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How to split the pie in order to keep up with the trends in 2017 – 9 marketing budget directions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We mean… the time of the year when marketers prepare their budgets for the new year. In that idea, we are coming to aid with some directions for developing the 2017 online marketing strategy. We’re inviting you to discover why it is important to invest in websites for mobile, AdWords budgets, security certificates, marketing automation, loyalty programs, testing and UX optimization, video campaigns, virtual reality and integrated communication on all channels.


1. The first slice is dedicated to websites for mobile

We live in the era of mobile devices. A 2016 Marketing Land article says that 65% of the time spent in online comes from mobile devices. Taking into consideration all the changes of the consumer’s behavior, a website must be adapted for mobile. The ones that are not mobile-friendly can be penalized by Google due to the lack of a satisfying user experience.

The 2016 State of Mobile Commerce study developed by Criteo shows that, at an international level, the best retailers earn 50% from mobile sales.

In Romania, desktop usage is losing ground to mobile devices. Also, e-commerce sales that came from mobile have had a substantial growth in the last years. At the end of 2015, in Romania, out of 6.7 billion that have purchased online, 1.4 billion have placed their order from a mobile device, according to GPEC. In the same year, the breakthrough rate of mobile devices was over 50%.  

The last months of 2015 were surprising for the online stores: the mobile device originated traffic was over 50%. For example, during Black Friday, eMag – the biggest online store from Romania – has recorded for the first time more visits from mobile – 51%.

When choosing to develop a mobile optimized website, the options are:

  • Separate website
  • Adaptive website
  • Responsive website

Let’s see what’s what with each one.

A separate website for mobile has the “” form and involves a separate domain. It is recommended when the mobile functionalities are very different from those of the desktop version. A well known example is

For example, we chose to develop separate mobile site for Brikston, one of the Romanian market leaders of brickwork and furbishing. The decision was influenced by the fact that the desktop version was very complex, with functionalities that couldn’t be introduced for mobile. Below you can see the difference between the two.

Desktop version

Mobile version

In the case of adaptive websites, the elements resize and rearrange according to the size of the screen. There are predefined scales. It also involves a different type of code, even though the same database is relied upon. For these reasons, its development may require more time.

A responsive website automatically rearranges all the elements according to the size of the screen. It seems similar to the adaptive type, but the difference is that the resolution does not have fixed scales and it does not require a different type of code. Easy to develop, not requiring a lot of time and cost-efficient, it is a good choice for presentation websites. Google recommends this type of mobile websites here.

In order to properly understand the choice that better fits you, ask the specialists from the marketing and IT company that you are working together with. The sooner the better is our recommendation.

Website or App?

Should I develop an app instead of a mobile website?

This is a frequently asked question. As usual, the answer in marketing is it depends. It depends on the business and marketing objectives. Usually, the mobile website is firstly developed and followed by the app only if necessary – for example, if you desire to increase the interaction between clients and the company.

One benefit of the apps is that, being downloaded on mobile devices, they can be accessed without Internet connection. That being said, decide carefully if taking this approach is worth it.

Usually, keeping clients engaged is very difficult. You might succeed in persuading them to download the app, but the most difficult part is motivating them to keep using it.

Global statistics – again developed by Criteo – tell us that 54% of all mobile transactions come from apps. Also, at a global level, apps manage to convert 3 times more than mobile websites.

A 2015 study developed by Unlock Research shows that, in average, a Romanian uses 7 apps every day. Out of all the respondents, 80% declared that they have placed and order through an app at least once. Taxi orders are also included here, having the greatest percentage – 47%.

If you do decide to go for the app, keep in mind the following important components for users: relevance, easy, intuitive usage and constant engagement. 


2. You’re on if you have good SEO, but what about Google AdWords?

This year, Google has introduced many changes, like the ones provided below:

  • the Penguin 4.0 update, released this autumn
  • paid ads were eliminated from the​ right side of the results, now being displayed only on the upper and lower side of the page
  • the change of color for paid ads, from yellow to green, resulting in difficulty of differentiating them from organic results. This proves that Google considers now paid results even more important.
  • AMP flagging for mobile searches. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and it is an initiative for developing quick loading mobile websites, using Google AMP Cache. All the website resources (images, JavaScript, CSS) are loaded from the Google cache, this resulting in instant access.

