Digital marketing changes predicted for 2016

The number of worldwide customers owning a smartphone will reach two billion in 2016

Business leaders need to stay abreast of digital marketing developments to remain competitive. I’ll highlight three developments that are an acceleration of changes already underway.

1. Relationship marketing

Relationship marketing is all about building long-term customer loyalty as opposed to short-term individual sales. The resulting benefits of word-of-mouth promotions and lead generation are already widely understood. This growing emphasis on relationship marketing signals a further decline in aggressive, mass-target marketing strategies.

Building customer trust requires transparency and honesty. It also demands that marketing staffs respond quickly to negative customer feedback to prevent potential damage from going viral. One personal example–after recently scheduling an appointment with a doctor recommended to me, I went online to double check patient reviews and found two, highly credible negative reports that resulted in my finding another specialist.

The number of worldwide customers owning a smartphone will reach two billion in 2016, further expanding the opportunity for brands to connect with their customers using data-driven, personalized information.

For sales staffs, this strategy requires a more accurate understanding of target markets using improved analytics to help them connect with their target audiences as ‘consultants’ rather than aggressive pitchers of products or services.

2. Marketing automation

Today’s marketing professionals still spend more than 50% of their time generating content, a driving force for the increasing popularity of marketing automation software.

Marketing automation make it easier for businesses to schedule emails, segment contacts, automate social media posting, manage content, and track the lifecycle of customers in different categories. This development is part of ‘convergence,’ which allows companies to be leaner and more profitable without compromising on quality.

Worldwide, this market is now estimated to be worth more than $5.5 billion. There are already dozens of different marketing automation platforms available, with 2016 projected to see a still greater variety of platform options with across the board reductions in prices.

Interestingly, many of the companies that have signed up for marketing automation in the last few years have been using it just for email delivery. Typically costing $1000 a month, marketing directors are beginning to understand that they can dump an expensive provider for Mail Chimp while keeping many of the same benefits. Making this option still more attractive, free/low cost Mail Chimp is starting to do provide options that the more expensive automated marketing platforms offer.

3. Location-based marketing technology

Another increasingly viable strategy for marketers is to target potential users where they’re located. Location-based marketing technology, like iBeacons and Radio Frequency IDs (RFIDs), make this advance possible. “iBeacons are small, inexpensive transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to detect nearby devices that can be housed in retail stores, point of sale displays, and merchandising areas.”

Besides enhancements in retail sales, iBeacons can also help event attendees make the most of conferences through sign up and engagement in talks and sessions. LinkedIn integration has made this technology still more effective by reducing delayed emailed notifications.

In my next installment, I’ll discuss how virtual reality, ‘ephemeral marketing,’ search engine integration, digital assistant optimization are going to make a difference. One thing, however, will remain the same: the critical importance of quality of written content.

Ensuring high quality written content is still a marketer’s number one priority, a fact often overlooked.

If you haven’t yet looked into digital relationship marketing, marketing automation and location-based technology, I highly recommend you investigate their potential to grow your business and stay ahead of the competition.

Quality of written content will remain the #1 priority

Ensuring high quality written content is still a marketer’s number one priority, a fact often overlooked in the rush of news about digital marketing breakthroughs. Research continues to confirm that this one factor drives the vast majority of business decisions. Viewers will quickly exit even the most visually striking website if its marketing messages don’t speak to them. In addition, content development is significantly cheaper than other forms of marketing, giving businesses still more incentive to invest in blogs and website content.

Marketing technology and strategies are rapidly evolving

An overview of marketing trends for 2016 underscores the imperative of incorporating social media automation tools while, at the same time, becoming more responsive and transparent to targeted social media groups. For example, Facebook’s tools for customizing audiences, broken out according to demographic, location and interests— permit a much more effective tailoring of marketing messages to specific sub-groups.

Key factors driving change

  • Because online viewers experience high quality content every day, businesses that have an outdated and/or slack Internet presence are falling behind.
  • Businesses are updating and streamlining their digital marketing tools to get more bang for their marketing buck.
  • Video is quickly gaining dominance in online marketing because, among other things, it can easily be broken down into audio, text and images.
  • It’s now clear that while social media helps attract fans/followers, it isn’t effective for direct product/services sales pitches.
  • Business leaders have learned that attracting a large number of website/social media visitors isn’t enough. Increasingly, they recognize that social media are most effective at relationship building because it’s by building a fan/follower base that boosts ROI.
  • It’s increasingly easy and affordable, even for small organizations with limited budgets, to implement live streaming, 360-degree video and 3D on their websites.

In future insights articles, I’ll describe the emerging use of virtual reality tech, streaming video, search platform integration, ephemeral marketing and more information on the growing dominance of video in digital marketing.