Last month, we partnered with General Assembly to host our final Digital Pond of 2016. Together, our top digital professionals reflected on fantastic year in digital and looked ahead at what’s in store for 2017. What trends, techniques and technologies should you add to your marketing matrix? 

With just a few weeks until Christmas, two questions are popping up in marketing teams across the country. What are you wearing to the Christmas party? What’s your favourite Christmas advert? And… where do I even start with our Digital Marketing Strategy for next year?

Well, we’re not personal shoppers (and you wouldn’t want us to be!) but we LOVE the John Lewis advert. As for that strategic worry… you’re in the right place! At our latest Digital Pond event, we invited four industry leaders to share exclusive insights into the trends for 2017. How can you capitalise on these trends, technologies and techniques to build awareness, engagement and loyalty with your customers? Here’s the highlights from each speaker session.

Trend & Tech Planning

Our very own ducks Danny Bluestone and Sylvain Reiter opened the night. They showed off the technologies they’re excited about for 2017. But what foundations do you need? Maximising your current content and opportunities was a key theme. These new technologies aren’t asking marketers to re-invent the wheel – just change the tyre! To keep up, we need to ensure all our content is conversational and responsive. Linking back to his talk at our previous #BrandPond, Danny reminded us we must establish our brand personality, behaviour and communication first.

So what are the trends? Step aside human assistants, 2017 is all about robots….and by this I mean AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Bots. But what does that mean for marketers? Well, AI and Bots simply analyze content that’s already available and produce the most favourable information to the user. So, we just need to adjust the content into a conversational tone and provide specific answers to users’ questions.

Digital Pond 3, 2016 - Danny Bluestone & Sylvain Reiter

Sylvain demonstrates how AR should focus on content and user need (rather than shiny tech!).

Next year, Google is pushing the move from keywords to user intent and ‘the query before the query’. Breaking the search into before, during and after, Micro-Moments have been developed in response to customers using a more conversational tone in their searches. Driven by user intent and using Hummingbird and Rankbrain, the search tool uses conversational keywords to predict the user’s next move. So again, we just need to ensure our content is picked up to reach the top of the search.

To close the talk, Sylvain took us away from our computer screens with augmented and virtual reality. Like AI, all the major players are investing in virtual reality (VR). Linking to Micro-Moments, this technology can take our consumers through the full purchasing experience – whether its choosing a t-shirt, buying a car or viewing a hotel – all within the comfort of their arm chair! AR bridges the digital and physical world. AR is not about creating a new reality, it’s about enhancing what already exists. How could you power-up stories that you already have? 

Watch the full video of the talk:


Writing Epic Digital Marketing Strategies

Focusing on making 2017 the ‘year it got personal’, Camilla White (Account Director at Cult LDN) shared her predictions for 2017. Connected to Danny’s remarks about strong brand strategies laying the foundation for marketing, Camilla revealed how they must also be embedded in human insight. We’re constantly talking digital, digital, digital. But we have to remember that a human is using our apps, reading our tweets and liking our Facebook page. We’re no longer guessing who our audience is. There is an abundance of technology to tell us exactly who they are, what they do, and what they like. For our strategies to be successful, they have to embody human insight.

2017 will be about personalising the shopping experience, like the VR example used above! Our consumers are using visual content to guide their purchase journey. As the most trackable source of marketing, social media allows us to target directly to our consumers and personalise their experience.

Digital Pond 3, 2016 - Camilla White

 Camilla walked our attendees through the shift from macro- to micro-influencers.

Camilla predicts that 2017 will see a shift from macro or celebrity endorsement to micro influencers. As a brand, we must nurture the community we have already before trying to attract a new following. Again, this goes back to personalisation. We should be inviting them to engage on a 1-2-1 basis through online chats, product launches and exclusive content. By looking after this community, they will then tell our story for us. And as Joan from Frame proved in her talk at our last event, we know this works!

2017 is about a full brand experience. By utilising digital technology, we can create immersive brand experiences. Consumers want a personalised experience – like a single touch point. Entry level is easy, by using consumer platforms we already have, with content we’ve already written. Social Media platforms are already one of the most invested functions. From Facebook, to Instagram & Snapchat, our demand for immediacy will continue to grow with the rise of Live. It is important for brands to understand the resources available to them and how to capitalise. 

Watch Camilla’s full talk below:


Tash Walker closed the event with a twist. As the Founder of The Mix – a human behaviour research company – she got us thinking about the people we’re marketing to, and who we’re missing. One thing that’s going to make compelling and insightful Digital Marketing Strategy is people. We must understand the people we are trying to influence. And there is one specific group of people who are misrepresented and misunderstood – baby boomers!

Digital Pond 3, 2016 - Tash Walker

Tash revealed the potential of baby boomers - a key audience many marketers miss!

This group of older people now have far more influence than ever. Just look at the political events of 2016 to start to see some of the effects. Yet, the marketing world is obsessed with chasing a younger audience and disregarding the older generations. There is a myth that older people are technophobes, but this is not the case. In fact, even the new technologies that were discussed above such as audio commands and VR have made it even easier for this group of people to use technology!

Going back to brand influencers, the younger generations that we’re desperately trying to get to like our page or retweet us have so many followers who are unlikely to take notice of who they like, buy from or watch. But the baby boomers only have a handful of followers who actually know them, respect them, and would respect their purchase choices and decisions. 

Check out Tash’s full talk below:

Join Us in February 

Thank you once again to General Assembly for the great space and to Daisy Group for the support. We work closely with sponsors to host fun, inspiring events every other month. If you’d like to support us please get in touch.

Keep an eye out for our next event by following the Digital Pond on Meetup or Twitter – we’d love to see you there!