At Quantum, we love the start of a new year. It’s a time to reflect on the positive achievements of the previous year and look forward to the exciting times ahead.
It’s fair to say that 2016 was a pretty standout year for various reasons, some of which created a degree of uncertainty, but it’s time to press on and see where we are going.
And it would not be January without a set of predictions, so here we go…
1) Artificial intelligence is here and its going to change things
I’ve already posted on this in my ‘AI for Everyone’ post, but it really is the biggest thing to happen to marketing, certainly in my career, probably ever. I was watching a show called ‘Peaky Blinders’ recently and in it, you see lots of steel workers and it got me thinking, all those industrial revolution jobs just disappeared, almost overnight, to be replaced by machines that did a far better job… and that’s where we are right now as an industry.
The first big effect is going to be the automation of content. There’s already services like ‘Wordsmith’ and many others that can generate blog posts using AI in microseconds.
As this catches on, one thing’s for sure we are about to have a massive content deluge. I’m not sure how Google will deal with this new content stream, but I’m confident it will be able to sift through the dross. The big question, is will the content be better, more relevant and interesting than the human generated version? I think I know the answer and it’s scary.
2) Off screen marketing will make us more human
I have to admit, I love my tech, and couldn’t resist a cheeky Black Friday purchase. The Amazon Echo, that now has pride of place in the living room and runs an increasingly significant part of my life.
As we move to voice activation and natural voice recognition as a standard way to shop, if you’re not on the top of the search when it comes to your listing, you’re going to be nowhere.
We all know the significance of ranking in the top three on Google search, just imagine what that’s going to mean when you move away from the screen? If you don’t want to click on the 3rd or 4th link now, you’re certainly not going to want to hear about them.
Now we’ve got Google Home, Siri and Amazon, pretty much dominating this space, it’s only going to become more and more significant. This means it’s all about short head not long tail in terms of your search strategy.
As a tip for evolving your approach on this in terms of content, it’s worth thinking about how your consumers might ask questions in a more natural, human way. What you type into Google will be different to what you ask Alexa, for example.
“Alexa what’s a good laptop to buy?’ vs ‘best laptops’
3) SEO IS OFFICIALLY DEAD!
Google does a great job of keeping us marketers guessing. What we do know, is they use a pretty advanced form of AI to curate topics and concept clusters, then uses natural language processing to match it to give better contextual based search results.
Obsession over keywords, header tags or exact match domains is a thing of the past. In fact, they are probably killing your rankings! This way of thinking is past it, by about 3 years actually…
To get ahead of the game here, if you have any AI tools in your stack already, (or you can use Google’s Cloud-based AI tools) take the top ten pages for any search term you’re chasing, and reverse engineer what Google is seeing. Use these to create cluster topics and create content based on this.
At the very least, think of your pages from a topic perspective, not keywords.
4) Facebook is Cashing In
Mr Zuckerberg’s slight change of tone from “Facebook is not a media company” to “Facebook is not a traditional media company” for me is indicative of the changes to come.
So now the war is over, and with Facebook having won, with perhaps a small side nod to LinkedIn, expect to see the reach and cost to play start to rise. The World’s largest community is about to get a little more expensive in order to attain the reach and affect we all crave.
If you’re not spending heavily to promote any content you’re creating, you’re probably doing it wrong.
5) Social will be more private
Private groups in social will be the most important aspect of your social strategy. More and more people are moving into private groups – WhatsApp, WeChat etc.
This means you need to make sure you have your community influencer in place. If you don’t, it’s time to get moving on this.
6) Influencer will have even more value
With Facebook getting more expensive, having your own communities is going to be essential. I mentioned this a few weeks back in my ‘Digital Marketing Could be About to Get a Bit Trickier’ post, as without your own communities, you have no control over analytics, and it will get pretty expensive, pretty quickly.
7) Account based marketing for B2C
Account based marketing has been popular in the B2B World for a while now, but it’s time to start adopting these approaches in the B2C sphere. For those unfamiliar with one of the more recent marketing buzzwords, essentially, it’s a process that ensures that prospects are fully evaluated in relation to: knowing who to pitch to, when and what to pitch, and the likelihood of conversion. It’s basically intelligently scoring your prospects based on multiple signals.
As the ability to process data becomes more accessible, applying machine learning to this task will help refine approaches and reduce noise and wasted marketing budget in the B2B space, as well as leading to better targeting and personalised delivery.
The areas to invest in here are data science, machine-based learning and our friend, AI. If you’re not doing this already, you need to catch up.
What are your predictions for 2017?
If you would like to see how any of these points might affect your plans for 2017, or if you have any thoughts on my predictions, please drop us a line.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and successful 2017 we look forward to seeing how this one plays out!