Our look at the latest trends in digital media and technology and how they will impact marketing in 2016
At the start of each year, there is always a lot of interest in predictions for the year ahead and the latest marketing trends.”What’s Hot?” and “What’s Next?” are always the most common questions when I give webinars and talks!
What are the latest digital marketing trends for 2017?
I originally wrote this post in early 2016 and, as you’ll know, the digital marketing world moves fast, so in a new post, I have recommendations on key trends for 2017. Hopefully, you’ll find different ideas there. This post looks at integration and the challenges of digital transformation, the new post looks at 5 different types of trends each business should consider and specific trends that should change your approach.
Download free resource – Managing Digital Marketing 2016
Our research report based on a survey of Smart Insights members and Technology for Marketing 2016 attendees explores the approaches businesses use to plan and manage their investments in digital marketing.
What do you think will be single biggest trend in digital media and technology in 2016?
To inform my thinking on marketing innovation, I’m always interested to hear the view of “hands-on” marketers in businesses running digital marketing activities as to what they see as the most important trends and I’m grateful for readers input into research like that shared in our Managing Digital Marketing report which we will be updating later in the year.
In a poll launched in the Autumn I asked readers to give their views on which digital marketing techniques will matter most to their businesses in 2016. The question was:
Since we’re talking trends, I’m interested to hear your opinion on THE biggest trend in digital marketing as shown by what will make the most difference to your business (or your clients if you work for an agency or as a consultant), i.e. whichdigital marketing technique will give you the most uplift or incremental benefits?
This graph shows the results of our survey as of 8 February 2016. Our poll received over 1,500 answers, so thanks to all those who took part.
Here, for your reference, is the full alphabetical break-down of activities which helps explain the results. For example, Big Data is surprisingly high, but this includes market insight and predictive analytics
Big Data (including market and customer insight and predictive analytics)
Communities (Branded niche or vertical communities)
Display (Banners on publishers, ad networks social media including retargeting and programmatic)
Internet of Things (IoT) marketing applications Marketing Automation (including CRM, behavioural Email marketing and web personalisation)
Mobile marketing (Mobile advertising, site development and apps)
Paid search marketing, e.g. Google AdWords Pay Per Click Online PR (including influencer outreach)
Partnerships including affiliate and co-marketing
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) S
Social media marketing including Social CRM and Social Customer Care
Wearables (e.g. Apple Watch, activity trackers, augmented reality)
Trends in consumer purchase behaviour
Following the views from marketers and businesses, changes in consumer use of digital media and technology is core to understanding trends in digital marketing. Today’s consumer buying decision is certainly getting more complex…
The increasing complexity of the purchase decision
We’re continuing to see consumer decision behaviour increase in complexity. This example of today’s complex consumer purchase behaviour from research analysts GfK shows the complexity of today’s customer journeys across multiple devices and through time, particularly for high involvement or high-value purchases, such as insurance in this instance.
The graphic shows how involved today’s purchase decision is. Over a 35 day period it averaged 9 visits to 5 different websites amounting to 34 minutes in total. The influence of online channels is clear with 82% of purchasers researching online against 4% using offline only.
Increasing mobile usage
This year we have also seen a continued strong growth in mobile use, shown clearly by Mary Meeker’s annual mobile trends round-up from earlier in the year. So, unsuprisingly, the use of mobile marketing will continue to be one of key trends to follow in 2016.
Digital Transformation: From ‘Digital Silos’ to Integrated teams
For some time, there has been increasing talk of a need for a ‘post-digital marketing world‘ marketing world where the use of digital media and technology in marketing has become so ubiquitous we no longer complete separate “digital marketing activities” since they should be fully integrated and simply part of marketing. This thinking is partly driven by changes in consumer media consumption where they continue to consume content in different formats without consciously thinking about which devices or channels. The ‘post-digital’ thinking is also driven by problems of managing marketing activities in a business where a common problem with upskilling in digital is that ‘digital silos’ are created where different parts of marketing and their agencies don’t communicate effectively giving rise to campaigns that don’t work across media.
For example, according to an interview with TFM, HSBC global head of marketing for commercial banking and global banking and markets, Amanda Rendle, has said she has banned the word ‘digital’ to encourage her team to think beyond organisational silos. Rendle says:
“We need to go back to what marketing is, and the product is marketing. More people need to remember that, get off the drug of digital being something separate and get back to what we do best“.
