Sections

Top 16 Digital Trends Of 2016

Michael Brenner

Marketing has undergone a major transformation in the last few years, responding to new technologies and changes in consumer behaviors and attitudes.

Digital marketing and automation are just some of the new skills and technologies successful marketers need to learn today to better understand and help their consumers.

So what do marketers need to know to stay ahead of their competition in 2016 and beyond? Here are 16 marketing trends you can’t ignore. Respond to them now or risk extinction.

1. Relationship marketing

It is estimated that 2 billion consumers worldwide will own a smartphone by 2016. The opportunity and need to stay connected with customers and prospects on the go is more important now than ever.

Relationship marketing has shifted away from short-term customer engagement and individual sales to building longer-term engagement and stronger loyalty, to drive more meaningful customer connections, word-of-mouth promotions, lead generation, and ultimately sales.

Krispy Kreme has succeeded with this approach to improve customer engagement and loyalty. Through Krispy Kreme’s Red Light app, consumers can search for the nearest location and receive notifications on their smartphones whenever a batch of fresh donuts becomes available. Without spending a cent on marketing or advertising, Krispy Kreme saw nearly 7% boost in sales after the app launched.

2. Crowdsourced brand content

Creating and scaling content can be costly, time-consuming, and hard to do. Many brands are starting to realize the untapped opportunity in crowdsourcing free brand content as they see how effective it is in engaging their consumers and amplifying their marketing.

In recent research, Onalytica reported that of all the content on YouTube in which a brand is mentioned, 99% is created by brand fans. And that is just YouTube alone. Imagine all the free attention you can earn if you can get your consumers and fans to create and share content about your brand.

Minecraft is a great example of a brand that is doing this right. At the annual Minecraft conferences, attendees are offered free workshops on video-making rather than just on how to play the video game. Why? When these Minecraft fans go home, the first thing they do is create videos about Minecraft and start sharing them on YouTube.

These videos generate 2.5 billion views a month on YouTube for Minecraft, and Minecraft didn’t need to spend a dime on content marketing or advertising, other than providing their fans a few video-making workshops.

3. Location-based marketing technology

Today’s marketers are able to create interactive experiences and connect with customers at the point of engagement, thanks to new technologies like iBeacons and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).

iBeacons are inexpensive transmitters that can detect nearby devices and can be used in merchandising areas, point-of sale-displays, and at retail stores. RFIDs are small electronic devices that provide a unique identifier for a specific tag, such as a wristband, card, or app. These location-based technologies allow marketers and event organizers to connect with customers in real time, helping attendees interact and engage with the event and with other attendees in ways never before possible.

4. Marketing automation

Marketing automation platforms make it easier for marketers to manage content, schedule posts, segment contacts, and track customers through the sales funnel, helping them get more done without compromising on quality and effectiveness.

With greater pressure and focus on delivering results, marketing leaders will need to train their teams so they have the knowledge needed to use these automation tools and improve sales.

While marketing automation is nothing new, recent research indicates only 50% of companies are using it today.

5. Virtual reality and wearable technology

With big players like Google and Facebook investing in virtual reality, and with the upcoming release of Oculus Rift, marketers will have the ability to tell 360-degree brand stories and engage consumers through immersive marketing like never before.

Regardless of adoption rates, you can definitely expect leading marketers to take advantage of virtual reality technology to create even more interactive and personalized experiences for consumers.

Similarly, wearable technology, like the Apple Watch, will provide marketers with opportunities to experiment with exciting new ways of communicating with customers.

6. Ephemeral marketing

With more than 100 million users every day, Snapchat is becoming a standard marketing platform for many brands. Snapchat is no longer just a platform to experiment with fun marketing campaigns, but a place where consumers are flocking for content in real time.

In order to reach consumers, particularly the younger generation whose time is often split between multiple channels, Snapchat is one of the hottest marketing channels.

Ephemeral marketing is all about shorter, to-the-point communication that takes up a small segment of an audience’s time. With Snapchat, each piece of content lasts for only a few seconds, and once viewed, it disappears from the user’s stream. This fast pace is especially important to engage and connect with consumers who are pressed for time.

Looking for how to get started on Snapchat? Check out this advice from MarketingLand.

7. Social and digital content assets

In the new age of digital, the importance of creating quality content optimized for search engines will only increase. Digital content you create today, including your website, blog, and videos, will still be found on the web and in Google searches years from now. Digital content assets are an investment in your brand’s future success.

Another digital asset is your brand fans and advocates on social media. They are the ones who will help distribute and promote your content. If you’re not already investing in and growing your social network following, you need to start now.

8. Search past search engines

With Facebook already testing its own search engine, search capabilities are expected expand in 2016 and beyond, which will give brands an automatic boost. Coupled with the introduction of buy buttons and payment messaging on social, both marketers and consumers can expect an all-in-one-type platform in 2016.

These advanced capabilities will bring a more integrated social experience and buying process, as consumers will be able to purchase, share with friends, and post social proof of their purchases all in one place. Marketers who leverage this integrated social media search trend as part of their marketing efforts will clearly see a boost in their returns.

