What’s Hot for 2016? A Brief Guide for Marketers to Kick Off the New Year

It’s a new year for marketers, and we’re expecting a whole lot of change. But hey, that’s why we love this industry, right? With an increasingly sophisticated consumer that continues to raise expectations of brands, 2016 is going to be a year that requires some serious dedication to creative thinking. Defining the programmatic marketplace, establishing a mobile-first strategy and staying on top of the latest technology are just a few pieces to the complex puzzle to make this year successful.

Though the year is young, there have already been quite a few buzzwords passed around. For fun, we’ve identified some of our favorites here, and what they really mean for marketers:

Internet of Things (IoT): Let’s face it, the “internet of things” isn’t a new craze. But we are moving towards an increasingly connected world. That’s why it’s important for marketers to start considering now, how to leverage devices like wearables, smart TV’s and possibly in the nearer future than we expect, smart cars! With so many devices, following consumer activity along a cohesive path is undoubtedly challenging, but what we can, and need to focus on, is the wealth of data we can gain from these connected devices, as we work towards creating a more relevant and timely experience.

Storytelling: We’ve all heard the line that in order to win the consumer, we need to tell an impactful story that moves him/her through emotional connections. But to be successful at forging a connection and building a loyal customer, we need to do much more than tell a story. If only it were that simple…Whether it’s a TV spot, an email campaign, a social media ad, or a video, marketers need to shift the focus towards personalizing the experience for each individual customer. We need to be consistent in how we’re communicating our message, no matter what channel or platform. And perhaps we do need to leverage emotion to gain traction with consumers, but we need to get a lot smarter about how and when we evoke those emotions and elicit a response. It’s all about timing!

People-Based Marketing: When we say that we invest in people-based marketing strategies, what we’re really trying to say is that we care about the individual behind the customer persona. In fact, it’s sort of just a euphemism for targeting based on higher quality data points. What kinds of data points are we talking about? It’s time to start looking at people’s real behavior, not just their demographics, age, gender, or “general” lifestyle. When we limit ourselves to this kind of data, we miss out on a lot of opportunity to reach the right audiences (and more often than not, we’re actually targeting the wrong ones). Take these statistics from Google that validate this point: 56% of sporting goods searchers are female and 68% of skin and body care influencers over the past 6 months are men. Though it’s definitely a buzzword, there is a lot of truth to focusing on people.

As we mentioned before, 2016 will be riddled with challenges, but also some awesome opportunities! Here are a few that marketers will likely need to tackle as they dive into 2016:

Calculating Multichannel Attribution: Marketers are going to need to make tough decisions to better their bottom line, which means taking a serious analytical look at budget distributions across marketing channels and technology platforms. Determine early on what channels need to be nixed due to lackluster performance, while boosting and carving out budget for emerging opportunities. Measurement and data integration will be vital for marketers, in order to come closer to realizing multichannel attribution, and understanding the key role each channel plays for guiding the consumer through his/her experience with the brand.

Developing Adaptive Customer Personas: Cultural trends and market standards shift, and so too should your understanding of your customers. Even if you have a firm customer segmentation analysis completed, the New Year is an important time to take a fresh look at your personas, paying careful attention to intent, psychographic and interest data. Personas are essential to optimizing your targeting strategies, but remember, they’re not always set in stone for good. People’s interests and behaviors change, which means marketers may need to take some extra time to refresh their outreach strategies.

Embracing Video: Increasingly, consumers are reaching a level of complexity and understanding that has dramatically altered their expectations of the brand experience. Particularly with video, our own consumer knowledge of advanced technologies has driven a greater desire to have richer, more immersive experiences. This change in the consumer perception/expectation will continue to drive how brand marketers must approach online video and visual advertising and branding. 2016 will ultimately be a pivot point in how we define video. Live streaming, 360, virtual reality and traditionally produced video will all be critical this year, and will require at least some investigation/investment.

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