7 Predictions for Marketing Teams in 2017

January 18, 2017 Joe Staples

Occasionally we like to bring you thought leadership pieces from around the web. In light of our "predictions" theme this month, we're republishing this article from Workfront CMO Joe Staples, which was originally published in his regular column for MarTech Advisor

by Joe Staples

If there’s one quote that captures just how much marketing has changed since the turn of the 21st century, it’s this one:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.”

Versions of this statement have been attributed both to marketing pioneer John Wanamaker over 100 years ago and to “Father of Advertising” David Ogilvy (quite possibly the inspiration for Mad Men’s Don Draper) closer to 50 years ago. The phrase outlived them both and will be familiar to most marketers who attended college anytime prior to about 2005.

But the world we work in is changing so rapidly that half of what you learned in college is all but obsolete a decade later, and common wisdom that resonated with marketers for almost a century suddenly no longer applies. These days, you better know which half of your advertising is effective, and it better be more than half.

Now that we're a few weeks into 2017, here are my top 7 predictions for which things will continue to change this year, and which things will stay the same.


1. The Pace of Work Isn’t Going to Slow Down

Workfront’s 2016-2017 State of Marketing Work revealed that the average marketer puts in 45.9 hours per week, almost an hour longer each week than other enterprise workers. It may not sound like much, but 48 minutes every week adds up to an entire extra workweek by the end of a year.

It’s not a lack of drive or productivity that’s keeping them there after hours. 93% of marketers consider themselves productive at their jobs—more productive, in fact, than their direct reports, managers, co-workers, and company leadership.

The problem, I believe, is the pace of marketing work today. Marketers are under great pressure to continually deliver more and better work, both from a demand gen and a content standpoint, while keeping pace with changes in content delivery, consumer behavior, analytic capabilities, tech trends and more.

Unfortunately, these rising expectations don’t automatically translate into additional resources. Marketers will have to carve out greater efficiencies, design more effective processes, repurpose efforts across channels, and be able prove the ROI of almost all of their efforts (certainly more than half).


2. Email Will Be Less Important as a Tool

As marketers have embraced online task trackers, project management software, digital proofing solutions, and instant messaging apps, they’re becoming less reliant on email. (Except as a means of alerting them to activity taking place in one of the other tools they use to manage their work.)

For many, this change couldn’t be more welcome. 48% of marketers say excessive emails get in the way of their work, and 26% believe email will no longer be a main mode of communication in 5 years.

Email’s biggest weaknesses—its strict chronology and contextual isolation—are becoming more obvious as workers experience the benefits of communicating within a project management solution, where conversations are archived alongside project details, schedules, documents, proofs and more.

While I believe email usage will decline as an internal company communication tool, not to mention as a task-tracking system, email as a marketing vehicle will maintain its #1 position—and continue to be the most effective outreach tool in the marketing arsenal.


3. Video Will Continue to Dominate

Consumers today can’t get enough video, both on the B2B and B2C side. It is more engaging, impactful, digestible, and easier to recall than static words and images. Consider these statistics:

  • YouTube has over a billion users, almost a third of all people on the Internet
  • YouTube on mobile alone reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • 75 million people in the U.S. watch online videos every day
  • The top 500 brand channels on YouTube each average 884,000 monthly views
  • 65% of the population are visual learners, compared to just 30% who are verbal learners

While it may be easier to consume, video is definitely not easier for marketers to produce, especially without an internal video team. Marketers in 2017 will need to streamline their video production processes and develop that in-house expertise in order to keep up with the trends.

Your old, ad-hoc processes are probably fine if you’re releasing one video a month. But once you’re doing two a week, you need to find some efficiencies, especially on the proofing and approval side of things. If you’re still watching, pausing, scribbling notes, and emailing your feedback, it’s time to invest in a digital proofing solution like ProofHQ, where you can annotate and comment on individual frames and easily view everyone else’s feedback, too.


