Top Digital Marketing Trends in 2017 & 2016 Year in Review

Fine Point Grey Frank Coyle, President

Top Digital Marketing Trends in 2017 & 2016 Year in Review

(23-minute podcast)

Ready for 2017? Point It’s president, Frank Coyle joins us to look at what’s worked best for our clients in 2016, and emerging trends likely to drive results in 2017. In the spotlight: business impact of blowing up siloes & cross-channel marketing, digital-first marketing strategies, growing in spite of a tight job market, & emerging channels (mobile & conversion, reaching millennials with YouTube, huge growth in programmatic display advertising). We also look at other news: 3rd party bots, including Bing Ads’ account manager in a box, the best home assistants & their talents (including Harman Kardon’s new Cortana integration), Amazon drones, and Facebook Messenger’s new SnapChat killer features.

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Featured Experts:

Frank Coyle, President, Point It Digital Marketing

Guests and Experts


Frank Coyle, President, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Frank Coyle serves as President of Point It Inc. Mr. Coyle has a track record of taking companies to number one in their markets, these include Paul Allen’s Asymetrix Learning Systems, as Director of Marketing in the online learning market, Detto Technologies as Vice President of Sales and Marketing in the PC Migration space, and Arabesque Software, as Vice President of Marketing in the personal information market. Mr. Coyle has spent 19 years in Marketing and Sales prior to which he had extensive experience in both Finance and IT. He most recently ran an internet marketing consulting practice where he provided search expertise to small and medium sized businesses. Mr. Coyle has a strategic marketing consulting background, with clients including Microsoft, Adobe, and GemStar-TV Guide. Mr. Coyle received a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.


Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.


Maureen Jann: Welcome to Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Each week will feature industry experts and guests to talk through what’s happening in digital marketing. I’m Maureen Jann, the director of marketing at Point It, a digital marketing agency here in Seattle, Washington and I’ll be your hostess. The month of December is always a fun mix of stress and celebration and I am completely susceptible to this so I am just trying to stave off the crazies. But we don’t complain about that in this office because everybody works so hard in December and they’re supporting our clients and their holiday promos, so you don’t want to be on the business end of a Nerf gun here, it’s no good. As usual, we’ll talk through a couple of headlines I ran across this morning and I have Frank Coyle, Point It’s president talking about the year and the trends in digital marketing as well as his plans for next year. Welcome Frank.


Frank Coyle: Hey, looking forward to it. Thanks, Maureen.


Maureen Jann: Yep, should be fun. So let’s talk headlines. My network is talking about Bing ad bots, which is very close to home, new Home devices, which everyone knows I think is creepy, and Facebook-Snapchat “merges”, essentially. Not literally, more figuratively. So let’s dive in.


The article I ready today was at Search Engine Land and it was “Building a Bot to Help You Manage Campaigns Better”, which is really really interesting. They’re calling it an account manager in a box. I think that some agencies would get really nervous about that but for us I think it means some really great things. It means that our people can focus on being more strategic in servicing more clients which is a nice–it means volume and scale with high quality which is pretty exciting. We also went to WhirlyBall this week with some of the Bing Ads team and actually ended up having a conversation about machine learning being a big focus for Bing this year and AI and we’re seeing those trends in general around Ad:tech and MarTech so it’s been really interesting.


How do you feel about bots, Frank?


Frank Coyle: As long as you don’t keep following me around I’m okay.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, let’s not do the drone thing. Or, maybe we need an office drone and we can name him George or something. That’d be kind of fantastic.


Frank Coyle: So Amazon had its first drone delivery in the UK just the other day which I thought was really cool. It’s got to be within 30 minutes of where it was flying to, but yeah, I love it. I love this kind of technology.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, I think it’s going to be, especially in our industry, with volume and quality it give us a lot more opportunity.


The next thing I thought was kind of interesting was Microsoft partners with Harmon Kardon for Echo-like device, so another player in this home assistant market. I don’t know about you, Frank, but I don’t want Cortana in my house.


Frank Coyle: I love Google Home!


Maureen Jann: Oh do you?!


