Definition of Prediction: An event or action predicted, a forecast of future events
Definition of Anti-Prediction: A predicted event which doesn’t happen the way it was predicted.
2016 would be a remembered as a special year, especially in India. Demonetization kicked in, which enforced a new paradigm of cashless economy in the country. As people were forced to spend via their smartphones and digital wallets, a new stream of first-timers entered the digital eco-system, which paved way for a solid, robust digital industry in the country.
From 35 crore Internet users in India at the end of 2015, the number has now reached approximate 45-50 crore, and is expected to touch 75 crore by 2020.
In terms of smartphone users, India has already beaten US as 22 crore users benchmark has been breached this year. Now, only China is above us, in terms of smartphone (and mobile internet) users in the world.
As you are reading this, around 1 crore mobile phones are being sold every month in India, a pace which has slightly reduced due to demonetization (as there is less cash in the market), but will soon rise again, within next few weeks.
If we believe Google, then India will have approximately 17 crore ecommerce shoppers by 2020, and e-commerce market will be worth Rs 1.34 lakh crore by that time. In January last year, digital payments surpassed paper-based payments for the first time in India, and after the demonetization move, the cashless movement has only strengthened.
When e-wallet apps like Paytm starts estimating their total annual transactions to the tune of Rs 24,000 crore with 50 million downloads, and when you find out that Paytm alone accounts of 11% of overall toll collections in the country, then the belief and hope in digital industry becomes stronger.
With so many Internet and Smartphone users, and a solid foundation of digital economy, how can digital marketers and entrepreneurs leverage this momentum, and create more awareness about their products and services?
Just like last two years, we are back with top digital marketing predictions for 2017. However, along with predictions, we are also sharing two anti-predictions.
Search Engine Optimization Will Become Stronger, Bolder & More Relevant
As more information is created on the Internet, the relevance and significance of Search Engine Optimization or SEO will only increase this year. The interesting thing to observe is that, search engine algorithms from Google and Bing will continue to evolve from mere words search to more specific ‘intent search’; and this will introduce a plethora of new technologies, new concepts and new ideas into the game.
For instance, rich snippets and rich answers in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) will become more dominant in 2017. Websites which haven’t yet done their structured data markup or schema markup will have to do it now, because Google SERPs are now inclining more towards it.
Multi-channel marketing will now evolve into cross-channel marketing, as the timing, relevance and the usage of marketing channel will now combine with SEO, and the marketer has to think beyond simple blue links in SERPs.
Mobile searches will continue to hold prominence, as Google’s newest algorithm update has made it mandatory to optimize pages as per mobile, and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) will hold the key to mobile SEO now. SoLoMo (Social Local Mobile) is now changing to SeLoMo (Search Local Mobile), as local listings on search engines is becoming a crucial strategy for small business owners.
Social Media Marketing Is Become More Creative
Snapchat’s meteoric rise in 2016 will dominate the trends for social media marketing in 2017 – because it tells the flow of consumers and their intentions. If Instagram was the social media channel to watch in 2016, and Pinterest was in 2015, then Snapchat would be the most important social media strategy for marketers in 2017.
However, Snapchat isn’t for everyone, and this is the reason the relevance and importance of Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter will remain crucial. Brands will have to create their own in-house strategies to become content magnets, and to dominate the battle for supremacy on these social media channels.
Twitter, which has been lagging behind, and often accused of forming so-called Twitter-fatigue, will have to evolve into a stronger force because Google will now cache and index more tweets than ever (because of a recent partnership between these two giants). If you thought Twitter was history, then you need reconsider your goals this year.
The rising phenomenon of Facebook Live videos will be another thing to watch out for in 2017.
Email Marketing Will Transform Into Responsive Marketing
Emails, the grand-daddy of marketing tactics, will still hold relevance in the age of Snapchat and Whatsapp; and the reason being that they are simply irreplaceable.
The best thing about emails is that, it constantly evolves. And in 2017, we will see more evolution coming from the email marketers. For instance, as most of the emails are now opened in mobile, responsive emailers would become the new fashion, and the age old art of copywriting will now involve the technique to lure mobile-centric users.
Social Media and Emails marketing would combine, interlink to provide a more comprehensive approach to digital marketing.
More stronger anti-spam laws and regulations would emerge, which will protect the consumer’s interests, and make email marketing more effective for the brands. In short, email marketing will continue to hold its forte this year, and will compel the brand marketers to be more innovative and experimental with its approach.
Paid Marketing Will Evolve Into Targeted Marketing
Without any doubt, paid marketing is the biggest contributor towards the digital marketing industry, globally. And Google Adwords along with Facebook ads forms the biggest chunk of this industry.
In terms of Google ads, we may see evolution of better, bigger ad-units this year, as Google Shopping ads continue to be the driving force for ecommerce portals. Visibility and size of ads on mobile devices will be one of the most prominent aspects of user-experience, and this will force Google and Facebook to do more research and experiments.
As per some insider reports, Local Search from Google may soon become a paid product, which will introduce a new stream of marketing for local businesses. Paid chatbots may make a massive entry, as automation can become one of the biggest concepts of paid marketing.
Video Marketing Will Become A Necessity
Facebook Live has ushered in a new dimension of video based marketing in 2016, and 2017 will continue to roll in the momentum. Real time, live videos will hold the dominance in this niche, as Youtube will strive hard to maintain its supremacy.
Concepts of Virtual Reality (VR) in video marketing will hold more importance, as customers are now looking for 360 degree entertainment, inspiration and knowledge via videos.
2017 will see more and more brands, their sales teams and content teams logging into the video mode to spread their messages, as the concept of ‘Immersive Experience’ will become stronger.
This is the section wherein we will share those predictions from last year, which went wrong. And it can signal a new approach in 2017.
Focus On Mobile Is Good, But Don’t Ditch Desktop Yet
Yes, mobile is the future, and everyone, from Google to Snapchat is focussing on the mobile aspect of everything related with digital and web.
However, the very concept of ‘mobile-only’ approach for brands, especially those who are into travel, e-commerce, electronics and science/technical niches can be dangerous. Desktop usage still rules these niches, and the marketer needs to focus both on mobile and desktop for their end-users.
A perfect example: Tripadvisor. In 2016, desktop traffic represented 71% of their overall traffic, and mobile based search was only 55%. Now, if a company like Tripadvisor goes for mobile-only approach, then it will die.
2016 saw massive portals like Myntra coming back to desktop mode simply because their app-only approach didn’t work out the way they wanted. LocalOye too had to relaunch their desktop website after a year.
As per a report, desktop and laptops continue to be teenagers’ favourite mode to access Internet.
This means that a brand needs to be present on both mobile and desktop for an all-around user experience. You cannot ditch mobile yet.
IoT & AI in Digital Marketing Will Have No Impact
Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and wearables will not have a major impact on digital marketing channels in 2017. Maybe in 2018 or 2019, but not now.
And this is a fact which has been endorsed by Moz founder Rand Fishkin in his blog.
Except Snapchat, which introduced their glasses which was directly linked with their app, no other brand was able to use wearables and AI in attracting more users and consumers last year, and the trend won’t change in 2017 either. (we can leave Fitbit and other wearables aside, because their main business model is wearable!)
VRs can be a good extension of video marketing, but other than that, it would have no major impact on the overall digital marketing industry this year.
Do let us know your opinions and feedback on our Digital Marketing predictions and anti-predictions of 2017!