Top 4 Trends Marketers Should Watch For in 2017

February 20th, 2017

"Customer experience" should still be the rallying cry of marketers in 2017 - and probably 2018 and forever after that. However, in 2017, we're going to see the evolution of some pretty interesting technologies that are going to accelerate change in the way brands interact with customers.

As you read the list below, you may be thinking that some of these technologies aren't mature enough yet to get serious about. We would argue that the time is now to start experimenting to understand how new technologies can work for your brand today and into the future. Yes, the technologies will change. The key is to invest in the building blocks that will enable you to cost-effectively and nimbly change with them. Gartner puts it well in its 2017 look-ahead, "Companies should identify how industry platforms will evolve and plan ways to evolve their platforms to meet the challenges of digital business."

So what technologies and trends do we think are intriguing enough for marketers to take a closer look at? Here's our take on what could have the most significant impact on customer experience in 2017.

Chatbots Go Mainstream

More brands will see chatbots as a new channel for customer acquisition and engagement and there will be more widespread adoption of chatbots as brands get into a "me-too" mode, chasing after early adopters. In fact, one survey shows that 80% of marketers plan to use chatbots by 2020. Regulated industries like financial services will approach chatbots more cautiously in order to meet stringent requirements for customer privacy, security and transparency - but they'll be in on the act too. Beyond initial adoption, we should see emphasis on humanizing and personalizing chatbot communications. Also, seamlessly interweaving machine-generated responses with human representatives as needed for customer service will be essential to support bots that are still learning how to interact with humans

Increased Personalization

Personalization and native ads will take center stage as consumers become more resistant to traditional advertising. Marketers will leverage deep analytics, machine-learning and artificial intelligence to track consumers across channels. Data, including frequency of interactions, purchase history, and metrics indicating brand engagement and loyalty, will be used to target consumers with individualized content, campaigns and incentives. In addition, similar to how digital advertisers use data to target ads, it will become more commonplace for marketers to combine third-party data with marketing data to better understand user behavior and further fine-tune the customer experience.

More Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality

The future of video involves augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR). The success of Pokemon Go paved the way for AR, and it's clear that consumers love it. Other simple AR examples, such as Snapchat ads with AR filters, have been hugely successful - Taco Bell's sponsored Snapchat lens was viewed 224 million times! Related to AR/VR is eye-tracking technology, which can enable ads to detect if viewers are looking at them, and provide AR experiences based on viewers' eye movements. There is going to be massive growth for such applications and video content. Personalization based on name, gaze, location, etc. will help make the AR experiences - and even ads - unique to individuals. Lastly, with nearly three-quarters of Millennials interested in VR, we should see more development of VR content from large companies with big budgets. Over time, as the technology becomes cheaper and more content is available, VR will become mainstream for more businesses and in more industry verticals.

Increased Live Video Streaming

We've been seeing increased demand for more real-time content, particularly views into places or events viewers can't physically go to. A great engagement booster, live video gets three times the amount of engagement than prerecorded video, especially if it allows for audience interaction. In 2017, there will be more live streaming of company events and corporate announcements. In addition, live streaming will be used to boost influencer marketing - for example, live videos for event reports, live guest interviews, product reviews and cooking demonstrations. What makes it interesting is that audiences will be able to contribute to the activity or even help direct it as it happens.

Taking Brands to the Next Level in 2017

We're excited to see where these trends and technologies take digital marketing in 2017. However, it's not just the growth and maturing of these technologies that's exciting, but how they will intersect with each other, other marketing technologies and IoT devices in stores and in homes to dramatically shift the marketing technology landscape in 2017. At Reve Marketing, we're in the thick of these new technologies, working with clients to provide the technology foundation they need to embrace the new and emerging, creating strategies and campaigns that position brands at the forefront of changes as they occur, and enabling brands to provide more engaging customer experiences that drive results.