As technological advances in 2016 promise to get faster than ever before, businesses will need to increasingly capitalise on digital solutions to improve customer experience and share engaging, consistent and personalised content. SME Advisor presents a snapshot of the prominent trends influencing digital marketing in the New Year…

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Digital marketing initiatives are fundamental to making sure a business keeps moving forwards, builds market share and stays ahead of the curve. Here are 10 top trends that are fresh, relevant and critical to implement. Start putting them in place today!

  1. Mobile will continue to dominate

The shift to mobile has already happened and isn’t anything new, but 2016 will see mobile traffic largely overtake desktop traffic. Experts predict that global searches will be primarily mobile. This also means that it is absolutely imperative that businesses ensure that their website is mobile responsive. That’s not all. The uptake of mobile also extends to e-mail marketing as an increasing number of e-mails are accessed on-the-go through mobile devices. An excerpt by Chad White on marketingland.com explains further: “During 2015, the percentage of e-mail opens on mobile devices averaged 49 per cent, with mobile opens surging in November and December, according to Litmus’ Email Analytics data. Webmail, especially desktop opens, will continue to decline. In 2016, opens on the Outlook desktop app will fall to around five per cent as businesses continue to shift away from expensive desktop suites like Microsoft Office toward more scalable services like Google Apps and Outlook 365. Cloud-based software will continue to disrupt installed and on-premise software.”

  1. Video content is key

We’ve said this several times during the year, and we will say it again – video content is integral to marketing success! Video consumption will grow exponentially in 2016, particularly across mobile devices. It is predicted that the new ‘Generation Z’ will be a huge driver of video content – preferring it over traditional mediums of communication. Businesses can capitalise on this opportunity by creating videos that are personalised, interactive and build an emotional connect with their consumers. Experts also predict that platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat will be at the forefront of video content – slowly integrating (and building on) video ad offerings.

  1. Webinars and Podcasts gain momentum

Even though they’ve been around for a while, the uptake of webinars hasn’t been very high. However, as the demand for video content continues to skyrocket, webinars will be increasingly adopted. “Webinars are the have quickly become the standard for the new marketing culture of ‘permission marketing’. Permission marketing is based on the knowing participation of potential consumers in the marketing process. Consumers do this because they think the marketing materials will help them make better decisions,” explains Steve Toth in his article on adluge.com. Similarly, podcasts have been rising in popularity and experts suggest that an average listener listens to five or six podcasts a week. Although creating a podcast series requires a lot of effort and time, the reality is that this can be one of the most effective medium for SMEs to build customer loyalty by sharing their story in a unique way.

  1. Spotlight on App Indexing

App Indexing helps put apps in front of users on Google search. In other words, Google will index the content within the app, and when a user searches for that content, they have the option to view it in the app versus the usual mobile webpage. Overall, this helps increase your presence in search results. Alexander Rauser, CEO of Prototype, comments: “App indexing came into the spotlight in 2015, despite being around for a while, and it is bound to become an even more prominent feature of online marketing in 2016. There are many predictions that suggest that the mobile web will soon be exceeded by mobile apps, and with this will come a more complex ranking system for apps. Although this may not happen by 2016, a steady adoption of apps by many more business owners will be a trend throughout the year.”

  1. Digital will merge with Marketing

In addition to the adoption of new technologies, there will also be a slight restructuring within businesses as the remit of digital and marketing departments overlap. Dave Chaffey explains in his article on smartinsights.com: “Ultimately the aim in the mature organisations should be to reduce specialist digital skills and agencies as digital becomes integrated as part of marketing activities. Digital silos should shrink and specialist Digital marketing managers should reduce in number although I believe there will always be a need for a ‘Digital Centre of Excellence’ to evaluate the latest digital marketing trends, set standards, manage technology projects and complete advanced optimisation.”

  1. Snapchat gets bigger

The massive potential that Snapchat presents to businesses hasn’t fully been recognised. 2016 will see an increase in ad spending on Snapchat, especially for those businesses trying to reach a younger demographic and looking to use location-based ads. Since Snapchat is fairly new territory, take your time to understand it and plan your strategy accordingly. A lot of businesses are jumping on the bandwagon just for the sake of doing so – this can be more harmful than anything else. Remember that like any other social media channel, content is king on Snapchat so investing time in creating a thoughtful story is the best way to garner positive responses.

  1. Marketeers explore mobile automation

“The growth of mobile automation will lead the pack among next year’s hottest trends. Mobile is a dominant force with its global growth and pervasiveness. Marketeers can no longer blanket their customers with information or communication. Mobile will become even more a part of marketeer’s day-to-day as the focal point for which the complete customer picture exists. Brands must understand how to strategically connect with customers on a personal basis and encourage engagement, based on customer behaviour, to transform them into long-lasting users. Mobile marketing automation will allow companies to collect and use data in a more actionable way and deliver personalised and timely messages to their customers,” explains Mark Ghermezian from Appboy on mashable.com. 2016 is marked as the year when marketers will invest in marketing automation with a view to make their work easier and goals more attainable. It will also help in achieving more with a smaller – but specialised – team of experts, rather than having to hire more people for additional tasks.

  1. We enter an era of ‘experience’

Many experts have termed 2016 as “The Experience Economy” – a time when consumer experience will be at the helm of everything we do. In line with this, marketeers will be seen focusing primarily on enhancing experience by creating personalised messaging and content. So, it is no longer the case of ‘one-size-fits-all’ – all the information that reaches the consumer will be customised to their needs and interests.

  1. Predictive analytics will drive marketing content

Marketeers have started using data collected from day-to-day engagement in innovative ways. So, the data collected is analysed for trends, patterns, typical behaviours and responses, and this helps them engage with the audience in a personalised way i.e. displaying ads that match a customer’s individual needs. Moreover, these targeted campaigns help them predict probable outcomes, thus decreasing risk and increasing reward.

  1. The emergence of ‘social listening’

Along the lines of predictive analytics, social listening is essentially analysing everything that goes on across your social media accounts to ascertain what’s working and what’s not. This is a powerful measurement tool that is supporting marketers in understanding customer behaviour, delivering meaningful content and strengthening engagement. Bearing in mind the challenging market conditions forecast for 2016, all digital marketing will be driven by ‘ROI’, and this is where social listening and other measurement mechanics become imperative to create effective campaigns and efficiently manage costs.

 

 

 

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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