She says the types of roles she is looking for might end up being called customer engineers or customer journey engineers. A key problem for HSBC, she says, is that it has an abundance of insights on customers but having staff to translate that into actions is a hindrance.
“We need customer insight roles where their job is insight but it’s also about looking at what do those insights really mean? You have so much insight now but can you tell me what we need to do? How do you take all that and turn it into something really useful for our customer? That’s what we absolutely should be doing.”
Similarly Jeff Dodds, the Chief Executive of Tele 2 Netherlands since April 2014 and previously CMO for Virgin Media speaking to the CIM Catalyst magazine in Sept 2014 says:
“To talk about digital as some kind of separate entity is to not understand it. Our lives ARE digital is not a thing, it is simply a more flexible, response and efficient way to do business.”
“There is too much talk about roles: digital job titles, digital strategies”. Digital is not something that needs a job title. This perpetuates the myth that it is a singular, siloed thing. I find some of the terminology that is used incredibly frustrating“.
Interesting. This certainly shows the way thinking should be heading in future, but it’s a long way from the reality for many businesses who are only just starting to get to adjust to digital marketing. In his article, A “Post Digital” World, Really?, Y&R Chairman and CEO David Sable makes the case that, far from being post-digital, we are only at the beginning of being digital, and that fresh ideas can be found everywhere.
When I talk to businesses and we ask businesses to rate their digital capabilities I find that many are an early stage of adopting digital marketing techniques. Results from our new interactive “Digital Marketing Benchmarking tool” which asks about the detail of what could and should be marketing, shows that many are still at level 1 or 2 on a 5 point maturity scale.
The way I see it, at early levels of adoption you have to make the commitment to transform marketing by setting goals for digital marketing, setting an integrated digital strategy and bringing in specialist digital marketing skills – through a combination of new hires for new roles, use of agencies and re-skilling existing marketers. New marketing processes are also needed which integrate digital to the heart of strategy, investment and marketing campaigns. Naturally this can’t happen overnight, particularly since changes in marketing technology are also needed to support the integration of digital marketing, so many businesses now have digital transformation programmes to support this.
Ultimately the aim in the mature organisations should be to reduce specialist digital skills and agencies as digital becomes integrated as part of marketing activities. Digital silos should shrink and specialist Digital marketing managers should reduce in number although I believe there will always be a need for a ‘Digital Centre of Excellence’ to evaluate the latest digital marketing trends, set standards, manage technology projects and complete advanced optimisation.
The rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist
Another trend within the management of marketing today is the shift in control of marketing technology from IT and Sales to Marketing. Selecting the most relevant Martech from the increasingly complex Marketing Technology landscape is a major challenge as we now literally have thousands of different cloud services vying to be part of the Marketing Stack.
The challenge of integrating digital and traditional marketing
Our latest research on Managing Digital Marketing in 2016 suggested progress as marketers move towards integrated planning of digital and traditional activities, but there is still plenty of room for improvement with only one-quarter of companies satisfied with their level of integration across digital and traditional communications and 5% fully integrated and optimised.’
The chart certainly shows this is a challenge which many businesses are trying to meet. The most detrimental factor to ‘integrated planning’ is the lack of planning, as many companies have separate traditional marketing and digital marketing teams who work independently when it comes to planning their marketing as Amanda Rendle refers to when she says:
“In many organisations where they are behind on digital what happens is they hire in someone to be a head of digital or ecommerce as separate functions.”
“All of a sudden, that person hires a load of marketer/customer experience champions, so you end up with two marketing departments. For any organisation it’s huge waste of resource to have two teams doing the same thing. That’s the real danger
How do you see it – do we live in a “post-digital world” or do you think specific digital marketing skills and roles will be required.
To see more predictions from Smart Insights commentating on which marketing techniques you should pay attention to in 2016 see our compilation of Digital Marketing Trends for 2016. It covers social media, email marketing and s
Are you a social media addict, you think it’s the best you can do, have a wish to start career in this profession. Not to worry then! It’s not that difficult, how those so-called marketing GURUS could make you feel. If you can write well and think well then you can join the RACE.
