Want to get ahead in 2016? We have put together our top online marketing trends set to take off next year.
16 Online Marketing Trends you want in 2016
Mobile has grown exponentially for the past few years. The main prediction since 2011 has been mobile growth, and 2016 will be no different. With mobile and tablet diversity and accessibility, and most phones offering internet access or app access and purchases, we predict 2016 will be another big year for mobile.
2015 saw ‘mobilegeddon’ from Google where webmasters have been warned to be mobile friendly or responsive or see degradation of their mobile sites in the search engines. This combined with Google’s announcement that mobile traffic has overtaken desktop, and that they now offer app indexing in the search engines shows that mobile is staying (excuse the irony).
If your website isn’t mobile optimised you need to sort it quickly!
Mobile isn’t just about having a mobile website, there are many other opportunities for mobile in 2016 that I will go into later. However you need to adapt to the changing landscape and user behaviour and understand how mobile devices (all mobile devices) fit in.
Another prediction that seems to pop up annually is video. This has been predicted since Google bought YouTube but recent changes to consumer behaviour as well as technology show that this is not a marketing tool to overlook.
So why now?
Well video isn’t new, but as technologies are improving video becomes more accessible, 50% of all mobile traffic last year was to video content. 78% of people watch videos every week, and 55% of people watch videos every day. 65% of these users will watch over 2/3 of the full video and senior management and decision makers admit to watching 80% more video content than in 2013. This is people, consumers and decision makers watching videos which can promote, inform, entertain, advise and even interact with. This is a huge opportunity for brands to get in front of their target audience, gain brand awareness, trust, loyalty and even educate about products. 58% of users consider companies that invest in video content to be more trustworthy, whilst 71% of consumers say it leaves a positive impression of the company.
“Pictures are worth 1,000 words,” it’s been estimated that a video can be “worth 1.8 million words” in a Forrester study by Dr. James McQuivey.
The internet of Things (IOT) is going to be huge this year. We are already seeing connectivity between apps, wearable devices and home devices becoming more mainstream and 2016 will be the year this really takes off.
2015 saw a few mistakes and data leaks (the smart LED bulb that gave up Wi-Fi passwords) but these teething problems are the first to be tackled and get in line with FTC and privacy guidelines. There are huge opportunities for wearable tech and IoT but without strict privacy regulations this is still theoretical.
That being said for consumers IoT is fun, convenient and useful and for marketers it opens a number of opportunities.
The beauty of the internet of things is that devices pass data which at the moment is either collected, triggers or manually pushes a response. Already 14% of users have some sort of IoT device in their home, by 2019 this is set to grow to 70% of home users and has economic, environmental and lifestyle benefits. This means that devices are listening, recording, monitoring, tracking, storing and even interpreting data about us on a regular basis. Now the privacy issues aside (for now), the benefits to marketers are astounding as we are now given the chance to delve into real human behaviour, responses and actions.
The IoT allows marketers to push the correct messages through devices, apps and social that are connected to these accounts, we are given more insight in human behaviour to develop products that people actually want, not just what they tell us they want.
Brands are able to evolve from being a product to a service, for example a trainer manufacturer such as Nike, are no longer just a trainer manufacturer. They can become a personal trainer, sports therapist; they can provide a service that people will become much more loyal to.
Google and Apple are investing in IoT. Google are embracing home technologies with Nest Labs expanding into the home with thermostats, smoke alarms etc, whilst Apple have gone down the healthcare route.
Marketers need to anticipate the value in the data; it is fine tracking people’s data but if you don’t find a way to use this effectively then it is pointless.
Marketers can also work with tech to gather the right data to push the right marketing messages out there. Ways to make gathering data interesting, not just pushing sales but also incentivising and engaging with the consumer. FitBit do this well by awarding badges which are shareable, they also let you compete with friends pushing you to add more data and getting insight into your social circles as well as your own personal data.
The more data we pass to a brand, the less likely we are to move away as we are then left with a blank slate and no comparisons. MyFitnessPal links into lots of fitness devices but also has long term users who don’t want to move away as they can see their weight loss/gain progress over a long period of time. This gives MyFitnessPal a great platform for advertising, and puts them in a good position to work with other brands.
