5 Marketing Trends to Ignite Your Customer Engagement Strategy in 2016
By Susie Aubuchon, Senior Vice President, Client Services
Q1 – the quarter for trends and predictions! But with a quick Google search returning a staggering 83,500,000 results, it can be difficult to see through the fog of suggestions. There are game changing trends, hot mobile trends, trend-defying digital trends, and everything in between. With such a dynamic marketing landscape to look forward to next year, how do you know which trends have the potential to impact your world?
To answer that question, look to your 2016 marketing plan. What big initiatives your team is planning? Are you redesigning your website? Entering a new market? Trying to reduce customer attrition? Whatever your goals, figure out your focus for next year and look for the trends to support those initiatives.
If you are anything like our clients, customer engagement is a top priority for this year (and every year!). With that in mind, we scoured list after list to find the trends with the best opportunity to engage your customers in innovative ways.
1. You will need an army of brand advocates.
These days, buyers want to hear from customers themselves and hope to get the sense of a loyal community before they make a purchasing decision. Often referred to as “relationship marketing” or “advocacy marketing,” the focus is on creating long-term relationships based on customer loyalty (as opposed to just the quick buy). In fact, Influitive, a leading advocacy marketing group, says that a 12 percent increase in advocacy can as much as double revenue growth.
Use it in 2016: Tell your brand’s story from your customer’s point of view. Video testimonials are hugely effective and ads – or even posts on social media – featuring real customers (not actors, models or paid brand ambassadors) can really tug at those heartstrings. Invest in a marketing advocacy platform if it is in the budget and definitely ask some of your best clients if they would participate in a company video; you may be pleasantly surprised by how many happy customers love telling others how much they love you.
2. Search will expand beyond Google (or Bing).
Engagement starts with reaching out and getting face time with your customers. Make sure your client-base has easy access to all of your marketing content in order to initiate an ongoing conversation.
Facebook is testing out its own search engine. Pinterest recently introduced its visual search “discovery engine.” YouTube is allowing emoji in its search feature. Google is not obsolete by any means, but the definition of the search engine is certainly evolving. Marketers must begin to think beyond traditional SEO in order to expand their reach across the net.
Use it in 2016: Make sure you remain active on all relevant platforms. If your product or service is very visual, create a Pinterest page and update it often. Search for people who are looking for your products and services and use the same keywords they do in their posts. If you have something that lends itself to video – informational lectures or how-to videos, for example – make sure to post those on YouTube (not just on your website) to be found in a search. And always optimize your search keywords!
3. Snapchat will find its niche.
Just like its social predecessors, Snapchat is still figuring out how to make money from its nearly 200 million active users. And like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, Snapchat is gaining traction – fast. Now that the 2016 presidential candidates are flocking to the app, it is clear that the trendy app is here to stay. Especially if your business targets young people, it is time to start snapping.
Use it in 2016: Using Snapchat for your business is different than using it to send pictures of your cat eating ice cream, but not vastly. Use Snapchat to show your customers something they would not otherwise experience – such as your company’s behind-the-scenes areas (e.g. warehouses and kitchens) or special sneak peeks for products that have yet to be released. To get followers, cross-promote your Snapchat name on your other social media platforms or post your custom QR code on your website or in your business’s physical locations.
4. Wearable tech will make an entrance into the mainstream.
There’s nothing more engaging than communicating with your clients’ wearable devices, things that are literally on their bodies and demanding attention around the clock. Of course, the Apple watch will not be ubiquitous by the end of the year, but PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that wearables have an adoption rate of more than 20 percent – the same adoption rate that tablets had in 2012.
If wearables are going to be as commonplace in four years as tablets are today, marketers need to make sure they are already starting to develop apps and content that are easy to use and useful – particularly by encouraging engagement from the customer.
Use it in 2016: Not every business needs to have an app designed for Apple Watch functionality; however, every marketer should be aware of the distinctive platforms available for viewing your content. Larger companies can invest in the technology to test out various marketing campaigns. Companies of all sizes can prioritize lower-cost initiatives, like Facebook ads that target specific geographic locations.
5. Video isn’t going anywhere.
Three hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. This means it would take you 49 years to watch every YouTube video that was uploaded today. So many people these days are using video to interact with each other – whether live on Facetime or Skype, or recorded messages, or YouTube videos – that it just makes sense to engage your customers with video as well.
Use it in 2016: Tutorials are huge, testimonials are touching, funny is timeless, and vlogs (video blogs) are almost as easy to make as a selfie. Recording how-to videos or short vlogs about hot news topics will get your customers watching. To spark more even more engagement, encourage user-submitted testimonials or host a video contest. Everyone has a story to tell – what’s yours?
Feeling inspired? Let us know how you plan to leverage 2016’s customer engagement trends in your marketing programs next year.
Susie Aubuchon is an accomplished professional with particular expertise in sales and marketing in the telecommunications industry. Susie is primarily responsible for all post sale account, project, client, and IMM activity. In this capacity, she provides and manages project management from beginning to end to ensure successful relationships with both our clients and our IMMs. She has been instrumental in ensuring orderly and appropriate communications to IMMs and clients alike throughout the on-boarding lifecycle. Susie also oversees McKinley’s marketing functions, including all communication and brand initiatives. She joined McKinley in January of 2005, as a Director of Business Development, where she was responsible for developing the telecommunications and technology market around the metro area.
Prior to joining McKinley, Susie worked in the telecommunication industry with MCI and XO Communications where she built channel support programs for emerging sales organizations. She was responsible for the creation of an organization-wide communications plan for which she developed internal/external messaging, the launch of a CRM application, as well as all sales support documents and process.