This guide is short but fruitful if you follow it accordingly.
These are the 5 simple steps including questions to get you hired and start career in social media.
1) Are you super active on Social media?
It’s important to be an active user on all the popular social media platforms, it creates the awareness of your name prominently b/w different group of people. Being a super active user means daily interaction and keeping people involved in something interesting.
People take more interest in those users who update their social networks more often than those who login to their accounts once in a week.
Step 1 – Become Active on Social media:
Interact with your friends and followers on a regular basis
Always post the content of their interest
Create and insert information on all the popular social web properties even if you don’t use them, there are tools to update them without signing in. there are many reasons to do it which you will learn by time.
2) How many people are following you?
Another crucial point in starting your career in social media business is your overall following. How many friends do you have, how many people are following you on different social networks, pages, groups, lists, directories etc does matter.
Your numbers of followers is a great way to demonstrate your power to targeted company or employer, that how you could be very beneficial for them by reaching mass audience easily and accomplishing their goals.
Step 2 – Increase your number of followers
Increase your friends and followers on different social networks
Make use of social properties like groups, lists, fan pages etc
3) Are you a trend setter or part of a trend?
There are two types of people on social networks. First category is for those who follows or join others conversation and trends. Lies in the second category are those who set trends and start conversations.
You got to be a trend setter to mark your name in a social media industry.
Step 3 – Break News and be a trend setter
Be the first one to post and something and make it viral, something like breaking news, interesting videos, images etc
Post something arguable or debatable which can pull in lot of people to speak.
Ask questions about peoples interests or concerns.
4) Do you have your personal brand?
Personal branding on social media mainly includes your profile pictures, your Bio, your style of communication and your professionalism.
Like people create an individual’s image about their nature, life style and income in their minds, in online world it’s all same like it does in our real world or offline life. Your pictures, your words, your BIO, the stuff you post, the way you talk to them will create specific image about you in their minds; now it’s up to you how do you want to make them feel about yourself.
Step 4 – Create Personal Brand
Select one profile picture for all your networks, and avoid changing them very often eespecially with micro blogging networks like twitter. People assess you by your profile picture then your name.
Create and save BIO on your hard drive, and use it on all your social networks.
Apply the style of communication your followers are satisfied with. For Example: if your targeted readers are happy with slang, casual or misspelled type of communication then you should do it else avoid this at any cost.
5) Do you Blog about social media?
If not then start doing it now, NO! Don’t run to buy yourself new domain, hosting, design, dev. And stuff, you are good to go with even free hosted blog like WordPress (example.wordpress.com) Al though if you think you can easily get domain, hosting, design, dev then you should go for as it is much better for many reasons.
Writing a good blog will increase your readership and your value; this will also increase your importance than ever.
Step 5 – Start your Blog
Start your blog using free third party service like wordpress.com or self-hosted blog.
Start writing about your interests and use social media to drive traffic.
You can add snippets and source URL from other blogs to get more traffic.
Google has teased on the 13th October a new change to how they will be crawling the web, with their new Mobile-first Indexing update. They have now officially announced the change. Currently, Google indexes the desktop version of the webpage, but serves a mobile version for those searching on a mobile device. In the future, Google will reverse this process, and index the mobile version first. This has significant implications for those who may have streamlined mobile versions of their pages.
Google spokesperson, Gary Illyes, has hinted a few times over the past year that a separate mobile index was in the works, but that they are having some issues getting it to work, primarily because the loss of “tokens” or data that happens between mobile websites and desktop websites due to the more streamlined mobile versions. It would seem that they have overcome this issue with the separate mobile index by changing to a mobile-first indexing approach rather than having two separate indexes, although as you will read later in this article, Google has not ruled out separate indexes just yet.
Over the past week, SEO’s have been grilling various Google spokespersons on Twitter, revealing some useful insights to the new update. This, coupled with their official announcement post provides enough information to fully prepare yourself for this update.
According to their announcement, more people are using Google on a mobile device, than on a desktop. Unfortunately, Google uses the desktop version of the website to evaluate its relevance to the user, and ultimate decide on its ranking position.
According to Google:
This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.