4. Live Video Will Continue to Disrupt Social Media

All the buzz in social marketing is concentrated around live video, whether it’s Snapchat (now Snap), Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope or even Twitter’s new streaming functionality. (Will this save Twitter from its continuing decline? We’ll find out in 2017).

Live video boasts many of the benefits outlined in the section above—minus the lead time, review and approval processes, and production costs. I see forward-thinking companies experimenting even more with both packaged and live video in the coming year.

Facebook and Instagram will remain strong pillars of the social landscape, but Snap will be the innovator to watch.


5. Mobile Spending ROI for B2B Will Remain Unproven

The mobile advertiser is still knocking on the business-to-business marketer’s door with that same old value proposition—40 million people a second are going to see your ad. And while that may be kind of reach the marketer is looking for, the reality is that mobile spending continues to be tricky for B2B companies.

Promises of reach aside, how many professionals are really going to see this, act on it, convert and bring in some revenue—when they’re on their phones Googling a recipe, playing video games, checking Facebook or watching YouTube videos? You can cite all the stats you want about the percentage of content that’s now consumed on a mobile device vs. on a desktop, but the real question is: what is the mindset of the consumer when he’s on his mobile device, and is that compatible with the message I’m trying to send?

Obviously there are exceptions, but B2B marketers overall are still trying to figure out how to use mobile to our advantage economically. As a B2B marketer myself, I’d love to see a breakthrough in 2017, but I’m not counting on it.


6. The Marketing Technology Explosion Isn’t Over Yet

In 2014, Scott Brinker of chiefmartec.com charted 947 marketing technology solutions. The number nearly doubled to 1,876 by 2015. And then it more than doubled again to 3,874 by March of 2016. It’s mind boggling.

While I’d love to see Brinker fit 7,748 logos on a single slide in 2017, I’m not convinced we’ll see yet another 100% increase. But I predict the number will rise by at least 50% this year.

Despite the staggering number of technology solutions available now, the applications that really matter to most marketers will remain a tiny subset of the whole. Luckily, you can focus on a couple of core categories (out of a possible 49 solution types) and ignore the rest.

If you’re curious, the categories with the highest number of available software solutions, which means these are categories worth paying attention to, happen to be:

  • Sales automation, enablement and intelligence
  • Social media marketing and monitoring
  • Display and programmatic advertising
  • Marketing automation and campaign/lead management
  • Content marketing

7. Agile Will Infiltrate More Marketing Departments

Because of all of the other trends and predictions referenced above, keeping on top of marketing work is just going to get more challenging in 2017. If you feel like you’re drowning now, reach for the Agile life raft.

As Agile expert Andrea Fryrear said in a previous MarTech Advisor column: “Agile can be the way that you are freed up to do great marketing work, but also to have a life outside of your desk and to be able to actually spend more mental energy on doing your work because you’re recharged.”

The top barriers that prevent marketers from embracing agile, according to a recent survey, are a lack of understanding, education and training about Agile. This can be easily remedied, with the proliferation of whitepapers, eBooks, webinars and other resources now available online. Here’s one place to start.


What to Expect in 2017

Marketers are naturally skilled at focusing on the future. The future is where we live. In fact, many of us feel like we’re halfway through 2017 already, given that the projects we’re planning now won’t be released for a few months yet. As the calendar inevitably marches on, we’ll eventually see where our forecasts rang true and where they fell flat.

You may not have expressly made your own list of predictions, like I did above, but every decision you make about every project you’re working on is based on your own internal prognostications about where your customers will be, what they want from you, and how they might react to what you’re offering.

Some of our assumptions will be right. Some will be wrong. But if there’s one thing we can all count on, it’s that there will be more than a few surprises in store.


About the Author

Joe Staples

Joe is a senior B2B tech marketing executive (currently CMO at Workfront) with primary emphasis in SaaS, mar-tech, and customer experience sectors. He loves brand-building, demand generation, PR/AR, and creative campaign development and prides himself in providing a good blend of strategy and execution.

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