Countdown to 2016: The Top Integrated Marketing Resolutions for the New Year

Digital Brand Lab unveils their predictions so your company can keep up trends.

Who are we? We are the digital natives, the creative story tellers, the pixel pushers, and the analytical minds. Together, Eastwick’s Digital Brand Lab brings together our passion and experience in research, creative, content and digital marketing to help you build and execute your brand campaign online.

But most importantly, in 2016, we’re going to get you results.

So, what should today’s top brands care about? Dive into our top predictions and trends for integrated marketing experts:

“Snackable content is dead. Teach your audience to fish.” — @deakhaus

In 2016, we’ll see a rise in long-form content from leading brands — whether it’s building out their own publication like Uber’s Momentum or a podcast like Slack Variety Pack. The quality information, tactics, or entertainment a brand provides will inspire deeper conversations, delight a loyal community and drive sales that’ll make your CMO and CEO very satisfied.

I’m so over the word “snackable” because it misleads our beliefs around the value of content. People aren’t just looking for things that are short. They are looking for answers to some very deep-seated questions that trouble them. When deploying “snackable content” for a campaign, it should only be seen as a vehicle fueling demand or lead generation.

“Finally, the puzzle of marketing technology begins to fit together (hopefully).” — @kelleybeans

Marketing automation, social media platform, CRM solution — everyone is looking for one tech platform that does it all or makes it easy to connect with customers. As content marketing continues to grow in importance, market integrations become invaluable for measurement and workflow. But what do they all mean? What does one actually need as a marketer?

The most important thing in 2016 will be sorting out the technologies that are efficient and necessary so quality content can be tailored to your audience. Technologies will be added to solve for newer measurement holes which is becoming more interesting to B2B (i.e. Instagram).

Hopefully marketing automation companies will acquire what they need or create product for more comprehensive marketing suites. There were major acquisitions like Silverpop over the last year, and platforms like Sysomos and Hubspot that continue to add more and more capability. 2016 will be about sorting out what is right for any business between process and workflow of customer service and marketing organizations.

“What does it matter when I was born?” — Bettina Papirio

In 2016 don’t expect anybody to behave like they “should.” Throw out the demographic-centered models you have come to rely on to predict your audiences’ behavior, and open your perspective to the post-demographic imperatives already in play.

People are tired of being stereotyped based on a number, and pride themselves on being fluid in personality and identity. In an open society with ever vanishing boundaries, people are constantly adapting, adopting, and reframing technology and brands to build a truer, more authentic self.

Facebook Argentina has recognized this fluidity and drive to break away from the norm. They enabled 54 gender options for the platform’s Argentinian users; Airtel, an Indian network provider, broke gender stereotypes by putting women in the executive chair in their ‘Boss TVC’ campaign. In 2016, make it a habit to see your audience in 3D.

“Gradients are making a comeback.” — @judychu114

In 2016, we’ll see start to see gradients finding their way back into our color palettes. No, this doesn’t mean we’re going to outright ditch flat design but it’s definitely time for the two to mingle and marry. So far in 2015, we’ve already seen Apple iTunes logo and new ad technology Moasis successfully re-introducing gradients to their brand and it’s definitely leaving an impression! Companies with the ability to strategically integrate gradients into their brand will stand out from the crowd and lead the industry into a new age of visual identity.

“Marketers need to get real.” — @realdougbuck

We are starting off on a season of alarming political upheaval and uncertainty; fear about the future; and slip-sliding furiously into an election year hosted by a rabble of increasingly extreme positions on all sides of the political spectrum. Those folks who aren’t warring in the comment section and unfriending everyone might be likely to just unplug and binge on Game of Thrones.

Appeals to enduring and universal ideals will be the right move in 2016; leaving the controversial social comments to the pundits and shock-jocks. Connecting one’s message to existing public conversations with strong momentum is ordinarily a wise move for marketers looking to punch above their weight in terms of share of voice. However, this year may not be the best time to take ironic risks in the social media department, or to trust one’s audience to be sophisticated, “meta”, or overly clever. Why? Because in an environment of media distrust and provocation, having one’s message be misunderstood or turned on its head is much more likely to happen than usual.

