2015 saw consumers buying into wearable technology, showing an increasing love for messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, and appreciating great brand storytelling (the aftermath of the John Lewis Christmas ad continues) rather than the hard sell.
On the flipside life was made harder for marketers with a clamp down on organic advertising, the rise of ad blockers and not least, Google’s Phantom 2 which aimed to eradicate irrelevant content.
So what have marketers got to look forward to this year? We’ve done some crystal ball gazing to try to identify the key trends for 2016 in terms of the approach we’ll have to take to get our messages out there, and the methods we’ll have to use.
Being always-on is now just as crucial as the overarching campaign. However, that doesn’t mean creating an exponential amount of content and casting your proverbial net as wide as possible. It does mean, however, that you should be monitoring the behaviours of your audience; tailoring your content to their wants and needs, ensuring brand messaging is highly relevant and easily assimilated.
And long may it reign. This year there’ll be a distinct shift from curated to custom content, whereby customers expect brands to form meaningful relationships with them. Most of this relationship building will come through video, but not as you know it. Gone are the days of long-form video. 45 seconds is too long now, even for Facebook. 20 seconds and under will be the optimum play time if you’re expecting to retain your audience for the full duration.
Differentiating your content from that of your competitors has never been more important. The good news is that huge, groundbreaking campaigns - although very nice - aren’t a necessity: the key is staying relevant. By operating within the parameters of your customers’ lives you can add true, quality value, both to your brand and customer. Diversify your content pillars to speak to this.
The ultimate goal of most brands is influencing purchase decision, that “shall I/shan't I” moment at the checkout. Yet, understanding how your customers are behaving, thinking, feeling and experiencing at all contact points is far more important. Work backwards from the purchase and adapt your content to each stage of the consumer journey - with that, you’ve got more chance at inspiring purchase and advocacy.
We’ll be seeing a lot more data being combined with content. Mixing brand storytelling with hard facts is enticing. It gives marketers confidence in communicating effectively to customers and ultimately, helps sell products/services. Moreover, utilising data to examine how your existing AND potential customer is behaving on an almost live basis allows you to adapt/evolve content accordingly; being agile in your content planning is crucial!
It’s time to move away from just doing traditional paper-based media buying. Programmatic buying is the process of using data and technology to find your customer – using digital ad inventory and audience information to get the right content, to the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
Organic success - unless you’re The Lad Bible - is now a distant memory. If you want to reach your customer, you’ve got to shell out the £££. Expect to see strategic targeting options widened by platforms this year and in turn, an increase in acquisition value for your brand. Now, more than ever, paid strategy is as important as defining your core content pillars. Don’t invest, see no interest. Literally.
Mobiles, tablets and wearable technology. Your customers are ever-increasingly moving away from their static desktop. Being mobile-friendly isn’t enough anymore, mobile-first is a necessity. Social content has to primed for the busy consumer (short, snappy, informative) and mobile e-commerce UX has to be optimised for maximum ease. This is a secondary layer to the standard consumer journey; think about your customer’s day and adapt.
With the diversification of leading platforms, influencers continue to dominate the social landscape. Consumers see influencers as friends, aspiring to match their brand choices and behaviours. Collaborating with these social powerhouses is a tricky beast. This year expect to see brands giving an ever-increasing amount of creative freedom to influencers, allowing them to curate content - mostly visual - to their own personal style. Work with this and understand that these are your greatest (and most powerful) advocates.