Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful, relaxing holiday season.
Now it’s back to work.
For marketers, while the fundamentals of marketing (e.g. product, price, place, promotion) never seem to change, ever-evolving technology trends – such as video, mobile devices and the social media revolution – often influence our strategies. What’s in store for 2016? Here are five meaningful marketing trends that are sure to have an impact:
1. Leveraging data is the key to customer acquisition: The availability of real-time customer data has driven the need for improved data management as an increasingly core function of today’s marketer. However, many marketers – especially those at small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) – seem to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of available information. In fact, according to research from the CMO Council and Ebiquity, only 29% of marketers surveyed said that handling data is something they did "well" or "very well.” As a result, almost three-fourths of marketers intend to seek outside help to deal with their data needs. It will be critical for marketers in 2016 and beyond to understand and leverage their data, as it provides critical insight into their customer preferences – and the key to unlocking how to get more customers going forward.
2. Marketing budgets will emphasize mobile, digital and video: Recent research by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business states that marketing budgets as a whole are shifting towards mobile, data analytics and social media. Spending on digital marketing is expected to increase 12.2% over the next year, while social media budgets are slated to grow to 14% over the next year. Meanwhile, a new report from Forrester Research on the video ad ecosystem estimates digital video ad spend will grow 21% annually, serving as an additional proof point of how digital is top of mind for marketers.
3. Influencers will help pursue millennials: With their relatively high amounts of discretionary income, millennials often constitute a top target market. In turn, influencer-centric email and social media campaigns will represent the best way to reach them. Research has found that earned media value from influencers during the first half of 2015 was 1.4 times higher than the yearly average from 2014, garnering $9.60 for every dollar spent. Brands are therefore trying to reach out to millennials through influencers in their attempt to maximize engagement. For example, Capital One recently granted three Instagram influencers access to its account to post images and videos based on the ongoing “What’s in your wallet?” campaign. Nine pictures were turned into Instagram ads and, according to Capital One, ad recall among all consumers rose 16%.
4. The adverting backlash continues: Ad blocking software is proving to be a serious hurdle for marketers. PageFair and Adobe’s 2015 Ad Blocking Report found ad blocking software has cost almost $22 billion in lost ad revenue this year. The number of people using such tools grew by 41% year-over-year globally, with ad block usage in the U.S. alone surging 48% in the past year to 45 million monthly active users in the second quarter. Currently Firefox and Chrome hold a 93% share of mobile ad blocking, according to MarketingDive, but the new iOS 9 will also allow for ad blockers. To counter this trend, marketers will need to pay more attention to the way they use technology so as to minimize the impact of intrusive ads by delivering them to the right audience at the right time.
5. Email still dominates: Numerous studies continue to prove the value and ROI of email, and it remains ideal for initiating and building relationships, offering an often welcomed alternative to intrusive ad campaigns. Furthermore, email is data driven, enables specific prospect and customer targeting, and supports the burgeoning mobile revolution. Finally, unlike the need to understand and harness data, marketers don’t have to be email experts to conduct and benefit from email campaigns. There are numerous vendors that can help them do this well. (See my recent blog post for more on why email continues to reign supreme.)
With the New Year comes the promise of new challenges and opportunities for marketers. A good understanding of these trends will help you stay ahead of the competition – whether that comes from opposing companies or rival marketing colleagues.
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