2017 was another banner year for e-commerce and digital marketing - and we’ve only scratched the surface. As Internet advertising continues to grow in every market globally, buyers and sellers alike are in a massive execution “Olympics” for new products and customers, respectively.

If your website loads slowly or doesn’t have the right flow, you’re just pouring money down the drain.

During the enormous retail-buying season in November and December, the Internet surpassed bricks-and-mortar and department stores as the #1 shopping venue for the holidays. And Cyber Monday 2017 was the largest online shopping day in history with a near 20% year-over-year sales increase.

Driving customer acquisition and optimizing online ad spend continue to challenge even the savviest of analytical marketers. To me, this signals a tremendous opportunity: businesses that embrace the shift and leverage new technology will experience the most dramatic results.

Source: Global entertainment and media outlook 2017−2021, PwC, Ovum

Source: Global entertainment and media outlook 2017−2021, PwC, Ovum

There are many trends businesses and marketers should be tracking (and heavily engaging in) this year - here are my top three:

Mobile-First Marketing

This gets repeated time and time again, but I cannot emphasize it enough: Smartphones now account for a quarter of all digital purchases, and mobile commerce is already the new norm. If your website loads slowly or doesn’t have the right flow, you’re just pouring money down the drain. During the recent holiday season, most consumers viewed mobile as a significant shopping platform - 59% made a purchase on a mobile device, smartphone web traffic alone was up 22% year-over-year, and revenue was up 39%.

Can you optimize without technology? Not if you want to be an industry or category leader.

Devices matter. Competition among smartphones, tablets and desktops means it takes a more tailored marketing strategy and tactics to successfully convert customers on different devices. Be sure you’re building campaigns customized to devices and operating systems which provides more precision and control over who sees your ads.

Technology Optimization

Can you optimize without technology? Maybe, but not if you want to be competitive or be an industry or category leader. Investing in technology for faster growth and increased efficiency is one of the best investment decisions a company can make.

Seek talent and complementary technologies which optimize resources and budget. Think big and virtually and beyond the physical walls of your company. It’s the results that matter and drive growth, not the “someone” who achieved them.

The bottom line is don’t manage to the average - there’s too much at stake.

Digital Channel Integration

Success in digital marketing is often demonstrated by activating and building multiple customer acquisition channels. Even though Google and Facebook control 60% of online ad spending, this landscape tends to shift, rewarding the companies that have a multi-channel approach. Our clients who grew the most rapidly looked beyond AdWords and Facebook and introduced Google Shopping, Display, Instagram, Bing and even Snap into their digital mix.

Having clear visibility into all of your digital channels and understanding how they complement each other are critically important to your growth. With the rapid pace at which these technology channels are evolving - think about how much Facebook advertising has changed this past year - staying current with new channels and testing into them are paramount.

As marketing technology continues to evolve at its rapid clip, your business can likely use a digital marketing refresh to be sure you’re poised for growth in 2018 and beyond.