The new year brings a slew of marketing predictions on the top trends that will transform business. Not all of these prognoses are interesting or insightful (we don’t need to hear another expert declaring 2016 as the “year of mobile”), but some provide provocative forecasts on what’s ahead.
Here are five predictions that are worth thinking about.
The return of trusted platforms
More than ever, customers are more concerned about the privacy of their data. As a result, smart companies will make sure that they’re engaging with customers in platforms that are secured and trustworthy.
“Marketers will insist on showcasing their brands in safe and trusted environments as ad fraud, adblocking and viewability challenges become more prolific,” predicts Joshua Graff, U.K. country manager and senior director of LinkedIn EMEA. “They will revert to platforms they know and trust to reach qualified audiences with a specific purpose in mind.”
Heavier investments in new and emerging markets
In general, the U.S. economy did well in 2015. And while 2016 is off to a shaky start, a stronger economy opens more opportunities for companies to market to new groups. Kent Lewis, president of the marketing agency Anvil Media, says companies will focus on “audience exploration and expansion” this year.
“Smart brands will invest significant marketing resources and dollars to tap new and emerging markets,” Lewis explains. “Greater technology sophistication, along with lower cost, will allow even smaller organizations to target new markets cost-effectively.”
We suspect that as more companies invest in uncovering new markets for their products and services, they will also increasingly rely on customer intelligence to maximize the success of their new initiatives.
The integration of content marketing and customer experience
According to Shafqat Islam, co-founder and CEO of content marketing platform NewsCred, forward-thinking brands will look at the content that they produce as part of the overall customer experience.
“Content marketing has matured and content itself is now the fuel that powers the entire modern marketing engine,” he says. “Brands will recognize the deeper value of content and put it at the center of the holistic customer experience they provide—every channel, every time, every customer.”
More marketers will produce original insight
While stats suggest that a majority of B2B and B2C companies now produce content for marketing purposes, the practice of content marketing is ripe for significant transformation. That’s because most companies aren’t producing killer content yet—quality content that says something original and that stands out from the crowd.
“There are too many marketing content programs claiming to provide insights, when they are really re-packaging other people’s research and hard work, and trying to lay claim to the concepts,” laments Tim Riesterer, chief strategy and marketing officer of the marketing agency Corporate Visions. Instead of delivering value, the content marketing campaigns of many companies deliver useless information, according to Riesterer.
He adds, “My prediction for 2016 is that discerning prospects and customers will start to demand more rigor behind the so-called insight claims. Companies will need to take more interesting, edgy and counter-intuitive stands in order to get credit for providing fresh thoughts and information.”
The rise of digital masters
In a recent LinkedIn article, Andreas von der Heydt, director of Kindle at Amazon in Germany, shared what smart brands will do in 2016. In the article, he predicts that customer- and content-centric organizations will focus on bringing digital transformation in all aspects of the enterprise—not just in marketing and R&D, but also across teams like finance, legal and even strategic business planning.
Von der Heydt sees more companies appointing a chief digital officer (CDO) to lead the charge in digital transformation. Describing the job as a “rather demanding role which spans a broad set of hard and soft skills,” he says “a CDO is someone who understands the relevance and functioning of digital media and is able to lead the respective transformation of the organization.”
Another approach to bringing digital transformation into the organization, according to Von der Heydt, is by “developing the whole organization to digital masters from the very beginning.” A critical step to doing so is by enabling employees to rethink key business processes and building “strong leadership capabilities to envision and drive transformation.”
These predictions demonstrate that 2016 brings new challenges and opportunities for marketers. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, the importance of getting closer to the customer will only grow. Marketers that prioritize engagement—by committing to building an ongoing relationship with their customers—are in a better position to deliver the products, services and experiences that today’s customers demand.