Over the weekend, I attended my first yoga class of 2016, and the instructor began the class by saying: “The good news? Everything changes. The bad news? Everything changes.”
True for life, relationships, and, for today’s purposes—marketing. Because when it comes to marketing in 2016, whether you embrace change or hate its guts, it’s happening. To keep you ahead of the game, here are five marketing trends to consider adopting for your company, personal brand, or side gig in the year ahead:
1. If You’re Going to Do Social Media, You Need to Do it Well
Over the past several years, there’s been a grace period for brands and people on social media, as everyone has tried to figure out how to use the various platforms in a way that benefits their personal brand or business—and in a manner that excites people.
That grace period is now over. As individual and company social media strategies get more sophisticated and as technologies advance, if you’re phoning it in—launching a Facebook page and posting once a month, or spitting out automated tweets about your latest work or company press releases—you’re going to get left behind.
So, check your platforms. Where you can realistically beef up your content and engagement, do so. Where you can’t, consider packing up shop.
2. Personalization Is the Way Forward
The more sophisticated marketing technology becomes, the more we want—and expect—to receive content and product news relevant to what we’re engaging with and searching for online.
For many years, this has been the core of e-commerce strategies (think of Amazon’s “inspired by your browsing history” section). Now, people want to experience that same level of personalization in their marketing communications, too.
Whether you're running a department or just trying to get more traction for a side project, you should try popular, comprehensive automation systems. That may sound out-of-reach for the budding blogger, but both Infusionsoft and Ontraport are great technologies for anyone looking to build their brand. These systems easily segment email marketing lists and create sequences that speak specifically to the experience followers or customers had on your platform—from purchasing a product recommended on your blog to attending an event that you promote. This year, those little details will make all the difference.
3. You Need a Mobile Strategy, for Real This Time
While larger companies have had robust mobile strategies for several years, many small to medium-sized companies are still focused on the desktop experience. And many more thought leaders haven’t considered mobile at all, even ones who are intent upon growing their influence.
According to a McKinsey report, “Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.” (Ouch.) CMS Report says “average smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to the average desktop conversion rates.”
So, while your Twitter icon might look awesome on your display—it might show up as a blur on a phone. No matter who you are, you probably want all your social media platforms or your personal site branding to come across as clearly as possible. The easiest (and most popular) way to integrate mobile into your marketing strategy is to use a website template that works on all devices, and find an email template that’s mobile responsive.
4. Video Is All the Rage
From advertising to social media to marketing videos, brands are ramping up their effort to create branded video content to better connect with their communities. And for good reason: Social Media Today reports that “80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019. That's up from 64% in 2014.”
If you’re interested in integrating this trend, remember that this is no longer just about YouTube. Wherever you’re communicating—on your website, in emails, on Facebook—you can introduce videos. Spend some time watching recently published ones on websites you like, and check out what your colleagues are doing on their personal sites. The visual aspect of digital content is more important than ever.
5. Brands Are Offering More Free Content
A central marketing and visibility-raising strategy for many companies has been to offer valuable free content in the form of a blog. This year, we’re going to see more and more companies amp up their free offerings. Think downloadable guides, checklists, and free courses.
If you have a growing number of followers and are in a position to amp up free content, think about launching a newletter and making sure people have to sign-up to receive it. That way you’ll significantly increase your subscriber list while offering tons of terrific content. Plus, sending out an email is a fantastic way to share your recent accomplishments (or articles) along with industry news.
For more marketing predictions, check out what Entrepreneur says about data analysis and customer journeys, see what Forbes thinks about visual marketing predictions, and read about Social Media Today’s forecast for social media—including emoji analytics. And keep in mind that having a sound marketing strategy is as important to your brand as it is to a future business.