With a new year just around the corner, I’ve gathered my musings, thoughts and predictions on topics that I believe will have increased importance during 2017. Both in terms of trends, way of working and what is changing and what it takes for businesses and brands to be successful in 2017.
Increased focus on organisational development and governance
Contrary to popular belief “digital transformation” is not limited to your website, technology or your online presence. The key to success in this is your own organisation. Its about the ability to adapt to change in an increasing digital landscape and about teamwork. How well does your sales department and marketing department work together? Every initiative for digital transformation should start with the internal organisation first, so that when you invest time, money and other resources, its not in the way of the actual work that needs to be done and the result. Why invest in a re-designed, improved online presence with an improved customer sales journey and process, if your internal processes cant handle it and deliver on it? I believe that larger corporations, but also smaller ones, that have been around for a while, will increase inward focus to make their own organisations much more effective, able to adapt to change, data driven and work together better as a team against a shared vision and goal to make it work and survive.
Insight in both customer behaviour and context is key
Understanding your customer and their journey towards decisions and making a purchase will gain increased focus 2017. I believe that two extra layers on top of your customer journey needs to be discovered and defined and thats your customers behaviour and context (that said I take for grated that you know what their driving forces are). The behaviour both on and offline in relation to research and making the purchase is key to designing information, touch points and marketing that aid your customer or desired customer in their purchase process. Attribution moddeling is one way to understand behaviour and get insight to this (in terms of what channels drive what action when), as well as the anticipated release from Google where you can actually follow and track your customer on more then one device (Google ID/account required for this though).
The context here is to try and understand when, and it can be more then one when, your customer or desired customer starts to research a purchase or make a purchase decision. What may their context be? and how can you be there for them?
You need a holistic view of data and a reporting model now more then ever. An you also need to know how to ask the right questions
Never before with the increased amount of touch points, ways to communicate and platforms for it with various purposes have we been able to have this much data on our customers or desired customers.
The key in 2017 is to stop the silo reporting and get one holistic view of your performance once and for all. DoubleClick is one tool which you can utilize for this, attribution moddeling is another to review marketing investments and results in a more holistic way beyond just the last click. (Last click which does not offer the complete picture of performance nor insights in relation to your customers path to purchase).
That said, companies need to start cut out the noise and start using the data they have available to them. One way of accomplishing this is to start asking the right questions and create a dashboard or even a simple reporting model in a spreadsheet to keep track of the most important KPIs mapped against your customers path to purchase and other relevant metrics (such as content, ad creative, key pages in your conversion funnel etc).
Make a habit of reviewing the data in your dashboard/report each month and define 3-5 high priority actions you need to act upon. Don’t just turn the data into knowledge, turn it into action.
Not one size or message fits all channels or customers
The process of creating communication has changed and will probably continue to do so with the increased options available, you can now speak to your customer in all kinds of ways and hopefully you choose to reach out to a potential customer in a meaningful way when they are looking for a solution to something, rather then trying to disturb them in their day to day life.
Thats why I mentioned context before, what can you offer in terms of information and when, to your customer?
With the increased data we have available today your company marketing and communication creation hopefully follow a process along these lines;
1. Discover – you define what you know and don’t know – and if possible how to get the insight you need
2. You plan – in terms of what channels and touch points you want to reach whom in, and when (against your customer path to purchase) and how you both define and measure success
3. You act – in terms of creating content, communication and marketing which fits each channel – and get it out in each channel and touch point. Do a a pilot, a test.
4. You evaluate, refine and act yet again.
The one size fits all is dead, now its more along the lines of who can we reach where? and how do we talk to them there? in which format? what manner? in a way that fits the context, their needs and is in line with the role of your brand?
Therefore I believe the rise of the dynamic banner, done well that is, will gain increased traction, now when programmatic is becoming the new normal display.
Be present, always, everywhere that matters for yoru customer
In 2017 I believe presence will be of importance, in two ways. Both in terms how you market your business, where, when and how. But also as an employee, co-worker or professional person. Let me elaborate.
For a company – it’s how you design your service, delivery, brand experience and meet expectations. Its about your presence. A lot of people call it omni-channel marketing, I believe in simplifying things, so for me its more about your company’s presence, from how you greet customers in your brick and mortar store, to how you help your customers make a purchase online, to your customer service reps attitude, to the actual packaging of any online purchases to the delivery. How do you design your presence in each stage and channel? to be seamless, effortless and to both meet but also go beyond your customer expectation?
