The future of Marketing: 11 Technology trends for 2016

Marketers today have access to software, services, thousands of apps, and techniques to create experiences to remember. However, if these tools are available to all marketers today how do brands stay ahead of the curve.

As smart phone adoption continues to rise with an estimated 2 billion consumers worldwide expected to own a smartphone by 2016, the opportunity for brands to be connected with their customers and prospects is set to be closer than ever. Whilst Digital marketing has over the last few years undergone a substantial transformation, the technology from which this is made possible is growing at a faster pace than brands can keep up with in this technological revolution.

The way that we think today is no different than yesteryear but we have plenty more reasons to remember as the connectivity of our lives and smart phones become ever more entwined brands now need to be everywhere to ensure they are not only seen but recalled. Brands need to look beyond the usual channels to stay ahead rather than simply jump on the bandwagon.

Many marketing departments are still trying to adopt trends from 2014 with new skills required to make the most of marketing automation technology, analytics and retargetting. Preparing yourself for the future should never cease, but with budget constraints listed as one of the biggest things to hinder most marketing departments, cheap alternatives such as content and social are the forefront of most marketing strategies. With short term goals in sight its now harder to create a business case for investing in future technology that could help businesses over the longer term.

We have brought together 11 technology trends for 2016 that marketers should consider today.

1. Apps

Apps on ipad

They certainly need no introduction and by no means are they a new trend but with the saying there is an app for that and then some the opportunity for businesses to connect with it’s customers is now bigger than ever. The key for application development is to provide accessibility for users. Most of the technology trends we discuss will in some way utilise an app to enhance the experience of its technology.

Since May 2013 app downloads have more than doubled from 50 billion downloads to over 100 billion. The growth rate of take up shows the demand from consumers to find an app that either simplyfies a process, entertains or provide increased accessibility to brands and services. Whilst demand continues to grow the same can’t said for interactions. A user can download and interact with an app for less than a week and be put on the scrap heap in the sky (the cloud that is).

Businesses today are creating their own apps to help increase engagement with its audience, whether directly related to sales or experience of the brand values. For brands to really utilise a branded app they need to understand their customers pain points to really engage their customers and monetise them through mobile. A prime example is O2’s priority app that offers it’s customers the chance to save on a variety of offers that relate to their audience.

The perfect app will allow businesses to be visible to customers at all times and a direct channel to cultivate customer loyalty.

2. Live video Streaming

Live Video Streaming apps meerkat and periscope

Video is one of the fastest growing mediums with 300 hours of video being uploaded to Youtube every hou,r however, it is live video streaming that has been grabbing the headlines recently.

Whilst Live video streaming is not new the rise of live video streaming apps such as Meerkat and Periscope means that users can simply point and shoot their lives in real time.

Live streaming apps will provide a window in to another persons or brands world.

As we have seen the rise of the Youtube stars will we now be expecting to see the rise of live streaming with commentators, allowing us unrestricted access to behind the scenes.

The likes of Journalists can provide live feeds from unfolding events, backstage at concert for fans unable to get tickets for the gig or fashion labels showcasing behind the scenes from the latest catwalk show. These new apps allow two way conversations bringing brands even closer to their customers.

As mobile connectivity and their technology improves, live streaming will continue to grow. As a cheap and risk free investment this could be the opportunity for brand to connect with new customers through earlier adoption or provide a closer insight in to the brand.

The apps are continuing to grow with Meerkat recently launching on Android.

A behind the scenes photo shoot with H&M and David Beckham might be one way to increase followers.

Location based marketing Location based marketing technology (iBeacons & RFID’s) 

Location based marketing

3. iBeacons

iBeacons are small, inexpensive transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to detect nearby devices that can be housed in retail stores, point of sale displays and merchandising areas.

Apples iBeacon technology will help take location based marketing to the next level enabling event professionals and marketers to create an interactive experience by targeting users at the point of engagement.

For the individuals iBeacons can help event attendees make the most of the conference through sign up and engagement in talks and sessions. Linkedin integration offers the opportunity to connect with attendees, send messages including push notifications about the latest news reducing the need for delayed email communication.

A South African shopping mall offered discounts through a count down timer, the longer it took to reach the store the lower the discount.

4. RFID’s

A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a small electronic device containing a small chip and antenna providing a unique identifier for that tag.

RFID wristbands, cards and apps enable event attendees to interact in new and engaging ways. Whilst there is still the need for registration, organisers can find new and engaging ways to let visitors share their experience in the real world with their friends online. Brands can increase shares and likes with a simple photo both and the tap of a wrist band to share across social media.

The Wristbands have been adopted by Disney. Their magic bands allow customers to unlock the door to their hotel room, enter the theme parks, charge food and merchandise purchases to their resort hotel room, check in at FastPass entrances and even connect the Disney PhotoPass images to their account.

5. Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) offers a live view of elements that are computer-generated such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data, overlaying the physical world with the vitual.

