The top 12 marketing trends to expect in 2016...
If 2015 taught us anything, it's that brands now need to look beyond the usual channels to stay ahead. The online world is constantly evolving. 2016 is predicted to be the time to focus on the customer experience and marketing in a digital first world, so we've pulled together the top trends to look out for this year. Here's where you should be focusing your attention...
1. A shift from brand to brand experience
Brands will start to offer more immersive customer experiences, more focus on connecting with the user. The idea is to provide the customers with an experience that creates an emotional connect - brands will need to think about the entire customer experience. It's more than the logo design and look and feel, companies will explore all the senses to create unique worlds for consumers. Your job isn't just to sell your product, it's also to facilitate an active, passionate online community around your product.
2. Make it more personal
Personal is getting really big. Branding will make leaps toward providing a personal, tailored experience. Like Apple, offering engraving on the back of your devices, or Coca Cola creating versions of cans and bottles featuring forenames. Branding will become less corporate and more personable. We'll see brands using more human attributes to connect emotionally with users and consumers.
3. Social media
In 2016, we’ll see the big social networks roll out new features designed to keep hold of users while they do the things they do online. Mobile advertising is growing quickly. As people move from the TV screen to mobile, advertising quickly follows. Not only can they interrupt users scrolling, they also redirect the user to a website or app which plays a huge part in the growth of advertising on mobile. Online shopping will be top of the tree in 2016. There'll be more buy buttons on the big channels, making it easier to buy products directly from social media.
4. Animation and motion graphics
If you look at Twitter, the majority of its best-performing content involves some kind of visual element. This year, we’ll be seeing animated GIFS everywhere, as well as in infographics and advertisements.
5. Marketers using integrated tools
This year will see more effective customer engagement. Engage with customers online, track the buyer’s journey, measure sentiment and loyalty, and match behavior with outreach tailored to meet audience’s needs and interests. More and more brands will be talking to their visitors and users through live chats on their websites - gaining more insight, giving the customer what they need, when they need it, and truly building relationships. Intercom.io is a tool we're seeing pop up everywhere, and have started to use ourselves. Live chats are becoming customised to fit within the website’s design and functionality without being intrusive and while being mobile-friendly.
Consumers want convenient, seamless experiences faster than ever before. Brands will create quicker ways to serve customers. Starbucks permits customers to order ahead so their coffee is waiting for them at the counter, and Taco Bell’s app makes fast food even faster by enabling online ordering and pickup. With social media, this is the age of the instant answer. A one-working-day turnaround for email is too slow!
7. Employees as the new marketing campaign
Landor have predicted that for a brand to make an impact, catchy slogans and entertaining commercials are no longer enough. Now, customers care as much about employees’ opinions and how companies treat employees as they do about the services a company offers. In 2016, brands will place more emphasis on training their employees to be brand ambassadors. They will strive to be more vocal about publicizing the efforts and services they provide to create a positive work experience for employees.
8. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
For retailers, mobile is basic; for others, it soon will be. Marketers who’ve been lazy about pursuing mobile are about to miss the train altogether; the number of people who do their browsing on devices passed desktop users a while ago.
Video is now a must-have marketing tactic. The likes of Periscope and Blab have put interactive live video into the hands of anyone with a smartphone. 2016 will see video continue to shine, with streaming move to the forefront of marketing. Innovative new campaigns will allow consumers to be the stars. By 2019, it has been predicted that 80 percent of all Internet traffic will be to videos. Videos on Home Pages and Product Pages. Marketers will continue to find ways to integrate video into web design and make pages less static and more immersive.
10. You guessed it... content
It may sound like a broken record, but content is still king - although in 2016, context is a stronger factor than ever. The content trend isn't leaving anytime soon, and the next year will see greater focus on bringing influencers on board. Storytelling will also play a key role in drawing consumers in and keeping them engaged. Natural, relevant content in the right channels will drive content campaigns.
11. Growth Hacking (not just another catch phrase)
When searching for new ways to boost your marketing, Growth Hacking is predicted to be the answer in 2016. Before we carry on, for those who aren't familiar - “growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure." Hackers care more about what needs to get done than how it should get done. As a result, hackers often come up with innovative ways to get things done. Where to even start? Take a look at our Golden Rules for Growth Hacking.
12. Naked truth vs. well-dressed lie
Storytelling is fine, but the stories brands tell must reflect real brand values, category realities and, most importantly, the truth. Consumers have shown they gravitate more towards value-driven brands, and have become more wary of brands that betray their trust (just ask Volkswagen!)
Great ideas, focusing on the customer, brand experience - these trends aren’t new, they’ve just grown up. What’s new is the creativity and innovation needed to deliver that value to people when and where they need it. Embrace new methods of brand engagement, introduce new business models and new technologies. If you want to do something new, you have to stop doing something old.