For a professional person – it’s how you interact with others. From your co-workers to your clients. I believe in being present. To put away your phone, to resist the desire to check your emails during meetings (and respond to them). To being present and delivering value and honouring the people around you with your full attention and presence.
Start with an embryo and work with iterations – your are never done and you need to act now
In todays day and age you need an agile mindset. To be able to do a pilot, to test. I believe and really hope that the two year website/online presence and projects are coming to an end. Instead companies launch with an embryo website and a platform that allows for flexibility, iteration and adaptability. Many a new corporate website, still during 2016 have been launched 2-4 years after they where first designed. Meaning that they now start to roll-out websites that already look, feel and are dated for todays needs, behaviour and customer expectations.
Now more then ever you need to start small, and with the most crucial of functionality and information and work your way up to more content, functionality and refine the design on a regular basis, rather then every 6-8 years. Your company online presence is never done, always in motion.
…and kill that campaign site once and for all!
I hope that 2017 will be the year that no more campaign websites are built. I cannot think of any lousier way to spend money, dilute traffic, data and a more and very frankly put, worthless investment, then a campaign website.
Instead you should invest the money and resources in a website and platform that can meet the requirements of your communication and marketing material. It may look like a rather large investment now, upfront, but it will save you both time, money and both add value in terms of SEO and data insight and actual added functionality to your current website. Then a quick fix campaign site.
If you are still building campaign sites in 2017 – you don’t have a website that cater for your needs now, and it wont do tomorrow. Campaign sites are a waste of money and resources. Invest in fixing the real problem instead.
Increased focus on brand purpose, story, values and authenticity – as “being a brand” change
As I’ve mentioned before in this post, anyone can build both a company and a successful brand, from almost nothing. Customers are increasingly aware, both through social media and socially and to open our wallets and buy something or be a follower of a brand/company your company need to be authentic.
In social channels your company need to have a role, a voice and you need to stand for something bigger then yourself. You need to tell a compelling story and don’t be afraid to both repel as you attract customers.
To get your customers attention, and appreciation, you need to stand for something bigger then yourself. How do you treat your employees? what do your board do with the profit? and why? do you give to charity or stand for a particular cause that are in line with your brand values?
Your company’s business development and enhancement is a 24/7 job
To be really data driven company, you are also really focused on your customer experience, their path to purchase, conscious about internal processes and to be able to make informed decisions and act upon them. That means that your company is never “done”, never “finished” and is always ongoing and being enhanced and refined. Whatever it may be that add to your bottom line and vision both long and short term.
New companies on the scene have increased advantage
In this digital landscape, anyone can create a successful company and brand. No need for large budgets, advanced technology and what have you. Enough passion, business savviness and creativity will get you a long way. Just look at Sophia Amoruso the founder of Nasty Gal, she went from being a dumpster diving punk selling clothes on eBay to multimillionaire girl boss.
Why is that? with our increased technological advancement in terms of accessibility – anyone can create a company and run it way more effectively then a large corporation. There is no policies, red tape or slow, company culture that holds them back. Companies built on a persons passion and dream equipped with digital tools can get them a very, very long way. Indeed.
It’s probably easier to create a new company, then to change and stear a large organisation towards a new goal, change a way of working, culture, to become more apt and agile. Then to start from scratch with pure passion and simplicity.
Thats why, these big conglomerates, will have to start to watch out if there are not already, because in 2017, I believe you will see more of these kick-ass dumpster diving kiddos following their dreams and passions with the help of DSLRs and a computer to make their dreams reality that will steal our and your customers hearts away.
That said there are large global corporations with an agile mindset and culture, that customers love and will continue to love. It’s just that the “corporate” playing filed is more even now then ever.
Be relevant and be useful
You’ve probably heard it before, but I cannot resist the desire to close of the predictions for 2017 with this one. As the line between communication and marketing is long gone. Companies really need to identify how to be both relevant and useful for their customers or desired customers, rather then just cramming a message down their throats through a big budget ad campaign. As Seth Godin wrote a couple of years back, advertising does not work anymore. So be relevant and useful
All the images are borrowed from Think With Google and are owned by them. This page is a great LinkedIn page offering snippets of insights every day.