Make 2016 a year of rapid growth! Knowing what’s gaining in importance or coming around the corner in digital marketing helps you to strategize, plan and outsmart the competition. To that end, we’ve put together a list of some of the most important digital marketing trends on which you should capitalize in the coming year. The list will help you prepare for the year ahead and achieve more with your marketing in 2016.
Marketing Technology Investment
Venture capitalist Ashu Garg of Foundation Capital says that in 10 years CMOs will spend 10X the $12 billion they currently invest in martech and software. The Chief Marketing Technologist Blog by Scott Brinker has identified 947 companies that provide software for marketers today. Smart marketers are heavily invested in marketing software and are already experimenting and testing new ways to use technology to continually improve results. Expect software options to increase significantly in 2016.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Powered Solutions
The machines are coming! Get ready for an AI explosion in the marketing world. Companies that have purchased AI firms include Apple, Yahoo, Intel, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently stated that advances in machine-learning technology would soon have an impact on all Google products and services—across the board. Pichai underscored the importance of this new focus, stating, “We are rethinking everything we are doing.”
Merging of B2C and B2B
The days when B2B buyers act in distinctly different ways than B2C buyers are fast going the way of the Dodo bird. The use of technology by businesses is increasingly similar to usage by consumers. Both B2B and B2C buyers want to research products and services extensively before they buy. And why not? We now have an endless volume of information to inform our decisions, whether that decision is to buy a bicycle today or to buy an enterprise HR software solution 10 months from now.
Both types of buyers expect a superlative customer experience throughout the purchase funnel. With a myriad of targeting and optimization technologies, marketers are able to provide highly customized experiences throughout the customer journey. Successful marketers in 2016 will continue to blur the line between B2C and B2B, and will instead focus on providing the ultimate experience.
Evolution of the Content Marketing Stack
Content marketing has been trending for several years, and 2016 will bring about a focus on a more comprehensive, more robust and more sophisticated content marketing stack. Marketers want tighter integration among the various layers of content marketing, from creation to curation, audience targeting, distribution, testing and optimization, and amplification. Look for technology providers to come to the rescue with more end-to-end solutions.
Search Beyond the Search Engines
Facebook Search. Pinterest Search. Siri. Amazon Echo. Apple Watch. ThomasNet. Alibaba. Search is transforming before our eyes. Whereas it used to be limited to the search engines, search is evolving to encompass the many different ways and reasons why we search, as well as the environments in which we search.
You can no longer do search engine optimization (SEO) in a silo and expect to be successful. Same with PR, content marketing, mobile and social media. If you expect to maximize your marketing ROI, with any SEO effort you’ll need to look at SEO as a core ingredient in the other digital marketing initiatives you implement.
We like to think of the internet as an open network, but the reality is that web powerhouses such as Facebook (including Snapchat, Instagram, etc.) are hard at work at building walls around their fiefdoms, striving to keep you in their ecosystems as long as possible. One of the recognizable manifestations is the prominence of apps vs. the open web. Closed ecosystems benefit the host in various ways, with control over advertising an obvious one. The effect of all these closed systems? Brands are going to need to consider playing ball directly with these platform providers, regardless of their level of focus on programmatic solutions.
Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
Mobile has been trending for several years now, and expect the trend to intensify in 2016. Businesses need to consider their brand experience when their customers or clients interact with them online in mobile environments.
With each passing year, we have more and more people in the workforce who are mobile-first in their orientation. In the United States, 68% of adults have a smartphone, while on the worldwide stage approximately 2 billion people are expected to own a smartphone by 2016. Ninety percent (90%) of U.S. smartphone shoppers use their phone to help them prepare to make a purchase. According to a 2015 report by Bank of America, 36% of smartphone users say they are “constantly checking and using” their smartphones, while 16% even sleep with their devices (regardless of how utterly weird that is…).
Every day there are billions of YouTube video views, and the number of hours people spend watching YouTube is up 60% year-over-year. Video is not only popular, it’s effective for business. A Vidyard study in partnership with Ascend2 revealed that 71% of companies plan to increase their video marketing budget. The Web Video Marketing Council revealed that 73% of B2B marketers believe that video positively impacts marketing results and ROI.
Blogging Still ROCKS!
There are reportedly over 150,000,000 blogs online. And there’s a good reason for this. According to HubSpot:
- B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not
- Companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month get 4.5X more leads than companies that publish 0 – 4 monthly posts
- Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI
- Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website
- 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog
You may think blogging is an outdated idea, but it certainly gets results. The year 2016 will be no different.
Digital Transformation Moves to the C-Suite
No longer is “digital” a separate department or team. Digital is a core element of any company’s business now, and especially so with marketing. The prominence of the Chief Digital Officer is one manifestation of how a company needs to be thinking digitally and integrating digital into the very fabric of how it operates. Digital technologies are invading the business environment, and it behooves marketers to seek new opportunities for digital disruption and to aim for transformative improvements in 2016.
Customer Experience Takes Center Stage
According to the customer intelligence firm Walker Information, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020. This differentiation translates into real revenue for companies, as evidenced through a great deal of recent Forrester research. The age of the customer is upon us, with their greater access to information and ever-increasing expectations. Companies that want a competitive advantage in 2016 should focus on providing a better customer experience throughout the customer journey.
Photo Credit: Ahmadreza Sajadi