With all the changes that occurred, it is more and more difficult to maintain a good position in organic searches in the long run. Most of the time, it is difficult to accurately identify the causes of sudden growth or drop in organic searches. Also, Google rarely confirms the assumptions of marketers.

What’s left to do?

Google Statistics show that, on average, for each dollar a company invests in AdWords, the return is 2 dollars. Google AdWords paid ads have won considerable ground, especially due to the fact that they offer much more control than SEO, regarding budgets and audiences. Further on, the results are registered faster and are easier to track.

In 2011, Google wrote on their blog that 89% of the AdWords generated traffic is not replaced by organic clicks when the campaigns are turned off.

In conclusion, even though you should not abandon SEO investments, our suggestion for 2017 is to increase the AdWords budget, especially for mobile searches.


3. A small but important slice: Security Certificates

Data security is one of the biggest issues of the Internet. Google wants to be sure that all of the user’s information is safely circulating on the web, on encrypted websites. The SSL certificates were developed due to the need of substantially reducing the hacking incidents, where personal data, including logging in or credit card information, can be extracted.

HTTPS secured website example

As you can see, secure websites are flagged by a green lock and the old HTTP protocol has become HTTPS.

Chrome has an extension that flags websites that do not have the SSL certificate, in order for the user to clearly understand the safety issues of the pages they are surfing.

Data security is not important only for online stores. Regardless of the type of website that you own, our recommendation is to acquire the security certificate for increasing your credibility.


4. Marketing Automation – cost-wise, a potential pie on its own

A recent growing trend, marketing automation is a tool that makes marketing processes happen automatically whilst integrating the sales and marketing department’s efforts.

Marketing automation offers a multi-channel communication, giving the possibility of reaching the right clients, through the right channel at the right time. The delivered content is bespoke in order to more efficiently match their needs and increase the conversion rate.

This system functions 24/7 and reduces the costs allocated to the sales department. This is due to the fact that the sales agent reaches out to the potential client at a time at which he or she is already interested in your company’s products or services.

Once these leads are obtained, they are put through the process known as “lead nurturing” that has the aim of transforming a potential client not only into a real client, but also into a loyal one.

A G2 Crowd Grid classification based on the clients’ level of satisfaction and market presence has acknowledged Hubspot as the best marketing automation tool, with a general score of 87 points out of 100, and a satisfaction score of 99 points. Following close is Pardot, with a score of 82, and Marketo, with a score of 79.

Through lead generation, lead nurturing, multi-channel communication and the possibility of implementing up-selling and cross-selling techniques, marketing automation brings ROI growth making it a tool in which you have to invest in 2017.


5. Loyalty programs – a slice that cannot be ignored anymore

It is a well-known psychological fact that humans like being rewarded. Loyalty programs motivate the clients to stay with your business in the long run.

We know that it is a lot more cost-efficient to keep an old client than to attract a new one. The latest statistics show that this is between 5 to 10 times more gainful and that an existing client spends with 67% more than a new one.

A good example of such a program is Hilton’s “Hilton HHonors”. Using the “You Deserve to be Rewarded” headline, the clients perceive it as an honor and believe that they deserve the offered benefits. The copywriting aspect has a major importance in this instance.

Through HHonors, clients have free access to premium Wi-Fi, collect points for a free of charge night of accommodation, can choose they room and personalize their stay. Also, by making reservations through the Hilton app, clients can win 3 times more points.

The loyalty program does not only promote Hilton products and services, but also those of their worldwide partners, like airline or rent-a-car companies.

Regardless of the type of business that you own, our recommendation is to develop a loyalty program that can pleasantly surprise your clients and persuade them into staying with your business for a long period of time.


6. UX Testing and Optimization – a slice of finesse

UX – user experience – implies the functionality and design that offer the user a pleasant experience through the process of optimizing usability and accessibility. User experience also implies all the aspects of interaction between a client and a company, taking into consideration each and every touch point.