To resolve this dilemma, Google has begun experiments to make their index mobile-first. Their search index will continue to be only a single index of websites and apps, but their algorithms will (once fully rolled out) primarily the mobile version of the website’s content to rank pages, assess structured data (remember, when using structured data it needs to be visible on the webpage), and to show snippets in the search results.
Google said in the blog post that while their small-scale experiments will continue over the coming months, before ramping up the change once they are confident of a great user experience.
In order to help webmasters prepare for the upcoming change (which has currently been rolled out in a few select locations), they have provided some guidelines to follow:
#1 If your Mobile and Responsive website are the same
If your current responsive website, or your dynamic website currently has identical content and markup for both your mobile and desktop version, you should not need to change anything.
#2 If your Mobile and Responsive website are not the same
If you have a website where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, then you will need to make changes to your website:
#2.1 Structured markup
Google recommends that you should:
Implement structured markup on both your desktop and mobile version.
You should test both versions of your website (where you have a separate mobile version) in theStructured Data Testing Tool, and compare the output.
When adding structured data to a mobile website, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
By definition, brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brandin order to achieve specific goals. First, let’s clear up the biggest misconception about brand strategy: Your brand is not your product, your logo, your website, or your name. In fact, your brand is much more than that — it’s the stuff that feels intangible. But it’s that hard-to-pin-down feeling that separates powerhouse and mediocre brands from each other.
So to help you rein in what many marketers consider more of an art and less of a science, we’ve broken down seven essential components of a comprehensive brand strategy that will help keep your company around for ages.
7 Components for a Comprehensive Branding Strategy
“Every brand makes a promise. But in a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defining purpose,” explains Allen Adamson, chairman of the North America region of brand consulting and design firm Landor Associates.
While understanding what your business promises is necessary when defining your brand positioning, knowing why you wake up everyday and go to work carries more weight. In other words, your purpose is more specific, in that it serves as a differentiator between you and your competitors.
Functional: This concept focuses on the evaluations of success in terms of immediate and commercial reasons — i.e. the purpose of the business is to make money.
Intentional: This concept focuses on success as it relates to the ability to make money and do good in the world.
While making money is important to almost every business, we admire brands that emphasize their willingness to achieve more than just profitability, like IKEA:
IKEA’s vision isn’t just to sell furniture, but rather, to “create a better everyday life.” This approach is appealing to potential customers, as it demonstrates their commitment to providing value beyond the point of sale.
When defining your business’ purpose, keep this example in mind. While making money is a priority, operating under that notion alone does little to set your brand apart from others in your industry.
The key to consistency is to avoid talking about things that don’t relate to or enhance your brand. Added a new photo to your business’ Facebook Page? What does it mean for your company? Does it align with your message, or was it just something funny that would, quite frankly, confuse your audience?
In an effort to give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to be sure that all of your messaging is cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand recognition, which fuels customer loyalty. (No pressure, right?)
To see a great example of consistency, let’s look at Coca Cola. As a result of their commitment to consistency, every element of their marketing works harmoniously together. This has helped them become one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
Even on the surface of their social media accounts, for example, the seamlessness of their brand is very apparent:
To avoid leaving potential customers struggling to put the disconnected pieces of your business together, consider the benefits of creating a style guide. A style guide can encompass everything from the tone of voice you’ll use to the color scheme you’ll employ to the way you’ll position certain products or services.
By taking the time to define and agree upon these considerations, your brand will benefit as a whole. Want to learn more about style guides? Check out this article my colleague Austin Knight published on the web design style guides of big companies like Apple, Google, and Starbucks.
Customers aren’t always rational.
How else do you explain the person who paid thousands of dollars more for a Harley rather than buying another cheaper, equally well-made bike? There was an emotional voice in there somewhere, whispering: “Buy a Harley.”
Harley Davidson uses emotional branding by creating a community around their brand. They began HOG — Harley Owners Group — to connect their customers with their brand (and each other).
By provided their customers with an opportunity to feel like they’re part of a larger group that’s more tight-knit than just a bunch of motorcycle riders, Harley Davidson is able to position themselves as an obvious choice for someone looking to purchase a bike.
Why? People have an innate desire to build relationships. Research from psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary best describes this need in their “belongingness hypothesis,” which states: “People have a basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, and that caring, affectionate bonds from close relationships are a major part of human behavior.”
