The start of a new year is a smart time to re-evaluate your marketing strategy, looking back on what proved successful, but also forward to what new trends appear promising. Some marketing trends play themselves out in a matter of months, while others stick around for years. Either way, you cannot afford to stick your head in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich, while your competition moves ahead. Trends are changing so quickly in the digital landscape that those who do not participate will find themselves sorely lagging behind.
Many of last year’s top trends are still going strong: mobile marketing, social media, integrated marketing. Visual marketing continues to be important as businesses fight for their share of fragmented attention spans. Mobile isn’t going anywhere (with a few new developments we’ll discuss), and businesses will keep producing useful content to provide more value to their customers.
Now let’s look at what’s new for 2016.
Rocco Cipriano, President of InSight Marketing
1. Optimize for mobile
With the continued proliferation of smart phones and tablets in the last few years, it’s no surprise mobile has now officially become the dominant channel through which people access the Internet. Mobile digital media time (51 percent) has now overtaken desktop at 42 percent, according to eMarketer. That means businesses that are not optimized for mobile viewing will be at a distinct disadvantage. This will also have an impact on our second trend…
2. Location-Based Marketing Continues to Innovate
Mobile devices are the gateway to instant and effective marketing messages. Every consumer with a mobile device in hand is a target for messaging that is triggered by beacon technology. Retail and other “brick-and-mortar” businesses that have these beacons in place can detect when a customer is in close proximity, and then push timely, targeted messages to that customer. It’s a little “Big Brother is watching” and customers may be initially turned off by this privacy issue, but as this mode of marketing becomes more prevalent and accepted by consumers, it offers businesses with physical locations some tremendous marketing advantages.
3. Context Behind the Content
Google is getting finicky about recognizing good content. It is not just about the keywords anymore; the context behind the words and the value to the consumer is more important. Well-written web content will become a major driver in 2016.
4. Social Media Drives Search
Social media channels are now being used to drive search to a large degree. Google has started indexing social media content so it is more important than ever to make sure your business maintains an active profile across all channels. Today’s consumer also uses social media to conduct research within the platforms themselves, sometimes even bypassing Google altogether.
5. Mobile Apps Keep Evolving
Mobile apps are still another mobile-friendly addition to increase your online presence. Google already includes content from apps in its search results and today’s consumer continues to download and access apps on a daily basis. More and more businesses are seeing the value of creating customized apps for their client base, to generate customer loyalty and make transactions easier. Mobile app store revenues worldwide are projected to grow to $76.5 billion in 2017, according to Statista. This data points to a move from the mobile web to mobile apps, especially for ecommerce.
6. Pop Ups Drive Conversion
New data shows that pop ups are an effective tool for driving email sign-ups with an enticing call to action. When used in the wrong context or for a hard sell, they can be annoying and intrusive. But when properly executed, pop-ups can work very well. The more opportunities for email capture on your site, the better. We suggest you do your own testing and find out how it works for you.
7. User-Generated Content (UGC) Will Surpass Branded Content
Using content created by customers of your brand adds a more native feel to your marketing. Many consumers, especially the Millennial generation, look for user-generated content to help them make purchasing decisions. According to bazaarvoice, over half (51 percent) of Americans trust UGC more than other information on a company website (16 percent) or news articles about the company (14 percent) when looking for brand information. Make sure to put consumer opinions and images front and center on your website and social media channels.
So, in general, advancements in technology will bring marketers closer than ever to the consumer in 2016. The user experience will become ever more important in how they receive messaging and interact with brands. The technologies that make this possible will take center stage, helping marketers tell more cohesive (and personalized) brand stories everywhere their customers are. And thanks to today’s skeptical, connected consumer, those stories will have to be rooted in transparency and authenticity—your customers will see through anything else.
Rocco Cipriano is the President of InSight Marketing, a marketing communications firm in Harrison. He brings over 30 years experience in advertising, marketing, and graphic design to his client’s work, and has authored a best-selling book: Branding Insights for Small Business.