Trends to Look For in 2016

A new year has begun and, just like the last few years, 2016 is likely to bring about rapid change to the world of communications with new technology and a slew of new marketing and social media platforms. Below are three megatrends I think CMOs and agencies should be prepared to tackle in the coming year. They are not new but few clients and agencies mastered these in 2015, so they are worth another look.

Big Data

For marketers, big data includes real-time analytics, programmatic media buys, robust marketing automation and lead scoring.

Over the last several years, with the rise of social media and new ways of buying digital media, marketers have been spreading their budgets over a larger number of channels. The downside to this is a fragmented analytics marketplace where marketers must use multiple sources to analyze the return on their investments. 2016 will be the year marketers take control of their analytics and require their agencies or partners to provide a single dashboard with real-time data from multiple sources. Such a dashboard allows clients and agencies to optimize their investments more frequently, while requiring less time to manually compile the data.  There are several tools on the market that claim to do this, and some agencies are creating custom dashboards for all their digital media clients.  True Media, a partner agency with CVR in the AMIN network, is one of those agencies. Like CVR, True Media also provides programmatic digital media buying, which allows an advertiser to purchase targeted impressions rather than website-specific buys, and an unlimited number of custom banners with content that is unique to the target audience.

On the back-end of big data, marketers will also have to continue to implement or optimize closed-loop CRM solutions that allow them to nurture their customer relationships regardless of where they are in the customer journey. For email to be effective, it should be both personalized and relevant to the recipient. This means that emails have to be customized to each customer’s needs, which requires a strong marketing automation tool to do successfully. The next level of CRM also includes lead scoring. CVR partners with Right On Interactive to help clients understand where their customers are in the marketing lifecycle by scoring the customer's interaction with the client's website, trade channel or social media. Knowing where customers are in the lifecycle allows clients to understand who is most likely to purchase or to buy more product.

Content Creation

The second megatrend for 2016 is a continuation from 2015: content creation. I attended an AMIN conference in the fall where the main topic was how to create content that people would want to share. Content has to be awesome for people to share it, which most often means a personal story that is emotional. Emotional content can be humorous, touching, sad, or strike fear in the viewers, but to really be brilliant storytelling, it must also be unexpected.

Great storytelling is not new, but the channels and the mediums are constantly changing. Video continues to increase its share as the fastest-growing type of content being generated. Even Twitter has changed their feeds to provide auto-play video. The key for marketers is to be able to grab a viewer’s attention in the first few seconds, and then hold that attention through the end of the story. According to YouTube, 300 hours of video are added every minute. How does your video break through the clutter? If the story is relevant and emotional, it does not matter how long it is – people will watch and share it. As Darre van Dijk, creative director at Ogilvy Amsterdam, reminded us at the AMIN conference, “Awesomeness is the new media budget.” Make your story awesome and people will see it.

Mobile First

The last trend to master in 2016 is another carry-over from 2015: mobile first. From website development to email creation, marketers must ensure their communications are optimized for mobile viewership and interaction. Over 65% of all emails are read on a mobile device and, according to YouTube Statistics, video sessions on mobile were up over 100% in 2015. A mobile first mindset goes beyond simply creating responsive platforms. It's about creating an entire user experience that prioritizes mobile interactions over desktops, and makes it easy for the  mobile user to read or interact with your content. Often, design and features are simplified, and utilize the scroll or swipe functionality instead of mouse-over and click.

For advertisers, mobile banners are still largely unproven and have even lower click-through rates than desktop banner ads. In 2016, marketers will have to find better ways to grab a viewer’s attention, likely by creating relevant content rather than focusing solely on advertising.

Each new year presents new challenges and opportunities for marketers, and I'm always surprised by advertisers’ ingenuity in finding new ways to stand out. I personally am looking forward to 2016, and to seeing these three trends take shape with our clients, and in the marketing landscape overall.