Frank Coyle: Oh my gosh it’s fantastic! So the other night, my daughter, she’s back from college, and we were talking about “24” the series and we were talking about Chloe’s husband and, “What’s that guy’s name again?” And we were kicking around, “I know it begins with an M”. I just said, “Hey Google, what’s Chloe’s husband’s name in 24”? Maury-something-or-other came the response. It’s fantastic. That’s just one example. We use it all over the place now. It’s really really good.


Maureen Jann: That’s funny. Okay, so the extent of our using it at home is we have Google Fire, the Fire Stick. For us, my 4-year old sits on the couch and she voice searches all kinds of crazy things. It’s mostly around TV, right? It’s like, “Play Daniel Tiger”, “Play bedtime music” and she’s really got this down. So, in the context of TV and music it feels really natural to me but outside of that, I don’t need to know that much. That’s what I’ve learned about myself.


Frank Coyle: Yeah, we do it for things like play NPR. It is a lot of music. It’s general-knowledge questions. It’s, “Hey, set a timer”. Things like that. The reason I got it recently was just to get in at the beginning of voice control and voice search. It’s going to take off. In a year or two you’re just going to completely change. But it’s so much fun!


Maureen Jann: Well that’s interesting


Frank Coyle: Except when there are several people in the room shouting different commands at it.


Maureen Jann: Then it gets confused and sad and it cries?


Frank Coyle: Yeah, do you want to know a really fun thing to do? You get your Amazon Echo, you get your Google Home together. And you can find this online, I think Search Engine Land did it. They have a little script where you give Google Home the commands. It starts ruling them off. Amazon Echo hears what they are, starts responding. Just in time when the last Google command finishes, Google Home hears that. It starts off in a loop. Amazon Echo then picks it up. And on. And they talk to each other forever. Danny Sullivan did an article. It’s brilliant! And this is his son that came up with this idea. We don’t know where we’re going with this. It’s gonna be a blast.


Maureen Jann: It is very interesting.


Frank Coyle: And then the Microsoft one has come out as well too.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, and what I thought was really interesting is they focused, and this is in Ad Age and they do some interesting things and I really enjoy reading their articles, but what they did was break it down. Echo is known for e-commerce, Google Home is known for voice-enabled search, and then this new one, this Microsoft Harmon Kardon one, is known for high-quality audio.


The context for me is key because I struggle with putting some of these doo-dads in the context of my actual use. So it never really jives with me for whatever reason.


Frank Coyle: I’d encourage people to get one, try one, because you’re going to have fun. You will get a benefit from it and you’re just going to learn. Your 4-year old now is learning to speak commands.


Maureen Jann: I’m waiting for her, I’m relying on her to teach me how to use it. I’m not kidding. This is really happening.


Frank Coyle: Yep, oh I know.


Maureen Jann: The other part that I thought was interesting, remarkable, was as Microsoft opens up Cortana to integrate with other devices, I’m curious. At what point does advertising get involved in this? Because it’s just a matter of time. That’s the question I ask about all these new products. When are they going to start advertising on these? I know it’s going to happen. It’s on its way.


So my last article that I thought was worth bringing up, especially as Snapchat has released their ads recently. Their numbers are growing and things are getting really crazy over at Snapchat. We’re seeing, just like we did when Twitter came out and Facebook changes things, they start to get a little closer together and everybody picks up “the best of” bits and pieces. So, Facebook is revamping its messenger app for the image-driven culture a.k.a Snapchat people. Snapchat’s another one that eludes me a little bit. But I have an account and I love looking at other people’s stories but I don’t personally use it very often. But, one of our people here talks about how she uses it to chronicle her cooking.


Frank Coyle: Oh neat, yeah, that’s cool.


Maureen Jann: Which I thought was pretty interesting. I think if you can put, once again I’m a context person, so if you can put that context in it’s pretty interesting. The filters, I don’t know if you’ve seen those filters with the crazy noses and the face-swapping?


Frank Coyle: Oh yeah, my daughter was showing me one the other night, just hilarious.


Maureen Jann: It’s so funny. So Facebook’s calling theirs “Messenger Camera”. It grabs onto the whole technology-meets-art concept which is pretty interesting. As they mentioned in the article, what I love about it is, what I thought was “Oh my gosh, yes, of course” and I’ve been on the receiving end of this so many times is how as technology improves, the behavior changes and then everybody who existed before that technology is catching up. Facebook never sits on their hands, they’re always right there, “Oh what a great idea, why don’t we do that too”? It’s going to be interesting to see how this …


Frank Coyle: Yeah you can’t be entrenched anymore, and I will get to talking about that in a little bit but you’ve got to keep up.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, no sacred cows.


Frank Coyle: Exactly.


Maureen Jann: Throw out what doesn’t work and take on what does, for sure. Let’s talk trends, you know? We’ve talked a little bit about trends but it’s going to be fun to talk about some of the things we’ve seen. Specifically, this year in the context. Ha, apparently context is the word of the day! The context of Point It and our clients and what we’ve seen. So that will be interesting.


So, Frank Coyle is the president of Point It and has been driving us towards an unprecedented growth over the last few years. His decades of marketing experience and sales experience have served him well to drive a unique group of top performers here at Point It who get amazing results. It’s been a pleasure to work for you.


Frank Coyle: Thank you, and likewise.


Maureen Jann: Thank you.


Frank Coyle: Sometimes I’m working for you, I know.


Maureen Jann: I think sometimes that’s okay.


Frank Coyle: Yeah that’s right, yep!


Maureen Jann: Well, I’ll try to behave myself considering you’re my manager. So let’s dive in.


Tell me some of the shifts you’ve seen in the way that our clients are thinking about digital marketing.


Frank Coyle: Well I think the really exciting trend we saw with some of our clients this year was blowing up silos. You know, the companies that have traditionally had one group in marketing doing this, and there’s another one over here doing paid search, and there’s another one maybe doing this or another one doing email, and there’s the indirect marketing that’s going on as well. We’re starting to see that come together. It takes a lot of change within a company. Some of these corporations that say, “Okay, all that spend we’re doing in billboards and print and direct mail. We’re going to shift those dollars over”. Sometimes there’s a, can I screech my hands on a chalkboard or a white board? Because they know it works. It’s predictable, they know what it’s like. But they also know there’s this other digital world over there that they have to get to.


So, a great example this year was one of our clients at Pemco. For those of you who don’t know Pemco they are like a Northwest institution. They’re a fantastic insurance company up here. They are very much specific on the Northwest. Their big challenge is that they’re competing with all of the major nationwide brands as well. So they’ve carved out a very unique identity and brand for themselves. It’s been a lot of fun for them over the years. But what they recognized was one of audiences they’re going after, millenials, they don’t respond to all the traditional, they direct mail, et cetera.


So, we started of the beginning of the year with them and I think when we first started it was page search and as we’ve enjoyed dialogues with them and conversations and discussed with them the full potential of digital marketing, boy have the jumped on and just gone full bore with it. It’s been fantastic results. The silos came down, and really now what we have is a very integrated digital-first mentality coming from Pemco, who we’re really happy to call one of our partners and vice versa.


The results we’ve seen this year from combining paid and paid social and display and [inaudible 00:10:55] it’s like full guns blasting out of here. The silos are disappearing. Results have been great. Year over year leads were up 248%. The traffic to their website was up 47%. And that’s just the start. That’s jus the first year under the belt. There’s so much more that can be done. We have a great case study on our website that people can go on and read it. As a result of that, both of us won an award for it with the local PMA, which we were really pleased. That was nice. But it’s always great when you can affect a client’s business in such a way that they are growing and also that they’re fully engaged in what we believed in. Which is the future of digital marketing. Which is still just scratching the surface. It’s big, but the surface is going to get bigger. So, a great trend there. A good shift.


Maureen Jann: And it’s interesting too because good, impactful marketing, it does impact the whole business. It’s going to help guide and drive and change and I think that Pemco is saying that too. We had Nate in there a couple of weeks ago. It was so great. We got to talk to him about how they’re changing and evolving and how the conversations we’re having with them here at Point It is driving change all the way up the org. Which is fascinating.


Frank Coyle: Oh their CMO, Rod Brooks, he is absolutely, well first of all the whole team at Pemco is really great, I’ve been over there a few times to meet them. But, the leadership there and the commitment to digital is fantastic. Actually that is nice to see, but it’s not easy to do. It’s like turning the philosophy of the marketing of an organization upside down and for all marketers listening here you know what it’s like. You might be the one person spearheading digital and yet there are people holding on to their old [inaudible 00:12:44] kind of like what we were talking about with Facebook a couple of minutes ago. How they’re never sitting there, that legacy, they’re on, “We’ve got to change now. If you stick around legacy you’re going to get lost”. It’s tough.


