasting for the first time, by creating a campaign to capture data from those interested. This is a good first step for building a viewership. And remember: your live video doesn’t have to be perfect! It’s a chance for people to learn about the people behind the brand.
Trend #4: Marketers will focus on creating customer loyalty programs
We geek out big time about customer loyalty here at ShortStack, so we’re excited to see marketers focus more on developing customer loyalty programs. A big reason for this is the rise of the subscription model. This refers to people subscribing to your goods or services on a recurring basis, rather than making one-time purchases.
The subscription model is dominating startups and independent businesses right now. But a subscription only works if there is customer buy-in, and not just monetarily. Customers have to feel some personal connection with your brand so that they continue spending money with your service.
According to Statista, 81 percent of financial companies specifically use customer retention metrics to determine success of their customer loyalty program. SmartInsights expects subscription-based business models to increase significantly in 2017. It’s worth launching your customer loyalty program in January to start gathering data on what works and what makes your customers stick around.
The first step to creating a customer loyalty program is to create an email list. Email marketing is vital to any successful marketing effort, so the new year is a great time to start one! An email list can help you keep in touch with specific groups of your target audience. Create a ShortStack newsletter signup, and after you’ve collected emails, you can set up an autoresponder to offer them a special discount as a thanks for signing up. From the first interaction with them, you’re welcoming them to your brand and giving them a reason to stick around.
Let us know if you try out any of our predictions in your campaigns this year!
Ashley Warren is a writer, data scientist and founder of Ashley Warren Research.