The main concern is still privacy and leaked information, marketers and manufacturers for brands will need to tread carefully here and also ensure the best security is put in place.
The IoT will take off next year for the everyday consumer, pushed through fitness, health, lighting and heating other industries will start to find ways to get involved. 2016 will make this more affordable to the general consumer but once the 5G network is released this will peak again as the connections will be much faster.
4. Agile SEO
With so many different platforms to get traffic you may think SEO has fallen by the wayside, this is not true, in fact many people still use Google and other search engines to find content and products. But instead of traditional SEO 2016 will see an increase in agile SEO. But WTF is Agile SEO?
Agile SEO is nothing new, at Falkon Digital we have been engaging in flexible, responsive and pro active SEO for years but now we have a pretty buzz word for it.
Agile SEO brings the science back into SEO, it focuses on getting the strategy right through analysis but also allows for change. SEO is a constantly changing landscape away from the old fashioned size fits all solution.
Agile SEO is all consuming as you research, analyse and strategise for a client; however it is very important to question everything. Is it working? What is working? Why isn’t it working? Then respond quickly and adjust.
I liken this to an ongoing science experiment as we try to find faults and weaknesses in our own strategy, we need to account for anomalies or outside influences such as competition or changes to the algorithms, all the time providing a transparent strategy for clients.
Agile SEO also concentrates on quality, so less focusing on keyword density and link numbers more quality content, semantics, visuals and earned links and social shares.
Google threw a few curve balls last year and agile SEO’s dealt with this, we anticipate more in the early months of 2016 and as Google introduces more products, in app indexing, video ads, and cross platform marketing improves SEO will need to be agile!
10 years ago a website just needed to be present and it would convert. Users were used to taking their time over things and having simple poorly designed websites. However now technology has moved on the design of your website says a lot to a user over the success of your brand. Modern, interesting websites are more commonplace and as broadband speeds can handle more complicated imagery and technology we are conditioned to judge a brand based on the look of their site.
Google estimates a user will make a judgement on your website in 50 milliseconds, so if your design isn’t impactful enough for people to stick around, then you are in trouble.
Keeping your site up to date, having good visible information, clear calls to action, appealing to the right audience, these are all very important factors for design.
Content is King, Long live the King.
Content is key to most marketing buzz words at the moment, inbound marketing, content marketing, growth hacking (with analysis) etc… However with 86% of successful B2B companies having a strategic content marketing plan you need to ask yourself if you are doing enough with your content.
Content in all shapes and forms will still be your number one marketing friend. Your content needs to be slick and tailored for the user. People no longer have the patience for badly spun articles, poorly delivered sales pitches, your content needs to be purposeful (and that purpose should not be a 10% keyword density).
There is argument over content being less is more, when more is good quality; but there is still value in getting something out regularly. Your content strategy should be flexible for short term needs as well as long term goals.
Effective content marketing costs 71% less than traditional outbound marketing, it is no longer about informing the masses but engaging them.
7. User generated content
People are much more engaged with the internet than ever before, they love creating and sharing content and it is easy and quick to do with only a smart phone. User generated content marketing is changing the content marketing landscape, it is creating engagement that gets users buy in as they are actively joining in and contributing to the campaign.
Why User Generated Content (UGC)?
70% of users will prefer a peer reviewed item rather than a professionally written piece of advertising. It is basic psychology that we tend to follow the crowd so if a brand can demonstrate that people are already using them through UGC, others are more inclined to use them and trust them. Even a stranger’s honest opinion is more reliable than a PR spun sales message.
UGC can be a simple review and share mechanism, or could be a much more complicated campaign using hash tags, images, videos with rewards or prizes to incentivise.
UCG is a growing platform, Facebook has seen a 33% increase in users watching videos on their platform since last year and bloggers and vloggers are becoming more important brand ambassadors than more traditional celebrities such as TV stars or pop stars.
UGC appeals to the narcissistic side of human nature, having content centred on ourselves means we are invested in it and want it to do well so we promote more and if this is in line with a brand campaign or message it has a much more powerful response than traditional marketing.
