Let’s draw a line under 2016 now, shall we?
We got through Blue Monday and our heads are now well and truly back into the swing of things, so looking to the year ahead, a popular topic among marketers at this time of year is: what’s next? What trends are we going to see? What’s going to be big, and what’s not?
Of course, as the-year-that-shall-not-be-named has shown us, sometimes we should expect the unexpected. But based on recent developments and research reports of marketing influencers, we have pulled together a few trends and predictions to give you some pointers of what you can expect to see in the industry in the coming year.
Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality/Rounded Reality
We’re hesitant to put this in the list as it feels like VR has had a false start for a few years now. But cast your mind back a few months and remember the amount of people you had to dodge just to get down a street as they walked phone-first to where the rare Pokémon was in their app. This was the first, big (huge) adoption of an app with AR in, whereas the VR headsets don’t seem to have had as much traction. Perhaps the difference is the well-executed app was free, and people aren’t enticed enough to part with hard-earned cash for VR headsets with no big apps or experiences to sway the vote yet? Maybe that will change this year…
It might not be the biggest trend to watch but we don’t think its fulfilled its potential just yet.
Again, nothing new here, but this is going to play a bigger part of strategies this year. But opinion leaders and influencers – often celebrities and vloggers - talking about companies’ products to their established fan bases offer a platform for promotion, and these brand ambassadors can be natural or paid-for. When they work with a brand, consumers feel assured that they have a genuine belief in them, instilling trust.
Back in October, L’Oreal revealed at the Festival of Marketing that they put their influencers into tiers – gold, silver and bronze – according to their reach. Gold group representing bloggers with the biggest online followings and who they plan to spend the most with, for the biggest campaigns, and so on.
Video content on social channels
We’ve always been big on video, but this looks like a trend that will dominate marketing strategies in the year ahead. There’s plenty of evidence out there about video content being effective for both B2C and B2B companies and we’ve certainly noticed a vast improvement in engagement with our clients’ social media campaigns where video is used and that’s only going to continue! (See our previous post about the power of video here)
Employees being ambassadors for their own brand
Employers out there would probably hope employees are, and have always been, ambassadors for their company. But this year will see brands starting to encourage staff to share business updates, in turn making them their own brand ambassadors. Employee advocacy programs have grown about 191% since 2013.
This is certainly nothing new and is something we’ve always done as standard for our web development clients. Unsurprisingly, more traffic comes from mobile devices than desktops, so if you’re not catering for these users – especially for B2C companies – you’re missing a huge opportunity. The future is not just about optimising your current (desktop) content for mobile, but making it more integrated with a mobile user’s lifestyle while they’re on the go. If your current website doesn’t serve and enrich the experience of mobile users, it’s time for a re-think.
Segmenting your content for different types of users based on their lifestyles, habits, demographics etc gets results. In a world of information overload and with not enough hours in the day, personalised content will get your users’ attention. Amazon, Netflix and Spotify all do this already – ‘if you like this, you might like that’ – and in doing so have massively improved their customer experience. This year I’m sure we’ll see a lot of other websites follow suit…
As with previous years, we can rest assured that technologies and communication channels will change and evolve over the next 12 months and it will be interesting to see what unfolds. Let’s hope 2017 is a little more predictable than last year…