Maureen Jann: It’s true. And I’m sure that insurance probably moves a little slower, but it still moves. And there’s no question about that.


Frank Coyle: So my tip. See if some people who are listening. This is what I learned from Pemco. We talked about insurance, insurance coverage, etc., and the big thing that we’ve heard over and over again is “water damage”. I know this is crazy but I’m going to save some people out there money.


Maureen Jann: It’s a real thing


Frank Coyle: So I thought, “Oh it’s frozen pipes, it’s got to be the #1 cause. Well actually it’s not. The number one cause of water damage is in homes where the laundry is upstairs.


Maureen Jann: Yep.


Frank Coyle: Those hose pipes connecting the wall to your … those go, and you’re looking like you night have experienced one of those, is that right?


Maureen Jann: My husband is an ex-insurance adjuster for large loss homes. So he will tell us, “You can’t leave the dishwasher on when you’re not home. You don’t leave on the washer and dryer when you’re not home”. Because he’s seen it all. So I laugh because I’m like, “Oh my gosh my husband would so appreciate this conversation”.


Frank Coyle: Absolutely, so that and your water heater. Check your water heater. Okay, end of water-things. But, we’ve gotta pass on good knowledge. We’re going to save someone out there some money, I know it.


Maureen Jann: You’re right. Not only are we giving marketing advice but we’re also giving home advice.


Frank Coyle: Safety. Insurance. Alright!


Maureen Jann: Okay, great. So let’s talk about what trends are you seeing in the digital marketing sphere and how is that impacting our environment?


Frank Coyle: Our office, here, pointed. Lisa Sanner. Lisa. I don’t have to give you her second name because you know who she is. Lisa Sanner is our VP of search marketing and she and I were recently at the Google partner conference down in San Francisco. They told us what the main trends are, which is good to hear. So I’m not going to claim any originality.


It’s MVP: It’s mobile, it’s video, it’s programmatic. And that thing, a lot of people probably have in their hand right now. Tim’s got it right here. The cell phone. That’s where most of the searches are happening. So you’ve got to be thinking mobile all the time now. Of course, desktop is still important, but most of the searches are going on mobile. Just looking at how you can improve the conversion path on mobile can dramatically increase your results. So mobile is huge.


Video, you know, I watch a bit of YouTube, but I wouldn’t say I’m an avid YouTube watcher. And I wasn’t in touch with this one as probably I should have been. But video is just off the charts. The amount of time that people are spending, especially the 18-39-year olds. They spend more time on YouTube than they do on any cable network. It is just phenomenal. The amount of advertising that’s going on there is crazy. So, my message would be the trend I’m seeing is starting to put content, short content up. Video, YouTube, you’ve got to do it.


Maureen Jann: YouTube is so much more than just put entertainment. It’s also instructional and when I can’t remember how to do a crochet stitch I go straight to YouTube. It’s just the way it is.


Frank Coyle: Well going back to water damage, when I’m under the sink trying to fix that darn leaking pipe, what do I have? I’ve got my iPad under there as well and I’ve got Joe the plumber from somewhere showing me how to do it. It’s unbelievable. So yeah there is so much to do but from a business perspective, getting videos up there or getting short clips up there. It’s the way we’d all going. And it had better work well on that phone that’s in your hand. Gotta do it.


Maureen Jann: We had that conversation this morning about having goals for our mobile presence and making sure that they’re tight and ready to roll. And before you go deeply and too pragmatic, we have this next question, I think we can roll right into that next question.


What marketing channels are set up to shine in 2017? You said programmatic, So.


Frank Coyle: That was the third one from google in terms of trends is programmatic. So this is programmatic advertising and going beyond just display into native advertising, video, audio, etc. The told and the platforms are out there to enable you, our clients, to reach targeted audience to deliver this in a way to measure in a way that has never been done before. It’s growing like crazy. We have great partners like The Trade Desk, Turn, you name it. One thing we have done in here is we’re agnostic when it comes to the platform of choice for programmatic. We’re seeing great results across all platforms. Not every platform gives you the best results all the time but having a lot of these at our fingertips, it helps us deliver good solutions to our customers. And great results. Which is really what we’re all about.


