Marketing is continually changing and evolving. And it’s that time of year when marketers are shaping up their strategies for 2016. This year we dealt with Big Data, understanding that it’s the “Age of the Empowered Consumer,” and embraced the idea of cross-channel marketing. While these will continue to be big themes, marketers want to know what next year will bring.

Here are 5 trends that we see making a big impact in 2016:

1. The Customer Experience Will Separate the Winners from the Losers

customer experience

We’ve talked plenty about how today’s customers are in charge. You need them more than they need you. With more options to choose from, more sites on which to price compare, and more digital channels to shop across, today’s consumer is clearly in charge.

According to Gartner, in just a few years, 89% of businesses will compete mainly on customer experience. And by 2020, the customer will manage 85% of its relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. This means that the customer experience will quickly overtake price and product as the key competitive differentiator among brands.

These statistics may be alarming for some. After all, the status quo for so long has been about marketing a great product or service at the right price, and you will have a constant flow of new customers. Businesses must quickly come to terms that this is no longer the case, or won’t be for much longer. Consumers demand a great experience across multiple channels, and are willing to pay more for it.

2. Mobile Marketing Will Hit a New Milestone


Mobile marketing has been on the rise for some time now, but in 2016, it is predicted to hit a new milestone. According to eMarketer, global mobile advertising spend will surpass $100 billion in spending, accounting for more than 50% of all digital spend for the first time.

mobile internet ads

This certainly isn’t surprising as more consumers adopt digital devices. In fact, predictions are that mobile will completely overtake desktop next year. The latest data from eMarketer reports that digital media spend is at 51% compared to desktop at 42%.

According to research from BI Intelligence, display and video will be the fastest growing mobile ad format. Search and social media however will still account for a large share of mobile ad revenue in the US. Be prepared with mobile-friendly sites and other forms of rich media to increase engagement with your target audience.

3. More Companies Will Utilize Data-as-a-Service to Access Big Data


For some time now, marketers have been scrambling to make sense of Big Data. They are collecting as much data as possible under the belief that “He who has the most data wins.” Of course, once they collected this data, the new question became, “What do I do with all this data?” Do I implement a Big Data infrastructure, hire a team of data scientists, and throw in a huge chunk of my budget to make Big Data work?

While this has been the mentality of this past year, more companies are beginning to turn to Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions providers as a way to access meaningful insights from the Big Data ecosystem. A DaaS provider mines today’s massive data sets and delivers in-market prospects and customers to a company’s channel systems or digital marketing platforms. Companies can immediately deliver marketing campaigns through multi-channel programs in real time.

At its core, DaaS is all about the data. It’s delivered in a way for easy consumption regardless of platform, making it ideal for companies who understand that it isn’t about “He who has the MOST data that wins, it’s about he who has the BEST data that wins.”

4. Content Will Become More Visual


Content is certainly King and has earned its place in the marketing hall of fame with over 93% of marketers using content marketing. Companies spend, on average, 25% of total marketing budgets on content marketing (Heidi Cohen). More than 8% of today’s consumers head to the Internet to do research on different products and companies.

Content will continue to reign as a key way to connect with consumers, but of course, consumers are looking for “More, Better, and Faster.” Social engines are already identifying and filtering out low quality content so content marketers will constantly need to write and create high-quality content to make an impact. Other forms of visual content will also become more pervasive. Consumers have less patience and want instant forms of communication. There will be a much higher demand for videos and other visual forms of content in 2016.

According to Animoto, 73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video, 96% say online videos are helpful when making purchasing decisions, and 71% say watching online video content leaves them with a positive impression of the brand, service or company. Online video content is a marketing approach that promises a huge return on investment.

5. Brands Must Get Really Personal

Things are about to get personal really fast. In 2016, personalized one-to-one marketing is no longer an option but a requirement to acquire and retain loyal customers. Personalized marketing has gained momentum over the past year, but brand leaders will take this to a whole new level. And the rewards will equate to more emotionally connected customers who will drive word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews.

So how do you get to this level of personalized, one-to-one marketing? Data! Data can transform “John Smith, married, one child” into “John Smith, 36, golf enthusiast, frequent traveler, home-owner, boat-owner, on-line electronics shopper, and more.” And by knowing this – you can really target Mr. Smith with offers that have relevance and are more apt to turn a one-time transaction into a lifetime customer.

As you head into 2016, get ahead of the competition with these key marketing strategies set to make a big impact in the upcoming year. Happy planning and here’s to a good year!

To learn how to implement highly successful strategies used by today’s top data-driven marketers, download this free eBook.

Read more: Business Marketing Trends and Better Practices