Digital Marketing in 2016, Trends and Lessons from the Past

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The digital marketing landscape is becoming increasingly more complex and, in many ways, ephemeral. With the volatility of  the digital sphere, the trends indicate several opportunities for brands looking to position themselves online.

As new technologies emerge, new software created, and companies are founded, the associated risks for businesses is determining a position on integrating the newest, shiniest technology or to focus their marketing efforts on their core efforts. Early adopters gain a clear advantage in terms of brand positioning and securing new market interests while conservative brands tend to miss out or have to catch up by investing resources to retain their market share.

What’s in store for 2016?

Before any predictions, it’s clear that the digital marketing landscape is quickly evolving and continuing to blur the lines between real time and longer form content. As these changes emerge, consumer preferences are shifting but can brands actually preserver their positioning and respond to these changes?

The best place to start is to look back at 2015 and allow those trends to determine what’s in store for the coming year.

In 2015, four digital marketing predictions emerged.

  1. Content/ Context will continue to dominate
  2. Cross platform marketing will grow
  3. Mobile
  4. Data and personalization

Looking forward to 2016, last year’s digital marketing trends require some fine tuning to better suit consumer preferences, marketing realities and a more crowded online marketplace.

Content/ Context

In 2015, valuable content boosted via paid promotion was important. Content in the right context seemed to be an important aspect of long-form content for many brands. Especially in light of SERP’s trying to bridge the great divide.

It will remain that way in 2016 with a few minor tweaks.

Blogging and content creation will remain a critical aspect of brand positioning online. With that, social promotion and dynamic image and video-based content will take a more prominent role in the content funnel. Words won’t be the only touch point for brands. Especially with video streaming giants Periscope, Meerkat and Blab positioning themselves, content marketers need to readjust their definitions of content or, at the very least, expand their content offerings within this new reality.

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Within content offerings, companies are now realizing the significant impact of user-generated content. User generated content programs are clearly gaining popularity, some notable ones of 2015 include:

National GeographicWindows 10, and Camelbak.

These brands span the industry spectrum from tech to product to global tourism. A little creativity and a willingness to engage and solicit content from fans, can go a long way.  Expect this user focused trend to grow in 2016, as more companies integrate some form of UGC campaign to increase brand affinity and loyalty.

Creative content is not specific to either the B2C or B2B spaces. In 2016, content marketers need to test visual and video platforms, not to mention live streaming, as new means to offer content that is engaging and will entice users beyond the classic text-based blog.

Mobile First

Last year, the trends of mobile usage were outstanding. As the surge in the mobile market directly affected the marketing industry, 2015 pushed the industry to its limits in terms of content marketing on mobile device.

In 2015, Google made a clear statement of mobile trends by announcing that mobile took over desktop traffic in 10 countries. They also released an algorithm update boldly stating that mobile is here to stay and pushing out those sites that aren’t willing to play with the big boys. While Google is willing to accept two versions of the site, they are clearly making a statement of their predictions in terms of mobile trends.

The mobile-first, or multi-screen, trend will only continue gain steam in 2016. Responsive design is just the tip of the iceberg. Customers are clearly showing their multi-device and multi-channel preferences. In an attempt to face the new digital landscape, marketers are shifting their strategy towards an omni channel marketing approach.  Mobile will continue to dominate in 2016 and marketers should focus on creating a seamless user experience across several devices and channels.

This mobile-first approach is especially important for marketers working with the next generation. According to some research, this generation spends almost 18 hours a day consuming content on a mobile device. Remember, they were born with mobile devices in their hand. So they are extremely comfortable with this medium, which means that this generation is performing a majority of their searches, purchases and media consumption on mobile.

It’s time for companies to realize that the next gen users are the future, engaging them now will only secure their affiliations and purchase preferences in the future.  

Users are screen-agnostic, so why are brands so hesitant to jump on the cross platform bandwagon?

Separate digital strategies for different devices won’t be effective for today’s multi-screen user. It’s too difficult to segment consumer behaviors based on mobile, desktop, tablet usage. With so many potential touch points for users and multiple channels of engagement, brands need to ensure that their content is relevant and in-line with the various content delivery channels.