Instead of broadcasting what we think users want to see and hear we need to let them engage with the brand, the initial concept should be exciting enough and appealing enough to get them involved and then with some reinforcements to encourage and thank users this should spread easily and with it a great brand exercise or promotion.
8. Automated Marketing
If you are not doing automated marketing then what the hell is wrong with you?
Automated marketing isn’t as easy as it sounds, you don’t just press a button and everything is done for you, however automating marketing on websites can increase your turnover and profits substantially.
Automated marketing isn’t a robot that will sit and do all online marketing (yet) it refers more to the technology we have to understand users on site and help them make a purchasing decision that is good for them and makes you more sales.
The technology used to be reserved only for big brands, such as Amazon, for example on sign in you can see what a person has purchased before and recommend other products based on other customers with similar tastes.
Automated marketing includes ecommerce functionality such as related products, up sells and cross sells, automated personalisation on emails and greetings when a user is signed in. This is simple but effective technology that can be embraced by all website owners.
Every Magento website should have some level of automated marketing. It is relatively inexpensive especially compared to the ROI.
Automated marketing can be more complicated but it aims to use data provided to offer some level of personalised recommendation to the customer. This can be based on the content they are looking at, based on data from past customers who viewed the same content or even just the simple addition of personalisation to a returning customer, greeting them by name, showing them past order history etc.
If you are not exploring automated marketing then you need to and now as in 2016 if you haven’t got this base covered you will be missing out as your competitors will.
When looking at marketing automation make sure you do not mistake it with replacing a marketing strategy with tools, automated marketing is only part of an overall marketing strategy and you will not find a tool that can compete with common sense.
9. Relationship Marketing
Getting personal with consumers and customers, brands need to develop relationships in 2016.
Social media has grown over the past 5 years to become one of the main ways customers contact companies. This has led the way for more personal interaction with customers, we now address customers on a first name basis, and it is expected. We expect to receive emails addressed directly to us and we also expect immediate responses from brands online, we feel important and as such need to be treated as important by companies.
For Relationship marketing companies need to be open and transparent, to cultivate engagement which grows loyalty.
Unlike transactional marketing which focuses on ROI looking no further ahead than the next quarter, relationship marketing is a much longer strategy and focuses on customer experience and trust, sometimes even humour.
Relationship marketing turns customers into brand ambassadors, they are proud to recommend the brand to friends and although does not have an immediate return can have a very good return later.
You will also find that relationship marketing fits very well with other marketing techniques discussed here, such as user generated content as if you have an open dialogue with your customers already UGC is a much more organic process.
10. Ephemeral Marketing
Ephemeral marketing is all about getting your message across quickly, a less is more approach that works well when people have limited time. Communication is key and leaves no room for misinterpretation.
Ephemeral Marketing is most successfully implemented using apps like SnapChat, providing a quick ‘blast’ of brand exposure or a marketing message it appeals to millennials, busy lifestyles and people who are prone to ADD behaviour. As our attention spans become more limited we find these quick blasts very appealing and they work well. Only a 1 – 10 second message with a quick call to action appeals to our sense of spontaneity.
Using ephemeral marketing you cannot afford to get the message wrong, you need to understand your audience and make sure you tailor content that will appeal to them. Brands like MacDonald’s, Mashable, Taco Bell and ESPN are using SnapChat for promotions, brand engagement, offers and to push content whilst retailers can use it for discount offers. However there are limitations as these ephemeral platforms are peer to peer and close knit, brands need to tread carefully in this space to avoid being ignored or provoking a backlash.
11. Multi channel marketing
The digital marketing landscape is evolving at an amazing rate, we have more and more ways than ever to reach potential customers and we need to be embracing this. Multichannel marketing means targeting your customers on a variety of digital platforms, this could be SEO, social, Paid advertising, or in app advertising, with so many options marketers can create a dynamic and successful multichannel campaign.
Different people hang out in different places, they also have different expectations of those places. For example you wouldn’t expect to see the same content on LinkedIn as you would on Facebook, they are different platforms and whilst the same people may be on there, they use them in different ways and have different expectations.
