2015 has flown by. 2016 is almost here. The new year brings a fresh and strategic approach to digital marketing.
When we think of digital marketing, what we’re really looking at is the process of engaging with potential clients, customers, or consumers, through the use of the internet. These online marketing efforts are aided by computers and mobile technology, as well as software and other services that help business owners reach out and connect with their target audience.
In the simplest terms, digital marketing is where traditional marketing meets the Internet. It is used to define a vast overaching container, which holds multiple segments and tactics. As more and more business moves online, traditional marketing methods must adapt and change to suit the digital world.
By the basic process of use and adoption of these technologies, the technologies themselves change. As we use these methods, they evolve further.
As I have done each year for the past couple of years, I’ve researched and outlined what I see as the biggest trends in the digital marketing environment for this upcoming year. I’ve identified a total of 9 important trends, with an emphasis on “as-it-happens” marketing- and I’m sharing my favorite of these upcoming trends here with you.
As I’ve said, I’ve selected my three favorite of the 9 trends, and you can get the full set of 9 trends at the bottom of this post.
Trend #3: The Rise of “Ephemeral” Marketing
One of the key areas of focus for digital marketing in 2016 is in the area of “ephemeral” marketing. This is marketing that is shared as it happens, and is often for just a transient time period. Examples of this would be livestreaming for three minutes about your first hot air balloon ride- and inviting your online audience to join you for the experience. Sites like Periscope are fully geared to this type of “as-it-happens” experiential marketing.
The strategy behind ephemeral marketing relies on several core aspects of creating influence, notably scarcity, liking, social proof, and reciprocity.
Scarcity is inbuilt to the platform- livestreaming is time limited in nature and happens in real-time. If you want to be first to know, or first to see (being first is a powerful motivator), a time-limited event is one way to get attention and build interest.
Ephemeral marketing rests on transparency– no longer are marketers hiding behind carefully constructed and created campaigns; instead, they are actively engaging as events unfold. They are sharing about themselves- not just their business acumen or smarts, but their humanness. How does it feel to ride in a hot air balloon ride for the first time? If you’ve never done it, they will take you along for the experience. And if you have done it, you have a basis of familiarity with them- and are being conditioned to like them more.
Liking is the third aspect of ephemeral marketing – just by the act of vulnerability and openness, your viewers and audience will come to like you more. As they like you more, they are more willing to accept your influence and to be persuaded to your perspective.
Social proof also plays an important role. If you have many followers in social media, for instance, and you invite your followers to a compelling “at-this-minute” event, many of them will attend, and will post that they will be there. This creates a lot of social proof for you, especially if you seek to re-engage them after the event.
So, as you can see, ephemeral marketing employs some powerfully persuasive principles of scarcity, liking, social proof, and reciprocity.
Trend #5: More Piggyback Monetization Opportunities
Finding more products and services to sell will be another big focus in 2016. When I describe “piggyback” monetization opportunities, what I’m describing are products and services which build upon (or piggyback) on other successful products or services. This strategy is one that almost anyone can implement. It just takes a mindset of looking for opportunities inherent in products and services.
So, for instance, one of my autoresponder services, Aweber, has announced they are releasing a campaign builder. This will enable users to build email marketing campaigns built around better automation. (Marketing automation is another key trend for 2016, but one we won’t cover at length here.) Anyway, since I know this builder is coming out, I could be one of the first to learn about it, and then offer specific consulting around using this builder once it launches to the public.
This approach relies on extreme specificity. It’s not about “email marketing”- it’s about “building effective email marketing with the Aweber campaign builder”. If you look around your own business, there are probably tools and services that you use everyday that you learned the hard way. If you offer consulting, you could develop a specific “piggyback” product to help others who want to learn what you know. You could also package this into a training product.
Whenever a product or service is successfully launched online, by anyone, there are most always piggyback monetization opportunities for other people. If you’re just starting your online business, these types of piggyback monetization openings can help you position yourself as an expert and become known for one thing.
Trend #1: Building Smaller Groups of Intensely Loyal Fans
Some years ago, the focus was all about amassing huge followings and building huge email lists. Part of that, I believe, was because the technology was not advanced enough to allow as much micro-targeting as is possible now. This year, we’ll see a shift away from creating large groups and towards creating smaller groups of more and more loyal fans and followers.
The shift continues from thousands reached to hundreds influenced.
This means that we, as business owners, must seek greater and greater contact and connection with our best clients and customers. We need to focus on giving them the best marketing and sales experience at the beginning, the best service delivery and follow up that we can. The emphasis continues to be on building relationships. This relationship building is assisted by technology; but technology does not replace a strategic and thoughtful marketing approach.
While this idea of cultivating loyal followings is not new; certainly we’ve been hearing something like this for many years, what’s different in 2016 is the way that this will happen. More and more, marketing campaigns will rely on empathy, vulnerability and “pulling back the curtain” to reveal the person behind the marketing.
One of the best ways to stand out in the overwhelmingly crowded online marketing space is to share who you are, not just what you do. Do you have a hobby that lights you up? Share with your community. Did you try for something and fail at it? Let people know.
In a way, the real-er you are, the more people will pay attention to you and follow you. Information is not what people seek- they can get that from thousands of websites on the internet. They are looking for your unique viewpoint and your one-of-a-kind perspective.
2016 will be a profitable year for those business owners who build relationships with their audience, in a way that feels like one person at a time.
The key points of these trends can be summarized as follows:
Connect with your audience as consistently and simply as you can. Reduce as many barriers and points of friction to connection as you can. You don’t need to set up long marketing sequences, necessarily, nor do you need to build the perfect optin- page. Make it easier for yourself, and simpler for them.
Seek to build deeper relationships and connections. You can do this by sharing more about yourself, so that your audience gets to know you as a person. If you follow my personal profile on Facebook, you know that I often share my new jewelry making attempts and recent digital photography efforts. Are these the most amazing things you’ve ever seen on Facebook? (Decidedly not.) However, I get a lot of input from my audience that says they feel excited and inspired to follow along as I learn new things. It doesn’t matter that I’m still learning- it matters that people want to travel the path with me. That’s the idea of community I’m describing.
No need to create products or services out of thin air. In your own business, and those of your clients, you can probably find techniques or strategies that other people would pay to learn or pay to have done for them. If there is something you’ve put in effort to learn, there is likely someone else who would want to learn it too.
These are my three favorite digital marketing trends for 2016 because they will help you build a bigger audience and be more profitable. (These, by the way, are two of my favorite business outcomes!)
If you want to access the full list of 9 trends for 2016, you can get a copy of the report below: