As we glide through the final days of 2015 (we hope you are gliding rather than stumbling), it’s not too late to think about what’s on tap for 2016 as we plan for the soon-to-arrive new year.
For the past few months, many articles have been written with predictions of the hottest marketing trends for 2016. Here are a few to consider.
The number of people who use online search to find health or medical information continues to increase. And the majority of health information searches start with a search engine, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. Thus, SEO continues to be an important component of digital strategy. However, some recent changes related to search engines can impact your SEO strategy moving forward:
• Yahoo has begun to partner with both Bing and Google. This means that Yahoo searches can show Google search results – including organic listings and paid ads – which can increase your exposure in searches. It also means that Bing’s ads will appear in 51% of desktop searches delivered by Yahoo.
• With the release of Windows 10 earlier this year, Bing ads are getting a lot more exposure because Bing is the default search engine in Microsoft’s new OS. Search has been made a more integral feature in Windows 10 by having a search box appear at all times in an onscreen task bar.
• Microsoft’s new Edge browser (the replacement for IE) helps to facilitate searches by allowing the user to highlight text in the browser and right click, after which Cortana can bring up the search results in a sidebar.
• Bing Native Ads was recently launched with ads appearing across MSN.com (the default start page for Windows 10). These ads can be managed via the Bing Ads interface.
• Social media, specifically Facebook, are working on strengthening their search functions. This should lead to greater brand exposure. In addition, advanced social media searches can include functions such as making purchases and engagement about what was purchased and opinions about products and services.
Emerging Social Platforms:
• Everybody is on Facebook and Twitter, and many organizations also utilize LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube. However, a somewhat surprising player is quickly rising in the social media universe: Snapchat. In fact, social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk predicts that Snapchat will be one of the top three social media platforms for the 13-50 year old demographic in 2016. Over the past couple of years, Snapchat has become very popular with young people, in large part due to the fact that Snapchat posts disappear shortly after they are viewed. Longer posts where several individual Snaps are combined, called Snapchat Stories, disappear after 24 hours and can be viewed multiple times by followers during the 24-hour period.
As with Vine and Instagram, spontaneity is the key to using Snapchat. So Snapchat can be useful for real-time engagement over a short period, like a flash sale, a limited-time coupon or other offer, a giveaway, or even to build up anticipation for an upcoming event.
• Snapchat Ads are still in limited use, but show promise for mobile ads in particular, because the video ads take up the full screen of the mobile device, thus better capturing the user’s attention.
• Facebook has a local services listing page in development. Similar to Yelp or Angie’s List, this feature will allow Facebook users to connect with local service providers. For organizations already active on Facebook, this feature looks to provide an additional means of connecting with customers.
Virtual Reality (VR):
VR is getting a boost in 2016 with the introduction of Oculus Rift. As this device – and the others that will surely follow it – becomes ingrained into common use, its potential marketing uses will be revealed. One marketing aspect for which VR shows promise is personalization. With the ability to tell stories from a 360-degree perspective, the promise for consumers to become immersed in marketing campaigns is ripe for development.
Internet of Things (IoT):
IoT has been on the horizon for a while now, as items such as wearables and connected devices have become more common. It is predicted that wearables will achieve a 28% adoption rate in 2016. Wearables and connected devices generate data, which can be mined for detailed information about the users and lead to more personalized engagement. It’s possible that we may see the first wearable native ads in 2016. The future of the IoT is certainly promising for marketers.
Mobile technology has become a core component of digital marketing. But advances continue. In 2016, you’ll need to consider:
• Google’s “mobilegeddon.” Back in April, Google updated its search algorithm to promote mobile, responsive-friendly Websites. If your organization’s site(s) is not optimized for mobile, Google will penalize your site in search results. In addition, people don’t want to use a site that’s not easily viewed or used on their mobile devices. With 80% of local searches performed on a mobile device and 91% of Americans keeping their mobile devices within reach 24/7, your organization must consider mobile as the center of its marketing strategy.
• Will Facebook become completely mobile in 2016? In the 3rd quarter of 2015, the equivalent of 47% of Facebook monthly active users were mobile-only users, an increase from 34% during the same period in 2014.
• Mobile wallets will be a standard feature on new Smartphones and more retailers will accept payments from proximity payment platforms such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and others. Mobile wallets provide an opportunity to connect with customers with coupons, rewards/loyalty programs and other options as they pay with their phones.
2016 promises to be an exciting year for marketers. We look forward to the opportunities and challenges, and we’re sure you do as well.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a Happy New Year to all!