Team looking at laptop
Crownpeak Logo Posted by Crownpeak January 27, 2016

6 Digital Marketing Trends That Successful CMOs Need to Embrace in 2016

Companies are expected to spend $10 billion more on digital marketing in 2016 than they did in 2015. 

Digital Trends

Every year, marketers are faced with a growing number of technologies, channels and digital marketing approaches from which to choose. Differentiating between those that have staying power and those that are just a flash in the pan is one of the most challenging yet key decisions a marketer can make.

These are the six we believe are poised to have the biggest impact in 2016.

  1. Mobile as the primary screen

    In 2015, Google announced that mobile traffic had finally overtaken desktop traffic in ten different countries, including the U.S. and Japan.

    2016 will be another blockbuster year for mobile, as it continues to eclipse desktop as the primary screen for approaching and interacting with brands.

    Companies that haven't yet, will be forced to invest in a responsive mobile website to better capture leads, make content more digestible and create calls-to-action that are easy to find and use.

    More than ever, companies that don't adapt will experience lower conversion rates and an increased bounce rate, resulting in significant losses.

    Brands that formerly thought developing an app was out of their budget range or largely unnecessary, will realize it's not an option but a necessity, as Google continues to index apps in its search rankings, a practice introduced in 2015.
  2. Automated marketing software

    63% of companies successful in marketing automation plan to increase their marketing automation budget.

    B2B marketers who implement marketing automation increase their sales-pipeline contribution by 10%.

    The buyer's journey is not simple anymore, it looks like a puzzle. Marketers need to guide the customer through twists and turns to make a purchase. Doing so requires segmenting audiences, nurturing prospects and qualifying leads through strategically timed, regular communication.

    Realizing that it's nearly impossible to manually scale or measure these critical activities, this year more companies will invest in marketing automation tools.

    They will look to products like those offered by Marketo, to help them streamline, automate, manage and execute tasks that relate to managing touchpoints and setting up triggered communications.
  3. Content

    Content marketing in 2015 generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.

    80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.

    Inbound marketing initiatives supported by quality content will continue to be a vital component of marketing plans.

    As marketers invest more in digital content assets, they will recognize the value of effectively distributing that content, whether it be on their website, via email or through paid distribution networks.

    Acknowledging that content discovery relies largely on smart website design, marketers will decide that if it isn't front and center, people aren't going to find it. To this end, many marketers will undergo a CMS overhaul in order to more efficiently publish, organize and feature the content that they've spent so much money producing.

    Companies will also increase their investment in video content to better tell their story and engage their audience on a platform that for many has become a behavioral preference.

    More than 80% of senior executives said they are watching more online video than they were a year ago. (PDF | 620KB)

    65% of executives have visited a vendor's site after watching a video.
  4. Making data-driven decisions

    As CMOs make the case for securing larger digital marketing budgets, we'll see an even bigger push to prove the ROI of their investments.

    Beyond measuring impressions, clicks and engagements, marketers will need to report on the quality of engagement and its outcome as it relates to revenue generation.

    Analytics will play an essential role and we'll see wider adoption of monitoring tools, as marketers are forced into the role of data scientists.
  5. Personalization at scale

    74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.

    Marketers have long opined the importance of connecting with prospects and customers at the right time with tailored messages based on an interest in particular products or solutions.

    However, until recently, meaningfully executed marketing personalization beyond email, has seen slow adoption.

    This year, more marketers will put their money where their mouths are, by executing personalization strategies on company websites and in advertising campaigns.

    Serving web visitors content based on search queries, predicting a user's desire by their location, and suggesting articles due to user behavior are all examples of personalization we'll see more of.

    In order to do so, companies will need to evaluate whether their CMS is capable of identifying and tagging their website's visitors and serving them relevant content.

    Even PPC is becoming personal. Google introduced Customer Match in 2015, which enables marketers to upload a list of contacts and target them through search. Facebook and Twitter offer similar tools, making it possible to serve ads to people who are within a certain stage of your purchase funnel.
  6. Pay to play social media

    Social network ad spending will reach nearly $36 billion in 2017, which will make up 16% of all global digital ad spend.

    In 2016, social media will finally be acknowledged as a paid vehicle for reaching customers rather than a free one.

    The reach of organic brand posts on Facebook and other social platforms will continue to decline. Connecting with existing and new audiences will require significant investment of not just human resources, but marketing dollars. Along with that will come a need for marketers to pick and choose which platforms are worth investing in to best tell their story and reach their audience.

    As social media transitions to being viewed as another competing paid advertising vehicle, marketers will need to tout more than likes or shares as justification for ad spends. They will need to prove the ROI of social spending in the same way they do every other marketing expenditure.

There's no doubt that 2016 will usher in another year of new technologies that marketers will scramble to keep up with and need to learn.

Although we didn't include them on our list, we'll be watching to see what role wearables will play in the future, and whether Oculus Rift will deliver on its promise to change the face of virtual reality. Depending on what we see, they may just land on our 2017 list.