2017 Internet Trends Reports: 3 Standout Stats & What They Mean for Digital Marketers

top digital marketing trends 2017Every year, Kleiner Perkins investor Mary Meeker publishes her Internet Trends report, sharing the stats, trends, and predictions for all things digital. It’s one of the most influential presentations for tech and media professionals, covering a breadth of information on e-commerce, mobile usage, worldwide Internet adoption, and more. This year’s report even presented some interesting data on music streaming (recorded music reached its first revenue growth in 16 years, led by Spotify’s influence) and immigration’s impact on some of Silicon Valley’s top tech companies.

Serving as a “state of the union” of sorts for the Internet, it’s no surprise it’s also a highly anticipated report for digital marketers. But at 355 data-packed and text-heavy slides this year, it can be a lot to digest. No, the slides aren’t pretty. But do they provide some excellent food for thought? Absolutely.

If you keep up-to-date on top digital marketing trends (or web trends, in general), some of the data might seem like old news. As mobile usage increases, we’ve been discussing things like mobile optimization for quite some time. And digital marketer or not, it’s no secret to anyone that Netflix has been disrupting the home entertainment industry at rapid speed. (It now makes up 30% of the market, in case you hadn’t heard.)

So what can we learn from the report? Though this is certainly just the tip of the iceberg, here are some of the stats that stood out, and how to use them as a jumping-off point for your own digital marketing strategy.

In five years, at least 50 percent of all searches are going to be either images or speech.

Remember Ask Jeeves? Virtual assistants have come a long way since then, not to mention much more helpful, accurate, sophisticated and personable (sorry, Jeeves). Whether you’re calling on Siri, Alexa, Cortana, or one of the many other AI players, it’s easier than ever to get answers and find products through voice transactions.

So as you think about your content marketing strategy, consider the way you type into a search engine, versus how you might talk to Siri. In most cases, the latter scenario will include a complete question or command, using the same kind of conversational language you’d use talking to another person. Your content needs to reflect this. And it makes sense, really, as many of Google’s updates the last few years favor content that’s written for the reader, not just stuffed with keywords.

Also, consider the types of questions your consumers might be asking about your product, service, or industry. Are you answering them? Try using a tool like Answer the Public to discover real questions being asked online, and use those to guide your strategy. Even with top-of-funnel inquiries, claiming a presence and providing value to would-be consumers will help you build authority and trust — an important first step to getting people into your sales funnel.

By the end of 2017, digital ad spend in the US will reach more than $72 billion, surpassing TV ad spend for the first time.

No surprise here, of course. We’re spending more and more time on our computers and our phones. But as more businesses emphasize digital, the space will only get more crowded and saturated. Moreover, consumers continue to use ad blockers to avoid intrusive ads that aren’t relevant to them. The takeaway? It’s time to get more targeted, more personalized, and even more creative.

Fortunately, many ad platforms offer highly-targeted options for reaching your audience. Google and Facebook are the big players in the space, but Meeker also points out Uber’s partnership with Foursquare as an example of how companies can deliver targeted offers based on things like a user’s location, route, and even time of day. Snapchat is also getting more aggressive, offering retargeting options and Snap to Store, a feature to better track how ads are performing for brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants.

Meeker also noted that non-traditional platforms are becoming mainstream places for consumers to browse, research, and purchase goods; in one survey, 24% of respondents considered Pinterest a great place to buy things online, up from 12% in 2015. Content that once was an afterthought is now becoming a transactional touch point for e-commerce businesses. It’s a new level of native advertising, in a sense, and it can make a big impact on your revenue.

Effective UGC can generate 6.9x higher engagement than brand generated content on Facebook.

According to a Nielsen report, 83% of consumers trust digital word-of-mouth more than content produced directly by advertisers — and the rapid speed and growth of social media has led to an influx of online influencers ready to heed the call. Influencer marketing campaigns can extend your reach, humanize your brand, and provide the social proof customers crave.

But even if you’re working with a smaller budget, this is a tactic you shouldn’t ignore; it can work on a large or small scale, and for a variety of platforms. Working with influencers can include sponsored posts, social media takeovers, or even just repurposing and sharing images they’ve created. For some brands, it can be as simple as asking your current customers to submit their photos — everyone loves a shout-out, and you’ll get the benefits of additional content without straining your resources. Need some inspiration? Meeker references Qatar Airways and Red Bull as two big brands that regularly leverage user-generated content on their Instagram accounts.

Of course, there are a lot more stats and facts within Meeker’s report that are worth mulling over. (We mentioned the deck is more than 300 slides, right?) But using these three to start your strategies — from an earned, paid, and owned point of view — is a great starting point. Now that you have the data, how will you use it?

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