A very Happy New Year to you all. I have no doubt that you’ve probably read many Digital Trends and predictions blogs for 2016 already, so here’s another to add to the mix and (hopefully) inspire and insight your marketing plans for this year. After all, the purpose of these articles is to ensure brands are in a strong place to effectively communicate with their audience through relevant digital channels.
Some of these trends and predictions may be obvious and not new to you, but it’s always worth revisiting them and finding out if they are relevant to your business.
The world of digital is scary and is evolving quicker than we ever anticipated. Now is the time to get it right. How will you improve your digital communications in 2016, over and above what you did in 2015? Is it time for a new website? Will you explore a new social media channel? Or will you be clever with Big Data, to create more targeted, personalised marketing campaigns?
Tips for planning success in digital this year…
Integrated Digital Marketing
Yes, it’s nothing new, but you’ll be surprised how many businesses are running fragmented campaigns that do not run seamlessly. It’s time for Digital Marketing to be at the core of your marketing strategy – if you’re planning on running a campaign, do you know how it will work across, for example, Twitter, YouTube and Paid Search? It’s important to understand the purpose of each channel. If the campaign revolves around a film on YouTube, will Twitter and Paid Search drive users to watch this film, which you have embedded on your website? Digital and above the line advertising can work effectively together.
It still feels that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) sits outside of the traditional marketing sphere for many businesses. SEO is not dead (although you’ve probably heard it is!), it still has an important role to play and unfortunately, the industry is still being tarnished by bad practice and dishonest techniques.
What’s in store for SEO and Search in 2016?
SEO won’t be replaced in 2016, brands will always have search engine objectives and other Digital Marketing techniques such as storytelling and content marketing will support this.
- We’ll see more social media indexing through Facebook and Twitter (and possibly other channels) – this could lead to more of an emphasis on social value and will help to build online brand awareness and profiles
- Earlier in 2015, mobile searches surpassed desktop searches for the first time, and along with Mobilegeddon, Google announced to the world that mobile and desktop traffic were on relatively equal footing. Each year we’re told to “build a responsive website” – more importantly, you should be adopting a mobile-friendly approach because you want to offer a great user experience via your website
- SEO value: Search engines will continue to take user outcomes into account, analysing how engaged your users are and the experience your website provides them. For example, if you have a high number of drop-offs, Google will know. This will include:
- Time spent on the website and landing pages and bounce rates
- Number of conversions and how easy it is for users to convert is important. If the majority of your website visitors add a product to your shopping cart, but then drop off, you’re probably doing something wrong. Can a user perform an action quickly and easily on your website? If your competitor provides better user experience, you may be losing out
- If you have a mobile app, this is for you: App Store Optimisation (ASO) is a thing and you should be investing in it. Google is indexing more and more mobile apps in search results. Google drives higher engagement with apps, it allows users to find and download your app and improves the search user experience on mobile devices
- Google Knowledge Graph: Google is increasing the amount of information that you can find within search results, sometimes without even needing to click through to a website. For example, in the below screenshot I can find out how many iPhones there are in the world, without needing to actually visit Wikipedia…
Will Twitter lift the 140 character limit? Will Snapchat revolutionise the way we advertise to the youth? And will Instagram advertising be effective… or just annoying?
Snapchat: Snapchat advertising is going to be powerful. For the first time, it’ll offer advertisers a direct opportunity to communicate with young people. Many also believe it’ll influence how people vote in General Elections, particularly the 2016 US Presidential Election. The app currently has a user base of 100 million, and many of them are in the 18-to-31 age range, who could have a huge impact on who is elected
Live broadcasting: Yes, we can now regularly keep up-to-date with the live world through social. Whether it’s Periscope, Meerkat or Twitter Moments, we can watch live video and streaming just about anywhere. Just today, thousands of us (including me) were watching a puddle… Just because we can. #DrummondPuddleWatch – I’ll let you find out why here
Mobile messaging apps: The rise of mobile messaging apps (i.e. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) are changing the way we can interact with each other and how brands can improve customer communication and service.
Adblocking is an ongoing issue for brands, with more tools and software becoming readily available to block ads. Some websites now refuse to provide you with content if you block ads from their website. As a marketer, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but we’re trying to track too much and being too intrusive.
People are becoming more aware that everything they do is being tracked, so we can bombard them with remarketing. We need to find a new balance between tracking what our audience do on-site and relaying ads that they really do want to see.
