Marketing trends – forget expert predictions and do this instead

Marketing trends – each year you are bombarded with new trends and predictions for the year to come.  One expert after another will predict major trends. Many will get it somewhat right.  Others will grossly exaggerate the importance of their own favorite pet areas.

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The few obvious marketing trends 2016

Let’s start by stating the obvious marketing trends for the coming year:

  1. in 2016 we will experience the continued rise of anything mobile and the importance of addressing the mobility space with priority
  2. video will continue to rise in all shapes and forms; content and advertising.
  3. the need for truly addressable capabilities will increase
  4. Big Brand, Big Budget playing ground will include 3D, back to virtual reality and other such interesting stuff
  5. internet of things (IOT) will continue to develop into something meaningful, but not to the extent of getting mainstream traction just yet
  6. Return on Marketing Investment will continue to play a significant role and more CMO’s (Head of Marketing) folks will have ROMI directly tied to their remuneration package

But just like last year I have a different take on what’s important in the coming year.  While I am crazy for new and exciting stuff like everyone else, I wish for marketers to get their marketing foundation in order. Read on and see if i might touch upon a few sore areas of your current marketing setup.

Marketing hope for ambitious marketers in 2016 – my 7 marketing trends recommendations to marketers who want more success

When speaking to marketers around the world, many tend ask questions related to the marketing foundation. The basics.  Not so much about marketing trends. And there is a reason for that. The reason is that most are (still) struggling getting the basics right.

A new year is an opportunity to make a fresh start. I hope many brands and agencies will recognize the importance of the following suggestions and make a serious and committed change in 2016:

1. Create a culture of experimentation: embrace failure as a short-cut to steady progress

marketing experimentation gets you results

Remember: marketing experimentation goes beyond simple testing

The culture in marketing departments needs to move towards a culture of experimentation. That is, a culture where failure is ok as long as people learn from their mistakes.

It seems easy to make the shift. All it takes is for top management to accept failure as an integral part of the marketing role. Since we all know that failure literally is inevitable in marketing, the shift shouldn’t be too difficult.

There are many ways to make this happen. For starters allocate 15% of marketing budget and 15% of employee time towards experimentation. And include every single person working in marketing.

What happens with this shift is not more failure, but more improvement and better results. Some of these improvements might happen instantly. Other improvements will benefit your business incrementally. But remember that even incremental improvements of 1% each month equates to more than 12% pr. year.

Example: let your webmaster spend 15% of working hours and 15% of of her budget to improve  important aspects of your web-presence. A smart webmaster will quickly identify multiple areas to experiment on

Want to know best practices for making this happen? Get in touch with me here

2.Focus on customer satisfaction: measure in real time, improve the experience on-the-go

measure customer satisfaction

Solutions such as this one from Relationwise helps marketers measure customer satisfaction in real time.

Even my 11 year old daughter Anastasia knows that the customer experience always has been, still is and always will be very important to the long term success of a business. Assuming that you are older, you too know this. But knowing is one thing. Doing is something entirely different. And the fact is that most of us don’t focus enough on making our customers happy.

Creating memorable and strong customer experiences really shouldn’t be on anyone’s list of marketing trends. It is a crucial part of any business. Therefore measuring customer satisfaction should be a crucial part of your marketing priorities.

In 2016 and for the rest of your career you should focus on customer satisfaction. Measure customer satisfaction in real-time and react quickly to any discrepancies.

Today there are tools that can help any type of business measure the customer experience in real-time.  And you can implement this really easy using globally accepted standards such as Net Promoter Score.

Like I said, what’s important is to measure in real-time and react to the results. If someone isn’t happy, you’ll want to have a trigger that alerts someone with decision making power to take action. Taking action in itself will help rectify the situation. Customers do not want to be taken for granted. If they have a problem, they’ll want you to take it serious and deal with it promptly.

In my opinion marketing needs to own the customer experience.

3. Focus on existing customers before new customers: leverage customer referrals and increase online reputation

customer retention tips

Focus more on making existing customers happy. When they are, they are more likely to buy more and become a source of referrals

You’ve heard it many times before: it is cheaper to sell to an existing customer… And that is still true. The problem is that most marketers are too busy chasing new customers. As a result they don’t put enough emphasis on taking care of existing customers. That is a mistake.

In my opinion marketing to existing customers is part of your marketing foundation. It is not a marketing trend to focus on existing customers. Commonsense, right?!

In the coming year you’ll want to focus more on existing customers. Apart from standard objectives such as increasing revenue and share of wallet, you’ll want to consider using new measurement metrics: the customer referral rate. Or perhaps the good-ol’ Share of Heart. 

With more focus on existing customers, more great opportunities will present themselves. For example using CRM and ERP tools to spot potential churners and then in turn do something to prevent customers from leaving you. (always keep in mind that 68% of customers leave because they were treated indifferently).

Happy customers have no problem referring you to someone else. Especially if you ask them to. Putting referral programs (mechanisms) in place should be a priority for the coming year.

Moreover, your online reputation matters. And it won’t matter any less in the coming year. Marketers should therefore establish measurement goals for online reputation, which would include the ability to listen and react to brand mentions. Preferably in real-time.

4. Get your data in order: one data repository, use progressive profiling along with behavioral

marketing trends dataThink of your data as three distinct silos: profile data, behavioral data and transactional data.

If you believe that sending the right message at the right time to the right person is important, you’ll want to consolidate all of your data silo’s. Because if you don’t you won’t be able to get a true 360 degree picture of any given customer or prospect.

Creating a customer profiling strategy is essential. That is, define what you need to know about your customers in order to serve them better. Use progressive profiling and get to a point where you are able to use behavioral data and transactional data along with standard customer profile data.

At every single conference I have spoken at this year, data has been one of the main topics. Marketers agree on the importance of data, yet very few seem to act on it. Of course with a direct marketing and CRM background, I am biased. How you capture data, use data and continously cultivate your data is part of your marketing foundation – don’t see it as part of the latest fancy-pancy marketing trends.

Getting to a point where you have one data repository allowing you to use the customer insight you have to improve the communication with your customers is business critical for any business.

5. Test your way to success: invest more resources in testing

marketing trends ab split testingTesting and experimenting goes hand in hand. Facts is that very few marketers test consistently. Sure, some are keen on the typical A/B split testing. And very few use multivariate testing to find the best combinations for websites and other marketing assets.

But we need to go beyond that. As mentioned in point 1 about experimentation, testing and experimentation need to be a deeply integrated part of marketing and communications.

Businesses need to acquire the right skills in order to do testing properly.Lack of skills and resources is often the most common reason for not testing. In my opinion businesses should acquire those skills and allocate resources to be able to incorporate testing as an integrated part of any marketing activity that matters.

But wait, there’s more

I haven’t mentioned CONTENT or METRICS. I haven’t mentioned CONTEXT either. These are obviously all important. I’ll cover my views on these marketing in articles and videos in the coming year.

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