9. Paid social distribution

Social media may have been free five years ago, but things have changed. If you want to reach your Facebook audience, you will likely need to pay to access users’ attention and eyeballs. And if you choose to pay, you need to measure the results to make sure you are getting the most out of your investment.

This is why analytics and digital marketing automation software should be your best friend in 2016. The web provides us with the data we need to find out what’s working and what’s not. Instead of relying on guesswork and intuition, data-driven decisions will help marketers achieve the results they want.

10. Mobile

Mobile has now become the primary screen for most people. Look at Facebook: 75% of its revenue comes from mobile advertising, so it’s clear that mobile should be a key focus for marketers.

Since you cannot do everything you do on desktop with the limited screen space of mobile, you need to focus on what matters the most: easy-to-read content, easy-to-use calls to action, easy-to-find contact details, and the ability to capture email leads via mobile.

The same goes for mobile apps. They are no longer an option but a necessity for businesses, as more and more consumers go mobile with their research and purchases.

11. Personalization

Personalization is here, and it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Relevance is key to capturing consumer attention and eyeballs. Effective marketers will leverage all the digital marketing technologies available today to deliver personalized marketing and content that engages and sells.

12. Return on marketing investment

For the last 7 years, marketers have been talking about vanity metrics like Facebook likes, traffic, and social sharing. In 2016 and beyond, effective marketers will need to focus on what really matters: the metrics that will show your execs the sales and return on investment.

That’s why Liz Bedor and I wrote the Content Formula. If you haven’t read it yet, get it now!

13. Advertising industry will experience a market correction

I shared this in my content marketing prediction for 2016: The leading marketing trend of 2016 will be the maturing of the age of ad blocking. I think we’ll see a massive correction in the advertising market.

As more and more consumers download ad blockers on their computers and cell phones, opt out of telemarketing lists, and cut their cable subscription cords, marketers will start to see the futility of spending so much of their budgets on ads no one wants; ads we are willing to pay an ad blocker to avoid.

This will drive an increase in content marketing budgets. It will force more marketers to consider how to create and publish content their customers actually want. And it will require content marketers to get pretty damn good at showing ROI.

14. Visual content will continue to explode

Yep, folks, this is still huge. I can’t believe how few marketers are creating Slideshares from existing executive presentations and videotaping them as they speak to customers.

15. Entertaining and funny content

Just check out my favorite new example of content marketing, mattress company Casper’s VanWinkles.com. This is a content brand from a company that understands a very tight niche of their market that was underserved. They use an amazing design, fresh content (literally), and a strong call-to-action (subscribe) to generate a list of consumers who might be interested to buy their stuff at some point.

16. Podcasting, media brand M&A, or ?

I asked my friends across the content marketing industry for their top predictions. An explosion in podcasting was predicted by Jay Acunzo. Joe Pulizzi thinks a major brand will buy a media company.

What do you think? Which trends have you adopted already or will be adding to your 2016 marketing strategy? Please share your ideas below!

Are you interested in engaging and converting new customer for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help.

Comments

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, former Head of Strategy at NewsCred, and the former VP of Global Content Marketing here at SAP. Michael is also the co-author of the book The Content Formula, a contributor to leading publications like The Economist, Inc Magazine, The Guardian, and Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to the Marketing Insider.

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.

Comments

About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.

Comments

About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

How Much Will Digital Cannibalization Eat into Your Business?

Fawn Fitter

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers predicts that 40% of companies will crumble when they fail to complete a successful digital transformation.

These legacy companies may be trying to keep up with insurgent companies that are introducing disruptive technologies, but they’re being held back by the ease of doing business the way they always have – or by how vehemently their customers object to change.

Most organizations today know that they have to embrace innovation. The question is whether they can put a digital business model in place without damaging their existing business so badly that they don’t survive the transition. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss the fine line between disruption and destruction.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_3

qa_qIn 2011, when Netflix hiked prices and tried to split its streaming and DVD-bymail services, it lost 3.25% of its customer base and 75% of its market capitalization.²︐³ What can we learn from that?

Scott Anthony: That debacle shows that sometimes you can get ahead of your customers. The key is to manage things at the pace of the market, not at your internal speed. You need to know what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to tolerate. Sometimes companies forget what their customers want and care about, and they try to push things on them before they’re ready.

R. “Ray” Wang: You need to be able to split your traditional business and your growth business so that you can focus on big shifts instead of moving the needle 2%. Netflix was responding to its customers – by deciding not to define its brand too narrowly.

qa_qDoes disruption always involve cannibalizing your own business?

Wang: You can’t design new experiences in existing systems. But you have to make sure you manage the revenue stream on the way down in the old business model while managing the growth of the new one.

Merijn Helle: Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are putting a lot of capital into digital initiatives that aren’t paying enough back yet in the form of online sales, and they’re cannibalizing their profits so they can deliver a single authentic experience. Customers don’t see channels, they see brands; and they want to interact with brands seamlessly in real time, regardless of channel or format.