What does online UX testing imply? Get a user which hasn’t interacted with your website or application until now, ask them to perform certain actions and observe their behavior. Get a hold of their feedback. Depending on it, you will find out what are the necessary changes that can improve the user experience.

Why test? Many times, it is quite difficult to walk into the shoes of a new user. Moreover, your users are not the same and have different online behaviors. You need to discover how intuitive your website is from the first view and to identify the bottlenecks that make people abandon your website. The identification of these points is vital for online stores and other businesses that aim to sell online or generate leads.

UX also involves, of course, optimization for mobile devices.


7. Video Campaigns – a small but growing slice

YouTube is the second search engine after Google. The growing importance of video content in online is supported by clear statistics that estimate that, until 2019, 80% of the Internet traffic will be represented by video (Cisco Forecast). Moreover, according to Business Insider, 41% of the display advertising on desktop will be comprised of video in 2020, in the United States.

Statistics about the growth of video content importance in online are not surprising. At this moment, YouTube has 650 billion viewing hours per day.

Even though video campaigns require a greater budget, primarily because the production of such content needs to be handled by experienced companies, they have roaring success rates. Why? Because it is much easier to create a story by using videos and to diminish the feeling that, actually, behind the story there are clear marketing objectives.

Perhaps one of the best video campaigns is John Lewis’s Christmas campaign. Every video has a clearly defined story in the background. Here you can see the 2016 spot:

The Nike Unlimited campaign focuses on athletes and the enormous potential that can be unlocked when limits are pushed. The campaign has several videos: Unlimited Will, Unlimited Youth, Unlimited Courage, Unlimited Pursuit. All of them support the launch of the Unlimited Colorway Shoes collection. The campaign perfectly matched the 2016 Olympic Games, the Unlimited You video being aired during the openings.

The campaign also transitioned in the offline, forming a 17 days event with the Unlimited theme. The event took place in different countries around the world and was dedicated to athletes. They have been challenged to overcome their limits by participating at different sportive activities.

You can watch our favorite video here:

What to keep in mind when creating a video campaign?

  • Make sure the image is of high quality
  • Make it short, but impactful.
  • Tell a story. Regardless of age, they are everlasting.


8. Virtual Reality – still a virtual slice for many

Once imagined only in Sci-Fi books, VR is now a real trend. It became possible due to the technological advancements in graphics and motion and mobility sensors. According to Digi-Capital, in the next years, VR will record tremendous growth by 2020, reaching a value of $30 billion. At the moment, Virtual Reality presents itself as a revolutionary technology.

Virtual Reality is a computer generated reality and offers an artificial sensorial experience. Basically, the brain lets itself be fooled by the received stimuli and perceives the artificial experiences as being genuine. A good example is the roller coaster VR experience where, due to the turns, users can lose their balance.

Statista has published an estimate of the revenues that will be generated by VR products until 2018, both hardware and software. If in 2014 Virtual Reality hasn’t been explored, one year later it has seen a great growth.

VR apps are especially popular. In order to see their success, here’s an example: the Google Cardboard app has been downloaded 10 billion times and their Virtual Reality channel has over 1.8 billion subscribers.

Keep in mind! Virtual Tours are not the same as Virtual Reality. A 360 degree tour is actually made of several pictures shot from different angles which, when put together, give the illusion of a video.


9. Integrated Communication – or – The tray that brings together all the slices

In the end, it is very important to invest in integrated communication on all channels. Wherever you make contact with the clients, they must not feel the transition from desktop to mobile or from online to offline. They must understand that the entity that communicates is the same and must not feel interruptions or differences.

Through an integrated communication, you create synergy between all the channels. Be it that they walk into a store or access it online, the contact between the clients and the company must feel like a continuous experience.

A consistent communication does not only make your brand more recognizable, it also assures increased trust in the brand.

These were the 2017 marketing budget directions for your company. Our top 3 actions to implement are:

  1. Mobile-first
  2. UX & Testing
  3. Virtual Reality

We wish you good luck in creating memorable marketing campaigns in 2017!

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