When the world seems complicated and gloomy, brands win by connecting through authenticity; simplicity in messaging intent; and an emphasis on what brings us together, not what drives us apart. Successful marketing programs in 2016 will win by being hopeful and optimistic about people, our collective intentions, and what we can achieve together. The messages that work will be in plain, not smarty-pants, language and will appeal to all demographics.

For creative inspiration, this is a really great time to get back to the core DNA of your brand and especially your people. What is your mission, really? Why does the world need what you do? Why are your people proud of where they work? Optimism that inspires starts at home.

“Press releases: Does anyone even read these?” — @viva_laurita

In 2016, we’ll see the start of a movement away from press releases in favor of more titillating ways to create buzz. What once were important vehicles of information for brand groupies, today’s press releases are now little more than kitschy decoration for the IR mantle; more boilerplate fluff than hardline news, and definitely more annoying than useful to media. So instead of continuing to invest in these one-winged carrier pigeons of the communications world, innovative brands will begin experimenting more frequently with social campaigns, influencer initiatives, marketing stunts and so on to get their news out.

“But those are expensive, we can’t afford to do one of those press releases every time our CEO sneezes!” you protest. Good. Welcome to the future.

“Vlogs > Blogs.” — @tammyolson16

No executive visibility program is complete until a strategic content platform, usually in the form of a blog, is initiated. Executives enjoy sharing viewpoints on Twitter and personal blogs, but 2016 should be the year we start migrating these platforms to a video format. This could be a fully fleshed out, edited video series on YouTube, or as quick as shooting a quick 30-second video Tweet while an exec is attending an event.

The lightening-fast rise of video content sharing apps like Periscope, Meerkat and Vine validate marketers and consumers love of video content to connect and tell compelling stories.

“Video advertising is rolling.” — @VincentMBates

Video ads have been around for a while, but when we take a look at the numbers we see that Ad spends on digital video grew to $7.46 billion USD in 2015 (a 42% increase). There are no signs of this trend slowing down. In fact, it’s expected to increase to over $13 billion by 2019.

Looking beyond the numbers, we see platforms betting on video advertising in a big way. The chest of platform options has been opened wide to digital marketers thanks to the tool prioritization by popular channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google’s upcoming in-SERP video advertising.

In short, as you think about your digital advertising strategy for 2016, think video.

“IoT gives rise to smart marketing.” — @A_Rapazzini

With the rise of IoT devices, the internet is no longer just accessible but omnipresent. In 2016, we will likely see the integration of an individual’s social identity interacting with their physical surroundings. The interaction of an individual and their everyday devices, appliances, or cars will revolutionize how we market to the end-user. Smart Marketing will give ease specific marketing strategies aimed for a desired audience. This new wave of marketing will emphasize demographic and psychographic attributes in order to cater solutions to the end user of the IoT device, thus, driving results.

For example, with the increase of data that IoT will warrant, marketers will understand consumers and businesses like never before. Inherently, we will see the customer experience improve dramatically. Marketers will no longer have to guess where their audience lives online, but the data will be at their fingertips.

“Turning data into action.” — @Social_IDo, @anthrofoodie, @Alukomnik

In 2015, we saw the permeation of “data” in every day conversations, with CMOs clamoring for data points to map back to their various marketing objectives. What we didn’t see was the use of quality metrics, and data being used actionably to understand, modify or improve communication campaigns. In 2016, we’ll see companies shift from using data as an end in itself and moving towards “actionable data” — the use of data as a storytelling tool.

Here at Eastwick’s Analytics and Insight Group, we know that having “data” is not in itself a goal, and in 2016 we’ll see more companies realize this. Already, we are already seeing clients supplement numerical metrics like share of voice, number of mentions, impressions and reach, with storytelling metrics such as sentiment, key message pull-through, influencer engagement, and engagement rate.

Actionable data allows companies to understand the context beyond the numbers, which provides actionable insights. In the new year, ask yourself what data you can gather to better understand, modify, and improve your communication campaigns and achieve your goals.

Did this pique your interest? Well, we’re excited to meet you, too. Reach out to Digital Brand Lab at dbl@eastwick.com to drive your marketing results in 2016.

Want even more predictions for integrated communications programs? Eastwick’s President Heather Kernahan can tell it to you straight.

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