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2016 is rapidly drawing to a close, and it’s a good time to take a step back and reevaluate your marketing strategy as you head into the New Year. It’s important to acknowledge that some of the marketing tactics and tools that loomed large as the year started have already faded into obscurity. So which marketing trends have run their course? Let’s look at the marketing fads that burned out in 2016.


You’re probably familiar with Vine. It’s a video-sharing app that allows users, including businesses, to share six-second videos, or “Vines”, with their followers.

While video content is still hugely popular as we head into 2017, Vine does not appear to be taking off as an effective means of branding and marketing businesses. Rather than spending money on Vine marketing, consider taking your video budget and using it elsewhere to maximize the return on your investment.

QR Codes

For a while, QR codes were all the rage. It seemed like nobody sent out a marketing text or email without a QR code, and customers happily presented their smart phones at check out so that cashiers could scan the codes for a discount or coupon.

However, QR codes seem to have largely run their course. The primary reasons for their demise are:

  • QR code scanners tend to be glitchy and ineffective, and that can be a source of frustration for consumers.
  • The overall conversion rate for QR codes is extremely low, rendering the ROI on using them negligent at best.

While mobile marketing is certainly on the rise, QR codes are a trend best left on the shelf.

Yellow Pages Advertising

While in many ways, advertising in the print yellow pages might seem outdated, a surprising number of companies still do it. However, the overwhelming majority of consumers in the United States own smart phones, and as a result, they are far more likely to look up local business using their phones than they are to turn to a book.

If you’re reluctant to give up your ad in the yellow pages, consider that the cost of print advertising is far higher than that of advertising online. You can still list your business in local business guides, online directories, and professional associations. Many of those places do not charge for listings, making them a far more affordable choice than any form of print advertising.

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Desktop Marketing

While many consumers still use laptops and even desktop computers to search and conduct business online, the fact is that as of 2015 mobile searches on Google outstripped desktop searches. That is a trend that will very likely not reverse itself, and yet many business are still in denial about the reality and what it means for their marketing strategies going forward.

The smart money in marketing or 2017 is in mobile marketing. You’ll get a much higher return on your investment than you would with desktop marketing. Mobile marketing allows businesses to send out highly-targeted messages using sophisticated technology such as geofencing. It makes sense to reconfigure your marketing budget to allow for decreasing your desktop marketing and increasing your mobile outreach.

Organic Search

Google isn’t going anywhere, but the fact is that as its algorithms grow increasingly more sophisticated, it gets harder and harder for companies to generate any traffic at all as a result of organic search.

Why? Because Google has moved away from being a true search engine and toward being a predictor of human behavior. Search results are targeted by geographical area and refined based on behavior. A consumer who does repeated searches for businesses in downtown Boston is likely to get only downtown business even if she does a search for “Boston florists” based on her past behavior.

SEO is still important, but it’s likely that businesses will begin to place less emphasis on achieving a high organic search rank and more on the kind of targeted marketing that will ensure that the people who need to see their ads actually see them.

Social Posts that Don’t Engage

Social media continues to be a huge force in online marketing and advertising. Companies are using social giants Facebook and Twitter, as well as newer sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat, to reach their customers.

As social media use rises, companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they approach their social media strategies. It’s no longer acceptable simply to blanket your Twitter feed with direct sales pitches. The most effective social content is content that encourages your followers to engage with you directly.

Examples include posts that request followers to create their own content, or posts that ask a question. The more engagement you get with your followers, the more likely you are to create brand loyalty and turn casual followers into paying customers.

Failing to Integrate Customer Service and Social Media

Speaking of social media, the final trend to leave behind is any tendency you might have to keep your customer service separate from social media. Customers expect to be able to ask questions and register complaints on social platforms, and the companies who get the highest ratings for customer service have embraced that trend and used it to their advantage.

Instead of resisting the idea of Facebook being a place where customers come to ask questions, look at it as an opportunity to engage with them and help them in a public way. Even a negative comment can turn into a net positive for your company if your social media team responds properly. Offer apologies when necessary, and calm solutions whenever possible. And if by chance a problem is too big to deal with on social media, you can provide the customer with a telephone number or send them a private message to deal with it offline.

The key to marketing success in 2017 is to take the time to assess your marketing strategy, revise it as necessary, and reallocate funds to the campaigns and tactics that are most likely to succeed in the New Year.

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