It’s easy to start off any trends piece with a phrase like “Well, we don’t have a crystal ball…” But, working at a VC firm actually does afford us the ability to peer into the future so to speak. We talk to hundreds of companies every single week and as such, are able to learn best practices and some of the new ideas these companies are testing, researching and implementing. Here, we’ve taken the best of the lot to help you prepare your marketing strategy for 2017.
1. User Onboarding will become the New Marketing
This trend is especially true for product-led companies. As Logz.io co-founder Asaf Yigal points out, the first five minutes of a customer’s interaction with your product are critical to the success of your company.
“I can’t tell you how much time and energy we’re focusing right now into making sure that those first five minutes deliver the best experience we can create.”
Ultimately, the only thing that makes your product, and therefore company relevant, is a customer or prospect’s experience with your brand. After all, you’ve only got one shot to make a great first impression.
2. Influencers will be Taken Seriously
Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi thinks influencer marketing will be huge in 2017 and I couldn’t agree more. As more content is produced and more money is spent advertising said content, we as marketers need a better way to break away from the noise. That’s where influencer marketing comes in.
Don’t have an influencer plan? Here’s a simple way to get started:
- Build a list of top prospects. Remember, you must understand your buyer persona in order to fully build out a quality list of influencer prospects.
- Create a list of thought leaders that influence your target buyer. Check out social media. What is your target buyer sharing? What are they reading? Who do they respect?
- Connect with those thought leaders and conducts interviews for your blog or Medium publication. You could even partner with them on content deliverables like eBooks, webinars and the like.
- Publish your thought leader / influencer interviews and encourage them to share with their networks. (Here’s an example we published on OpenView Labs featuring investor and former CMO Tim Kopp: 6 SaaS Marketing Trends).
3. Think Mobile First not Mobile Friendly
Don’t forget that software buyers are consumers first. I may do most of my purchasing on the Amazon app these days, but I’m also shopping for the best marketing tech all year long. You can’t pretend that in 2017 one-click shopping won’t affect the buying patterns of your customers.
Smart Insights says it best:
Marketers need to stop thinking of ‘mobile users’ and ‘desktop users’ as different people. Because they’re not. The average household has 7.4 internet connected devices. A ‘mobile user’ one minute is a ‘desktop user’ the next. The distinction is entirely artificial.
Mobility has completely changed the way people search for, evaluate and buy products and services. And these changes will only accelerate in 2017.
4. Get on board with Account-based Marketing
There’s been a massive surge in conversations and content around account-based marketing at OpenView and across our portfolio. The term is even trending pretty well on Google.
The below chart from Google Trends shows the explosion in search interest in “account based marketing” since 2012. There was a huge bump in search volume starting at the beginning of this year.
Like any trend, the growth of the term will flatline, but that doesn’t mean ABM shouldn’t influence your marketing strategy moving into 2017. Want some great ABM resources? Get started with these:
- It’s Time for B2B Content Marketing to Adjust to an Account-Based Marketing World
- How to Build a Best-in-Class Account Based Marketing Technology Stack
- Account-Based Management: Why You Need a Cup, Not a Funnel
- 10 Obstacles Facing Account-Based Marketing
The traditional marketing model is a funnel, but in ABM, it’s a bowtie or an hourglass, where you’re not only focused on getting into an account, but also on achieving expansion and advocacy.
5. Content will Become User Led
At OpenView we’re continuing to engage with companies that build marketing features into their products in order to drive upsell rather than through salespeople. We call this trend product-led growth:
Product-led growth is a capital-efficient way to engage prospects, turn them into passionate customers and drive explosive growth.
This strategy has changed the way many software companies grow and is also likely to change the way people consume content. Content should be produced with product usage and not acquisition in mind. Here are a couple of guidelines to follow for this new line of thinking:
- Your reader must perceive your content as unique. It must provide advice that can be applied to their daily routines.
- Your content is regularly available without barriers like landing pages and form fields.
- Ensure your blog titles accurately represent the content of your articles. It’s time to move beyond clickbait (please!).
- CTAs are embedded through the content and are triggered after the reader has experienced real value (ie. including an OptinMonster CTA more than halfway through the post).
There is just too much terrible content out there. It is my hope and belief that 2017 will usher in a time where quality of content ultimately wins out and gated landing pages and endless forms slowly disappear.
6. Don’t Keep Dirty Data, AI Will Thank You
The rise of artificial intelligence is going to completely change the way we do business. I’m already debating using a robot like x.ai to take control of my calendar. No human interference needed! Imagine that. I’m not saying Terminator is going to return to kill us all (I think we’re a good twenty years from that). But, we’ve definitely seen an increase in AI funding over the past few years:
While AI might one day be ubiquitous, the ‘intelligence’ component will only ever be as good as the data you feed the system. In order for AI to truly make our jobs more efficient, we must have data that is clean and easy to understand.
A database with no data has no value. The data we enter into it makes it valuable – even vital – to the whole business, as it transforms the database from an empty shell to an asset.
Next year will be the first year that people focus on the importance of data not just for the development of artificial intelligence, but for the overall health of their companies.
Whether or not the aforementioned trends take hold in 2017 remains to be seen. But the truth of the matter is much of this is already beginning to take shape at OpenView and across the companies we interact with day in and day out.
What we do know for certain is that the world is changing much faster than we initially realized and the marketer is placed right in the middle of it all.