Seven things that will dominate marketing thinking in 2016
Everyone likes to reflect on the year gone by and have a go at predicting what the future might hold and at SERIOUS we are no different. I’m reluctant to trot out a list of ‘top trends’ – others do that very well – but I am keen to share our thoughts on where we see the opportunities to continue to deliver great service and great value for our clients in the coming year.
We work in an industry that is constantly changing and we work for clients that demand – and deserve – access to the latest thinking, keeping them ahead of the curve and in front of their customers.
Some of these things we’ve been talking about throughout the year, and we see 2016 as being a year where some of these ideas become no longer nice to have, but essential must-dos. Other ideas and technologies we anticipate moving from the sidelines towards mainstream adoption.
- Customer experience and customer engagement is where it’s really at; the point being that the more complicated technology becomes and the faster new technologies are developed, the greater the need to recapture that human contact, to put human beings right at the heart of everything. It’s common sense of course, but it’s about remembering that the digital platforms are there to serve us, not the other way around…
We need to communicate, we love sharing, we crave conversation and we demand that it’s instant too – all underlined by putting emotion back into digital – things like emojis, snapchat, Instagram, selfies.
- Mobile mobile mobile in a multiscreen world. Marketers have already invested heavily in building mobile-optimised sites to cater for growing smartphone usage and, to be honest, if you haven’t you had better get a move on! Did you know that 70% of UK users are on smartphones? And while 46% of us use them for searching, we are quite likely to revert to our ‘slabtops’ to complete a transaction. This presents an opportunity for us to make mobile sites more conversion friendly – things like a different navigation system for mobile and desktop sites, bigger buttons, easy and prioritised content, more auto population of fields. Or of course you could just build an app… Apps might not be replacing websites yet but they are champing at their heels.
- Digital micro-targeting with greater personalisation will be a big focus for campaigns with greater sophistication in digital advertising. Consumers are totally fed up with adverts that interrupt their browsing or are not relevant in the moment. Getting around ad blockers is one thing, but advertising cleverclogs will be testing and refining targeting options that blend in with the consumer’s browsing, looking more at moment-based, programmatic, geographic and behavioural targeting – a little more expensive but far fewer wasted impressions. All potential high-reward tools that help to maximise traffic and improve conversions.
- Video is undeniably a must-have tool in your marketing kit. It’s big now and it’s going to get even bigger in 2016 with Google getting in on the act and including video in its search results. A good deal of our work is with the higher education sector and in terms of engaging with millennials, video is a no-brainer.
- Augmented and virtual reality has been on the fringes as a bit of a gimmick, but we think 2016 will see them hit the mainstream with apps like Blippar. And whilst nobody looks good in an Oculus Rift headset, and Google Cardboard looks a bit childish, once there you are transported to another world, so you really don’t care… It’s got to be the ultimate way to provide a customer experience. We’re currently in conversation with a client about creating a virtual reality campus experience. 360 virtual tours already seem rather out of date.
- Content is still king. In fact, everything is about content. If you haven’t got any content you haven’t got anything to share across the myriad of channels you’re spending so much time controlling. So, the intelligent bit is getting the right content in the right place at the right time. And that means making sure you’ve got the skill set on the team to produce good quality written content. Remember, all the technology in the world is just the enabler. There’s a real demand for high quality, fabulously creative, beautifully produced content that your target customers want to see, share and talk about. And of course Google rewards valuable, engaging and relevant content with higher rankings in searches.
- ROI is the holy mantra. There is no point running a campaign unless you can measure what’s going on and it’s never been easier now everything is driven by technology. Make data your friend and judge your campaigns solely on the results they generate. Your clients will thank you for it and your boss will expect it.
So, there isn’t much new here but we think these will be the ingredients of a successful year. In short, put the customer first, use data and results to make decisions for upcoming campaigns and make sure you are talking to your customers about where and when they want it.