A Fresh Start: 2016’s Marketing Outlook

What's ahead for marketers in 2016? Columnist James Green takes a look at the technologies and trends that will help shape your marketing strategy this year.

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As an optimist, I always start the year thinking about how to improve. I saw 2015 as a great year for innovations in marketing technology, and the quiet holiday period provided me with time to reflect on opportunities that we can capitalize on in 2016.

Each year, we discover new marketing strategies and come closer to solving some of the industry’s toughest challenges, such as bot traffic or attribution.

However, in the wake of more access to data, new technologies and demand for personalization, even an optimist like me recognizes that we face as many obstacles as opportunities.

So what’s in store for 2016?

Customer-Centric Marketing

Catering to the individual will continue to be the prominent objective in 2016. With enough data to understand what people want, what they’re looking for and what they’ve purchased, we now have the ability to put the individual at the center of most marketing strategies.

There’s enough useful data available to optimize marketing according to people’s preferences and unique behaviors, making the design and delivery across different channels and devices customized. Marketers have been running more personalized communication for several years, but now people expect it.

Emails, online display ads, social environments and mobile messages are all being personalized at the individual level and tailored to what each individual is doing at this moment in hopes of driving a better response, increased engagement and most of all, helping to keep customers loyal to your brand so that they continue to buy.

There are two distinct aspects to succeeding in customer-centric marketing. First, you need to have the right data feeds in place to provide the level of intelligence needed to understand people’s needs, wants and desires.

And second, you need technology that can synchronize messages across channels and devices so that people have meaningful experiences throughout their path to purchase across social, web and mobile environments.

Simple, Easy-To-Use Products

In a world that’s getting more complex, the concept of simplicity is becoming very appealing. Marketers are people, and just as people want their digital experiences to be seamless, so do marketers.

This year, marketers are going to become more selective in terms of the products they invest in. Tools that can cut their number of partners in half, all while providing a better product experience, will come out on top.

Platforms will win out over individual products. This means that we’ll see simplified interfaces and tools with multiple functionalities such as marketing design and delivery, multi-channel capabilities, attribution and simple-to-understand insights.

The trick is to balance functionality with product design. Anything too cumbersome will lose out.

Analytics That Give A Competitive Edge

Analytics are becoming the foundation of marketing, and data collection and analysis have the potential to give brands a competitive edge.

Insights gleaned from the mound of information marketers have access to can inform everything from audience segmentation to product development, marketing content and creative delivery.

Insights based on people’s patterns, shopping behaviors and purchase activity can also help to decrease client churn, improve brand loyalty and inform merchandising decisions and product preference, which ultimately impacts brand profitability.

The more brands invest in understanding their customers, the better they can serve them. In 2016, we’ll see brands drive growth through better insight.

Continued Attribution Complexity

Attribution has always been a tough challenge to solve for, but we’ve managed to get better at it. We’ve found new ways to analyze the path to purchase and have determined that there are multiple touch points and opportunities to influence any given purchase.

The adoption of new models like equal and fractional attribution has helped move us beyond last click, but we have yet to fully solve this challenge. New complexities come from the rise of mobile devices and marketers’ continued relationships across various technology partners, which fight for credit and lead to a more fractured view of the customer.

Finding ways to measure mobile alongside your other channels will be a key objective in 2016.

Better Relationships With People

Many New Year resolutions are centered on relationships — spending more time with the people we love and being there for important moments.

For many brands, this also rings true of the relationship with their audiences. The more you know about people, the more you can be there for them.

Knowing what people are in the market for now, what they’ve recently purchased or browsed, and even what they bought several months ago can tell you a lot about their intent and interests.

These insights provide an elongated view of the customer journey, allowing marketers to prepare for key moments to be relevant across devices and channels.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

James Green
James Green is chief executive officer at Magnetic, a technology company with a marketing platform for enterprises, brands and agencies. James is charged with driving the company’s strategic vision and overall expansion.

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