Just when you thought the dust was settling, we’re in for more wild changes. You didn’t really think the dust was settling did you? Of course not, you’re a smart marketer. It’s the age of disruption and baby, it just keeps on disrupting.

So what specifically can BTB marketers expect for 2016? Here are my predictions:

1. The Rise of the Marketing Technologist – It’s not longer enough to have a marketing automation person or team. Marketing automation systems like Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot and Hubspot are just the tip of the spear. Tools abound and marketing teams need a technologist who can evaluate if they will help the team perform better and also ensure they get used and add value once purchased. Sounds simple but according to marketing technologist, Scott Brinker, the average marketer might be regularly using more than 100 pieces of software to get his/her job done. All those bits and pieces of software cost money but are supposed to save time, so the marketing technologist ensures they do.

2. Live Video  Captures More than the Moment – Move over polished marketing video, you are too time consuming and not genuine enough. This year saw the launch of Periscope and Blab to huge adoption rates. These video formats make it easy for marketers to shoot on-the-fly live videos that keeps a real, authentic vibe that seems to be resonating big time. Experts agree that this is a trend that’s only getting trendier. By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled.

In just a few short months, Periscope alone has accumulated over 15 million registered users. Consider how quickly a much newer network has grown: Launched in October 2010, Instagram reached the 1 million user mark in just 2.5 months. It reached 10 million users in one year.  Periscope took just 5 months to reach 10 million users.” –How Live Streaming is Changing the Face of Social Media, Kim Garst

3. Demand for Quality Content Will Rise– Content marketing isn’t going away, it’s been here for eons and while the name may be new (er), the practice is old. That said, the easy distribution offered by social media and the overall popularity of the practice of content marketing, means that the airwaves are packed with dubiously useful content. Consumers are overwhelmed and looking for ways to filter. To get noticed and get results your content must be surgically tailored to your target audience and offer true value. This means you can’t leave your blog and social media postings to your intern anymore. Your customers are wise and wary and they can sniff out that inexperienced content in an Internet minute. Less is more–make less, but make it good any you’ll be more successful.

4. Account Based Marketing Will Get Bigger  (and maybe creepier) – Continuing the trend of more personalization and less blanket marketing efforts, account based marketing will only grow in 2016. If you’re new to the concept, it is technology-aided uber targeting. It works best for those companies going after a short list of customer “whales.” Imagine customizing your internet display ads, landing pages and even your entire website for a specific target–so anyone from that company who engages with you gets an uber tailored experience. Check out this example at Demandbase.com, note the company customization, the map and the message that speaks directly to the company’s business:

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So as a consumer, if you work for a big company… you can expect to get Internet creeped on the regular (slow clap).

5. Social Media Marketing Will Get More Difficult and Expensive – Facebook was just the first to slow the roll of marketers trying to reach their followers with free posts, forcing marketers to pay to get their posts pushed out to their entire follower base. Twitter is expected to follow suit this year and others will be right behind. Not only that, but people are clicking through from your Twitter links less and  social sites are actively trying to keep you on their site, rather than encouraging viewers to pay a visit to your real estate.

As every major social platform becomes more pay-to-play, marketers are frantically leveling up their advocate strategy and influencer game, and trying to maintain relevance organically.” Five Social Trends Marketers Won’t Be Able to Ignore in 2016, Victor Pineiro, Ad Age (note: This article contains a healthy dose of pessimism, or er, realism as you prefer)

6. You’ll Want to Re-think your Digital Display Ad Budget – Ad blocking software usage is up 48% in the US in 2015. That means about half the people who used to see your clever banner ad, are no longer seeing it. And you’re still paying for those impressions. Make sure you’re paying per click this year! For all the latest trends and even by-geography stats, check out the 2015 Ad Blocking Report by the Pagefair Team.

So team, if we’re going to be successful, this year, we have our work cut out for us. Key takeaways are to get more customized and qualitative with your marketing. This goes for where you’re distributing it as well as what you’re distributing. There are plenty of tools out there to help you do it and plenty of marketers who are gearing up as experts to help you sort through and manage those tools. Things are evolving fast so keep an eye out for rule changes that could crush your ROI when you’re not even looking. Cheers to 2016!

Photo by David Pacey