What does 2016 have in store for digital marketing?

The marketing industry is going through a massive transformation with technology changing the game as we know it. John Watton, EMEA Marketing Director, Adobe, shares his thoughts on what this means for marketers in the year ahead:

It’s all about experiences

Marketing in 2016 is all about experience. In this digital age, your brand is now the sum of your customer’s experience. Yes, it’s about giving what your customers want, but it’s also about standing out from the crowd and getting noticed by being entertaining. Creating compelling experiences in whatever environment consumers are in, be it physical or digital, is the key to success in 2016 as the quality and originality of marketing content becomes as important as how it is delivered. The technology to target customers anywhere, anytime, anyplace is now widely used, so what else can brands do to stand out from the crowd? Expect to see more funny, shocking and emotional content from brands in 2016 as they all vie for our attention.

Automated technology used for real-time insight

The value of data to build more personal relationships with customers is undisputed. But if you think about the proliferation of devices there is an increasingly overwhelming amount of information to process. In 2016, more brands will realise that testing new content and campaigns with live consumer traffic will be near impossible to manage. Growing use of automated technology will make this process continuous and consistent, allowing marketers to apply insight and buy and sell digital ads in real-time. For businesses to gain competitive advantage, tools need to be agile yet powerful enough to deal with the complexity and breadth of the data.

Predictive analytics will be the #1 skill in demand

We are reaching a point where most organisations have moved out of diagnostic analytics and into the predictive realm. We’re past the point of not collecting enough data – it’s now about gaining insights and taking action. We have already seen the number of permanent IT jobs looking for ‘predictive analytics’ skills jump 241% in the past two years, according to ITJobsWatch[i], and I expect this skill to be in even bigger demand in 2016 as companies take this capability to the next level. It’s the new competitive advantage.

Personalisation breaks away from traditional platforms

Digital marketers have been refining their approaches to personalisation for years, and now traditional media marketers want a slice of the action. Consumers are weary of mass advertising so TV, video, radio and signage platforms must now tailor content for each individual consumer. This means adapting their model to incorporate personalisation best practices with much of the granularity that digital marketers have practiced for years. The boundaries of traditional advertising will be pushed further than they ever have been in the year ahead.

Email marketing gets a makeover

Brands are coming to the realisation that unless they re-invigorate their email operations in 2016 they will lose a powerful marketing channel. Email still has the ability to drive sales and secure customer loyalty and, earlier this year, consumers told us it is still their preferred way to receive marketing offers[i]. But the days of batch and blast-style messages are over. To keep consumers engaged marketers need to prioritise quality over quantity and deliver contextually relevant offers and promotions.

Digital marketing will still be a valid term

The phrase “digital marketing” will not be around forever, but its time is not over yet and companies will still be talking about it in 2016. We’ve seen in recent years the barriers between our physical and online worlds becoming weaker, and the growing use of in-store technologies (such as iBeacons and interactive displays) is a good example of how digital marketing has broken away from the confines of our computers and mobile devices. Eventually, just like cloud computing is becoming simply “computing”, we’ll see the same happen for marketing. However, until all marketers are cross-platform experts, organisations need dedicated digital specialists to lead the charge.

The rapidly changing pace of technology means 2016 will bring a few surprise too, but I’m optimistic about the year ahead.



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