/ Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing 2017: Trends, Priorities, and Potential Pitfalls

Kevin McKernan

Each year brings big changes to digital marketing and 2016 was no exception. Last year we saw a rise in the creation of programs that are truly focused on providing a 1:1 digital marketing experience, not just when it comes to email marketing, but also from an omni-channel experience, one that takes into account all the places online customers are interacting with your brand.

Geographically, we saw the gap between how brands in the U.S. and Asia utilize social mobile apps such as Viber, Line and WeChat widen. While the popularity of such apps in the U.S. has been slow to build, if you’re doing business in Asia, and you’re not communicating with consumers on social mobile apps, you’re likely missing out on 90% of your customers.
The biggest star, however, of 2016 was the introduction of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the Automated Marketer which allows marketers to take a step back and allow technology to optimize campaigns based on what it learns about your customers and their engagement with marketing materials.

While we expect some of the trends we saw in 2016 to continue to expand, it’s clear that 2017 will see its own trends rise and fall, some of which could have big long-term payoffs if brands and digital marketers are prepared to embrace them.

 

Trends to Look out For in 2017

 

The Expansion of Automations and AI

Digital marketing technologies are getting smarter and easier to implement, meaning automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have a solid foundation for becoming more common place. In 2017, programs like Einstein by Salesforce or IBM Watson will allow marketers to set up their programs in a way that allows them to take a step back and let the technology tell them what should be done next.

Emails, social media ads, push notifications, etc. will be deployed based on the initial criteria set up by your marketing department, and further enhanced based on the real-time customer data the program collects. This means consumers will continue to see an increase in more personalized, relevant communications, and brands will see an improvement in customer satisfaction and revenue.

In the end, the goal is to bring consumers the information they need, when they need it, in order to feel confident in their purchasing decisions. Digital marketers and the power of AI will allow this to be a reality in 2017.

The Need for Comprehensive Dashboards and Data Analysis

We’re collecting so much data on customers that marketers are going to be looking for a way to better digest that data to make it actionable. This is where set-it-and-forget-it dashboards are going to become not just handy, but completely necessary.

Marketers don’t want to spend time every month sorting through data; they want to see it in a clear dashboard and analyze it. And CMOs are going to want to have a resource that allows them to quickly see the status of their various programs, as well as a big picture view of how they all fit together to help the bottom line.

For those who are new to providing more comprehensive reporting, gathering data into a free tool like Data Studio from Google may be a good starting point. However, to really get the most out of having your data all in one place, a more comprehensive data tool like Tableau or Domo will be well worth the investment.

The Rise of Complex Customer Journeys

Customer Journeys are still in their early stages and CMOs have a lot to learn about how to best use them for their different audience types. But as access to customer data improves, and the ability to automate digital marketing elements becomes easier to navigate, this will allow brands to create more complex customer journeys, those that take into account not just the “what” of the messaging they deliver, but the “where” of the messaging in as close to real-time as possible.

Take for example a retailer who already has an email program, an SMS program, several social media accounts and an app. In the past, many of these individual programs have been just that—individual. Here is an example of these programs working in concert to optimize the customer experience: Let’s say that retailer sends out an email prompting visitors to visit their nearest store for a special promotion. When they get to the store, a push notification could trigger with another promotion. When a sale is completed, an SMS notification could link them to something extra off their next visit. And finally, an email can be sent asking the customer to review their purchase online.

 

What to Prioritize

 

Know Your Customers Better

2017 should be the year that marketers get to know their customers better. Marketers need to move beyond just knowing basic demographic info and expand their parameters to include strategies for knowing what devices they’re using, what language resonates, and what mediums (email, social, search, mobile, etc.) they favor —and then formulate strategies around how each of these components can come into play for each of your audience segments.

Get IT and the C-Suite on the Same Page

We talk about this every year, but pulling all of the data your organization has into one place that a marketer is able to utilize it and organize campaigns around it key. This often means getting members from IT, the C-Suite, and everywhere in-between on the same page about when and how this data is available. Access to data will continue to be of vital importance, and without it, you could miss out on valuable information that is causing you to lose out on sales.

Communicate Where Your Customers Are

While email still has the highest ROI in digital marketing, it is starting to slowly decline. This isn’t because customers aren’t interested in your emails, rather, it’s because more and more customers are omni-channel, meaning each place you reach them can play a role in an eventual conversion or sale.

More than ever, marketers need a better understanding of where their customers are, and they need to create strategies that take into account these different modes of communication in a way that allows social, email, search, etc. to work together instead of existing in silos.

 

Potential Pitfalls

 

Resources

This is a classic problem every year for marketers, but as more brands move towards an increasingly data driven approach, they’re going to need someone not only understand their data, but help them structure it in a way that is actionable and can help them get the most out of any new technologies they’re using. This is where the use of partners to implement these technologies will be well worth the investment. Brands shouldn’t let a lack of resources in their marketing or IT departments hold them back as they move towards these more robust, technology dependent programs.

