As brands look at their planning for 2017, it's time to ask which consumer trends are going to drive next year's most effective digital marketing strategies? There are three big ideas that will drive digital marketing strategies in the coming year. They have to do with the changing demands of today's digital consumer.
So what are these "big ideas?":
• Health and fitness - Consumers are aware of the negative impacts of an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. They're defining health differently, not just as the absence of sickness, but as positive choices they can make that will help them live a healthier life. What's more, they're seeing tech as part of the problem, but also as part of the solution.
• Community - In a technology filled world, there's a generation of customers defined not by their age but by their desire to make human connections with others in their physical, digital and virtual communities.
• Convergence - Recent studies indicate that adults in 2015 spent nearly double the amount of time with mobile digital media that they did in 2010, for a total of nearly 10 hours a day of screen time. They're overwhelmed by choices online and offline. At the same time, data and technology are converging and enabling digital marketers to better understand customer journeys and deliver on customer expectations for a cohesive experience across mobile, online and offline channels.
Let's look more closely at some of these big ideas and how to use them in your digital marketing efforts.
Health and Fitness
Consumers' adoption of mobile devices, apps and platforms might seem at odds with trends toward healthier living and physical activity, and desire for community. But after years of negative attention to physical and health issues brought on by poor diet and lack of exercise, consumers understand how their lifestyle choices - including mobile and digital use - are affecting their health.
This understanding plays into the increasing popularity of wearables. Wearables like the Fitbit or Apple Watch allow consumers to track health information and movement; in the case of Apple Watch, they can perform a number of other functions as well, such as keeping in touch while on the go, without the inconvenience of having to carry a phone.
Wearables provide data about users' location and activities throughout the day, and can even provide insight into their state of mind. Digital marketers should look at how health, fitness and emotional data can be used to help solve problems or provide rewards for consumers. For instance, marketers could deliver a coupon for a certain number of miles, increasing sales while also supporting healthy living.
Building Community On and Off Line
Google recently studied consumers who are actively engaged as consumers, technology adopters and brand advocates online. According to Google, these "Gen C" consumers are not defined by age but by their activities online. They are not passive consumers, rather they are driven by the urge to create,connect and build community. They're two to three times more likely to buy online than other consumers, and up to nine times as likely to participate in online communities as other consumers.
How can brands engage these consumers in 2017? Marketing hubs, online destinations where consumers can find not just content but a sense of community, are one strategy digital marketers can leverage to fulfill consumers' desire for community while telling brand stories and meeting strategic goals.
Augmented reality games and apps may be another tool to engage Gen C. The recent popularity of Pokemon Go demonstrated the promise of augmented reality as a community building tool. Games that can be played in the physical world and that invite interaction between players or brands are ways digital marketers can use augmented reality to develop community.
Everything Must Converge
Consumers have repeatedly demonstrated an appetite for the idea of convergence, of being able to do more than one thing at a time. That's the reason mobile phones and devices are also cameras. Consumers want technology to simplify their lives, not make it more complicated, and they want experiences that work with them across multiple platforms.
We can leverage this in our digital marketing efforts in 2017 by looking at how technology and data can create a better ecosystem for understanding the customer and making their life easier.
Big data and the Internet of things will enable marketers gather and analyze more complete and better information about their customers and how they use products and technology, leading to insights about how to deliver better on customer needs. Omnichannel marketing will continue to be a key digital marketing strategy in 2017 to support the customer's desire to easily research, make decisions and take action. Digital marketers should constantly be seeking ways to better understand and support the customer as he moves across platforms.
Successful digital marketing in 2017 should understand what big ideas are driving customers to visit their web or mobile site, or ultimately buy their product. What is the larger purpose? When marketers understand this purpose, they can employ the rights strategies to support the customer journey.