7 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2017

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It’s that time of year again – holiday lights, sleigh bells and, of course, predictions for how the year ahead will unfold.  Here’s what I see when I look into the snow globe of digital transformation:

There will be a huge shift toward selective customer intimacy.

With the rise of digital solutions, came a proliferation of corporate social engagement activities where all of a company’s customers were welcome to listen and comment online.  But not all customers are created equal – and universal access didn’t translate into increased sales.  Now, companies realize that hand picking select champions and giving them a differentiated experience has greater yield.

Tweet: In 2017, companies will realize that there is no better way to tell a customer they matter than to listen, respond, and personalize. 2017 will see a rise in private customer communities, velvet-rope retention programs, and social selling programs for “elite” customers. 



Companies will master the magic formula: Listening + Responding = Personalization

We’ll close 2016 with massive amounts of data on every digital user. These data stores, when coupled with analytics, can yield a treasure trove of inspiration to give customers the personalization they crave.

Tweet: In 2017, companies will realize that there is no better way to tell a customer they matter than to listen, respond, and personalize. In 2017, companies will realize that there is no better way to tell a customer they matter than to listen, respond, and personalize.

Look for content, services, and offers tailored to specific customer needs. And watch as these personalization efforts lead to greater loyalty, increased retention, and more revenue for the players who get the formula right.

Digital platforms will consolidate in a big way.

Over the past two to three years, firms have been binge-drinking at the bar of technology tools. Thanks to plentiful options and low prices, marketers in particular have over-served themselves on a cocktail of social and digital platforms, products, channels, and engagement methods. The morning after has come.  2017 will be a time for firms to shift through the half-used accounts, loose standards, and uneven processes that vary by product or channel. We’ll see a sobering focus on consolidation, standards, and formalized training on select tools – as well as a resolution to refine processes and codify best practices.  Sales of Advil will soar.

We will bid adieu to vanity metrics and fuzzy digital outcomes.

Stakeholder eyes are upon those who lead digital transformation programs and those stakeholders want answers – hard, fast, quantifiable answers – regarding the return on their investment. While 2016 marked the dawning of digital accountability, 2017 will bring formalized accounting standards and practices for accurately measuring the business impact of digital strategies. Tweet: In 2017, companies will realize that there is no better way to tell a customer they matter than to listen, respond, and personalize.  What’s more, these will be widely shared across industries (think GAP analysis for Digital Accounting).

Digital impact will become strategically integrated into core operations.

Say goodbye to the days when a digital campaign was considered a strategy or when the number of “Facebook likes” appeared on a measurement dashboard. We’re seeing a new focus on digital transformation as a supporting actor to delivering competitive advantage.  This is not a reduction of digital’s role, but rather a centralized approach to supporting corporate objectives. In 2017, digital initiatives will need to drive the firm’s strategic direction….just like any other line of business.

Augmented and virtual will become the new realities.

I have two words for you here:  Pokemon Go.  As we saw in 2016, augmented reality can be easily delivered on a smart phone.  And, as Forrester notes in its report, The Top Emerging Technologies to Watch: 2017 to 2021,  “overlaying anything you want on the real world represents a tremendous marketing opportunity.”  We’ll see companies combining augmented and virtual reality with big data to deliver highly customized, multi-dimensional experiences.

C-level silos will be smashed.

Digital transformation is driving cross-organizational collaboration at the executive level. The CIO and CMO are increasingly joined up to get digital programs out the door – while ensuring that they adhere to both technology and brand standards.  And, due to ever-changing social and digital regulations around the world, business leaders in all departments are beating a path to the CLO’s door for legal guidance. We’re also seeing holocracy – a form of self-management that confers decision-making power on fluid teams rather than individuals – move behind the hype.



Tweet: 2017 will bring the biggest and best year ever for collaboration, teamwork, and knowledge sharing. 2017 will bring the biggest and best year ever for collaboration, teamwork, and knowledge sharing.

What else will happen in 2017?  Pour yourself a glass of bubbly and share your predictions in the comments.  Happy New Year!

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