Marketing constantly adjusts and reacts to changes in technology and attitudes. While digital marketing has undergone a substantial transformation in the last few years, the technology that incited the changes is growing at a faster pace than most brands can keep up with.
So, what does this mean for competitive marketers that are already strategizing for 2016? Brands need to look beyond the usual channels to stay ahead rather than simply jump on the bandwagon.
Here, we’ll discuss those trends that are changing the face of marketing (yet again) and give you an eye-opening look at what marketers should be leveraging in 2016.
1) Relationship Marketing
As smartphone adoption continues to rise with an estimated 2 billion consumers worldwide expected to own a smartphone by 2016, the opportunity for brands to be connected with their customers and prospects is set to be closer than ever. Enter relationship marketing.
The goal of relationship marketing is to focus on building stronger loyalty and long-term customer engagement rather than on quick, short-term customer acquisition and individual sales. This helps companies develop strong, emotional customer connections to their brands that drive word-of-mouth promotions and lead generation.
Through meaningful customer relationships and conversations, companies create loyalists and brand advocates. Companies that do relationship marketing well set the bar high for other brands vying for more meaningful connections.
So, how can companies develop community and personalize their outreach efforts? Data. We now have data in easily accessible and interpretable formats through which we can develop strong relationship-marketing plans. In 2016 and beyond, personalized, data-driven marketing will become increasingly important.
Intrusive, mass-target approaches to marketing will slowly dwindle as marketers who focus on relationships grow their businesses. All solid relationships are built on trust. Transparency between customers and brands is essential, so companies must keep this in mind when mapping relationship marketing tactics.
2) Marketing Automation
As marketers today are spending at least 50 percent of their time on content, companies are coming up with more ways to automate marketing. Marketing automation alone is worth $5.5 Billion and is leading the way in lead generation and prospect nurturing.
Using a marketing automation platform makes it easier to schedule emails, segment contacts, automate social media posting, manage your content, and track the lifecycle of customers in your marketing funnel. This automation trend also highlights the growth of convergence, which allows you to stay lean, focused, and as profitable as possible without compromising on quality.
With even more focus on marketing to deliver results, marketing managers and CMOs should be taking stock of their team’s skills, noting the gaps and defining a robust automation strategy to help sales through engaging prospects, qualifying leads, and shortening the overall sales cycle.
3) Location-Based Marketing Technology
How can event professionals and marketers create an interactive experience? They must target users at the point of engagement. Location-based marketing technology, like iBeacons and RFIDs, helps make this possible. iBeacons are small, inexpensive transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to detect nearby devices that can be housed in retail stores, point of sale displays, and merchandising areas.
iBeacons can also help event attendees make the most of conferences through sign up and engagement in talks and sessions. Furthermore, Linkedin integration offers the opportunity to connect with attendees and send messages (including push notifications) about the latest news, reducing the need for delayed email communication.
A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a small electronic device that contains a chip and an antenna, providing a unique identifier for that tag. RFID wristbands, cards, and apps enable event attendees to interact in new and engaging ways. Event organizers can let visitors easily share their experience with their friends online. Brands can increase shares and likes with a simple photo and tap of the wristband to share across social media.
It’s all about location – and the marketer’s ability to make the most of it, in real time.
4) Virtual Reality
Virtual reality technology, like Oculus Rift, will inevitably have a huge impact on the way that marketers engage consumers in 2016. One of the biggest keys to marketing, especially to Millennials, is personalization. With the ability to literally tell 360-degree stories, companies will be able to engage like never before.
Companies who don't supply a virtual experience for prospective customers, such as retailers, could see a drop in sales. Adoption of VR in 2016 and beyond will undoubtedly cause some kind of shift in marketing ideology. It’s best to hop on the VR train now to get a first look at what these new eyes will show us.
5) Ephemeral Marketing
Snapchat is already moving into the space of a “standard marketing platform.” In the upcoming year, marketers will come to understand that Snapchat isn't just a tool for fun marketing experiments; it's a platform that users are flocking to in order to digest social media in real time.
In order to deliver integrated campaigns that make constituents feel connected, especially the younger generation of consumers (read: Millennials) you need to be offering exclusive content that has an expiration date. This “less is more,” or ephemeral, marketing is all about communication that’s shorter and more to the point. In a world where people have less and less time, this model works.
Snapchat is the ultimate platform for making consumers feel connected and at the same time, unique. Brands such as ESPN, Vice, and Comedy Central already use it to push their messages to voracious consumers of media. With Snapchat, the advertisement becomes the product – something that competitors won't be able to ignore. Take advantage of this huge opportunity to connect uniquely using just a small window of your audience’s time. Be organic, speak their language, and just cut to the chase.
6) Search Past Search Engines
With Facebook already working on tests for its own search engine, it seems inevitable that search capabilities will go far beyond Google, Bing, and Yahoo. As search capabilities improve within social media, brands will get an automatic boost. In addition, when buy buttons and payment messaging appear on social in 2016, an all-in-one-type platform will manifest (more convergence).
With advanced search capabilities, integrated payment methods, and the social impact that empowers sites like Facebook and Twitter, consumers will be able to make purchases, chat with their friends about what they bought, and post the social proof of their new purchase. Advanced search will bring a more integrated social experience that expands to the e-commerce realm. If you cater your marketing efforts to this all-in-one, buy-and-share social media search, it’s clear that your brand will realize returns. Make the buying process easier, but also make it an experience.
7) The Internet of Things (IoT)
Wearable technology will see a user adoption rate of 28 percent by 2016 – even more data for marketers to mine. So, will this data be derived from people’s day-to-day habits? It looks that way. Every year from now until the foreseeable future, we'll see the IoT become a bigger tool that marketers can use to engage with customers.
Maybe this means that ads will soon have the ability target people based on their every move. For marketers, this means that your data will have to become more behavior-driven and, although the power of devices may seem unsettling, you’ll be right on target. At the end of the day, people will what they want.
These 7 game-changing trends should be essential elements in your 2016 marketing plans. By 2017, we’ll have a whole new bag of tricks to share with you – but for now, get ahead, keep thinking ahead, and see how things evolve from there!
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Originally published Sep 25, 2015 11:00:00 AM, updated June 10 2021