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One thing's for sure in 2017, you can't be marketing like it's 1999! Digital Marketing is today's marketing. As a small business owner who wants to compete and get new clients, customers and/or sales, you need to understand how digital marketing works. Besides that, you should also...

  • Familiarize yourself with the different marketing channels available -- both online and mobile.
  • Figure out which social media networks are best to reach your target market.
  • Determine which forms of content -- blogging, video, podcasts, pictures -- you are going to produce that will be of interest to your target audience.

One of the challenges is that all the digital marketing sources are constantly changing. This means you have to keep up with these changes.

Here are 10 Digital Marketing Trends that will be Prominent in 2017

1. Facebook Live Video and 360° VideoFacebook Live Video

In 2016, Facebook introduced Facebook Live Streaming Video. You can broadcast from your personal Facebook page as well as from your business page.

“Facebook’s been refining their focus on video for some time, and you can expect this to continue into next year.” ~Social Media Today

Live and Native Videos get more exposure on Facebook than plain posts. A Native Video is one of your videos uploaded directly into Facebook not just a YouTube or Vimeo link shared on your page.

And the latest is 360° Video! Talk about changing perpective! How cool is this?....

What You Need to Do: 
Investigate to see what’s involved with producing 360° videos. And if you remember anything from this post it’s VIDEO FIRST on Facebook!

Get started with 360° video with this article from Search Engine Journal.

Video marketing in general is hot!

“I think video is a megatrend, almost as big as mobile.” ~Mark Zuckerburg

What You Need to Do:
Figure out how you can incorporate video into your marketing mix.

  • You don’t have do one every day. Once a month or even a couple of times a month.
  • Use your smartphone to create short how-to videos
  • Get on Facebook and do a live video from anywhere — as long as you have wifi!
  • Do a voice-over recordings of PowerPoint presentations
  • Determine which format works for you — in ease of creation and amount of views they get
  • Try Twitter live videos
  • Coming soon – Instagram live videos
  • Video Converts

In fact, when video is prominently featured on a landing page, conversion rates can go up by a whopping 80%. ~ Convince and Convert

2. When it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Google will keep changing their algorithm.

“Google is trying to make its algorithm a mirror image of the heart, mind, soul and needs of the customer.” ~ Seth Besmertnik in Search Engine Journal.

It’s Customer-First marketing NOT keyword-first marketing. It’s all about the Customer Experience (or CX). Which brings me back to YOU MUST clearly identify and understand your Target Market. (Download the Free Workbook). Users want to solve problems. Once you’ve identified your perfect customers’ pain points, then you can give them the content that will help alleviate them. Yes, you still have to do keyword research, but more important is target market research.

What You Need to Do: Use this free workbook to create buyer personas – for both B2C and B2B businesses.

And Mobilegeddon 2017 will be coming on January 10th!

It will block websites with popups on mobile devices!

The problem is that annoying as they are, popups are effective Calls-to-Action (CTAs) to get people to opt-in or convert from a visitor to a lead.

What You Need to Do:
Look at your website on a smartphone or tablet to see if a popup comes up. If it does, contact your webmaster or just delete it from your site and use banner ads or other static pictures for your CTA.

2. Mobile-First

Mobile will dominate desktop when it comes to searches. Google has over 80% of all mobile searches. Hence why you need address this immediately if you want to be found.

Because of Google’s “mobile-first” stance, mobile sites have to have the SAME CONTENT as the desktop site. In other words, if you have a mini-version of your site that comes up when someone is on a tablet or smartphone, with minimal content, it will lose “authority” in mobile search results. Not good.

What You Need to Do:
While you're checking for popups on your mobile device....

Do you have the same content that’s on the main desktop site? If not, contact your webmaster and make sure that…

  1. Again, popups are removed
  2. Your contact information is easily found
  3. It’s not just mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive, but it’s your full site content that comes up

3. Local Personalized Content – “near me”

If you’re a LOCAL BRICK-AND-MORTAR business, this is important. (If you are a local consultant without an office where you want clients to go to, then skip down to #4.) People will search for things like, “gluten free bakery near me”. If your business is not in GOOGLE MY BUSINESS with your actual brick-and-mortar location, you won’t come up. However, that doesn’t mean you have to add the words “near me” in your content. No. Google bases the search results on the user’s GPS and your listing in Google My Business.

