On the 8th Day of Christmas, my CMO said to me: What are the marketing trends that matter for next year?

December 8, 2015

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A fully working crystal ball is high on the Christmas wish list of any senior marketer. And with the digital landscape evolving faster than ever, the ability to see into the future has never been more highly prized. Fortunately, there have been plenty of wise men and women making their predictions about the key trends in marketing – and when you pool their insight you find a great deal of consensus around the key trends for the year ahead. Here are seven big ideas to bear in mind when making your plans for 2016:

Conversion can take place anywhere

The Internet Trends report published by specialist Silicon Valley venture capitalist Mary Meeker is seen by many as a bellwether for the biggest marketing and tech developments. And one of the key trends picked out by Mary this year was the importance of mobile-optimised ‘buy now’ buttons that enable consumers to make a purchase the moment they become interested. It’s a theme that was picked up by TNS Global’s Digital Director Jonathan Sinton, in his report on the five most important priorities for marketers: “In an era of screen agnosticism and ecommerce everywhere, people may want to convert at any moment, on any channel, and it’s important to help them do so.” The appetite for disrupting the traditional path to purchase through shortcuts is an important consideration in B2B as well. 

Video content will score best when it adapts to platforms

Short-form video formats were another key trend picked out by Mary Meeker, who highlighted 5-second video ads on Vessel as showing where the future of video advertising is headed. Savvy marketers are already adapting their video advertising for YouTube to ensure that key brand messages appear in the first few seconds, before users have the option of skipping the ad. And adjusting length won’t be the only way that video advertising needs to adapt if it’s to succeed across platforms. Meeker also pointed out that full-screen vertical video ads appearing on Snapchat have a completion rate 9x the average for conventional, horizontal video ads.

Podcasts will keep making noise

In his presentation at the Wall Street Journal conference on the future of technology and media, former Yahoo! board member and business strategist Michael Wolf picked out audio content on digital platforms as a huge opportunity. He predicts that revenues from digital music will reach $10 billion USD by 2020. However, music isn’t the only game in town. Wolf notes that podcast consumption has exploded in recent years and will continue growing, describing podcast listeners as “the elite of audio.” Based on the success of LinkedIn’s own marketing podcast series, we’d agree. Audio is a valuable, rapidly growing  content channel for B2B marketers.

Technology will keep re-imagining business processes

As Mary Meeker puts it, technology has traditionally made existing business processes more efficient. In the near future, though, its role will be to reinvent the way that business is done. Jonathan Sinton diagnoses an “appetite for disruption” on the part of consumers, demanding frictionless business models designed around their needs. This is likely to be true of B2B decision-makers as well. They aren’t just interested in your end product – they care about the entire experience of dealing with you.

Content marketers must play to win in a user-generated landscape

“You could paint the Sistine Chapel tomorrow,” says Brian Solis. “A random cat photo would still probably get more ‘likes.’” However, the explosion in user-generated content doesn’t just mean more competition for marketers. From video to audio to the written word, user-generated content is increasingly faster (as Mary Meeker points out in an illustration of how news breaks) and more frequently consumed than the professional sort. Marketers can’t ignore the importance of user-generated material. They must curate it, respond to it and work with it. 

Targeting the right shares will be key

Shares often get criticised as a vanity metric, but your ability to persuade influential people to share your content will increasingly decide how effective it is. Both Mary Meeker and Michael Wolf point to the increasing use of social messaging platforms as a key trend for next year – and such platforms will place more importance on content that can inspire an audience to share with their own networks. Relevance and appeal on social media is becoming vital for content distribution strategies.

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