Marketers can take a current situation and offer some sort of explanatory data to it so that you can better understand what’s going on, or who the people in the scene are, or how to get to where you want to go.

Companies like Blippar have been working with the technology for several years now providing companies with the potential to enrich real world experiences and deliver value to a brands users.

Brands can use augmented reality to provide more information to shoppers in print and in store, bridging the gap between the digital and real world. Users in store can read reviews online or check prices. Using Augmented reality means that shoppers can have the latest information at the point of purchase.

Integrate online reviews or offer special promotions in store can improves sales and reverse the impacts of showrooming.

6. Business Data & Analytics

Competitive advantage is key to businesses staying ahead. Big Data is becoming more and more crucial for leading companies to continue to develop and drive that innovation to develop strategies to compete.

With Data now available in abundance businesses need to understand how this can help create new growth opportunities. Businesses now need to find a way to curate, organized and manage this knowledge to be able to put the results in to action and a comprehensive plan to build for the future.

Forward-thinking businesses should look to build their organisations’ Big Data capabilities to fuel future growth and competitive advantage.

7. Automation

Whilst a very broad topic, limits to budget and resources means automation has become the norm in most medium to large businesses. The marketing technology industry alone is worth $20 Billion, Chiefmartec.com supergraphic shows that the number of providers have more than double up to 1,876 companies from Jan 14 to Jan 15.

Companies are now coming up with even more ways to automate marketing, this alone is worth $5.5 Billion and is leading the way in lead generation and prospect nurturing.

Whilst the surge in automated technology continues to rise the skills and knowledge to managing these tools is failing to keep up, as most businesses see the benefits there is little in place in regards to a robust marketing technology strategy. With even more focus on marketing to deliver results, Marketing managers & CMO’s should be taking stock of their teams skills, highlighting the gaps and define a robust automation strategy to help sales through engaging prospects, qualifying leads and shortening the overall sales cycle.

8. Microsoft HoloLens

The first fully untethered, see-through holographic computer designed by Microsoft. It enables high-definition holograms to come to life in your world, seamlessly integrating with your physical places, spaces, and things.

At the recent conference Microsoft showed users how people can interact with mince craft on a whole new level. Holograms with real world will unlock all-new ways to create, communicate, work and play.

How can this be useful for marketers. We wont see people walking around with headsets on all day, but brands can create seamless experiences in industries such as construction, leisure, architecture and more. By moving beyond just 2D and blending the digital world with the real brining mixed reality to life, customers can fully immerse themselves in the experience or design.

9. In store display

The use of in store display technology has been growing rapidly as has the technology by which is used. As dynamic digital display solutions advance, businesses can manage their omni-channel pricing and promotions strategy from a single location. Businesses are able to with speed, agility and consistency. Allowing price sensitive businesses to improve both the shopping experience and profits – quickly, easily and securely.

With most large purchases consumers will go online to check a product review or the price whilst in store which can mean businesses losing customers to show-rooming. The technology and software gives complete visibility and control, it means that businesses can react to competitor pricing in an instance.

Brands can provide real time promotions with the likes of Electronic shelfs, so what might take months of planning can be done in an instance and data can be collected in real time to show the impact. It can be done through a single retail store, region or the whole company.

Coupled with Big Data you’re one step ahead of the game.

10. Rich media

Rich media starring Owen Wilson

Rich media is a form of digital advertising that uses advanced technology to engage users through streaming video where by a user interaction simply means hovering over the ad.

HTML5 — the newest and most advanced version of the fundamental markup language along with Flash means advertiser can now create multiple levels of content in one place such as video, games and data capture all heightening user experiences across the web.

With Double Click rich media, consumers can interact with adverts in real time, offering more than a simple text or standard banner advert. Brands can create whole page takeovers to expanding ads and interactive in-stream video providing a more engaging ad and bring digital marketing to life.

Check out Googles rich media gallery for examples of how the worlds biggest names use rich media to increase engagement.

Our personal favourite includes Owen Wilson, some federal officers and a car chase which is in your hand.

11. Direct Mail

A classic but one of my favourites, customers love the personal touch it’s what makes an interaction that more special. Crafting a well-planned DM campaign can put you in front of your ideal customers. Whilst the initial require more investment the higher costs means brands become more focused on getting the most out of their direct marketing campaign.

Personalisation can take both time and investment from a business the benefits can be as much as 73% increase in conversion

Direct mail doesn’t have to just be worth the paper it’s printed on but help drive digital interaction. Integrating augmented reality, video, apps all enhance the direct mail experience.

It’s an area that you can get really creative and think about your audience better. Whilst content is king putting something in context helps the receiver to understand the message better. This is where the medium plays a key part.

As with all these trends there is a huge cross over between each and everyone and working with these ideas together could create that campaign that really cuts through the noise. With automation meaning that brands are constantly pushing out new messages the way in which you add value to your campaign can mean that you are the one that wins business over others.

With 6 months remaining we’re sure there are plenty more trends to come.