Lars Bastian: In manufacturing, new technologies aren’t about disrupting your business model as much as they are about expanding it. Think about predictive maintenance, the ability to warn customers when the product they’ve purchased will need service. You’re not going to lose customers by introducing new processes. You have to add these digitized services to remain competitive.

qa_qIs cannibalizing your own business better or worse than losing market share to a more innovative competitor?

Michael Liebhold: You have to create that digital business and mandate it to grow. If you cannibalize the existing business, that’s just the price you have to pay.

Wang: Companies that cannibalize their own businesses are the ones that survive. If you don’t do it, someone else will. What we’re really talking about is “Why do you exist? Why does anyone want to buy from you?”

Anthony: I’m not sure that’s the right question. The fundamental question is what you’re using disruption to do. How do you use it to strengthen what you’re doing today, and what new things does it enable? I think you can get so consumed with all the changes that reconfigure what you’re doing today that you do only that. And if you do only that, your business becomes smaller, less significant, and less interesting.

qa_qSo how should companies think about smart disruption?

Anthony: Leaders have to reconfigure today and imagine tomorrow at the same time. It’s not either/or. Every disruptive threat has an equal, if not greater, opportunity. When disruption strikes, it’s a mistake only to feel the threat to your legacy business. It’s an opportunity to expand into a different marke.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_4Liebhold: It starts at the top. You can’t ask a CEO for an eight-figure budget to upgrade a cloud analytics system if the C-suite doesn’t understand the power of integrating data from across all the legacy systems. So the first task is to educate the senior team so it can approve the budgets.

Scott Underwood: Some of the most interesting questions are internal organizational questions, keeping people from feeling that their livelihoods are in danger or introducing ways to keep them engaged.

Leon Segal: Absolutely. If you want to enter a new market or introduce a new product, there’s a whole chain of stakeholders – including your own employees and the distribution chain. Their experiences are also new. Once you start looking for things that affect their experience, you can’t help doing it. You walk around the office and say, “That doesn’t look right, they don’t look happy. Maybe we should change that around.”

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. 

To learn more about how to disrupt your business without destroying it, read the in-depth report Digital Disruption: When to Cook the Golden Goose.

Download the PDF (1.2MB)

Comments

Tags:

Why Small And Midsize Businesses Need More Than Just Data To Act In The Moment

Alison Biggan

Part 4 of “The Road to Live Business” series

The challenges small and midsize businesses face on a daily basis are beyond anything seen before. Over the last five years, companies across all industries have been impacted by:

  • The rise of mobile devices and cloud-based applications that have fundamentally changed how firms interact with customers and manage operations
  • New market dynamics that emerge without warning and threaten to disrupt operations significantly and at a moment’s notice
  • Employees of all roles and decision-making authority who want access to information so they can positively impact overall business performance

To address these pressures and ensure growth and expansion, small and midsize businesses must be agile and highly responsive – all with a drive to act in the moment.

Although a data-driven mindset and analytics are crucial to achieving this state, they only matter if you use them to look into the future, uncover emerging trends, and predict where the company is heading. Then, you can act in the moment, make thoughtful decisions in an instant, and serve customers in the moment of need – all characteristics of a Live Business.

There’s never been a better time for small and midsize businesses to act in the moment

Access to data is better and easier than ever before. You don’t have to be a big, multinational brand to take advantage of the analytics technology that’s available today. Your approach to leveraging analytics can be incremental and the technology is more affordable than ever, which drives down your company’s investment risk and simplifies your technology complexity.

Thanks to cloud technology, analytics solutions that were once siloed are now merging to form a single, integrated solution. From one source, you can capture business intelligence, generate a report, plan for the future, predict outcomes, and visualize insights. You don’t have to be a power user or a Ph.D. data scientist to get insight from your data. Data discovery and exploration are so intuitive that you can drill down and interact with data in real-time to get deeper, more accurate insights into what’s happening in your business. And through predictive modeling, you can pinpoint trends, compare the effectiveness of potential scenarios, and predict the future to drive new business models.

With this level of access and speed, you have the information needed to make the right decisions – in real time. Very quickly, you can see how regional activities, customer behavior patterns, market volatility, and emerging risks can impact your operations in the here and now. And with the rising popularity of mobile apps, all of your business users can make these decisions anytime, anywhere.

The value of combining the strengths of a small and midsize business with analytics

Small and midsize businesses are famous at operating with greater agility and speed than their much larger counterparts. Now that technology is more affordable and right-sized, companies like yours can leverage the technology as a competitive advantage while they are in that agile state.

It doesn’t require big budgets, big teams, or big IT departments. If you think about it from a data analytics perspective, that’s a huge step forward in delivering the features and functions your business needs – right now.

To learn how your business can become a Live Business, check out Forbes Insights’ recent report “Doing Business In-the-Moment: How SMBs Run Live in the Digital Economy.” Over the next three weeks, we will share additional insights from this research. Be sure to check every Tuesday for new installments to our blog series “The Road to Live Business.” 

Comments

About Alison Biggan

Alison Biggan is global head of Product Marketing, Digital Enterprise Platform Group, at SAP.