marketing trends to master

While 2016 is half over, mastering these marketing trends from Microsoft (see infographic below) will make a big difference in your bottom line before the end of the year.

Marketing Trend #1: Tech offers new opportunities

When you think marketing, think beyond advertising, which we’ll talk about later. Think about other aspects of marketing such as customer experience, logistics, customer service, and a host of other marketing activities that translate into improved profitability. The first marketing trend we’ll talk about certainly fits within those core marketing activities by providing for better customer experiences, enhanced segmentation, and opportunities to exceed customer expectations.

Obviously, Microsoft is going to tout its new tech, like Hololens, but think of the opportunities these marketing trends might open up to your business. New tech, such as VR, wearables, and IoT offer opportunities to market your business, but more importantly, they offer opportunities to learn more about your target consumers.

For instance, McKinsey reports that the IoT will have an economic impact of up to $11 trillion by 2025, based on a study of potential use-cases. This vast growth makes it possible for brands to reduce costs and provide better, richer customer experiences to consumers. Here’s what Information Week has to say about the growth in IoT predicted by McKinsey:

The report sees IoT as giving rise to opportunities that can transform existing business models through predictive maintenance, better asset utilization, and higher productivity. The authors also think that new business models will arise, such as remote monitoring, that will enable anything-as-a-service.

Improved understanding of consumer habits provides the potential to segment based on behavioral patterns in a way that’s impossible with traditional market research.

Marketing trend #2: New marketing channels

Already important, search engines are morphing beyond traditional engines like Google and Yahoo. Facebook is the first to jump into the search engine arena with both feet, but soon other social networks will likely incorporate search into their product.

New social channels emerge all the time. As a business, you need to go beyond Twitter and Facebook to explore which channels are right for you; which ones you can engage in with your target market. In general, new channels are more visual, beginning with Pinterest and its monumental growth. New channels include Snapchat and Periscope, both offering video opportunities to engage consumers, especially millennials.

Marketing trend #3: Analytics

Actually, this isn’t a new trend, it’s one that’s been increasing in importance every year. If you haven’t beefed up your social analytics, this is the year to make a commitment to metrics.

optimize your conversion funnelMove beyond vanity metrics, if that’s all you’ve done so far. All those Likes and RT definitely amplify your message, but, if they’re not contributing to your bottom line, they don’t deserve much of your marketing spend.

Understanding how each social channel or other marketing channel contributes to your bottom line requires effective attribution modeling — which monitors how each channel contributes to a sale. Inherent in attribution modeling is a recognition that top of the funnel activities are important as well as bottom of the funnel actions.

In addition to understanding how each social channel, including search and email, contributes to your bottom line, take a look at what kinds of content drives the most conversion. For instance, according to Microsoft, stories perform very well in terms of ultimate conversion. So does episodic content.

Marketing trend #4: Influencers

Again, this has been one of the marketing trends to master for several years, engaging influencers.

Reaching out to influencers has a number of marketing benefits including:

  1. expanding reach
  2. building community
  3. generating endorsements
  4. encouraging evangelists

Its easy, although time-consuming, to reach out to influencers. You can identify influencers on Twitter, for instance, by searching for folks who share using hashtags related to your industry. On Facebook, you can market directly to influencers using targeted ads.

Remember that influencer outreach is based on tit-for-tat so never expect an influencer to help you without offering something to them. And, your offer doesn’t have to be tangible, although I’ve seen effective marketing through offering a free t-shirt or other small token to influencers.

It’s important to realize that influencers vary across market niches. Hence, someone who’s influential in automobiles might have little or no influence in the clothing market.

We’re starting to see more sophisticated marketing using influencers as spokes people in traditional advertising.

Marketing trend #5: Think beyond the ad

While a new study from Adobe shows that consumers like traditional media over digital media, the fact is they don’t like any kind of advertising, especially millennials hate advertising. And, the reason they prefer traditional advertising is that it tells a story — it’s more entertaining. Given the choice, consumers skip ads (such as using Tivo), ignore them, or block them (see iPhone’s new ad blocking tool). So, as you plan your media buy for the remainder of the year, think of other way to market instead of advertising. Here are some examples:

  1. Dove did a great job marketing with its support for what real women look like
  2. Instead of buying Super Bowl ads, one year Pepsi set up a system to donate the money based on community needs.
  3. Supporting potential buyers in a B2B space attracts positive attention to your product
  4. Many businesses use content marketing as a tool to attract customers and provide useful tips that convert these visitors
  5. Make customer service friendly and ubiquitous so customers can get help across any channel
  6. Communicate your trustworthiness, corporate social responsibility, commitment to sustainability, approachability, empathy and other positive qualities

marketing strategy