These final days of 2015 will be filled with best/worst of the year lists. Here, at Blizzard, we thought we would make our own by looking back at the digital marketing trends that were hot in 2015 and look ahead to what 2016 might bring online and in tech.
“You don’t get to decide which device people use to access your content. They do.
– Karen McGrane, author of “Content Strategy for Mobile”
2015 saw the coronation of mobile as king. As of May of 2015, Google confirmed that the use of mobile devices to search the internet officially surpassed the use of desktop. Mobile is now considered “The First Screen,” the screen that most of us now refer to the most often and consistently when we are looking for information on the internet. The tide has flipped from the desktop and the number and variety of devices available and forthcoming is nearly unfathomable.
Look no further than the fact that 75% of Facebook’s entire revenue is now coming from mobile advertising. Mobile ad sales went up a staggering 50% in 2015 from the year before. In 2016, be sure to dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s to ensure that your website is fully responsive. And not just to ensure a positive user experience. Google now will penalize your website for failing to be mobile friendly. Make sure that all of your online advertising is optimized for both desktop and mobile and that you are allocating a reasonable amount of your advertising budget to reaching this market. This trend is only going to grow as more as more of the world puts their computers in their pockets.
“Email marketing will experience a second coming of age in 2016, thanks to mobile strategies, more integrations and more insights from data”
-Chad White, author of “Email Marketing Rules”
As much as many would like to put it on their glad to see you go lists, email marketing was still going VERY strong in 2015. Most marketing experts believe, even with the huge growth in communication Apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook’s Messenger, email remains one of the most solid marketing tools at your disposal. Those lists of past, current and potential customers you have grown and cultivated over the years are simply invaluable when it comes to reaching your most targeted market, those who have already, at some point or other, expressed a direct interest in YOU.
So in 2016, DON’T IGNORE THE EMAILS! Create a consistent and well thought out strategy to engage with those in-boxes. Offer incentives for signing up or exclusive offers only available to those on your email lists. Segment your lists; personalize your content; play around with delivery times; create emails using mobile, easy to read templates with prominent links and concise content.
“Traditional advertising shouts at prospect customers, whereas content marketing talks WITH them”
-Amanda Maksymiw, Content Marketing Institute
2016 is predicted to be the year when CONTENT makes a COMEBACK. Actually, just like email, content never went anywhere, it just isn’t as glamorous or coveted as the shiny stars of social media and Apps. Content is what makes your potential customer decide to purchase your widget, book their vacation with you company, donate to your charity, etc. According to Constant Contact, as of 2015, 57% of purchase decisions are made before even spending one second talking to a living person. It is estimated that by 2020, something close to 90% of all consumer/business relationships will be conducted without any person to person interaction at all. Most of us do at least some rudimentary research online before we engage with a business, so it is CRUCIAL that you make a great first impression.
Your content is going to be acting as your voice. Spend some time making sure your website is easy to navigate and has relevant information you want to share prominently displayed. Take time to curate your social media channels to ensure you are developing relationships with your current and future customers. Try to create blogs that make you an expert in your field. Connect with folks by delivering consistent and relevant emails that make folks want to spend time reading your content. Ensure that your landing pages contain keywords and phrases that help the visitor know they have arrived in the right place.
Looking Ahead to 2016
If you want to get ahead of the curve, here are some tech trends that are likely to be game-changers in 2016.