Not to mention, belongingness — the need for love, affection, and being part of groups — falls directly in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which aims to categorize different human needs.
The lesson to be learned? Find a way to connect to your customers on a deeper, more emotional level. Do you give them peace of mind? Make them feel like part of the family? Do you make life easier? Use emotional triggers like these to strengthen your relationship and foster loyalty.
In this fast-changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. On the plus side, this frees you to be creative with your campaigns.
You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, how am I supposed to remain consistent while also being flexible?”
Good question. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition.
In other words, “effective identity programs require enough consistency to be identifiable, but enough variation to keep things fresh and human,” explains president of Peopledesign, Kevin Budelmann.
A great example of this type of strategic balance comes from Old Spice. These days, Old Spice is one of the best examples of successful marketing across the board. However, up until recently, wearing Old Spice was pretty much an unspoken requirement for dads everywhere. Today, they’re one of the most popular brands for men of all ages.
Between new commercials, a new website, new packaging, and new product names, Old Spice managed to attract the attention of a new, younger generation by making strategic enhancements to their already strong brand.
So if your old tactics aren’t working anymore, don’t be afraid to change. Just because it worked in the past doesn’t mean it’s working now.
Take the opportunity to engage your followers in fresh, new ways. Are there some out-of-the-box partnerships your brand can make? Are there attributes about your product you never highlighted? Use those to connect with new customers and remind your old ones why they love you.
5) Employee Involvement
As we mentioned before, achieving a sense of consistency is important if you wish to build brand recognition. And while a style guide can help you achieve a cohesive digital experience, it’s equally important for your employees to be well versed in the how they should be communicating with customers and representing the brand.
If your brand is playful and bubbly through Twitter engagements, then it wouldn’t make sense if a customer called in and was connected with a grumpy, monotone representative, right?
To avoid this type of mismatched experience, take note of Zappos’ approach.
If you’ve ever been on the line with a customer service representative from Zappos, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, check out this SlideShare which details some of their most inspiring customer support stories.
Zappos is so committed to ensuring that not only their brand, but all brands, remain consistent across digital and human interactions that they’ve dedicated an entire department to the cause called Zappos Insights.
By holding all Zappos employees to their core values and helping other companies implement the same approach, Zappos has built a strong reputation for solid, helpful, and human customer service.
If you already have people that love you, your company, and your brand, don’t just sit there. Reward them for that love.
These customers have gone out their way to write about you, to tell their friends about you, and to act as your brand ambassadors. Cultivating loyalty from these people early on will yield more returning customers — and more profit for your business.
Sometimes, just a thank you is all that’s needed. Other times, it’s better to go above and beyond. Write them a personalized letter. Sent them some special swag. Ask them to write a review, and feature them prominently on your website. (Or all of the above!)
When we reached 15,000 customers here at HubSpot, we wanted to say thank you in a big way, while remaining true to our brand … so we dropped 15,000 orange ping pong balls from our fourth floor balcony and spelled out thank you in big metallic balloons:
And while it may have seemed a little out of the ordinary to some folks, for those who know our brand, the gesture made perfect sense.
Loyalty is a critical part of every brand strategy, especially if you’re looking to support your sales organization. At the end of the day, highlighting a positive relationship between you and your existing customers sets the tone for what potential customers can expect if they choose to do business with you.
7) Competitive Awareness
Take the competition as a challenge to improve your own strategy and create greater value in your overall brand. You are in the same business and going after the same customers, right? So watch what they do.
Do some of their tactics succeed? Do some fail? Tailor your brand positioning based on their experience to better your company.
A great example of how to improve your brand by learning from your competitors comes from Pizza Hut:
When a pizza lover posed this question to his Twitter following, Pizza Hut didn’t miss a beat. They playfully responded in minutes, before Domino’s had a chance to speak up.
If Domino’s is keeping an eye on the competitors, they’ll know to act fast the next time a situation like this arises.
And while staying in tune with your competitor’s strategies is important if you want to enhance your brand, don’t let them dictate each and every move you make.
Sure, you probably sell a similar product or service as many other companies, but you’re in business because your brand is unique. By harping on every move your competitor makes, you lose that differentiation.
What other components do you focus on when building out a brand strategy? Let us know in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.