It is important to choose the right channels for your marketing campaign, is it really appropriate to be everywhere? Choosing the correct platforms for your product, service or brand is essential. You need to identify where your demographic hangs out and why, you need to identify personas for you campaign a snapshot or a particular audience personified. Knowing why they use a particular platform helps you tailor the content for them, catching them at the right time, in the right mood, not annoying them with content that is generic or inappropriate.
Each campaign should have clear goals and be evaluated throughout the process, analytics are essential to work out engagement and ROI.
Multi channel campaigns are much more effective than single channel campaigns, they do not need to be aggressive, or even expensive but they do need to engage with the audience.
Multi platform marketing needs to be flexible, today’s digital landscape is fast paced and the growth is exponential, as marketers we need to adapt, evaluate and evolve quickly to keep up and create the best campaigns that resonate with tech and customer service savvy audiences.
Social Media Marketing isn’t just about being on Facebook or Twitter, it is now important to be exploring all that these platforms can offer brands.
Brands need to be ‘in the moment’ uploading content quickly that are appropriate to what is going on, reacting to news and customer posts. Scheduled content is not enough to keep your presence going brands need to use social media as the PR voice.
Social media is changing and as such some brands are being left behind, but embracing what the platforms do offer free of charge and being clever and engaging with content means you can still succeed in a saturated market. Use the Buy button, contact us, set your profiles up and use plugins and apps to push your content and get creative.
Sponsored posts are a great way of reaching a wider audience, a small investment can get you far especially with a good product or message. If you can identify your target audience then social media advertising and re marketing can be very profitable.
13. Location Based Marketing Technology
Location Based marketing has become more popular in 2015 and I believe this will continue in 2016. As 4G and better GPS technologies become more popular checking in and pushing messages through apps based on location will become more popular and more normal.
Coupons and vouchers are a great way that brands have been using location based marketing, once an opt in user is within a certain range of a location (tracked via their phones GPS) we can push out a discount code or promotional message to the user to encourage them to come in.
This all links in with IoT which we will see much more of in the next few years. This technology is still relatively costly to push out therefore limited to bigger brands but as technology improves we will see this becoming more affordable to smaller brands.
There are also other options for smaller brands, such as check in on Facebook and tweet or Instagram a picture in return for a discount, this is also good for UGC.
It is important not to overuse this form of marketing, opt in is a sensitive state and you don’t want to bombard your customers with sales messages. However if done sensitively and respectfully this can be a powerful relationship builder.
App indexing by Google sets to be a game changer and should be considered, apps are more accessible on mobile than even responsive and can push marketing messages out as well as provide seamless contact and accessibility.
Brand loyalty is pushed as users download apps and app indexing is the icing on the cake for this technology. However the cost of developing apps means it is not for every business and although looks to be a game changer I believe we will really see this come into fruition in 2017/18.
If you want to get ahead of the game then investment in apps should be considered as part of your marketing plans in 2016.
15. Virtual reality
Virtual reality is still a tool for big budget brands, however smart marketers need to be watching this carefully as Oculus Rift is expected first quarter 2016 we should prepare to see more accessible VR.
Virtual reality is an exciting prospect for marketers, enabling them to get users excited about a product pre sale. This has fantastic opportunities for industries such as travel and is already causing a stir in gaming and gambling.
Virtual reality allows users to experience a simulated reality and therefore immersing them into a brand.
Dipping your toe in the water of Virtual reality a start can be video and 360 photography, give people an insight into your offering or premises. Virtual reality is an exciting marketing tool for next year but it probably won’t start to be mainstream until 2017/18 so when deciding on investing in VR make sure your target audience can get involved as for some niche markets early adoption will be key.
2016 will be an exciting time for marketers, with so many ways to smash online marketing if you are not doing enough you may get left behind.
Online marketing is still one of the most profitable forms of marketing but you will still need to invest. Investment doesn’t mean spending good money after bad, it means investing in a well thought out strategy that is adaptable to the changing digital landscape.