Now that the sparklers and fireworks of New Years have all gone out, it’s time for another January tradition – the sparking of ideas. As people make resolutions and companies set goals, I decided to create a (digital) paper list of predictions for 2016. Hopefully these predictions will help your business as you plan for the New Year.
1. Virtual Reality Attribution
In the generation of “me, me, me”, people are no longer talking about the “awesome video” they watched but about what they did with that video and how they navigated it. We know that storytelling must be visual and personalized. The rise of virtual reality allows videos to transform into truly tailored experiences – think of it like personalization on steroids. As virtual reality rises it will help increase screen time and create dramatically distinguished experiences for each individual even though the start of the journey is the same. From now on the user completely decides how to navigate his story, how to move on, where to land and who to watch. It’s the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure” of video.
2. The Community Age
Looking for more relevant interaction that is based on specific areas of interests and preferences, more groups and communities are being established. Communities of people who like the same music (Shazam), are renovating their house (Houzz), drive in a certain place (Waze), are traveling to the same location (TripAdvisor), unfortunate enough to have the same sickness or prescribed to the same diet (WebMD) are all becoming closed gardens that can be approached and better targeted through Instant Messaging apps only. In 2016 marketers should invest more in instant messaging integration, analysis and communication.
3. Online Selling Growth and What it Means for Marketers
With the continued growth of SaaS web based services, more and more companies are beginning to shrink down their field sales team, grow their customer success teams, and invest in their “online sales-force” through web applications and technologies. Online selling expands marketing accountability beyond lead generation to close the loop through nurturing, motivating the customer to hit the “Buy Now” button. Realizing the magnitude of online selling, myriad of marketing technologies have been introduced to the market supporting lead monetization, insight and analytics. Personalization, customer experience and engagement are all part of that.
There is no doubt, marketing technologies are exploding. While there are opportunistic initiatives in this space, most of them add real value. However in order to orchestrate all disparate marketing instruments, track or extract insight, marketers are required to navigate numerous dashboards, aggregate data from multiple apps and invest time in extracting intelligence.
As part of consolidation through acquisitions, I hope to see more integrations, OEMs and white labeling offered by the bigger players. New email vendors such as Eloqua, Marketo and Hubspot picked up an impressive term to describe their offering – Marketing Automation - I would imagine more automation being part of that.
4. Marketing Agencies will Complete Technology Gaps
In the meantime, we’ll see more and more marketing agencies that will complete skill gaps as new technologies continue to pop up. As long as strategy and measurement are kept in house, execution will be completed through external providers. The players that will rise above the competition will be those who will succeed in distinguishing their brand through user experience, customer service and emotional connection with their audiences, tapping into the interests and challenges of each and every customer individually.
5.Content Personalization is More Important
With the content explosion we’re currently undergoing, it’s more important than ever that you push content to your audience based on their topics of interest. Pull strategy, trusting people’s openness to visit new websites and try out new services that simply pop-up is a bit naïve. People will base their website visits and trials based on references, community conversations and recommendations, on positive experiences of their network and IM groups. LinkedIn Pulse is already one example of content being personalized based on user’s interests and communities and presented to the viewer through a “Push” model. Facebook’s and other social channels’ reach is much greater than CNN’s or New York Times’, both websites and hard copies. While these publishers still provide the original articles, pushing them through personalized social channels dramatically increases exposure.
6. “Push” Content Strategy is Making a Comeback
Delivering upon customers’ willingness to consume relevant content only, the shift towards online selling in a low touch model and lead funnel optimization, the importance of lead nurturing is growing bigger to deliver 1:1 communication. Lead nurturing will become more sophisticated, more visual and more engaging and will expand to include more channels and platforms.
7. Emails Will Become Dynamic
If you think about it, email is the single real estate that hasn’t been significantly renovated in the past years. It is still mostly static, generic and relatively un-engaging and moreover isn’t well monetized. My feeling is that emails will become dynamic, live, and much more visualized. This real estate can be better monetized by creating more unique and engaging content, combining dynamic widgets, videos and even certain types of ads. Marketers will be open to make a push towards video, visualized and dynamic content in emails and other ways to create a stronger experience in this marketing medium that hasn’t changed much in the past 10 years.
Last but not Least - My Personal Wish
While these predictions speak towards tightening the brand – customer connection in the digital world by creating more personalized interactions, I do have one unrelated hope. I wish that in 2016 we’ll have more time beyond our screens, actually looking people in the eyes, and not just in between iPhone swipes. In both your personal and professional life I hope 2016 is the year you find ways to deepen your relationships and make more meaningful connections.