Digital marketing trends we’re excited about for 2017

David Graves
Creative Director | GWS Media
10th January 2017

2016 is now over, but digital marketing marches ever onward! Sometimes the pace at which it changes and develops seems overwhelming - businesses and marketers are constantly being bombarded with new marketing trends and techniques.

It’s important to think fast and react to changes, but always to be aware of which trends are worth harnessing for your business and which are just popular fads of insignificant business value. We don’t recommend that you go off and buy every gadget under the sun!  But some of the digital marketing trends of 2016 are likely to gain further ground in 2017. We pick them out and take a look at what they will mean for your business.

Real-time video marketing

Livestreaming and real-time video marketing bring businesses closer to people.

There’s no stopping the rise of video in digital marketing! We anticipate that in 2017, businesses will be using still more real-time video broadcasts to connect with customers and the public, in a continuation of a global shift away from polished brand videos to grainier, more real-seeming marketing video footage.

Now that the ownership of smartphones with built-in video cameras is widespread, livestreaming a company event or business seminar, or posting a funny office video, is easier and cheaper than it ever has been before. Whether it’s via Facebook Live, Periscope, Snapchat, YouTube Live or Instagram Stories, you too can share your business micro-moments with your audience in this way.

What does live video mean for your business?

  • Is ‘going live’ something you would like to do at your next industry event? Make sure you’ve got a competent operator behind the camera (or camera-equipped smartphone).
  • Don’t try to change the real and immersive nature of the live video. Live video works best when it is immediate. This is quite different from what makes for a polished corporate video. 
  • Here are some useful tips and tricks from YouTube about livestreaming. 

Data collection and personalisation

Tools for the collection of data on customers and website visitors are becoming more and more sophisticated, covering a wealth of metrics from year-on-year comparisons through to the behaviour of individual users. 

Getting to grips with customer data has become a lot easier, but many businesses still neglect to take full advantage of the data available to them. We expect the use of metrics for customer insights to increase in 2017. It is advantageous to be able to identify which market segments particular customers belong to, and then to deliver targeted marketing to them on this basis. 

Remember that data isn’t static - it moves and flows with the market, and you need to move with it in order to maintain your place in the market.

What does data mean for your business?

  • You can use data to determine how you are going to run your social media channels, or what content you should be sharing in your newsletters. 
  • It’s recommended to segment your customer data for marketing purposes, so you can spend less money on reaching everyone, and more money selling to the right people. Have you tried micro-targeting users through personalisation (targeted ads)?
  • Remember to react to data like search engine click-through-rates or marketing email opening rates. If they are lacklustre or in decline, you may need to troubleshoot where improvements are needed. 

Wearables: Virtual reality (VR) & Augmented reality (AR)

Increasingly, people are literally wearing their technology! From smart watches and fitness trackers to VR headsets and robotics, technology is increasingly connected with our bodies and changing our perceptions of reality. This development is opening up a bright new world of opportunity for marketers, and we expect the trend to continue to steadily gather pace through 2017. Wearables are the next generation smartphones, and there will come a time when we are all marketing with them!

The buzz around VR has waxed and waned over the past twenty years, but VR technology is now coming of age, with today’s models far more sophisticated than those of earlier generations. Could they finally be on the cusp of mass market adoption? Augmented reality (AR) also showed its viral potential in 2016 when the Pokemon Go frenzy gripped our nation. 

What do wearables mean for your business?

  • Is there something wearable that your business could use? Think of the possibilities in terms of marketing, data collection and aids to employee productivity, and let your imagination run freely. In today’s digital technology marketplace, it can be a surprisingly short step from idea to implementation.
  • Since wearables are such a hot topic, there may be capital to be gained from commenting on them on your social media channels, once you have thought of applications of relevance to your industry or audience.
  • A VR headset is a big crowd drawer. Consider investing in one to attract people the next time you exhibit, no matter what your line of business. It could help drive sales and mailing list sign-ups.
  • Could a custom augmented reality app be an investment that would bring a return for your business? Explore the possibilities.


Gamification is an ever-growing 21st century marketing trend. We believe that it will continue to record robust growth in 2017. Almost everyone loves a good game, and capitalising on this basic desire in human psychology has a track record of working for marketers.

Fitness tracking apps turn keeping fit into a social game, and book apps show us how we stack up against our friends and other enthusiasts in our reading or ownership of literature. Gamification harnesses our desire to improve on our personal bests as well as our competitive instincts. 

With a bit of creative thinking, you can gamify different aspects of your business or operations to make them more fun for your customers or users. Gamification allows the users of your products or services to enjoy them on their own terms.

What does gamification mean for your business?

  • Consider how you could gamify your sales funnel, online and offline. 
  • If you are selling online, consider a points system with levels and rewards
  • Is there a tracking app to support and monitor your business plan? Motivate yourself with targets and goals!

Brand intimacy

Brand intimacy is about how people feel emotionally connected with your brand. 21st century marketing increasingly aims to appeal to people’s feelings, winning their hearts before their heads in order to get them happily using products and services.

Both social media and conventional offline advertising are bringing brands ever closer to our hearts. People are becoming more comfortable interacting with brands thanks to social media. We expect 2017 to see a continuation of the ongoing move away from the old unidirectional broadcast model of marketing towards a more dynamic model of mutual interaction between brand and consumer.

What does brand intimacy mean for your business?

  • Is your marketing too factual and humdrum? Has your communication plateaued in corporate communication blandness? Could you advantageously inject more personal life and interest into it?
  • Could your business benefit from a more intimate connection with your audience? Have you asked your customers any personal questions recently?

Hyper local influencers

Influencer marketing can be a great way to grow your business, and we anticipate that the growth of its practice will continue in 2017. But how do you find the most effective spheres of influence for your business?

In the era of growth hacking, marketers are going after targeted audiences. Instead of reaching out to a wide pool of generic ‘influencers’, you should focus on finding local influencers with a loud voice.

What does local influencer marketing mean for your business?

  • The quality of influencer marketing is more important than quantity. Find the right influencers for you, then build up a good working relationship with them.
  • Are you familiar with the bloggers and social media influencers in your niche? Find and follow them! Industry forums, Twitter and blogs are all good ways to find these people. Tip: the comment stream on blogs can be a valuable indicator of their audience.
  • Do you always send out your press releases to the same old news channels? Are you getting a return on your investment from this scattergun approach? It could be time for a more targeted influencer approach.

Are you going to be adopting any of these tactics for your business in 2017?

About the author

David Graves, Creative Director of GWS Media, and the promotional team. GWS Media specialise in digital marketing, web design and app development.

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