• Wearable devices
The Apple Watch made headlines for sure, but the presence of wearable devices is still in it’s infancy. With screens getting smaller and smaller, your content is going to need to be brief, compact and easily searchable. Although the Apple Watch was a huge hit in 2015, sales of the FitBit actually surpassed it for the holidays. Not every wearable is a success (talkin’ to you Google Glass!) Look for new gadgets designed to be worn on other parts of the body, including on your face, creating and entirely new world, one that exists only in…
• Virtual Realty
In the very near future, it is going to become more difficult to tell what is real and what is almost real. Virtual reality is expected to be a big trend in 2016. There are likely to be several consumer priced headsets hitting the market as well as gaming consoles, theme-park technology and personal cameras that are ready to bring virtual reality into your living room. With this technology becoming more mainstream, it is only a matter of time before you can create your own virtual reality tour of your property or business, literally putting your customer INTO your marketing. Of course, in actual reality, your life is going to become more streamlined, due to the advent of…
• The Internet of Things
Our lives are already in large part commandeered by our devices. If I misplace my phone for even 5 minutes, true panic takes hold. A trend that has already begun but is expected to really blossom in 2016 is the Internet of Things. This coming revolution is also known as s the Internet of Everything or the Industrial Internet. These devices won’t necessarily be hooked into the internet but will be able to communicate with each other through their own wireless protocols.
It is simply a matter of time before most of the electronic gadgets, appliances and machines we use in our everyday lives will be wirelessly communicating with us, one and other and with outside vendors and businesses to help our lives run more smoothly. Imagine a coffee maker that talks to your toaster to ensure that your toast will be perfectly browned at the very moment your cup of coffee is hot and waiting for you. Then your refrigerator will notice that you are out of cream and will place an order directly with your grocery store to have it delivered to your door before you drink your next cup. This Tomorrowland life is getting closer and closer. Devices such as Siri, The Nest thermostat and the Amazon Echo are already showing how smart devices can help simplify life in intuitive ways. Look for MANY more of these technologies to be making themselves invaluable both at home and at work in 2016.
Blizzard’s Marketing Experts, Designers, Sales Staff and Project Managers weigh in with their Best of 2015 and wish lists for 2016 for both work and play.
• Holding out hope that Google will penalize websites that are stuffed with keywords. Stop rewarding this lazy marketing practice Google!
• The design department is grateful for the proliferation of UI Patterns and Flat/Material Design Standards (I don’t know what any of the means either! But happy for you Design!)
• Design is also pleased with the recent “less is more trend.” The move to more simplistic designs with less text leads to more aesthetically pleasing websites. Design also reminds everyone to CHUCK their non-responsive websites. Get with it peeps!
• Google, please stop updating the AdWords editor with additions and “improvements” that don’t improve functionality and are really just re-dos of the same tools that already exist.
• Thanks to Homeaway for the updates CSA Travel Insurance Opt-In/Out API. There was pain in the beginning, but the payoff for our clients has been great.
• Kudos to Google for ranking mobile friendly websites over those that aren’t. The increased value of mobile elements in the Google algorithm will help ensure that designers and marketers will create better websites that everyone can enjoy and use easily on all of their devices. Even those of us with fat fingers!
• Thank you Google for the Google Guidelines of 2015; giving power back to the learned marketer
• Google, please separate Tablet use from Desktop use. Google, stop lumping tablets in with their distant desktop cousins.
• GO AWAY Internet Explorer!
• Wishing for hologram monitors. A chance to really immerse yourself in that beautiful beach villa!
• The NFL’s use of virtual reality. What does that bone-crushing tackle REALLY feel like? Find out without an actual trip to the ER. The technology is likely to provide a huge boost to coaching, training and fanning in all sports.
• The emergence of 3-D printing technology, particularly in medical research and application, is literally life changing.
• In 2016, strong client relationships and trust will lead to the creation of some truly killer RESPONSIVE websites!
• Appreciating the security of the safer credit cards with micro-chips, but not as much as the Logithech Harmony remote control Christmas gift. Thanks Santa!
• Someone at Blizzard #Hates#Hashtags. (Sorry, they aren’t likely to go anywhere. #HashtagsHereToStay)
• Looking forward to kicking back in the Google self-driving car.
Whatever 2016 brings to the world of digital marketing and tech, it’s sure to be an exciting ride. Now that we have moved beyond the knowledge we gleaned from traveling in the Back To The Future DeLorean time machine, what is yet to come is likely to surprise us all. Enjoy the ride!