A new year heralds a new season, fresh beginnings and a chance to start over. There is so much excitement and energy that comes with it. We greet each new year with excitement and glee because of the new experiences, opportunities and relationships we look forward to. Most of us cannot wait to put the wisdom we learnt in the past year and show that we have grown.
Similarly to last year 2016 I have assembled a group of top digital experts from Zimbabwe to share their predictions and thoughts regarding the direction of the digital marketing landscape in 2017 and beyond.
And here’s what the digital ‘avengers’ have to say.
Ranga Mberi (ZIM)
Media Management | Communications & PR Consultant
Digital Marketing Prediction: Big Year for Ecommerce, Politics …
2017 may be a big year for politics, so we may see a growth in competition to provide news and analysis online. Existing news sites will need progressive web apps; readers don’t want to wait too long to open links. People will cut even more on data spending so news outlets will try ways of providing affordable content.
In business, I think there will be pressure on businesses to raise their game on e-commerce. The cash crisis has been bad but it may yet have an upside in the near future; even if there’s a miracle solution, there will be a mind shift among some customers and they will, going forward, now demand more convenience in transacting.
So we may see more dedicated apps from businesses targeting customers. Content marketing has been the buzzword for the last few years. But the scene is now crowded and brands are going to have to be more creative with their content formats and presentation to stand out from the crowd. So we may see a lot of video, including brands looking to jump on Facebook Live. Visual content over whatsapp will become even bigger.
Sure Kamhunga (SA)
South Africa-based writer | media relations and communications consultant
Digital Marketing Prediction: Move to an integrated marketing strategy, from traditional to digital marketing
The major challenge will be how to maximise the digital marketing opportunities to strengthen brand value and loyalty particularly in what is becoming a cluttered space. How you retain attention – and most importantly ensure beneficial interaction leading to call to action by your target market – will be key to ensure brand relevance.
Understanding trends, monitoring competitor activity and pro-active brand management through below and above the line tactics will help you to stay above the parapet in a market where consumer loyalty can be finicky and unpredictable given the wide choices consumers now have.
I however think few companies have an integrated marketing strategy that encompasses all the platforms now available, from traditional to digital. More of a hit-and-run approach with no clear, measurable strategy.
Max Soutter (ZIM)
Managing Director of BizSetUp Group
Digital Marketing Predictions for 2017
Is growing fast and delivering some impressive engagement results. 2017 will eventually see the platform experiment with even more aggressive Facebook like algorithms that will filter who sees your content. Following in Facebook’s footsteps, they start by limiting the business accounts, forcing them to pay to play, then they’ll turn their attention to ordinary folk.
What to Do About It. If organic exposure is important to you, get serious about Instagram. Learn it. Change your business account to an individual one and focus on developing killer content and leveraging niche relevant influencers.
Live Video. Everyone’s doing it, and every platform is favoring it in their algorithms. 2017 will see companies wake up to the massive opportunity that is in LIVE video. As companies struggle to connect with audiences, they’ll be forced to consider more authentic, less polished but more engaging corporate content. Not everyone is willing to be that vulnerable on camera, so in 2017, regular, high quality live content is going to one of the biggest “probatunities” for smart marketers.
What to Do About It. Jump in! Get comfortable with creating content with a more spontaneous in the moment feel. Develop systems that allow you to maintain the quality of content and delivery without sounding overly rehearsed.
This year will see Twitter experiment frantically with features that will likely anger or confuse it’s traditional users, in an attempt to attract new ones – How well they balance these two groups of people will determine the future of the platform. I suspect that by year end we will see a very different Twitter to the one we have today.
Either a new and improved social media player on a strong growth path, or more likely a battle bruised animal with more bad press and less growth than ever – ready to sell to anyone who can make them more profitable.
What To Do. If you’re very heavily invested in the platform, now would be the time to diversify. Consider ways to migrate your strong twitter following to other more stable platforms. If you’re a business, you’ll also want to focus on capturing those twitter followers as blog or push notification subscribers, customer leads, and even retargeting audiences to be reached via another channel. Don’t wait for the last minute, start now.
As we move towards a more challenging and cashless environment, we’ll see businesses with smaller budgets than ever forced to completely rethink their marketing. They’ll become more focused on results than ever, throwing out the ego metrics that satisfied, even as late as early 2016.
As this happens we’ll hopefully see online payment systems become more prominent – with a good many companies being formed and restructured to take advantage of cashless payments. Despite all this innovation, a good many companies will fail to make the necessary adjustments in time and we should see a lot more closures.
What To Do About It. Change your vocab. Move from talking about things like views, impressions, viral, fans and followers to more useful words like Conversions, optimization, leads, real influence and of course sales. Build your business around metrics that matter, and totally ignore the rest. Also, if you haven’t already, start thinking bigger than Zimbabwe. The internet frees you from the geographic limitations you maybe accustomed to.