It’s possible Government’s stand in to legislate how ad blocking works, to protect advertisers and publishers in 2016?
According to some published estimates, video content will account for nearly two-thirds of consumer Internet traffic by the end of 2016. Channels such as YouTube and Vimeo are full of different styles of video – storytelling, vlogging and emotionally engaging campaigns. This has seen a reduction in TV media spend (how many times did you actually see the John Lewis advert on TV vs online over Christmas?) and brands are allocating more budget to online video because it’s becoming more effective.
Great video content is going to be an easier way to quickly engage with your audience and attract social sharing. This can be recognised from Google as well, as they look at new ways of including video ads within search results.
It’s here to stay and it’s not just a fad. Your next hire could well be a Data Scientist, once described as the “sexiest job of the century”, and it’s not just a role for big companies anymore. Big Data can work across your entire business, helping you to improve processes, reduce costs, place more targeted advertising and most importantly help you to understand your customers better, therefore providing them with a personalised experience.
Start by analysing all of your existing data and how you collate this. Do you use a CRM? Are you segmenting your email marketing data? Do you have one database that can provide you with multiple insight into your business? Reporting tools are available to help you visualise all of your data in a more effective way that enables you to make the right decisions.
We’re seeing more Big Data companies and specialists growing excessively to meet the demand of consumers. One that comes to mind regularly is Black Swan Data who work with brands like Disney, Pepsi and Tesco, aiding them to understand their data more effectively and make the right decisions based on science. They have a team of Data Scientists and have their own bespoke platform and tools that work with a number of applications to help visualise and search across different data sets. They’re a great example that Big Data can transform the way your business operates.
I’m not as excited for Wearable Tech in 2016, than I was at the end of 2014 and in early 2015. However, I have been obsessively following the Microsoft Hololens and how this could impact specific industries when it is scheduled for release in 2016.
Microsoft Hololens is a Virtual Reality device and non-immersive headset that projects holograms onto your physical surroundings, pretty cool right? The technology is the first to support holographic computing while operating alongside other devices running Windows’ latest operating system — Windows 10. I don’t think it’ll flounder like the original Google Glasses and it’ll find it’s strength in the marketplace – possibly through virtual conferencing, training, construction and architecture.
If you think 2016 is going to be the year for Wearable Tech, let us know on Twitter.
Have you begun developing your 2016 Content Marketing Calendar? The purpose of Content Marketing is to engage your target audience, exhibit your brand as experts and showcase what you do. It’s time to explore different styles of quality content, across different mediums and closely monitor the types of engagement you receive to understand what works and what doesn’t.
- It’s not just web that needs to be created for different user experiences, content does as well. It’s not enough to simply create one blog or infographic that then resizes for different devices. If you’re writing a long blog on a specific topic, endless scrolling on mobile isn’t going to be fun. If you’ve created an infographic that looks great on desktop, likelihood is it’s going to look tiny and squashed on mobile if you have a responsive website
- Do you create different styles of content for different audiences? It’s unlikely that you have one audience that ticks all the boxes – developing audience personas is a great way of identifying who your audiences are and what types of content they’re likely to be interested in
- Content for different channels: If you’re exploring new social media channels, then you may want to develop a content plan for each channel, in my opinion sharing the exact same piece of content across all of your channels is not the best idea. Instagram is visual, LinkedIn is professional and Twitter is straight to the point
- P.S Content is still king… Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But more importantly, relevant, engaging and unique content is going to get your brand noticed.
I hope you found this piece insightful and it helps you keep your marketing on track for 2016. Wishing you every success this year!
Can we help?
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with digital and fancy a chat over coffee to see how we could help, please feel free to drop me a line.
Author: Chris Shadrick
Chris leads on Digital Strategy and works with our clients to enhance their online communications and uses insight to better understand business challenges. His enthusiasm for new technology and digital means he can lead and develop a clear Digital Marketing Strategy for all our clients and has experience working across multiple sectors. Chris is Google Certified, which means he knows his Panda from his Penguin and runs digital campaigns that achieve results. He also runs a fast-growing digital networking group in Exeter and will also be lecturing at the University of Exeter on Digital Marketing in 2017. Chris enjoys escaping for long walks on Dartmoor and is often found getting creative in the kitchen.