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Need help deciding what to do with your marketing this year? Read on…

With another half of the year to go, it’s time for a recap of the strongest marketing trends in 2016. Most businesses have already put a marketing strategy in place in January (be it a quarterly or yearly one), and we now can start drawing first conclusions on which marketing trends proved to be the most effective so far, and why they’re here to stay.

1) Mobile optimisation

Since April 2015, mobile optimisation has become a priority for all marketers, with Google’s Mobile Friendly Update (#Mobilegeddon) designed to boost mobile-friendly websites on Google’s mobile search results. Simply put, pages failing the mobile-friendly test (you can take it here) have started dropping in rankings since April. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly to avoid the same SEO curse.

2) Human relationships

It seems obvious, but keeping in mind your target audience is a real person should be marketing’s golden rule at all times. In 2016, customers expect to be addressed like human beings and not just a number, and your marketing communications can only benefit from a genuine, personal message. Building a personal relationship with your audience not only encourages brand loyalty and long-term customer engagement, it also provides you with invaluable feedback for improvement.

3) Online reviews

Allow your customers to leave online reviews and place them on your website for total transparency. Show both good and bad reviews, as consumers tend to trust companies with both, over websites with only good reviews (giving a fake representation). Review software is not reserved for travel websites. Ecommerce owners can win new customers by showing their existing customers’ experience, and by displaying the quality of their customer service (through personal answers).

4) Social media storytelling

Storytelling is a strong marketing trend in 2016, and one that can make you even closer to your customers. Building social media campaigns around stories creates a lasting interest from your audience but it needs structure. Divide your ad campaigns into sequences (narratives, or steps towards a reveal) to build interest. Storytelling is also a way to share news locally to a target audience, using what you know of their taste and values. Social media storytelling is in general a fun way to produce creative and original ads (like episodes) showing your unique value proposition.

5) Marketing automation

Besides lead generation, the major benefit coming from marketing automation is the organisation it offers. Automation platforms allow easy scheduling of emails, content management, contacts segmenting and social media posting. Automation allows marketers to locate customers within the sales funnel and adapt the way they engage with them.

6) Virtual reality

This was pending for a while, but virtual reality is now a must for brands, especially for retailers who can allow customers to try on their products virtually. Consumers enjoy the ‘closer to life’ experience, and are asking for more of it in 2016. Virtual reality is also a great tool for storytelling: 360-degree stories engage an audience more than traditional ads, as they offer exclusive personalisation.

There are so many marketing trends in 2016 that it might seem difficult to choose where to allocate budget. Make sure your goals are clear and you know who to target before including one of these in your strategy. Very evidently there are new rules to stick by, such as prioritising content quality and user experience, as well as providing your audience with a more human experience.

Originally posted on the Jennifer Hakim Communications blog.