User engagement is crucial to building strong relationships with employees and customers. So as 2017 begins, marketers everywhere are considering new technologies and tactics for creating captivating experiences. Which tools and strategies will lead to higher engagement this year and beyond? I believe those that promote interactivity, personalization and automation will be key.

First prediction: Marketers (and businesses as a whole) will look to simplify their technology stacks.

It’s no secret that the marketing technology landscape—with its 3800+ technology solutions—can be overwhelming. In 2017, there will be a focus on finding versatile tools that can accomplish multiple tasks or be used by multiple departments across a business. For marketers, it will be about securing a lightweight, customizable data management solution that can be used for a range of data collection needs, including lead capture, campaign analysis, and automatic data routing to email marketing platforms or a customer relationship manager (CRM).

Second prediction: Analytics will continue to be important for marketers, particularly when it comes to creating personalized marketing experiences.

Understanding where customers are coming from, which experiences (new and old) are resonating, and which content is falling flat is crucial to creating high-performing, tailored campaigns that really connect with potential customers. In 2017, marketers will focus on calculated data collection and campaign measurement so they can gather the powerful insights they need to personalize their marketing efforts and improve their strategies.

Third prediction:Account-based marketing (ABM) will continue to rise as an important marketing strategy.

More and more businesses have been exploring ABM in recent years as a way to target larger company accounts rather than individual leads. In 2017, ABM will fully take off as a recognizable strategy for business growth. More business will recognize the power of marketing to a group rather than an individual since most technology purchase decisions are made by more than one person. And the percent of marketers who have implemented an ABM strategy will rise drastically from the current 20%.

Fourth prediction: In 2017, more businesses will produce interactive marketing campaigns.

This means we will see more videos, gamification and virtual reality experiences coming out of the marketing world. Users increasingly expect some level of entertainment when interacting with brands on the web, so marketers will be tasked with creating content and experiences that are not only relevant and informative, but also entertaining. Newer technologies like virtual reality will be explored and older technologies like video will no longer be seen as optional (one third of all online time is spent watching video, after all).

The user experience will drive engagement in 2017 and beyond. Interactive experiences will increasingly provide incredible opportunities to make a unique impression on customers and employees alike. Data collection, management and analysis will provide the information marketing teams need to tailor their campaigns to the appropriate targets, maximize their impact and boost results for the entire business.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Direct Marketing. 

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Ashley Walsh

Ashley Walsh has worked in multiple areas of the B2B marketing sector and is currently the VP of marketing for Formstack (www.formstack.com), an online form building solution based in Indianapolis. Pullquote: Users increasingly expect some level of entertainment when interacting with brands on the web, so marketers will be tasked with creating content and experiences that are not only relevant and informative, but also entertaining.

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