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Predicting the Biggest Digital Trends of 2017

I’m always curious to read predictions for the coming year, and even more curious to later return to those types of posts to see what happened (and what didn’t). ‘Tis the season for a little future-facing hypothesizing, so I’m adding to the fun with some thoughts of what to expect in the digital realm in 2017.

2017 digital trends predictions

Voice Search Goes Mainstream

We’ve already been seeing this, whether it’s “Hey, Siri” or “Okay, Google,” voice search is increasingly in our lives. Ask Amazon Echo for your next order.

What does this mean for marketers? How do you optimize to be first in an answer Google provides? Is there an advantage to being first? There are a lot of considerations, small and large, for users and marketers.

There’s also a lot of room for learning. We need our devices to understand what we’re saying, or often, a step beyond that: what we mean when we ask for things (more on AI below). That requires further refinements but we’re already seeing those on the way, and with increased usage this is something that we’ll likely be surprised we didn’t have as a more ubiquitous part of our lives very soon.

Quality Over Quantity Continues

Remember when we used to care about how many followers a social account had? I mean (ahem), if you still do, that’s cool and all. But marketers soon discovered that getting those people to DO something was more important than just having them hang out there.

Of course it still comes down to strategies and actions and such, but for the most part we’ll continue to see a shift from quantity (I can tweet more than you can!) to quality (my content is shared… are those real followers you’ve got there?).

We’ve seen this shift already, and the explosion of content marketing and the competition for our eyes (and dollars) makes a focus on quality increasingly important. Likewise, the need to justify return on investment for companies, and a post-digital marketing team, that intuitively includes all available channels (digital or not) in the marketing mix require solid strategies that deliver business-relevant results.

Artificial Intelligence Knows You. For Reals.

Ever told someone something and later realized they did exactly what you asked, but not what you meant? Your spouse, dog, or best friend might not know what you meant, but your computer just might. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are already big and only getting bigger.

The opportunity to provide immediate feedback and customer service (chatbots, for instance), combined with the opportunity to apply these tools to analytics analysis (for some amazing insights), will drive digital innovation in 2017.

Look for technology to anticipate what you’re looking for, not just what you asked for. For now that might mean Amazon knowing that when you want to order detergent, you want the same one you had last time. But look for this to get much more sophisticated and increasingly integrated across e-commerce, search, social and, of course, on mobile.

The question is, at what point will that be creepy? Or is there a point, anymore, when that’s creepy? Insert your preferred sci-fi movie reference here. There could be one sticking point, though, and that’s next up…

Privacy Concerns Become Increasingly Mainstream

From the EU privacy laws to evolving terms of use, legislation is racing to catch up to technology at the same time that evolving consumer preferences force us to ask, how much are we willing to give up for convenience? Or stated differently, how much does privacy matter if technology is making your life that much easier?

The push for further personalization of digital environments and highly segmented and customized marketing, combined with new insights from AI, can provide us with amazing customer experiences. This is the marketing we dreamed about 5 -10 years ago, or at least close to it.

At the same time, all this data collection and aggregation raises concerns. Data breaches abound, whether in private or public sectors, and there’s a growing separation of those who feel not enough is being done about it, and those who think there’s little risk considering the benefits.

Enter into this environment potential legislation in the US, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) showing an increased desire to play a role. The EU has led the charge and we haven’t seen much fallout as far as enforcement and breaches of the privacy laws passed.

While more companies gather and analyze customer data, and customer insight opportunities continue to increase, 2017 will be a year for grappling with big privacy questions and deciding where we draw the lines, and even (in the US, at least) if we decide to draw them at all.

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I could go on and on, especially over data and privacy (can you tell this brings out my inner geek more than usual?!), but I’m more interested to hear what you think. What do you think is in store for us in the digital realm as 2017 kicks off? Anything you find particularly exciting? Or annoying?

Whatever the digital world holds for us in 2017, wishing you the best in quality content, amazing web experiences, and everything else that makes you happy.

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