How is the fact that I was internally, as our programmatic department has really grown significantly this year and it’s going to get bigger next year because that’s where a lot of spend is starting to shift. Really good example this year was with one of our clients who I drive around town I can see their ads on the back of buses and upon billboards, etc. not going to say who they are, but they shifted a lot of dollars. They’ve gone from a simple test at the beginning of the year to spending ten times now, on programmatic. Because they’ve seen the result. They’ve seen how they’ve been able to geo-target. It’s crazy. It just gets such a fine targeting and then scheduling the ads for specific times. It’s crazy what it’s done. And again, that’s gone all the way up to the EVP-level. They’re moving dollars over.


So, go back to what the shifts are. We’ve seen the shift from how we started all of this. The shift from the offline to digital. I’m not going to say everything’s all wonderful in wonderland, you know? Like everything, there are challenges. When you do it you measure it, you analyze it, it’s an exciting program. I think it’s a very exciting channel. And it’s really in it’s infancy at this point in time


Maureen Jann: It’s been a lot of fun to learn about it this year from a marketing perspective. Us marketing programmatic has been fascinating and has always impressed me about it is the ability to– I think there’s an old conception that it’s only top-funnel. But now we’re gotten to the point where you can drive for conversion and you can choose your conversion type. That kind of magic along with that specific targeting, that flexible learning targeting, you can’t beat that.


Frank Coyle: And the retargeting as well. It’s interesting as well with one of our clients. This is rare, but we are seeing their spend on programmatic double within search. And this is a long-term client. He’s very successful in search. And then recently I saw how much they were spending in programmatic and it’s like “Oh my gosh. Double” it’s insane.


So it’s not going to be the same for everybody, obviously, but there are folks who aren’t diving into the program and are having a good look at it. It’s worth looking for because it’s going to get bigger for next year.


Maureen Jann: Agreed. Well we’ve got to wrap up because we’re running out of time


Frank Coyle: I knew this would happen.


Maureen Jann: We’re good at talking. This is where we’re good. We do really well. So I know you’re planning on getting out there a little more next year. Can you tell me what are your plans? What are you doing?


Frank Coyle: Well where am I going to start? I think would be a good thing. I’m probably going to start on one of two places. It’s either going to be blow up the silos. It’s going to be that approach. Or, cause I think maybe marketers need to hear success stories. It’s how the digital could then walk into his or her CMO and say, “Look, this is what successful companies are doing and hey can we shift some dollars over there? Can we combine these silos, knock them down so we’re all working together. It’s hard. So that’s number one.


The other choice will be between that and programmatic. I think programmatic is such a great story that needs to be shared with more people. People need to have confidence. They need to get case studies they need to understand. Programmatic is a big black box. It’s a tough thing Five, ten years ago when I started in Adwords. Adwords is the black box. It’s not so much a black box now but it’s still complicates a lot of things going on there. Programmatic is pretty darn sophisticated and we want to help people understand it and then move into this path. So it’s probably between one of those two. Programmatic and blow up the silos.


Maureen Jann: Let’s do both!


Frank Coyle: Exactly. Yep.


Maureen Jann: Fabulous. Well, thanks for coming in and I know you have a busy schedule but it’s always fun to have our leadership come in and chat with us about what’s happening


Frank Coyle: Yeah a lot of fun, really enjoyed it.


Maureen Jann: Yeah we’ll do it again, how’s that?


Frank Coyle: Definitely, alright.


Maureen Jann: Perfect. Alright. Well, we can’t wait for your first article to come out and we’re wrapping it up here at Point It Studios in Seattle, a.k.a. “The conference room”. I’m sure we’ll all get together again after the holidays is actually what we’re aiming for. Taking a little break. Hopefully everybody has a fabulous holiday season and thank you guys as usual for joining me here for Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Follow us on Twitter to be notified when the latest podcast is up and you can download the podcast from our website or whichever popular app you like to pull podcasts from. For now, I think we’re going to just wrap it up and say, “Stay on point”.


Frank Coyle: Happy Holidays, everybody.




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