Honest Masiya (ZIM)
Social Media Manager at Visual Point Creative Group
Digital Marketing Prediction: Content to Rule
Last year I accurately predicted that live video streaming was going to take over as we saw Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope doing well. In that same breath I also predicted that social media platforms that have a video functionality were also going to fly as we saw Snapchat & Whatsapp Video calling take over.
This year I feel CONTENT will be king, a lot of online TV will probably sprout, YouTube channels will be more popular and influencers are going to be key in contributing success of content reach in 2017. Brands using digital marketing as a channel in Zimbabwe are going to depend more on influencers to deliver content to their customers as consumers are going to be on a constant search for content that teaches, entertains and engages them.
Charlene Mukuzvazva (UK)
Marketing manager Citroen Dealer
Digital Marketing Prediction: 360 Panoramic Videos to take over
Internationally, there will be a greater focus on panoramic 360 videos signaling the complete end of traditional video content. Not having a video content as part of your marketing mix is definitely not advisable.
How to prepare:
Get familiar with various video apps and do it yourself options out there.
Mike Tashaya (UK)
Accomplished Marketing Professional | Professional Consultant
Digital Marketing Prediction: Boon for Online Retail, Social Shopping, live-streaming
2017 should be a good year for ecommerce and especially retail. In the United States alone, shoppers made an estimated $3.34 billion in online purchases on Black Friday and a whopping $3.39 billion the following Monday (Cyber Monday), breaking previous records, that is set to reach even higher levels this year.
Besides offering hard-to-resist deals, retailers took advantage of a variety of technologies and apps to help drive sales this season. But two stood out for me and are set to really explode in 2017:
(i) Social shopping
Digital marketing and Social media in particular already influences consumer behaviour, but in 2017 it will become a bigger driver of direct transactions I believe. Recently Instagram launched a new feature that enables brands to tag products that are featured in the photos they post (much like the way a user would tag his or her friends).
By tapping on those product descriptions, users are able to go to the brand’s website to learn more and make a purchase. In 2017, look for more social media platforms and more brands to bring the shopping and buying experience straight to users’ social feeds.
The online shopping cart abandonment rate globally is huge; I personally have abandoned over 10 carts in the last month doing my Christmas shopping. Mobile has made things worse as attention spans tend to be shorter on smaller screens, despite driving a higher share of ecommerce traffic than desktop.
As the cart abandonment problem has increased, retailers are adopting a wider set of tools to try to counteract ‘lost transactions’. While retargeting has been around for a while, 2016 was a big year, with “more marketers sending triggered cart abandonment emails than ever before, using more personalized communications which resulted in greater success rates.
I think the trend will continue in 2017 in a much bigger way.
In Zimbabwe 2017 is going to be the year of livestreaming with brands set to jump in on this technology. We have all become used to carrying around mobile devices and having practically anything we need right at our fingertips.
Now, both brands and individuals have begun using livestreaming as a way to be more in-the-moment with their followers (capitalizing on that whole #FOMO trend which is still going strong). In the past, brands chalked up their entire video marketing strategy to the hope that one of their videos would go viral.
However, as video (live video, in particular) becomes a larger part of users’ everyday lives, brands are going to have to work on continuously creating quality video content.
As top platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are incorporating live video, we can be sure we’ll see it grow in 2017.
Larry Kwirirayi (ZIM)
Chief Imagineer at 3-MOB.com
Local Digital Marketing Prediction
Last year we saw the drop-off in video consumption online due to costs meaning a lot of videos tended to be watched by the diaspora.
I expected this trend to continue although viral videos, pirated off the net will find their way compressed onto WhatsApp which is a nightmare for marketers who are obsessed with data.
Facebook will continue to drive most marketers budgets online although I fully expect their solutions to still be based on foreign trends and not local ones.
International Digital Marketing Prediction
Publishers are taking control of products especially on VOD.
The future of this space is exciting. I see less focus on specific social media marketing jobs to social media being integrated into the mainstream of the communications department.
Also the use of more players in he organisation as marketers. And yes, for international markets, now is the time for video.
Florida Mapeto (SA)
Social Media Influencer | Freelance Speech Writer | Communications Consultant
Digital Marketing Prediction: Influencer Marketing to take over
Today’s digital marketing solely relies on referrals and what best works for this than utilising the men and women who have managed to gather attachment with a large pool of people online.
Unlike celebrities online influencers are just a relatable group of people who can alter, challenge or stir public opinion.
Brands and businesses would work well with this trend if done right because even Influencers also have to be careful about who or what they advertise for the sake of their reputation.
Allowing people to speak openly about their brand. Influencer marketing works even better for small businesses looking to start off with a specific target market but yet still find Facebook Ads a bit pricey
Business Engagement Increase on the Digital Space and especially Social Media
Most businesses in Zimbabwe haven’t quite grasped the importance of an efficient, well functional online presence for their business. 2017 might be the year they embrace total engagement with their clients, the necessity of hiring or placing Social Media managers to cover the gap of clients who feel neglected.
