Marketing is an industry that never stays still; as more effective techniques emerge, and consumers harden to older techniques, the marketer’s job changes dramatically.
Last year, 2015 (the year in which mobile internet usage overtook desktop usage), we saw marketers increasingly shift their attention to mobile. This resulted in mobile search ad dollars rising from $8.72 billion to $12.85 billion (just over desktop’s $12.82 billion), as well as new mobile-specific techniques (such as local mobile strategies and the encouragement of users’ self-expression) increasing in importance.
Email marketing, of course, remained important – though was often misused. Since 2013, more emails have been opened on mobile devices than desktops, and this means that email campaigns, which, done well, remain very effective and can be incorporated into a larger mobile strategy.
Twenty-fifteen also saw content marketing come of age, and many marketers focussed on multi-channel, multi-format distribution. In fact, in 2015, content marketing was named “the most commercially important digital marketing trend for 2015” by 29.6 percent of marketers. However, at the same time, 46 percent of B2C marketers felt like they lacked the budget to run the most effective campaigns they could.
Social media marketing changed dramatically in 2015, with many involved in the industry shifting their focus from so-called vanity metrics to ROI, and from the quantity of social followers to their quality. In short, it was time for social media marketers to prove, in financial terms, how successful their activities were.
Finally, we saw more companies attempt to segregate their social media followers so as to allow for more targeted advertising and content campaigns, as well as influencer marketing strategies.
So, what trends can we expect to see in 2016? And what will the day-to-day duties of the future marketer look like?
2016 Marketing Trends
Social media sites, of course, hold extremely valuable data about their users. This often includes their age, hobbies, political views, musical tastes, favourite literature, job, geographic location, favourite log in times, and so on.
Recently, many social media sites – in particular, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – have encouraged businesses to pay to tap into this information by using their advertising options rather than organic techniques. Indeed, some social networks (especially Facebook) have implemented updates that make it much harder for brands to reach their fans organically.
While some marketing departments are or were upset about social media sites taking such measures, the fact is, if you want to increase the visibility of your content, you’re going to have to pay. Of course, everybody loves a free tool – but free social media advertising was just too good to last.
The benefit is that paid social media advertising campaigns go way above what was previously possible for free, and allow those implementing them to target extremely niche demographics more effectively than ever before. Instead of reaching just your existing followers and their connections, paid campaigns enable you to display ads to social media users who fit your target demographic but who aren’t necessarily connected to followers of your page.
Omnichannel marketing, in which all marketing and sales channels (both digital and brick-and-mortar) are synchronised and made consistent, has become something of a buzzword. However, that doesn’t mean that the concept is void of all meaning.
Simply put, omnichannel marketing ensures that a business uses as many channels as it possibly can to reach its target audience and that the consumer’s experience of these channels remains as consistent as it possibly can.
Now, 70 percent of companies claim that they consider omnichannel strategies to be very “important/critical” or “important”, and 78 percent currently realise or expect a sales lift as a direct result of an omnichannel marketing strategy.
By creating a marketing experience that suits the preferences and needs of various consumer demographics, a good omnichannel marketing strategy allows consumers to enjoy a seamless brand experience, and (as long as proper reviews take place) allows the companies deploying them to gain a better understanding of their customers.
Content: Quality over Quantity
Content marketing works. That’s a fact. However, in a world in which everybody is a publisher, many consumers are simply overwhelmed by content. Companies are in fierce competition to get their content noticed, and this has induced a transition whereby companies are focusing on consistently producing a lower volume of high-quality content rather than swathes of mediocre material.
This trend has also been helped along by the fact that (as outlined above) companies seeking to make the most of social media marketing are being forced to pay in order to make the most of it. This has led to a state of affairs in which those companies with a high enough budget to pay for large social ad campaigns are also the ones whose content is most widely seen – and because these are the companies with money, their content is often of a very high quality.
All companies, then, can no longer afford to invest in creating content in mass quantities. Rather, the focus should be on creating quality content whose effectiveness can be measured in terms of whether or not it achieves specific business goals – such as lead generation, lead nurturing, brand personalisation, sales, etc.
To do this, every piece of content created should be targeted at a very small demographic (e.g., people who are interested in the Breaking Bad character Jesse Pinkman). With such extremely targeted audiences, even a small budget can go a long way in determining the effectiveness of a specific content piece. And the results from these carefully conducted experiments can be used to scale the production of effective content.
Email marketing has been undervalued in the last few years. As newer, shinier marketing techniques have increased in popularity; email marketing has been pushed to the side-lines. However, email marketing itself can still be a very efficient marketing channel.
The biggest problem with email marketing has been its misuse. Often emails are too explicit in terms of sales and use unattractive features such as gaudy CTAs. These unsophisticated approaches are unlikely to get a good response. But these are problems concerning particular emails rather than the medium itself.
Poor or regurgitated content. Generic headlines. Blatant click-bait. All of these techniques will deliver very little real value. On the other hand, high-quality email marketing campaigns (some great ones are listed here) can achieve excellent results.
New tools allow for email datasets to be segmented in such a way that campaigns can be incredibly targeted, allow for A/B spilt testing so that campaigns can be refined until maximally effective, and incorporate clever automation tools to drastically reduce the amount of time spent on email. And responsive email design has allowed marketers to bring their email campaigns up to date to ensure that they remain appealing to modern audiences.
All of this means that email can be an incredibly effective channel for generating leads and sales, retaining customers, and distributing important information.
Don’t believe us that email is still effective? Well, here are some stats to prove it:
- Fifty-four percent of marketers rate email as the most effective type of digital marketing and the least difficult to execute.
- Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.
- Marketers who segmented their email lists experience 39 percent increased open rates, 34 percent greater email relevance, and 28 percent lower unsubscribe rates.
- Nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads
- Automated nurturing results in 451 percent qualified leads compared to manual nurturing.
- Email drives more conversions than any other channel.
Did I miss something? What marketing trends do you expect to see in 2016? Or perhaps you disagree with one of my predictions? Either way, let me know with a comment!