What you need to do:
Go to Google My Business and make sure your listing is accurate.

4. Voice Search – “OK, Google”

This is something to consider when doing the copy (static content) on your website. People don’t talk like they write. Whether they’re using their smartphone, Amazon’s Alexa, Siri, Google Home or other voice command system, they’ll ask a question. It’s up to you to have the answer to the questions your target market is asking!

What You Need to Do:
A website audit.

  1. Go through your site and read the content in your main pages. Is it compelling enough to attract a visitor and KEEP THEIR ATTENTION? Does it answer their questions?
  2. Look at your meta tag descriptions – Is the question you are answering there?
  3. Go through your blog posts – are they all optimized? Do they have have the relevant keyword tags? Are they indexed in the right category? (And that’s not “uncategorized”.) Are the titles worded in the form of a question?

The best way to figure out what your target market is asking is to get to know them.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & RankBrain

In searching for “business plan”, below the paid ads, was the definition as well as related questions. The top box is called a featured “snippet”. Yep. Now machines are trying to do your thinking for you. Well, think about it. Sometimes when you’re looking for something, you’re not sure what to ask. You may enter several search terms in the box before you get the answer you want. Google’s new AI, RankBrain, will come up with “people also ask” with other similar questions that you may be asking yourself. All in attempts to provide you with the best answer to your question. It’s machine learning as it applies to search. The AI has the ability to learn and categorize information to accurately match a searcher’s query.

As showon on the image to the right, in searching for “business plan”, below the paid ads, was the definition as well as related questions. The top box is called a featured “snippet”.

RankBrain, an artificial intelligence algorithm, modifies the weighting of other algorithms over time to place more importance on some than others.  It also plucks out the important keywords from questions or longer searches to be able to ‘understand’ questions and answer them as accurately as possible. ~ SEMRush

Now you must be asking, “How do I get my answers as the ‘featured snippet’. Here’s Google’s answer to that question:

When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.

What You Need to Do:
Identify the user’s intent.

What does the searcher expect to find when querying your keywords? Answers to their questions and problems. What are they asking? Use Q&A sites like Mosaic Hub and Quora to see what people are asking in your field of expertise.

6. Unique, High-Quality Content will be Key

Absolutely – Quality over Quantity! Don’t forgo quality in order to get more content out there.

  • No fuzzy graphics — there is no excuse! You can create high-quality pictures with free online, easy-to-use graphics programs like Canva. Download free, license free, online pictures and graphics from sites that I list in this blog post. And don’t steal!
  • Proofread before you publish or post — read your blog post aloud to yourself. Even your social media posts!
  • Preview your blog posts before publishing — Do the graphics look good? Does the eye of reader make a natural progression down the page to your Call-to-Action?

What about unique?

“Most Americans are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 advertising messages a day!” ~ Convince and Convert

What makes what you have to say or show unique? What makes you different? How is your content different from what your competition shares?

What You Need to Do:
Plan out what content you’re going to create.

7.  Reshare Your Content on Social Media

Resharing content can increase engagement by over 600%!

So you publish your blog post at 9 am and share it on all your social media networks at the time. Someone that logs on at 3 pm or in the evening probably won’t see it unless they have you in a Twitter list or Google+ circle; or have your posts showing first (a Facebook feature). You can manually schedule it to republish on your social networks using tools like HootSuite (ad link), Buffer or TweetDeck.

Another way to give your content extra exposure and traction is to publish it on LinkedIn’s Pulse. At the end of the post, add the line, “This post originally appeared on______” with a link to the original article on your blog. Your site still maintains the authority because there is where the post originated. Yet, on LinkedIn, you validate your expertise by showcasing what you know and how you can help people.

There’s a plugin I use called Revive Old Posts. For free, you can reshare to Twitter. With the upgraded version ($75/yr.), you can also reshare to LinkedIn and Facebook.  I think it’s worth it just to save the time of manually scheduling. You pick the time frame and you can exclude posts that are not “evergreen” or are time-sensitive.

Think of it this way, your perfect potential customer could have missed it the first time it went out!

What You Need to Do:
Don’t be afraid to reshare your content.

8. Blogging – a CORE part of your Content Strategy

Blogs are rated 1 out of 5 the most trusted sources of information online.

People ignore the paid ads in Google search and go for the organic content because they know that that’s where they’re going to find the authentic answers to their questions or problems.