There is absolutely no point in placing adverts of your business if you’re not going to be there to respond to questions
Head of TechZim | Former leader at Pindula | Content Marketer by day | Father by night
Digital Marketing Prediction: Video to explode
Twitter will be bought. Their current business looks shaky and investors will push for this. May be bought by someone like Apple.
Local: Access to data allowing (this is dependent on the mobile networks) Video has the potential of exploding. Brands should look at investing into teams that are content creators and able to engage with their audience
Pendo O’ Donohue (Ireland)
Manager at Google
Senior Manager – Large Customer Sales- Israel, South Africa & Sub Saharan Africa
Disclaimer: The below are my personal thoughts and not those of my company!
Prediction: Artificial Intelligence (AI)
As the world continues to hurtle into one where machines working for us ( think self driving cars) is becoming more common place I think we’ll see even more of a move towards automation or machine learning when it comes to digital marketing.
Companies and agencies will use machine learning to take advantage of real time data and insights to maximise their return when it comes to digital advertising. The upside is creating greater efficiency but we could see less humans required………
Zim goes online:
Zimbabwe is still a fledgling digital economy however, I think we’re seeing more of an awareness of online (social mostly) as a powerful vehicle to get a narrative heard.
We’ll see more companies establish a digital presence given that according to IWS we have roughly 45% of the population online. Companies need to be able to be discovered on search but please make sure your site is mobile friendly!
Tendai Joe (SA)
Digital Strateghist | Business Developer
Digital Marketing Prediction: More Vlogs, Blogs and Online Magazines
Locally, I think there is going to be massive growth in terms of content creation. Young Zimbabweans will not only consume but create more local content especially in blogging circles. Expect to see more blogs, online magazines and vlogs.
Not much can be expected from brands and companies though, due to the economic climate in Zim. The Banking sector did well in 2016, and we should expect some consistency in terms of their digital presence.
Twitter to remain Flat
Twitter growth will remain flat, although the platform will continue to lead in terms of sparking conversations and breaking news. The relevance of the platform will become under the spotlight again as Trump takes over the reigns in the US. Facebook and Google will intensify their battle against fake news, and we should expect changes in the way posts show in feeds.
Facebook will continue to lead in terms of engagement and ROI when it comes to digital marketing. We however should expect a massive jump in terms of videos creates on Facebook and Twitter. YouTube engagements and subscriptions won’t change a lot.
Nigel Mugamu (ZIM)
Founder of 263chat | Highway Africa Award Winner
Prediction: Whoever will find ways to unlock Revenue on WhatsApp will WIN
For many, 2017 is a year for some key decisions to be made. I have a feeling that Twitter will sort itself out this year.
IF it’s true that over 70% of data usage in Zimbabwe is used for WhatsApp, whoever finds a way to generate revenue using WhatsApp is a winner.
Sakhile Ndlovu (Australia)
Digital Marketing Prediction: 2017 will be the year of the innovators and self-starters.
You can now sell products more conveniently directly on Facebook for instance, meaning there’s less pressure for people to create websites – they just need to master Facebook advertising.
It’s not the ideal situation for digital marketers because anyone who puts in the time and effort can manage their own platforms with minimal assistance.
I foresee everyone trying to get a slice of making a passive income online with all this room for monetizing content. Those who aren’t tech savvy will be encouraged to pay more attention to social media trends and up their skills on all platforms.
Head of Digital – TBWA Zimbabwe
Digital Marketing Prediction: Brands to move away from vanity metrics
Locally in terms of digital marketing I predict brands and companies are going to shift away from vanity metrics such as number of likes or comments to more meaningful engagement and interactions with their fans.
Brands are beginning to realize that the total number of fans or likes are useless if they do not offer some value either way. As a result, there is going to be a push from brand managers or community managers to start thinking beyond the “likes”.
Good for us, we have begun thinking like this for the brands that we work with, and they have come to see the results, be it in new business leads, customer service or solving clients’ problems.
Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality
Internationally there are 2 buzzwords that will dominate the digital marketing landscape in 2017: AI and VR. In 2016, most brands began experimenting with Virtual Reality as was of engaging with their target audiences.
Brands such as Intel and IBM have heavily invested in VR, looking beyond the imaginable to what the future of computing might look like. And funny enough the future is already here and it is both exciting as it a bit ‘scary’.
Then there is Artificial intelligence. 2017 will be the year of Bots and deep learning. As IBM Watson becomes available to companies that could not have afforded it.
Brands are beginning to tap into AI to solve common problems through understanding trends and patterns and anticipating that today was a bad day for Steve. So probably Steve will probably need a Latte instead of regular coffee and to cancel all notifications till tomorrow morning.
Now that’s fascinating.
Content Management Officer – Steward Bank
Digital Marketing Prediction: All out roll out on Social Media
What about you?
Do you agree with these digital marketing predictions? What are your thoughts regarding these predictions. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section and remember to share the article on any social media platforms.