As the confetti clears, as the silly hats get packed away for another twelve months, and as the ticker tape is slowly swept off the streets near and far… the marketing world gradually awakens from its past few weeks of hibernation. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon blink the sand from your eyes, look up from your mountain of corporate emails to catch up on, then mutter to yourself,

“What’s our plan for this year, again?”

That’s the trick about marketing: it’s an ever-evolving industry. Your goals for this year shouldn’t be the same as your goals for last year. (Hopefully because you met and exceeded those goals in the first place, but also because your environment – your budget, your prospects, your products, your resources, your competitors, your own expertise – has likely changed from what it was before.) So if your marketing environment is growing more competitive and you’re looking for some tips to keep up with the times… read on.

Trend 1: Show, Don’t Tell.

To many marketers, the word “infographic” can hold a pretty nasty connotation; it can seem like the equivalent of an online brochure: it is, quite simply, an artistic or graphic representation of the numbers we already possess. But despite the infographic’s unpleasant reputation, a lot of marketers already employ items similar to infographics in their every-day strategies. Speakers giving presentations often use graphs and icons to illustrate their points; instructional videos do the same but with motion involved; and social media posts that include a picture are considered 94% more likely to be clicked on. So digital marketers should not be so quick to dismiss the infographic this coming year, especially now that they’re becoming easier and easier to make.

For anyone who has ever self-identified as a visual learner, 2017 is already seeing an increase in the use of infographics – and it’s easy to understand why they’re valuable. The truth is, sometimes even data analysts have a hard time visualizing the messages to be gleaned from their countless spreadsheets and multi-comma numbers. But case studies are constantly growing in value, and the uprising of online video content is a clear indication that visual communication should still remain a top priority for marketing agencies.

Maybe companies for whom video is too strenuous can try taking a less-stressful step in the right direction by seeing where a few infographics can take them; or maybe left-brained businesses who struggle to communicate the effectiveness of their data can learn from the right-brained communicators within their organization. And for organizations who have a strong video presence, they can take their data visualization a step further and create individual videos focusing on each of their own case studies. Data visualization, whether animated or not, is a very powerful tool of communication.

Trend 2: Customized Email Journeys

One of the benefits (and drawbacks) of technology is its increasing ability to track and monitor user behavior; from website cookies affecting the ads on display, to the discounts and coupons mailed to an athlete with a fitness tracker. However, what many businesses are now realizing (which marketers have been pushing for some time) is that they don’t have to be a massive techno-wizard company to use this themselves.

Automated programs can insert videos into email messages, monitor customer engagement, and send prospects on more customized, individual journeys through the sales funnel so that the emails people receive are actually relevant and interesting. This year, companies that haven’t already started investing in programs like Hubspot or Autopilot will definitely begin; and those that do will start picking up the pace in order to keep the attention of their audience. Customizing email journeys will lead to an increase in personal relevancy for your viewers, and that micro-targeting is a part of the year’s next trend. Cue the drum roll…

Trend 3: Value Over Views

After the scandal centering around Facebook’s inability to track views as accurately as they claimed, the marketing world was at a bit of a loss when it came to their digital strategies and campaigns. They had spent so much time and effort into seeking exposure that they didn’t actually stop to look at the percentage of engagement that came out of it… but now, at last, they’re waking up to that.

Incredible programs like Hubspot are offering services that can show marketers not only how much traffic their online content is accruing, but also – and this is the kicker – which sites generate the most actual leads. For some companies, sites like Facebook or Twitter might produce more publicity – but their less-frequent posts on business networks like Linkedin might generate more meaningful interactions with interested parties. Much in the same way that Google’s new algorithm has slowly changed the world of SEO, quality is no longer the name of the marketing game: quality is going to be a more valuable asset this year.

Bonus Tip: Do Your Homework.

Part of marketing is knowing your product. But here’s a secret: you’re not just selling product. You’re also trying to sell people on your company. So before you lay down your New Year’s Resolutions for the marketing department, take some time to collect information until you know your own company backwards and forwards; that will provide a solid core for your plans.

Our team at Optimum has plenty of experience in keeping our eyes on market trends, and providing cohesive road maps that detail the best next-steps for your company. If you’re interested in a sound strategy for the new year, customized to your business, then give us a call.