A Look Back to the Future: 10 Key Marketing Trends for 2016

 A Look Back to the Future: 10 Key Marketing Trends for 2016

Last December, IBM Marketing Cloud released a white paper named "10 Key Marketing Trends for 2016 and Ideas for Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences." The paper highlighted 10 trends its experts predicted would drive consumer marketing this year. As marketers' thoughts turn to 2017 (and their budgets), a realistic look in the rearview mirror can be extremely helpful. Let's start with an excerpt from the introduction:

"C-suite executives think four technologies will be particularly important for marketing success in the near term: cloud computing and services, solutions, the Internet of Things, and cognitive computing.... The biggest theme running through these key marketing trends for 2016 is gaining a deeper understanding of buyers and delivering the types of outstanding cross-channel experiences customers and prospects crave."

Let's see how the experts' predictions compare with your own experience in 2016.

Trend #1: Cognitive technologies will change the way businesses engage with customers.
"With access to an endless universe of information and possibilities, leaders can now understand what individuals want (sometimes even before they know it), deliver the right experience at just the right time, and do this billions of times per day."

Trend #2: Delivering a connected customer experience becomes increasingly critical for companies.
"With 81 percent of marketers saying they contextually understand their customers, and only 38 percent of customers agreeing with that statement, a big challenge facing marketers in 2016 is making sense of and visualizing the collected customer data from multiple customer engagement applications and then delivering a connected, meaningful customer experience."

Trend #3: Retargeting reaches unprecedented levels of cross-channel sophistication.
"Moving forward, you'll be able to use display and social as well as your mobile app, to extend your nurture efforts to show contacts contextually relevant content that helps move them forward in their customer journey."

Trend #4: Social and automation will combine in new ways to improve the customer journey.
"To better meet customers' needs, marketers will need to incorporate more sophisticated into their overall social media efforts, creating more personalized experiences for each individual, on a mass scale."

Trend #5: Video moves to center stage in the marketing mix.
"Wide distribution, booming consumption and low entry barriers make video an ever-more-important marketing channel in 2016. If you're not taking steps to enhance your use of this medium, you could well be eclipsed by competitors who do."

Trend #6: Top companies bust the myth of the marketing suite.
"To best succeed in 2016, though, marketers must understand that flexibility is key and the ability to integrate with a variety of best-of-breed technologies can open up amazing new opportunities to innovate and engage."

Trend #7: Leading marketers use predictive technology to further distance their companies from the pack.
"Thankfully, new analytics technology is emerging that will enable companies of all sizes to collect pertinent data, use advanced statistical modeling to identify causal factors, and provide recommendations for proactively addressing a problem or seizing a revenue opportunity."

Trend #8: Internet of Things appliances and sensors become a real factor in customer engagement and data collection.
"Whereas before you could engage your customers when they were 'in store' or 'on screen,' you'll now be challenged to engage them with the right message at the right time as they interact with the newly hyper-connected Internet of Things."

Trend #9: Loyalty programs expand across channels and touch points.
"From web to in-store, loyalty programs have expanded far beyond a simple card swipe at checkout. Smart brands are creating loyalty programs that are accessible across channels."

Trend #10: Look-alike modeling transforms the role of social in list growth.
"The biggest social sites have developed paid products called look-alike models that might just be your new best friend. The easiest way to summarize these products is that they allow you to match the attributes of your best buyers to millions of potential buyers across the social sites."

Bonus trends!

Hungry for more? The 10 trends from IBM staff are accompanied by 8 "Bonus Trends" from IBM partners and clients covering the following topics:

  • CMOs lead their organizations like CEOs (Allocadia)
  • Social media will take over your office in 2016 (Hootsuite)
  • Retailers use predictive tools to take personalization to the next level (Windsor Circle)
  • Programmatic marketing moves from concept to reality (MediaMath)
  • Customized digital ads make it easier to extend personalized journeys (Supply.com)
  • Responsive email frameworks evolve (Intertek)
  • The email creation process becomes streamlined and more nimble (Consultant)
  • Authenticity and relevance become more critical for engaging contacts (Allegheny College)

From the conclusion

"To win in 2016, challenge yourself and your team to get more collaborative and innovative to create stronger omni-channel experiences for your customers and prospects. Evolve to gain more speed and agility. Take steps to access and harness real-time, cross-channel data. Pay closer attention to analytical, predictive and cognitive And strive to deliver more personalized interactions throughout the buyer journey."

Editor's Note: The complete paper, "10 Key Marketing Trends for 2016 and Ideas for Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences," can be found online on many websites, as well as a 1-hour video from an IBM webinar discussing each of the trends.

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