Due to the increase in the variety and scope of marketing channels we can access today, it’s important for marketers to develop strategies which reach across the channels to maximise success. It was found in 2013, in a joint study by Neustar and Multichannel Merchant, that over one third of companies (35%) are already marketing through manifold channels, and more than a quarter more (27%) were planning the same approach.

The most important access points for company marketing according to those who were surveyed included search engines (61%), social media outlets (53%) and access via smartphones and tablets (54%).

It’s clear that 2016 has thrown up some interesting developments which are set to affect the way new approaches are taken by marketers in 2017 and the future. So, as we begin a new year, let’s take a closer look at which developments have the most potential for cross-channel marketing this year.

1. Increased Popularity of Mobile Searches

It is evident that the digital landscape has changed significantly with the advent of mobile technologies which are constantly being updated.

2016 brought some great new improvements, the first of which was the removal of the ‘right-hand rail’ by Google on the results page, which now only shows the paid ads at the bottom and top of the page. Not only did this streamline the search page to make it more accessible to mobiles, but it also has the effect on concentrating attention just on the ad position- making them perform more effectively.

mobile search

After this we saw a ramping up of the ranking system which was more advantageous to mobiles because it penalised pages which weren’t mobile friendly- also known as mobilegeddon! Bing also did the same thing in 2015 so that users could choose sites which were and weren’t adapted to mobile viewing, however they did not follow through with a penalty as Google has done.

Towards the end of 2016 in October, the search giant Google went all out and decided to split the mobile and desktop views into their own individual indexes- leaning more towards mobile. This quickly got many marketers to change their tactics and focus more on the mobile realm.

A ClickZ report showed that over half (56%) of respondents from the client-side as opposed to 44% from the agency-side classed their own efforts to mobilise their strategies as just ‘beginner’ status. However, in contrast only 16% of respondents categorized their efforts as ‘advanced’ from the agency-side compared with just 13% on the client-side.

A survey of trends in marketing conducted in 2016 by StrongView and Selligent showed that just over half (52%) of those questioned were planning to increase their mobile marketing budget- something which is bound to continue through 2017 and further. For a majority of marketers, mobile searching is considered to be an extra element in addition to desktop searching, however it could soon be the other way around in the months and years ahead, especially for those who use mobile marketing as one of their main channels.

2. Social Media Outlets and Visual Marketing

Social media marketing is becoming increasingly popular, primarily because of the visual aspect it can bring thanks to elements such as images, videos, GIFs and memes on traditionally text-only platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

The upswing of visual platforms has also contributed to this trend because of Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat. While these visually-focused channels may not yet be fully utilised by marketers, they are becoming that way at an alarming rate. When asked which of the platforms was the highest performing for them, overwhelmingly the response came in this order: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and then Instagram.

Instagram is slowly taking the top spot for rising above the competition when it comes to increasing brand recognition, as it is gaining around 6-8% growth with new followers each month. If you add that up, it works out that follower growth in 2015 for brands was up by 100%.

The visual aspect of marketing cannot be forgotten, and the platforms know it, which is why Twitter and Facebook have led the push for to become multimedia friendly- GIFs, videos and live-streaming are all now accessible to counter against more visual outlets like Instagram.

Visual channels such as Snapchat have also faced competition from the likes of Facebook and Instagram who have tried to condense their visual content into smaller packages for shareability. If companies wish to take advantage of this trend towards more visual media, then multi-channel marketing in 2017 will need to be at the top of their to-do list.

 

3. A Merging of the Social and Commercial Worlds

Generally, social media platforms are considered the best means for increasing brand traffic and even visibility, as well as for making consumers aware of the product, primarily because people don’t visit social media to purchase, but to socialise. But 2016 showed us that this might no longer be the case.

It’s evident that the worlds of ecommerce and social media have begun to intermingle more in the past few months as these social networks are hoping to increase their own revenue by the inclusion of business marketing. Facebook for example has recently launched the ‘Marketplace’ function, YouTube (now owned by Google) recently acquired Famebit and there are now buyable items on the company profiles on Pinterest.

The organisations who promote on social media may not be directly requiring, or even expecting, a purchase to be made, however it may well prove to be more profitable to use these platforms for advertising as consumers are slowly developing a mindset to buy when they visit these social places.

The merging of business and social worlds, now known as ‘social commerce’, is a shift in the way that marketers function for their companies as the effects hit every area including marketing, mobile, desktop, ecommerce and advertising. Marketers who are already up-to-date in these realms could see themselves changing strategies in the years to come.

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