Richard Conway lists seven shifts in trends and behaviours that will help shape digital marketing strategies for businesses in 2016.
The ever-changing nature of the digital marketing landscape can be both exciting and daunting. Every year there is a host of new companies, products and disruptive technologies that change the way we interact digitally with businesses and each other. Staying up to date with these changes and predicting which ones will take off and which will not, can have a radical impact on bottom line and business growth.
As an owner of a growing technology business, it is crucial that my company stays up to date with the latest innovations and technologies in order that we maintain and grow our competitive advantage. I have always been of the opinion that if you are not moving forward and pushing the boundaries then you are actually going backwards.
Looking forward to the rest of 2016 and beyond, here are seven shifts in trends and behaviours that will help shape digital marketing strategies for businesses:
1. Mobile First - 2015 saw mobile queries overtake desktop queries for the first time. Google have been focusing on mobile for a number of years; on 21 April 2015, they released a mobile specific algorithm update (dubbed as ‘Mobilegeddon’), which highlighted their continued focus in this area. New Zealand has a higher smartphone penetration than the global average, with 92 percent of under 25s and 84 percent of 25 to 44 year olds regularly using smartphones to access the Internet.
To be successful in 2016 marketers should include a mobile strategy as one of their key drivers of growth.
2. Micro Moments – Tying in with mobile, micro-moments are seen as the new battleground for brands. Micro-moments shape how consumers interact with technology; Google defines them as ‘want-to-know’ moments, ‘want-to-go’ moments, ‘want-to-do’ moments and ‘want-to-buy’ moments.
In order to take advantage of these micro-moments in your industry you need to;
- Map out the important moments. Identify those customer moments that are crucial to you; look through the entire customer journey to distinguish and document the moments that your customers want to learn about your product, make a purchase and anywhere in between.
- Know your customer in the moment. Imagine you are the customer. What would facilitate their decision, what would make it faster, easier and more convenient? What content or information would facilitate their needs?
- Use content. Programmatic advertising looks to identify and deliver content at the exact moment by using contextual signals such as time of day and location to deliver relevant, compelling messaging. The content delivered should be exactly what they need at that particular moment (this has been defined in the moment map).
- Optimise the journey. Make sure that the messaging and calls to action are consistent across devices. In this multi-device word, delivering conflicting messages across devices could lose your customer.
- Measurement. The beauty of digital is that, with a little work much of what the user does on their journey is trackable. Measure the moments that matter.
3. Virtual Reality – Virtual reality (VR) has been threatening to break into the mainstream for a while. The Oculus Rift (a virtual reality head-mounted display) is being released in 2016 and more and more content is being produced on a daily basis.
From 8 to 10 January 2016, Thorston Wiedemann spent 48 hours inside virtual reality worlds at the Game Science Centre in Berlin. Whilst we may not see the full emergence of VR in 2016, very soon, people are likely to hang out socially, have business meetings and even go on holiday in virtual worlds. If VR takes off the way it could, imagine the wave of advertising opportunities it could open with games, social platforms and more.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is quoted as saying that “Oculus’s mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences.”
4. Marketing Automation – In my view marketing automation is one of the most underutilised opportunities for small and medium businesses in New Zealand. Creating a truly intuitive and results focussed marketing automation
Whilst not right for every industry, marketing automation can have a profound impact of some businesses. The important thing is to get it right and constantly fine-tune the messaging.
5. Wearable tech – Consumers have started to adopt wearables with the production and sale of the Apple Watch. Google have announced that they are going to look at redeveloping Google Glass. Smart marketers will look to these devices to capture the micro moments, blurring the line even further between online and offline worlds.
6. Optimising for conversions – Whilst many larger businesses have been doing this for some time, small and medium businesses have an opportunity in 2016 to gain a competitive advantage by tracking, measuring and optimising the user journey.
Create landing pages for AdWords campaigns and split-test small changes in the wording and calls to action. Use eye tracking software like Crazy Egg to see what users are doing on your website. Improving the conversion rate on your website can have a profound effect on the bottom line.
7. Social advertising – Social platforms are not right for every business and their ads are not always effective. However, if the industry is right (think female fitness businesses on Facebook, fashion businesses on Instagram), they can be powerful mechanisms to acquire customers. 2016 looks set to see a big increase in spending on social advertising which should continue on into 2017.
These are some of the trends we are looking as an agency in 2016 and it is clear that digital and, more specifically, mobile digital will continue to surge forward in popularity.
Utilising these opportunities and trends does not have to cost a fortune, some of the most successful growth stories in New Zealand have been done using ‘growth hacking’ with minimal budgets.
2016 is going to be an exciting year, full of positive change. To quote William Pollard, a 19th century English clergyman: “Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
Those words still ring true today.