Changes are happening at a dizzying pace in digital marketing and it’s not always easy to keep up. Technology isn’t going to stop and let you catch your breath. If you’re too focused on day-to-day marketing minutiae, you need to pull back and think about big-picture trends for the coming year and how they affect your overall marketing strategy. Here are some marketing trends that we think you ought to keep in mind as you develop your marketing plans for 2016.
The world is changing and the majority of internet users consume content with mobiles devices. Need proof? Movable Ink’s US Consumer Device Preference Report (Q3,2015) states that mobile accounted for 67% of all open emails. This simple truth affects everything from design to content. Mobile users need shorter text that can be easily read on little screens. Both email and website design need to be responsive. Desktop use is still strong…but the trend toward mobile isn’t stopping and marketers can’t focus on desktop-only user experiences any more.
More businesses see that marketing automation connects the dots between digital marketing, leads, and sales. The use of marketing automation (as opposed to email service providers) is becoming more and more widespread. Used the right way, it reduces the time spent on vital marketing and sales tasks, including tracking, emailing, and managing leads.
But marketing automation isn’t an important trend only because it simplifies and streamlines work. Marketing automation makes an amazing amount of personalization possible. Emails can be personalized on a micro level, helping avoid the dreaded spam folder. Audience segments can be analyzed for useful insights, so marketers can hit the target more effectively.
Building Relationships through Content
At the same time technology advances, everyday people are getting savvier about marketing content. Hard sales pitches and obvious self-promotion are easily ignored. Instead, businesses are wising up to the simple fact that customers like to do business with people they like and trust. For example, in their worldwide brandshare study, Edelman found that 92% respondents wanted to do business with brands that share their beliefs. That trend toward real relationships based on shared values will only grow stronger in the year ahead.
So how do businesses achieve solid relationships? Through content that audiences can really use—and share. Blog posts, articles, and whitepapers that educate, providing actionable information and solid data that addresses an audience’s real, specific concerns. Businesses also build those relationships through showing their personal side through social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and other channels. By seeing the people behind the brand, consumers learn their values and connect on an emotional level.
Seeing a common thread in these trends? Personal technology; personalized communications; personalized content. It’s a tricky balance: you and your audience rely on technological platforms and tools. At the same time, people respond to a warmer, more personal approach that emphasizes connection over promotion.
In short, we think the challenge for 2016 is using technology in a human way, not falling into the trap of being cold or anonymous. The trick is getting personal. This means keeping up with mobile tech; personalizing marketing on a whole new level with marketing automation; and using content to develop relationships with the right audiences. Keep these related trends in mind as you plan your marketing strategy for the year to come.