Incomplete and/or Disorganized Data

2016 was a big eye opener for many marketers in terms of how incomplete and unorganized their customer data was, and this caused some major delays in allowing them to move their programs forward. Everyone in the industry keeps saying “Personalize now!” and marketers were looking at their data and finding they knew nothing about their customers. They knew basic things like name and maybe location, but today’s personalization goes far beyond that. We’ve oversaturated consumers with content through a batch and blast approach and we need to move towards an approach that actually considers their individual preferences—an experience that is relevant and targeted. But this can only exist if the data is available and properly structured.

Lack of Patience

Many marketing teams are reactive. They see something and they react and they see something else, and they react again. The marketing landscape is changing. And marketer’s need to show some patience and take the time to set things up the right way. This means taking the time to understand their data, map out customer journeys, and give themselves the opportunity to test, test, and test again.

Complacency

On the other hand, as marketers set new programs up and allow things like automations and AI to take the reigns, they need to make sure they aren’t getting complacent. You should regularly be looking for new opportunities and making small adjustments to your programs as you learn more about your consumer base. Nothing at this point (or maybe any point) should be fully set-it-and-forget-it. Always take the time review, analyze, and test, test, and test again.

There’s still a great lack of knowledge when it comes to digital marketing technology, even in industries that are always striving to be current, like e-commerce and retail. At Pierry we’re constantly running into scenarios in which CMOs have paid large amounts for new technology, but once it’s implemented, they really have no idea how to fully utilize what they’ve bought.

Much of this stems from one of the biggest pain points in the industry—a lack of clear strategy. In 2017, it won’t be enough to just buy the latest and greatest technologies. You have to come into that purchase with a clear vision of what you want to do, that way you have the ability to make a purchase based on what you want the technology to do for you, not just based on the laundry list of possibilities a new technology could bring.

/ Email / Creative/Design

Email Design Best Practices: A Complete Guide to Modern Email Creative

Kevin McKernan

It may sound superficial, but let’s be honest—when it comes to email, looks matter. Think about the emails that engage you the most. Are they easily viewed on a mobile device? Do they include a healthy balance of visually appealing images to concise text? Is it easy to spot the “what’s in it for me” of the message?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you already know what makes for a well designed email. So why aren’t you utilizing these best practices in your own email program?

A well-established element of digital marketing, email marketing is still known for delivering higher ROIs than any other digital channel. But if your email designs are stuck in the past, and don’t consider the multi-device nature of today’s consumers, you’re missing out on some major opportunities to maximize that return-on-investment.

email design best practices guide coverOur Email Design Best Practices Guide will show you…

• Why Email Design Matters

• The Top 10 Rules for Email Design

• Primary Principles of a Successful Email Program

• And More

The landscape of email design is changing. Make sure you’re keeping up. Complete the form below to download our Email Design Best Practice Guide for more information.

 

/ Digital Marketing

3 Digital Marketing Trends We Hope Are Going Out of Style in 2017

Kevin McKernan

marketing meeting

For me, going home for the holidays often means three things: lots of laughter, lots of good food, and lots of time going through old photo albums filled with family memories and lots of questionable fashion choices.

For some reason, a good portion of my childhood was spent obsessed with wearing patterned vests, a high pony tail secured by not just one, but at least three scrunchies, and a fanny pack, which, while useful for holding my Bonnie Bell Lip Smacker® was terribly hideous.

But these crimes against fashion weren’t completely my fault. After all, that was the trend.

Every industry has fads that come and go. Marketing is no exception. There was a time when direct mail ruled all. There was another time when flash-based websites were all the rage. And then there was another time when inbound marketing had a big moment.

There’s no doubt that 2017 will bring its own set of new marketing fads, particularly when it comes to digital marketing. But until then, here’s some trends we hope end up the way of patterned vests, scrunchies, and fanny packs—gone for good.

Using Clickbait to Get More Traffic

It’s old news that brands are producing more content than ever. And with content production reported to increase 600% by 2020, many companies have resorted to using clickbait strategies with the purpose of getting more eyes on their content and increase traffic to their website.

While clickbait strategies started with publishers, it has since moved on to include major retail and consumer brands, as well as B2B brands. This type of content often includes clever headlines alongside eye-catching creative. However, upon viewing such articles, consumers are often left with content that lacks quality information, and many times, don’t live up to their headlines.

While these clickbait strategies do increase website traffic, the benefits pretty much stop there. An increase in traffic that can be credited back to the content you’re producing is only worthwhile if it’s working to increase engagement, and ultimately, conversions.

Instead of using a clickbait strategy, focus on creating content that is based on your audience needs and wants. Every piece of content should have value and help maintain, if not increase, your brand reputation. And most important of all, every piece of content should have a grander end goal behind it. You may get less views, but the quality of those views will be much higher.

Using Pop-Up Banners on Mobile to Gain Subscribers

You perform a search on Google using your smartphone. You find a website that seems to fit your need. You click on the result and begin reading. And just as you’re about to scroll down to find the information you wanted, the screen of your mobile device is suddenly blocked by a pop-up asking if you want to subscriber to that brand’s e-newsletter.

