2017 marketing predictions you won't have read elsewhere

Marketers have been frantically planning for 2017 for weeks, if not months, so it may seem a little late in the year to be thinking about what the next 12 months could hold in store.

But even a day is a long time in marketing, and with trends, tech and consumer tastes constantly changing, there are still plenty of opportunities to do things bigger, better and more intelligently, when January comes around.

The challenge, it seems, is knowing which hints and tips to hone in on. Everyone has their marketing predictions for what 2017 will hold in store. But here are some of mine, which you might not have read elsewhere.

An insurgence of control

There’ll be a distinct step-change in roles next year, as marketers will take back a lot of control from IT.

Marketing departments will become empowered to work more self-sufficiently, with triangulation of their own data, the creation of their own landing pages, and the management of their own deliverability profiles.

This isn’t to say the two teams will become disparate – in fact I think there are an increasing number of opportunities for IT and marketing to work together.

But as marketing clouds become more intuitive, marketers will find they have more knowledge, capabilities and potential at their fingertips, without needing to involve an IT expert.

Beware diminishing returns from email

This isn’t an easy thing to say, as someone who lives and breathes email marketing on a daily basis. And by no means am I saying that email is dead.

Mobile is continuing to thrive when it comes to email open rates, and devices and browsers will become even more sophisticated and powerful as 2017 unfolds.

However, I do urge marketers to acknowledge that ESPs are becoming increasingly stringent – they’re clamping down and indisputably making it harder for legitimate emails to reach a recipient’s inbox.

It’s not just spam folders that pose the threat – even Clutter folders will pose a growing challenge in 2017. Whilst they’re not intended to penalise brands they inevitably do. It will therefore prove difficult to achieve the same return from email next year, using the same tools.

So, there can no longer be a disregard for what goes on behind the ‘send’ button. Marketers need to improve their email practices and deliverability profiles now, in order to navigate the ever-changing email landscape.

The year of machine learning

Machine learning, AI, call it what you like. 2017 will see automation engines increasingly using unparalleled intelligence to understand a user’s behavioural patterns and predict optimal engagement times, send frequencies and messaging, at any given second, and in real time.

This newfound level of insight will drive subject matter suggestions to specific users, boost deliverability profiles through increased relevance and heighten conversions by computing, in seconds, algorithms that the human marketer still cannot comprehend (certainly not without a forensics qualification!)

‘Project Cognitive’ will certainly be a huge assignment for our company in 2017. We’re currently in the midst of a large piece of research and results will be published in due course. Watch this space…

Even more opportunity with mobile

Mobile is continuing to thrive when it comes to email open rates, and devices and browsers will become even more sophisticated and powerful as 2017 unfolds.

Marketers therefore need to embrace the rising potential for emails to do more. They can auto play videos, stream live content and facilitate quick and easy polls.

Marketers need to stay abreast of changing mobile tech developments and, if they’re not interested, they need to recruit someone in the team who is.

On that note, I expect to see further role diversification in 2017, as wider skill-sets stake their claim in the marketing mix. We’re going to see more analytical minds in the profession than ever before, as well as creative thinkers, tech gurus and psychologists. It’s a very exciting time to work in this industry.

Super-suppliers will be shunned in favour of specialists

Marketers are becoming increasingly savvy. So, in 2017, a number of brands will shun software providers and apps that offer everything in one place, in favour of working with smaller, specialist, agile partners that are cost-effective, can be on-boarded quickly and integrated effectively.

The same trend has been witnessed with niche agencies that are renowned experts in their own fields. Professionals want to work with the best in the business now, to maximise their return on investment, not a ‘jack of all trades’. Software will soon follow suit.

The year of automation

Of course it’s something you’d expect me to say, but 2017 has to be the year that marketing teams move away from cumbersome, painful and restrictive spreadsheets.

With the world of business moving so fast, and consumers becoming increasingly discerning, there is simply no time to do things the hard way any more.

Instead, marketers need to become super-connected, and invest in a platform that connects to Slack, Skype, Google, CRM systems and more. That way, data is brought to life, activities become more meaningful and conversions soar. There is no time to be inefficient any more.

In truth, nobody knows for certain exactly how the profession will evolve in 2017, but there are certainly some notable opportunities – and challenges – around the corner.

So, even if you think you’ve nailed your marketing budget, resource allocation and new KPIs, stop and see if there’s anything more to learn or tweak, before the New Year arrives.

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