With only 25 days until 1st January 2016, its only natural for marketers to be thinking ahead into 2016. If you are anything like me, you have an excel spreadsheet filled content calendar that has taken you up to Black Friday 2016!

So from content and relationship marketing, to harvesting data goldmines and the Internet of Things, here we look at the most well-researched marketing trends for 2016.

Your marketing revolves around Content

Remaining on the throne and rightly so, the demand for quality, educational content continues to grow. If it wasn’t in 2015, then content should be priority to every business regardless of size or industry. Content is KEY to inbound marketing, whether its written or visual, as it aims to provide information to your current and potential customers. How, you might ask? It builds trust and ensures that you are seen as an industry thought leader.

This is no new trend however, and this year the Content Marketing Institute found that 88% of B2B businesses are using content marketing. Of the 88%, 78% said they increased their overall content creation since 2014.

But why? Most people think its to enhance your search ranking within search engines, but the real power lies in the overall effect it has on your brand perception.

  • According to the Roper Public Affairs, 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.
  • 90% of consumers find custom content useful, while 78% percent believe that companies with custom content are therefore interested in building a good relationship with them.
  • Animoto found that 58% of customers believe companies who produce video content are more trustworthy than those who do not.
  • Animoto also found that 71% of customers claim videos leave a positive impression of a company.
  • Content marketing actually costs less than traditional outbound marketing, by a whopping 62%. This great infographic from Mashable compares the costs.

Building on relationships

Most of us already own a smart phone, and by 2016 it’s expected that over 2 billion people WORLDWIDE will own a smart phone, giving us as marketeers unprecedented access to our target audience! Introducing, relationship marketing…

The aim of this, for us as businesses, is to build a stong, loyal and long-term customer engagement rather than the quick, one-off hard sell.

Expect a pull at your heart strings as companies will and already are developing strong connections with their customers, which in turn drives word-of-mouth promotions and lead generation. Emotional marketing is where a brand use a day-to-day relatable story to entice you in and generate brand preferential attachment.

Dove had me in tears with this relatable video…

Data Goldmine

Lots of data excites me, and there is no end as to what you can infer from the interpretation of data. Companies will need to set up unique goal tracking with an emphasis on relationship metrics to ensure they are building persona profiles on its customers such as likes, dislikes and habits. This will mean a string of mass-target marketing approaches, but think  of transparency between customers and brands.

A brand that do this well, in my opinion is Coca-Cola. I can’t stomach the drink, but I love the brand and their innovative advertising strategies. The company have used this approach for decades, long before relationship marketing became an recognised industry term. Coca-Cola knows full well that they can’t market the benefits from drinking their product, because let’s face it, it’s extremely bad for you. So the company has found ways to engage and connect with its customers at an emotional level.

Below are two of my favourite campaigns from the brand – right in the feels.

The Internet of Things

Based on current marketing trends, by 2016 we will see a user adoption rate of 28% on wearable technology, which means lots more data for marketers to mine. This will become a bigger and bigger tool which we can use to engage with customers. I predict this data is going to include the most intrusive data in marketing history, with devices telling marketers everything we need to know about consumer habits.

According to research, Wearable tech will challenge us to develop an understanding of end users by the sensors, which we will start seeing embedded into smart clothing, glasses, watches and even jewellery. These devices will be able to read peoples biological responses when purchasing (or not) and also using (or not using) certain products and services. Responding to a customers context will no longer be simply about their location, but also their emotional state.

Mobile – No longer an option

Two big things happened for mobile this year. Firstly, Google announced that mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic in 10 different countries, including the US and Japan. Secondly, Google released the “Mobilegeddon” algorithm; basically they are phasing out sites that are not optimised for mobile, effectively damning your website if it’s not optimised. All the signs from Google point in the direction of desktop traffic fading away, meaning that smart money rests on mobile-focused online marketing.

“MOBILE SHOPPERS CONVERT 160% MORE OFTEN ON SITES OPTIMISED FOR SMARTPHONES.”

Moving forward with Video

We’ve seen a HUGE rise in video content. Video has exploded into every online avenue. It’s everywhere and is one of the most used sources of online medium.

This trend is only set to continue, with predictions that 74% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2017.

Another big change advancing video content is that from 2016 Google will be on board with in-SERP video advertising. This basically means that when you search for a term you will also receive advertisement videos streaming in the SERP. (Search Engine Results Pages.) This is a clear indication that customers are becoming more accepting of visual media. We can certainly expect to see more types of video ads popping up in more unexpected places.

These are just a few predictions to take in to stay ahead of the market and understand the landscape, to maxmise on opportunities before your competitors do.