Social Media Gaining More Steam

According to recent studies, social media is the number one online activity surpassing entertainment.  This surge clearly parallels the increase in mobile device usage.

For many brands, social media is turning into one of the top referral traffic sources and, at the same time, dominating advertising spending. As an example, social media powerhouse, Facebook, launched in March 2015 an entire new array of advertising options for brands including dynamic product ads and a carousel style display (both native and on Instagram), as a response to the growing trend of social media consumption.In 2016 and beyond, social media will continue to dominate the online world, so marketers must put more of their efforts in integrating social media into their overall marketing strategies.  

The Underlying Factor: Evolving Data

Last year was focused on data driven marketing efforts. The predictions of a 60% increase in marketing analytics spending fell short in comparison to actual spending. Venture Beat’s report predicts that it will continue to increase to 73% in some industries and reach almost 100% for large cap B2C companies.   

What does this trend in marketing analytics usage mean? It just means that big data is growing and driving many business decisions.  Data analysis is becoming increasingly more sophisticated enabling companies to analyze multiple layers, or dimensions, of data simultaneously. 2016 will be the year that this more complex style of interpreting data sets dominates the market. This format may overwhelm the beginner marketer, but this strategic and informative process is quickly becoming the baseline for correlating business results with marketing goals. Obviously, data has always been a critical aspect of business success. Now, in today’s digital first landscape, a multi-faceted strategy to data analysis enables companies to identify the cause and effect of any digital efforts and its impact on the bottom line of the business.

Awareness of data is not enough. Staying ahead of the curve will only be possible for a company that integrates multi-dimensional data analysis. aware of these in order to stay ahead of the curve.

As we ring in 2016, digital marketing trends for companies should focus on creating a refined almost personalized digital journey that is consumable on any device, at any touch point, and can be attributed back to the marketing efforts of the brand. With a data-driven, consumer focused, non-device focused digital marketing strategy, any brand can succeed this year and transform this past year’s trends into actionable, growth oriented long-term results.

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Lessons from Adele: How to Take Your Customers Along with You to the Other Side

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Author: Michael Powers

Ladies and gentlemen—stop everything you are doing. She. Is. Back. Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for (or at least I have). After three long years since her last musical masterpiece—the James Bond theme song for Skyfall—Adele is back.

If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting in anticipation for the release of her new album, 25, which dropped worldwide today. While Adele has awed us with her consistent success—producing hit after hit—I was curious to see if her new album would rest on the same themes, ideas, and messages of her last successful album, 21.

After years and years everyone (in my opinion) has been waiting for a teaser, which happened when “Hello” debuted as a television ad in early October. But some fans may have been slightly disappointed when watching the video for “Hello,” thinking…”Really? Another album about a break up or a man from her past?”

But this thinking was shattered by a recent Rolling Stone interview with Adele:

The lyrics sound like she’s addressing some long-lost ex, but she says it isn’t about any one person—and that she’s moved on from the heartbreaker who inspired 21. “If I were still writing about him, that’d be terrible,” she says. “‘Hello’ is as much about regrouping with myself, reconnecting with myself.” As for the line “hello from the other side”: “It sounds a bit morbid, like I’m dead,” she says. “But it’s actually just from the other side of becoming an adult, making it out alive from your late teens, early twenties.”

Mind blown, right? Once again, Adele’s done it—blown the socks off of her audience. A reinvention, a whole new message, and not to mention a whole new (fantastic) look (in case you’re reading this, Adele).

Alright I know what you’re thinking, how does this tie into marketing? My point is that we have seen Adele go through the rapid-growth, fast-success, early stages of her life, but we’re witnessing and participating in her transition into adulthood—a shift that has been expertly managed by Adele and her team, making her fans feel like a part of the change without alienating them. We get to see a whole new side of her, while still enjoying her power ballads.

