Punch Digital launches 2017 Marketing Report

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 10.27.10 am.jpgBy Brett Hardiman (left), managing director, PUNCH Digital

At the beginning of every year, like the good marketers that we are, we like to read the predictions for the year ahead. With the tech and digital space moving at breakneck speed it's important to keep one's finger on the pulse to stay ahead of the curve.

I always find it fascinating to read the "experts" views on what will be the breakout technologies for the year ahead. IoT, VR, AR, AI and BIG Data appear(ed) to be the hot 2017 trends that were going to redefine digital marketing in 2017. But here's the thing, there are predictions and then there's reality.
Sure Nike might have created a pair of self-lacing, Back-to-the-Future, IoT connected kicks but it's unlikely that self-lacing shoes are going to be taking over the footwear industry anytime soon. So while AR/VR, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) were all slated to be bigger hitters in 2017 we wanted to get a feel for what businesses are actually going to be implementing in 2017 and if they included the hot predictions. And if business aren't going to be making these predictions a reality, what are they going to be focussing on?

So we ran our own short poll in March 2017 to understand just what businesses and marketing professionals across Australia were actually implementing to see if any of the breakout, hot technologies had filtered down to the real world.

Business owners and marketing professionals were posed three simple questions via an online survey:

    • "What are the top 3 areas you plan on investing your marketing time and dollars in 2017?"
    • "Are you planning on implementing any of the hot 2017 predictions into your marketing this year?"
    • "What best describes the size of your business?"

While we left our biases at the door while conducting our research we, of course, had a few hunches about what we thought the results might  be.

So, what are the top 3 areas people are planning on investing their marketing time and dollars into in 2017?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAA1VAAAAJDc5ZjEyYzNiLWZlOTQtNDAxNi05NjU2LWFkMjZmN2E5Yzc1MA.pngThe top answer may be a surprise to some... it's Content Marketing. Across all the different business sizes we polled 51% indicated Content Marketing was their number 1 investment in time and dollars for 2017. This was followed by Customer Relationship Management and Analytics rounded out the top 3.

Content Marketing is definitely the in-thing right now. As SEO experts we understand the importance of content however it's now evident (if it wasn't already) that content is now a key marketing strategy for many businesses. It's interesting that CRM and Analytics are big focusses in 2017 as they are not the most sexy components of digital marketing, but indicate a growing acceptance across the business and marketing fraternity that managing and nurturing customers through the journey is pivotal in maximising ROI. We still see many businesses that are yet to fully embrace CRM.

The same can be said for Analytics. It's scary to see how many businesses do not fully utilise Analytics in their business to drive decision making and understand where to best invest their marketing dollars. This is why I find it difficult to wrap my head around how a businesses can make the jump to tech like AI if they don't even have Analytics down pat.

What we found interesting is that Content Marketing, CRM and Analytics were a bigger focus in 2017 than more direct traffic generation activities such as Google Adwords, Social Media Marketing, SEO and Display/Programmatic ads. Content Marketing, CRM and Analytics perhaps are more important this year due to the increased cost of driving traffic and the need to get more out of less.

Are you planning on implementing any of the hot 2017 predictions into your marketing this year?

In this question we listed all the cool, emerging and "hot" trends for 2017 to see what is really "hot". The results showed that IoT, AI, VR and all the other predictions buzzwords are not quite as hot as the experts think in real life.

When we pitted IoT, AI, VR et al with other emerging marketing trends they lost out (sorry experts!).

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAqvAAAAJDc4NDczMWZlLWRlZWEtNGNhZS1hM2NkLTY0NTAyZDY4NDg0YQ.jpgInterestingly the number one "hot" or emerging marketing trend Australian businesses look to be embracing in 2017 is Influencer Marketing, according to those surveyed. Is influencer marketing being viewed as the last bastion of organic--or seemingly organic-- content in a saturated social media marketing landscape? We'll be keeping our eyes peeled to see how this all rolls out in 2017.

In our first question we saw Content Marketing emerge as a key strategy for 2017 so Influencer Marketing does seem like a logical extension of this and is absolutely an area with much growth potential.  Having said this it was interesting is what came in as the second hottest prediction for 2017.

The second hot 2017 prediction our survey participants are implementing in 2017 is "none" of the above. In other words, they aren't even considering any of the new "hot" technologies this year. Probably because they are still trying to bed down the mainstays of digital marketing or simply don't have the budget.

Outside of Influencer Marketing and doing nothing(!), BIG Data and Chatboxes were two areas that have sparked interest for 2017. BIG Data has a strong correlation with Analytics so this wasn't a surprise to us but Chatboxes making an appearance so close to the top was an interesting and unexpected result. Chatboxes growing in popularity is the first sign Aussie businesses are considering implementing technology that uses some form of Artificial Intelligence (AI). I see Chatboxes making a bigger impact later in 2017 as the technology develops and becomes more widely accepted.

It would appear IoT and VR/AR are not going to be that hot in 2017 (maybe next year guys!).

The Wrap

While we left our biases at the door while conducting our research we, of course, had a few hunches about what we thought the results might be.

So it turns out Content Marketing and Influencer Marketing are the hottest areas for marketers to focus on in 2017. CRM, Analytics and BIG Data featured prominently and Chatboxes look set to become a bigger part of our marketing armoury in 2017.

For the rest of the "hot" predictions it looks like 2018 may be their year! There are still a number of marketers and business owners that were testing out new areas that are predicted to be groundbreaking, but not in the numbers we would expect--and this makes sense. While many business are still implementing Content Marketing programs while at the same time grappling with joining the dots on traffic generation, remarketing programs and tying it all into their CRM and Analytics, you can hardly expect them to jump into AI and VR/AR in 2017. Unless of course you are a global brand with deep marketing pockets and looking to do experimental marketing.

For many businesses this is still out of reach, and probably will remain out of reach in 2018.

But if you want to know what your competitors are up to, it's most likely got something to do with content marketing, engaging with influencers while implementing a CRM program to increase ROI (and customer experience) while crunching the numbers using Analytics (and BIG Data).

I'd be interested to hear what your thoughts are and where your marketing focus will be in 2017.

About the Survey

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAonAAAAJGU1M2E1OTZmLTA5YTUtNGVkMC04Y2UxLTdhZTE2Mjk3MWIzMw.jpgWe implemented a small scale study which involved surveying 72 business owners and marketing managers about their marketing strategies for the upcoming year. Out of 72 respondents, the answers came from owners of all ranges of business sizes - Micro business (1-4 employees), Small Business (5-19), Medium Business (20-199) and Large Business (200+).

The results showed that the top three areas business owners plan to invest their marketing time and dollars this year are in Content Marketing, Customer Relations Management (CRM) and Analytics. Despite the huge popularity of social media, Instagram ads didn't get much traction among the businesses we surveyed.

When broken down by the size of the business, the findings unsurprisingly varied. Budget and resources play a huge rule in what a company can implement and where it makes most sense for them to invest. However, the overall emphasis remained on content marketing for businesses of all sizes. It was the top choice for micro businesses, small businesses and medium businesses. However, for large businesses, the most popular area was Analytics.

To learn more and view a full break down of our results, check out the report - PUNCH digital 2017 Marketing Survey Report.pdf


Frank said:

Outside of design changes, it would be interesting to see if any of the hot trends (technical) from any year, actually became the hot trend of its year!

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