Guest Column: Digital Marketing Trends to look for in 2017: Mrugesh Gaglani & Manish Porwal, Alchemist

With the clutter in media and intensity of competition rising, identifying niches and catering to them with innovative solutions will become increasingly important

e4m by Mrugesh Gaglani & Manish Porwal
Published: Jan 11, 2017 8:21 AM  | 4 min read
Guest Column: Digital Marketing Trends to look for in 2017: Mrugesh Gaglani & Manish Porwal, Alchemist

Bringing in the New Year, digital marketers and brand architects have a lot to look forward to.  With the clutter in media and intensity of competition rising, identifying niches and catering to them with innovative solutions will become increasingly important.  However, there are trends and practices that are becoming extremely prevalent and it is safe to predict that these will evolve even more as the year progresses.

Crowd sourcing: This will evolve and go beyond just taglines, captions and feedback for the soon-to-be-released commercials. As go-to-market timelines crash and competition intensifies, crowd sourcing will be a great way to not just engage with prospects and consumers, but also refine brand messaging.  Some brands have used crowdsourcing very effectively to create content – Apple iPhone has featured on mass media crowdsourced videos or Pepsi “crash the IPL” wherein crowdsourced Pepsi ads were played during IPL. This phenomenon will gather steam in 2017 with more brands realising the merits of crowdsourcing to create content and most importantly to give brand ownership to consumers directly to ultimately build stickiness for the brand.

Digital listening: Brands will be made to pay more for unsubstantiated claims, not necessarily through consumer forums, but in terms of heavy brand erosion on social media.  As consumers listen and talk to consumers far more about brands, marketing teams will need to closely monitor digital commentary and use it as a barometer for measuring customer satisfaction. This has already become a daily morning ritual in many companies, wherein comments, posts, likes, retweets related to the brand are measured and reported to relevant internal stakeholders.  For many brands, a digital war room may become relevant to observe world events and build relevance for the brand through these. For example, after the announcement of the Union Budget, a 2-wheeler brand immediately announces on its social media handle that its price remains the same despite the increase in excise duty.

Online reputation management (ORM) as a full-fledged profession: Much like PR evolved in India in the 90s and early 2000s, ORM specialists will find many takers and sophisticated tools will be deployed to manage brand reputations online.  As digital listening evolves, ORM will become critical to manage the health of brands; this can no longer remain as one of the responsibilities of the digital marketing team, but will metamorphose into a separate resource or department. The key result areas for this department would include metrics like number of reviews, number of positive reviews, user-generated content (UGC), repeat visitors to website, number of check-ins (if relevant) etc.

Marketing through mobile phones: Although some brands realised the folly of going mobile-only, a better mobile strategy for 2017 is to treat it as part of a multi-platform and multi-channel communication strategy. More than 20 per cent of the Indian population owns smartphones; this coupled with improvement in mobile data connection speeds, mobile phones will become an even more critical touchpoint to relay brand messages to consumers.  Short videos, images and gifs will be more economical and in many cases will replace communication through traditional static media like print and OOH. Brand stories through longer duration videos can be created and disseminated for mobile consumption. The “missed call” habit of Indians was very well capitalised by Unilever through its award-winning property, ‘Kan Khajura Tesan’ to reach out to ‘media dark’ parts of the country. To cite an example, going forward, a bank can integrate its social media handles with its banking app so that any customer query on its Twitter or Facebook can be transited from public conversation to private message on its app, thereby retaining a large part of its dissatisfied customers.

Leveraging technology for content:  In India, Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR) are in infancy. 2017 can be a year where their true potential gets unleashed and brands really discover the benefits of using these technologies to create and communicate content that can be relayed through offline and online media.  The early adopters of this technology will clearly differentiate themselves in the consumer’s mind.  In 2016, for example, Tata Motors launched its new hatchback Tiago through a VR headset in select newspaper editions to give consumers a feel of the car – this was not only highly recalled but was also one of the top trends on social media.

This list can go on; however, these trends will be in the limelight throughout 2017 and if deployed efficiently and resourcefully, it can create recall and differentiation for brands.  Marketing campaigns leveraging the above trends will be more relevant to consumers today.

(The authors are Mrugesh Gaglani, Managing Consultant & Business Head, Alchemist Marketing Solutions, with inputs from Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist Marketing Solutions)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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