I hold a class at Greater Phoenix SCORE on Blogging and SEO once a quarter. Click here to register for the next one.

9. Big Data, Analytics and Insights

Going along with all this marketing comes tracking what’s working and not working. Enter Analytics! Analytics aren’t as scary as they seem and you don’t need to hire an analyst to understand them or to get valuable information from them. Besides Google Analytics, each of the networks has insights and analytics available even if you don’t pay for advertising.

You must check these at least once a month so you can judge which posts were effective and what isn’t bringing you business or doing what you expected. [Related: Determine Your Key Metrics Before You Start]

All the networks also use the data garnered from users to help you find your target market niche. Additionally, they assist you in targeting your perfect customer. That’s why you need to Define Your Target Market first and then do some research on them. For instance, if you’re on Snapchat trying to reach Baby Boomers, you’re not going to be successful. If you want to reach 12-24 year-olds, then yes, Snapchat is a tool for you.

What You Need to Do:
Get into the habit of checking your analytics at the end of each month.

10. Social Media Statistics You Can’t Ignore

In conclusion, here are 10 of 2016’s Big Data stats that should open your eyes to the power of social media marketing.

  1. Close to 2 billion people are active mobile social users (Vendasta). This means that people take their social media with them wherever they go. They access it at all times of the day. This is why it is so important that your website is optimized for mobile (and I wrote about this in the 2017 SEO post) so when a mobile user goes from your social media page to your site, it’s a smooth transition to a conversion.
  2. 84% of Internet users are on Facebook (Vendasta). Even if you’re a B2B business, you can generate leads on Facebook. That’s where the people are! That being said, with more and more businesses, both B2C and B2B, marketing on Facebook, it behooves you to have a distinct strategy to reach your specific target market. Without a good strategic plan, you’ll be wasting time, effort and money and not getting the results you want.
  3. Over 40% of Twitter‘s 317 million active users learn about products and services via Twitter (Vendasta). I recommend using Twitter daily for brand exposure and SEO. (See #5 above)
  4. 7 out of 10 professionals describe LinkedIn as a trustworthy source of professional content (SmallBizTrends). In addition, 50 percent of B2B buyers use LinkedIn when making purchasing decisions. Even for B2C businesses, both your personal profile and company pages on LinkedIn boost credibility. In case you didn’t know, Microsoft bought LinkedIn so look for some big changes to the platform in 2017.
  5. There are 540 million active users on Google+, 62% of them are B2B marketers (Vendasta). Believe it or not, there are active users on Google+. The power of G+ is that everything posted “public” gets indexed in the search engine.
  6. 60% of millennials have an account on Instagram and they hit 500 million active users in 2016 (Vendasta). They grew by 100 million in one year. Facebook owns Instagram and they’re only going to be making it a better user experience.
  7. Pinterest has more than 150 million monthly active users (HootSuite). 60% of pinners are under 40 years old. Though the majority of Pinterest users are women, the male population on Pinterest has increased by 120% in the past year. (Must be all the DIY stuff!)
  8. 50% of young adults in the US watch videos on Snapchat (Vendasta). They hit 200 million users in 2016. 60% of millennials in America use Snapchat. If you’re trying to reach the younger market, you need to consider Snapchat.
  9. There are 900 million unique visitorss to YouTube every month (Vendasta). They are the most visited online platform with 8 out of 10 Internet users visiting YouTube monthly.
  10. Almost 90 percent of marketers say their social media marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75 percent say they’ve increased traffic. (SmallBizTrends)

What You Need to Do:
Stop procrastinating and get your social media act together NOW!

By Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

Check out Giselle's classes at Greater Phoenix SCORE!

Some of this content originally appeared in these blog posts:

Your 2017 Success Blueprint – 10 Content Marketing Truths You Need to Know

Your 2017 Success Plan: 10 Social Media Truths You Need to Know

Your 2017 Success Blueprint – 10 SEO Truths You Need to Apply Now!

About the Author(s)

Giselle Aguiar, Social Media Marketing Specialist, Coach and Trainer at AZ Social Media Wiz

Giselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, inbound and content marketing consultant and trainer specializing in market research, strategic planning, social media and marketing automation setups, training and coaching. She's been doing Internet marketing since 1995.

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Trainer and Coach, AZ Social Media Wiz
Your 2017 Success Plan: 10 Digital Marketing Truths You Need to Know