With the New Year upon us marketers are starting to forecast what to expect in the world of internet marketing in 2016. Let's abstract our mind from New Year`'s Eve fuss and have a look at the list of internet marketing trends, strategies and goals to stay ahead of the curve in the coming year.
Social Ads on the Rise
Organic reach of social media posts (especially those of Facebook) is gradually decreasing. Actually, this happens due to two primary reasons. The first one is that there are several million businesses competing for organic reach, and social networks are unable to make them all to their newsfeeds. And the second is that their revenue is mostly generated by selling ads to brands for increased visibility. So, where does this leave business owners and marketers who rely on social media campaigns to drive traffic, leads and sales? An answer that inevitably comes to mind is that budget put in social media campaign should be increased. However, those brands who offer high quality and engaging content that resonates strongly with the audience can still fight for their place in the organic reach.
“Mobilegeddon” is Sure to Happen
“Mobilegeddon”, Google`s new algorithm rolled out in April, has initiated irreversible changes in search engine rankings landscape. These changes are to become more evident in the coming year as mobile traffic is expected to increase and dominate over a desktop. To win a battle for the desired “mobile-friendly” label internet-marketers should throw into action all the available armoury and build out sound mobile marketing strategies.
Video Marketing is Hot
Video goes mainstream in internet-marketing with the impetuous rise of Facebook as a solid player in online video (8 billion videos displayed each day) and other social networks prioritizing video content (Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Tumblr, Instagram, etc.). More and more companies (no matter what industry they belong to and what size they are) are including video in their content strategy. In 2016 this tendency will undoubtedly increase as this content format helps brands easily reach their audience, entertain and engage it via visuals, colors and music. But the main ingredient of video content popularity is that it shows “the human side“ of a faceless business and enrich the customer journey at all stages. Moreover, it`s the most effective ( compared with other content) at attracting attention and converting leads into customers. If you aren`t already producing video content, the time is now!
User-Generated Content – Talk over the Garden Fence
Content is still King. However, this fundamental sphere of internet marketing is also undergoing certain changes. In today`s perpetually connected society users are constantly generating content (messages, photos, videos, Q&A, reviews, ratings, etc.) which is more trusted than typical brand messaging. Actually, user-generated content (UGC) is 20% more effectual when it comes to facilitating purchasing decisions, according to a marketing research.
To capitalize on this hottest trend marketers should motive the audience (by creating opportunities for conversation) to create UGC, anything from social media comments and product reviews to pictures taken by brand fans, and incorporate these content pieces into marketing strategy to increase brand resonance and leverage social proof.
A great example of UGC illustrating the power of this trend is Starbucks` White Cup Contest launched in April 2014. The brand fans across the country were asked to doodle on the chain`s white cups and submit pictures via Starbucks` Instagram or Twitter account using the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. Not only was this contest a great way for the company to earn publicity and show that it strongly value customer feedback, but also to collect user-generated visual content for its social pages and drive traffic.
Personalization Will Take It All
Traditional, one-size-fit approach to addressing prospects and customers doesn`t work anymore. In a world where e-commerce giants like Amazon and Etsy have spoiled everyone by offering personalized purchasing suggestions (based on behaviour), consumers expect specific marketing messages based on their preferences and needs. To meet these expectations marketers should incorporate personalization into their strategies. But what does “personalization” mean? Simply putting first names to the beginnings of the emails (although it`s very important for increasing CTR) is not personalization. Its goal is to provide consumers with an experience reflecting their past behaviours and preferences, and anticipating their further needs. To put it simple, personalization is crafting and communicating the right message to the right person at the right time.
Personalization can be used to optimize every stage of sales funnel. Pay attention to people’s behaviour and data the leave behind every time they visit your website to target niche audiences and conceptualize the website content and ad campaign to capture attention of prospects.
However, be careful, don`t go too far with personalization, highly personalized messages can have an adverse effect and expose your brand to odium at the consuming end. Personalized messages shouldn`t creep people out by showing how much you know about them.
Relationship Marketing: From “One and Done” to Brand Advocates
Relationship marketing boils down to creating loyalty and long-term relationships with customers rather than focusing on quick and short-term acquisition and sales. It helps companies to create an authentic and credible ecosystem of loyal customers, and develop emotional connections to the brand. Marketing to and through brand advocates is the most effective way of boosting word-of-mouth promotions and lead generation.
Coca-Cola is a striking example of a brand successfully using relationship marketing. What company sells is just a fizzy sugar water, but its popularity is the envy of a large number of brands worldwide. The secret of building a strong brand that gets people excited for Coca-Cola is relationship campaigns attaching the brand to the things that matter greatly to everyone. It touches people`s hearts and becomes part of their lives. Let`s take, for instance, its “Hello Happiness” Phone Booths. The idea to use Coca-Cola caps as currency was brilliant, as it found a broad emotional response among millions of workers who were able to make 3-minute international calls to their home countries and speak to their close ones. This campaign helped Coca-Cola create a large community of loyal customers and find place in their cherished long-lasting memories.
Native Advertising: Through Ad Blockers to the Prospects
Ad blocking is the modern-day marketer`s nightmare. Although preventing ads from being displayed on the website is not a new idea, but ad blockers have been headlined ever since Apple revealed an application that blocks ads in its Safari browser. A $70 billion mobile-marketing industry is in danger, according to The Wall Street Journal. If fewer and fewer iPad and iPhone and users are seeing ads, publishers will be generating and less revenue.
“Traditional” online advertising is in the doldrums, and this creates ripe conditions for a new model to take over. This is where native advertising takes the stage. You`ve probably noticed one of those “promoted post” or “sponsored by ” tags on the articles. That`s an example of native advertising. It is non-intrusive and fits naturally into the content people enjoy. Native ads are highly efficient as they help marketers to reach the target people with the right content without interrupting them.
Ephemeral Marketing: “Now You See It, Now You Don't”
Wondered why the article is entitled “7+1 Internet Marketing Trends”? If you have read to this point your curiosity should be appeased. The reason why we singled out this trend is that it`s too “ephemeral” to believe it`s here to stay. However, the ephemeral marketing is considered to be “a game-changer”, and let us see why. Quick and fleeting, social mobile photo messaging application Snapchat have literally rushed into the space of a “traditional marketing platform” laying the foundation to so-called Ephemeral Marketing. (This app allows users to send photo messages that last for a few seconds and disappear after being viewed by the receiver).
Millennials are flocking to Snapchat to consume content in real time, and for brands it`s a great opportunity to generate excitement around a new product/service or stimulate a desired marketing actions offering exclusive deals with an expiration date (promos, discounts, etc.). Many companies (Mashable, Cosmo, McDonald`s, etc.) are already capitalizing on the younger generation making their mark as social snappers. Even 2016 presidential candidates turn to Snapchat to connect with voters.
Ephemeral marketing is about communicating with using short targeted messages delivered to the consumers here and now. In a modern society where people have less and less time, this model really works, and is predicted to develop.
This only scratches the surface of what to expect in 2016. The future trends of internet marketing can never be known for certain. Have any trends or specific strategies in mind? Share them in comments.