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3 Huge Digital Marketing Opportunities for 2017

Author's avatar By Mike Berry 23 Jan, 2017
Essential Essential topic

3 critical areas you will need to invest in to have a successful 2017

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein 

Well there were plenty of difficulties for digital marketers in 2016, so let’s start 2017 by focusing on opportunities; i.e. good things which are available to those who recognise the challenges and tackle them with a positive attitude…

So here are my 3 big opportunities of 2017:

 1. Finding and buying great Creative ideas

Some marketers seem to believe (digital) marketing is all about the technology but no…it’s (still) mainly about creative. Brands connecting with people. Entertaining, informing, providing value in return for their time, attention and money. Words, pictures, videos, IDEAS which resonate. Desired reactions would include:


“That’s so true.”



“I know what they mean.”

“Yes - same!”


“Oh, that’s interesting…”

“Hello. He’s fit.”

“Wow - that’s useful…”

(or just quietly watching, listening, engaged…).

Check out this case history:

The Next Rembrandt by Dutch Bank ING Group and Microsoft (Cannes Cybers Lions 2016 award winner):

Jury President, Chloe Gottlieb, SVP, Executive Creative Director, R/GA, commented: “The Next Rembrandt demonstrates how rather than an output, data and code can be the starting point for creativity.”

Great creative marketing like this doesn’t only require talented creative people who ‘get’ the technology; it depends on a great brief, which means clever planners and capable account directors who can make the most of that precious resource: the creative people’s time, and crucially, a confident client marketer who is ready and able to recognise and buy a great creative idea and then ‘sell’ it within their organisation and see it through to fruition…

Great marketers select and manage the best agencies for their brand. A crucial skill is knowing when not to try to do their job for them. Whether we are talking creative or media planning, marketers should appoint experts, supply them with all relevant information (and as little as possible which is irrelevant) then step back while they work their magic, returning to say (clearly and decisively): “yes”, “no”, or “maybe, if you could somehow change this” … Although many brand owners ‘talk the talk’ about their belief in great creative work, few are currently ‘walking the walk’, creating an opportunity for those who can truly deliver on this. In this digital age, great marketing communications are created by individuals and teams who not only really understand the customer but also have a good grasp of what the technology can and cannot do; so marketers: find those people, agree a price and let them get on with it!

2. Mastering Analytics

As a Business School Lecturer, I regularly tell my students; “If you plan to work in any marketing or general management role, invest time in learning about Analytics: you will get serious ROI!” In 2017 we should be talking Analytics rather than Web Analytics; in this case, less is truly more; we need to consider all communications through all channels. This whole discipline can’t possibly get less relevant to modern marketers; it can only grow in importance.

As always, it’s about understanding your (potential) customers. Brands construct a range of touchpoints (online and offline) at which users leave a trail of data; sometimes knowingly as part of a ‘deal’, other times perhaps unconsciously. Smart companies know how to obtain permission, harvest and then extract full value from that data. With the emergence (finally) of the Internet of Things (IoT), there will be more data than ever. The trick is knowing which data to ignore and then following the mantra Data->Insights-> Action. And make sure you get all the way to Action!

Attribution Modelling attempts to answer the question “Why did they buy?” Consider how you last bought a holiday. It almost certainly wasn’t done in the same way as your parents might have planned a vacation, say 25 years ago. Think about your user journey: the role, if any, of high street travel agents is likely to have been small and the role of the web major. Now consider all the various touchpoints: general research, conversations, enquiries; with the path to purchase perhaps shared with your partner, probably over an extended period of time. The analyst’s task in tracking you right through this process, including all channels, online and offline, is far from straightforward and, many would say, unenviable. As an industry, we’re not great at analytics yet. But just imagine the prizes if we could get it right!

This is a massive opportunity for brand owners and specifically for those who choose Analytics as a career. Recruitment consultants are crying out for following people: data analyst, data scientist, CRO specialist, insights manager/director. Individuals with suitable job titles are being searched for right now on LinkedIn…There currently just aren’t enough people with the right blend of skills and experience in these fields to do the work that brand owners need. This trend will continue - it could be you or someone in your team!

3. Putting it all together: GUJU

The last 12 months in marketing/ digital/ tech were certainly action-packed. Facebook, Snapchat, Amazon, Google, Tencent and Alibaba growing ever more powerful. Video everywhere - especially on mobile. And the pace of change is certainly not diminishing; indeed AI, AR, VR and IoT are at last becoming real, drones are on the launch pad and driverless cars are revving up. So many changes and yet:

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose- Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Marketing is still marketing. Integration is my last and biggest opportunity. Look up for a minute from your computer/ tablet/ phone. The ‘real world’ is still out there. Nobody has uninvented paper. Tim Berners-Lee’s web first became a thing during the period 1990-93 and yet we STILL have offline channels. Video was invented in the 1890s (with the advent of moving film/ motion pictures) and is still going strong; indeed, it has developed incrementally ever since then. For a long time, maybe always(?), we will have paper magazines and static billboards… Even in 2017, plenty of advertising viewed on computers will essentially be one-way ‘broadcast’ communication which doesn’t expect/ require a direct response. Meanwhile TVs connect to the web; phones are computers and sometimes marketers choose to print an ‘email’ and pay for it to be enclosed and delivered by the Postal Service and (sometimes) this delivers ROI. It’s not the case that online is in some way ‘superior’; nor is offline obsolete and crucially, consumers don’t recognise any big distinction between them. Indeed, as many of us have been saying for some time now, ‘the line’ itself is arguably an unhelpful concept. So, we need to get beyond ‘offline and online’, ‘traditional and digital’ and embrace a simpler concept - marketing that works, ie. Grown-Up-Joined-Up (GUJU) Marketing.

In the world of Marketing, we’ve had several years of Digital and at some point, The Year of Mobile (did you miss it too?). Let’s make 2017 The Year of Marketing… Integration is certainly not new, nor is it easy; indeed, in many ways the web has made marketing more difficult! Even in 2017, many corporate structures inherently discourage GUJU marketing thinking and implementation. But this just means that the need for data/analytics-savvy marketers with no bias between older and newer channels, with a sharp business brain and who recognise a powerful creative idea that will cut through, building the brand and driving sales and profits - is greater than ever. Be that GUJU marketer. And hire them! Now that’s what I call an Opportunity; Here's to a successful 2017!

Author's avatar

By Mike Berry

Mike Berry is a UK-based Digital Marketing Blogger, Trainer and Consultant. You can follow Mike on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn. Mike is Course Tutor on the IDM (Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing) Diploma in Digital Marketing and the IDM's Complete Digital Marketing 3-day professional course; author of ‘The New Integrated Direct Marketing’, (Gower) and a Partner at Aprais, a global agency/client relationship management consultancy. View Mike's company blog at http://mikeberryassociates.com.

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