This translates directly into how companies manage growth and change. At a certain point in your company’s growth, there comes a time to reinvent your brand and bring your company to the next level. But to do this, it takes very careful and strategic planning to make sure that there isn’t a negative impact for your customers and that there aren’t negative connotations for your brand. So, to create a smooth, successful transition from a high-growth adolescent stage to mature adulthood like Adele, here are 3 things to consider:

1. Don’t Totally Reinvent the Wheel

If you’ve noticed it’s time for a transformation, it means you’re paying attention to the perception of your brand in the industry. However, fight the urge to totally overhaul your brand. You have customers and fans who like you for who you are now, so start by determining which aspects of your product/service offering are the most successful. Then figure out what you need to take it to the next level. The smallest tweak or alteration could do it.

Once you’ve made this change, now it’s time to work on your messaging—how are you effectively communicating this change? For Adele, this meant definitively stating in a Rolling Stone interview that her album is about growing up versus breaking up, and offering insight into her life. For you though, Rolling Stone might not be the best place. Determine the medium based on where you will best reach your audience and communicate your change there.

When Yahoo revealed their new logo after a month-long marketing campaign, they first shared their news on Tumblr and gained a ton of organic traction from likes and reblogs. In a Tumblr post that followed, CEO Marissa Mayer stated, “We knew we wanted a logo that reflected Yahoo – whimsical, yet sophisticated. Modern and fresh, with a nod to our history. Having a human touch, personal. Proud.” Given Tumblr’s user demographics and the fact that Yahoo had just bought the social network earlier that year, Tumblr was the perfect channel for them to first announce the news because it aligned well with their vision.

Yahoo

2. Challenge Yourself

As your brand transitions into the new phase you want to just continue to build on the success you’ve had in the past. However, your main goal here should really be to establish a higher credibility with your audience. This is going to take some fresh eyes, so bring in someone new to help with this. Whether that’s a new executive to work with the group, a consultant for a special project, or, in Adele’s case, adding a percussionist to her already fantastic band to keep 25 sounding fresh. You need someone in the group to identify and bring your mistakes to the surface; this will make you more successful with the transition.

3. Take Your Time

The last thing you want to do is make this big change and have it be a huge flop. Develop a strategic plan for how you’re going to build this new brand, or elements of the brand, and test it. Use a consultant or test groups to test your messaging with your different personas. Once you’ve received feedback and made the proper alterations, build your roll-out strategy. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even our lady Adele slowly released her new album one song at a time. (Wait, that seems familiar…do I sense a drip campaign?)

Last year, Airbnb re-branded around the feeling of “belonging”. As reported by Bloomberg Business, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia explained that they had grown so quickly since their founding that formal branding had initially been sidelined, so they collaborated with design firm DesignStudio to help them build a better brand. DesignStudio conducted in-field research, interviewing staff members and even dispatching a few of their own team members to stay with hosts in 13 cities across 4 continents, resulting in insightful stories and hours of video footage that all yielded the same message about the brand: No matter where you were on Airbnb globally, the one thing that’s consistent is belonging. From that, they reshaped their messaging around what they dubbed the Bélo: the universal symbol of belonging.

Airbnb

Your dedication to the transformation and maturity of your brand will show the industry that you are here to stay—and this is true for both musicians and companies. This will be what sets you up for your next round of funding or your IPO, can help you break into new segments or, in Adele’s case, simply grow up in the public eye (easier said than done for celebrities). The important thing to remember is that as you break into new audiences, never forget where you came from. If it fits into your new business plan, you always want to make sure you’re still expanding on your original buyers or personas. To do this successfully, you need to hold on to your die-hard fans, as well as reinvigorate them with something fresh. Take me for instance, today I’ll be revisiting the #duchessadele hashtag I created around the time 21 was released. A poor attempt to have Adele be recognized by the royal family, but hey there’s still be hope!

So as you take short breaks throughout the day today, spending 5 minutes each time to really absorb the message and experience of Adele’s new album, think to yourself: What were the stages of your company’s brand? Can you look back on the time when you were a young star on the rise or the time when you were singularly focused and it didn’t work? If that’s the case, ask yourself what you’re going to do to make the transition into your new adult brand.

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Lessons from Adele: How to Take Your Customers Along with You to the Other Side was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. | http://blog.marketo.com

The post Lessons from Adele: How to Take Your Customers Along with You to the Other Side appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.


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