True, lightboxes and pop-ups have shown to be effective in helping brands gain new subscribers. For years, this has been the go-to method for many email marketers as a way to steadily increase their list size.

The downside to this method is that many website visitors enter their email addresses hastily, using it as a way to close the lightbox and return to what they were doing. In turn, this can lead to adding subscribers that aren’t necessarily going to engage with your emails in the future, driving down your ROI.

And soon, these types of pop-ups could have an impact on your mobile search rankings. Starting in 2017, the use of lightboxes or pop-ups that make content less accessible to visitors will be added to the long list of ranking factors Google uses when determining whether or not to show your website in search results. With a reported 60% of all searches being performed on a mobile device, that little pop-up could cause big problems.

Instead of blocking your content, opt for smaller banners that can be easily dismissed and don’t poorly impact the user experience. Here are some formats Google recommends in lieu of traditional pop-ups.

Creating Content for the Sole Purpose of Going Viral

Blog posts, news articles, photos, infographics, videos—these all have the potential to achieve that “gone viral” status that every marketer, whether they’ll admit it out loud or not, hopes to achieve.

There are a number of tips that experts put out there to help increase the chances of helping your content go viral. They include things like understanding your audiences needs and wants, creating content that creates an emotional connection, creating content that is useful, connecting with influencers to promote your content, etc.

Essentially, the tips for going viral are the same best practices you should be putting into every piece of content you put out there, not just those you are creating for the sole purpose of “going viral”.

Instead of thinking in terms of viral content, which, when achieved, result in short-term traffic spikes, think about how every piece of content can work to help you reach your audience in a slow and steady manner. In other words, focus your strategy on long-term, steady growth instead of temporary spikes that don’t have a long shelf-life.

Of course, when a digital marketing trends fades away, it is quickly replaced by something new. No matter what trends emerge in 2017, it’s important to remember that not every new fad is right for every brand. Always take the time to fully strategize and formulize a clear goal around any new marketing efforts, whether you’re exploring an established digital marketing best practice or just playing around with the latest trend.

/ News

Pierry Inc. Opens Innovation Hub at Louisiana Tech University

Kevin McKernan

New Pierry Office at the Tech Pointe Enterprise Campus Brings
Silicon Valley to North Louisiana;
~
Pierry will Host an Open House for Students, Faculty & Media
Thursday, January 19th, from 5pm-7pm in Tech Pointe, Room 219

Redwood City, Calif., January 12, 2017 – Pierry, an industry-leading marketing software and solutions company, today announced it has opened an office in Ruston, Louisiana, on the campus of Louisiana Tech University. The office, which is expected to employ a mix of students and full time employees, will serve as an innovation hub for the Company and the University, implementing state-of-the art digital software solutions for a variety of clients in the region and throughout the United States.

“Pierry is extremely pleased to open this office at my alma-mater, Louisiana Tech, as it provides us with on-the-ground implementation resources, establishes a foothold in the Southeastern region of the US, and gives us a first-look at some of the amazing talent coming out of the University,” said Ben Lee, Chief Marketing Officer of Pierry (LA Tech ’04). “Our LA Tech outpost is also an opportunity to bring a bit of Silicon Valley to North Louisiana, giving the students an opportunity to get real-world experience in the rapidly growing field of digital marketing, and get a taste of what working with a start-up tech company is like.”

Named the 538th fastest growing company by Inc. Magazine in their 2016 “Inc. 5000” list, and #6 Fastest Growing Company in the San Francisco Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times, Pierry – which began as a team of 2 people in the emerging digital marketing space in 2008 – now has employees in offices throughout the United States and in Japan, and serves a wide range of clients, from start-ups to multi-billion dollar global brands. Pierry coined the term MaaS (Marketing as a Service) to describe the unique way it helps its clients design, develop and execute marketing solutions that dramatically improve efficiency and impact, and increase ROI.

“The partnership between Louisiana Tech University and Pierry Inc. brings together two innovative and entrepreneurial organizations. It’s great to see Ben Lee, a Tech grad, reaching back to his alma mater to connect Ruston and Silicon Valley,” said Dr. Dave Norris, Chief Innovation Officer, Louisiana Tech University. “We are excited about what a leading-edge company like Pierry can bring to our campus and to the community.”

About Pierry

Ranked #6 in the “2016 Fastest Growing Companies” by the San Francisco Business Times, and #538 in the 2016 Inc. 5000, Pierry helps companies optimize their digital marketing campaigns through Salesforce Marketing Cloud implementations, email campaign creation and management, creative services, and marketing strategy. Founded in 2008 by Josh Pierry, the company has grown into a global preferred digital marketing partner for companies in all sectors, and now has offices in Redwood City, CA, Boulder, CO, Cleveland, OH, Ruston, LA, Albany, NY and Kyoto, Japan. For more information about Pierry, visit www.pierryinc.com.

Media Inquiries:
Colby Zintl
czintl@pierryinc.com

Louisiana-Based Inquiries
William Dearmon
wdearmon@pierryinc.com