1digitalApart from digitization and the new channel opportunities, advertising is apparently most influenced by mobility, globalization and the changing attitude of consumers towards brands that demands honest and authentic communication.

Besides ‘Big Data’, the usual suspects ‘Content Marketing’ and ‘Native Advertising’ made quite a splash in 2015. But here is my guess what trends will dominate the marketing world this year:

Digital Transformation will continue trending

Digital Transformation is by nature an ongoing dynamic project and therefore won’t be completed in 2016. Rather, existing business models and structures will be analyzed, questioned, newly-created and essentially continuously adapted to new market developments and customer needs. For this reason the digital transformation has to be seen as a company’s constant companion.

Customer Experience goes omnichannel - totally

Seen on television, researched on the tablet, checked out in retail stores and then ordered in the online shop. The majority of customers will take this journey in the future. In doing so, there are no breaks between the channels, but a consistent brand experience, which at any time offers the usual service and handles the same information and messages. Challenging for companies are not only the processes here but the initialization of suitable products and services.

Individualism will be king

Anyone who looks for wellington boots on the Internet gets similar product ads for weeks, isn’t it? Instead, it would be more helpful to offer related items such as umbrellas or rain coats instead – at least after the purchase. The same applies to content on websites: Instead of responding to the search behavior of users, every visitor usually receives the same information – but that’s finally what will change in 2016. By analyzing usage data, web ads and content can be more and more individualized. Whoever analyzes, for instance, information about visitor behavior on the website, can provide context-sensitive content. That means, users get matching content regarding their course of history and online behavior. Certainly, in addition to the website, online and offline channels should be used for data collection.

Mobile will continue to rule

Many digital advancements will be made in 2016 and finally gain some mojo - from the rise of mobile messaging apps to mobile commerce. According to eMarketer, for instance, we have to prepare for consumers talking to Personal Assistants through their smartphones and cars. With the rise of smart watches and connected home devices, they will be getting used to talk to a variety of devices wherever they are. Therefore, marketers need to be ready to optimize digital content for speech-based (not keyword) queries and learn how to make sure that content can be discovered by Personal Assistants.

Digital Payment solutions will soar

The divide between digital and physical commerce will be further bridged in 2016 as mobile wallets become a standard feature on newer smartphones and more retailers accept proximity payments from systems like Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and others. Mobile payment solutions will take off for the reason alone that the progressive digitalization is reflected in virtually all living and working areas. That will leave its mark in the online payment industry which sees the trends of internationalization, omnichannel and novel commerce concepts on the rise.

The lines between sales channels will vanish more and more, forcing online retailers to adjust their ordering processes to the preferences and needs of their target group. Further, it is expected that in 2016 new commerce and payment concepts will move mainstream, such as instant payment, in which a certain amount is credited to the beneficiary's account in a matter of seconds. Besides that, more machine-to-machine payment is expected, like the ‘Dash Button’ of Amazon, but so far there are no binding standards given, yet.

Data Consolidation will be indispensable

Especially the younger generations, millennials and centennials, will be open to release more data in 2016. As there will be more connected devices coming along with the Internet of Things (IoT), and as overall connectivity between people and things increases, more young people are simply expected to give personal data to marketers and publishers. They might not admit that they do it, and they might not be happy about it, but at this point in time consumers are hooked on the convenience and value of the connected world.

Every purchase from an online store, each click in an online game or social media activity generates data. Hence, the constantly growing amount of data - Big Data - can’t be easily processed by IT systems any longer. That’s where marketing automation comes into play as it enables marketers to plan, control and evaluate multistage campaigns more efficiently. More information about customers simply provides a better, customized approach and can bring greater efficiency and effectiveness in marketing.

To address customers in a target-oriented manner, it is imperative to have a holistic view of the customer - who they are, what they want and how they interact with the brand – in order to respond appropriately to their needs in terms of products and services. The creation of a so-called ‘single customer view’ is only possible if all data and information on the customer are integrated in a “one and only” database – known as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. It is the basis for a 360-degree customer view which records customer-relevant information as a hub and is linked with other systems.

Have a good start of your new working year!

By Daniela la Marca