New Year's may have come and gone, but it's never too late to make resolutions, predictions, or even predictions about predictions for the coming year.
Case in point: Even though it's been a few weeks since Hotwire PR released its annual Communications Trends Report-which forecasts significant trends for marketers in 2016--many industry professionals are still digesting the published prognostications and determining which will develop into viable trends.
Jess Tiffany, president of Marketing and Networking University, believes one key trend suggested in the report-that hyperlocal/granular tactics need to be adopted in which individual messages are created for every portion of the target audience-can be the most impactful.
"Outliers exist, and many subsets like Gen X, Millennials, and Boomers feel alienated by marketers because they don't ‘fit the mold,'" says Tiffany. "Creating hyperlocal content focused on the individual and not the generation will greatly aid in helping each individual find content that speaks to them as a person."
Moving Beyond "Millennials"
Another possible trend that gets the attention of Sam Romain, owner of Dominate With SEO, is that brands will seek to target audiences according to a specific mindset and particular values vs. singling out "millennials" as a sole demographic.
"It's poor marketing now and will be in the future to keep treating one major set of people as the same type," Romain says. "Also, I agree that we'll see a lot more published content through third-party channels, especially in terms of search engine optimization."
Living in the "Now"
Gary J. Nix, chief strategy officer for bdot, meanwhile, puts stock in the forecast that marketers will depend more on guidelines and instincts than editorial calendars, creating more timely "of the moment" content.
"Technology has allowed the proliferation of real-time content from any and all people. If brands are able to connect better with consumers, they must partake in the same types of conversations that consumers are in," Nix notes. "That's not to say that all planned content will go away altogether, however."
It's unlikely that every trend suggested by Hotwire PR or other marketing prognosticators will come to fruition, of course. For example, the idea that brands will use targeted content and campaigns to keep consumers from buying at Amazon is wishful thinking, Susan Marshall, CEO of Torchlite, says.
"Yes, brands will continue investing in content marketing, but the vast majority of brands will come nowhere near competing with Amazon in capturing the attention of consumers," says Marshall. "Content marketing's effectiveness will continue its slow mark toward death in 2016 unless brands are better promoting and activating their content. Simply creating the content isn't enough."
Players in this space have plenty of predictions of their own, too.
"2016 will be the first year people-based marketing takes off-as opposed to device-based or cookie-based marketing," suggests Jay Friedman, COO of the Goodway Group. "Facebook will launch its demand-side platform and will instantly become a leader in this space."
Clint Poole, Lionbridge's vice president of global marketing, expects marketers to focus more on developing customer experience strategies this year. "Customer insights are now driving the digital market, so marketers will need to be more strategic in order to match those customer experiences," he says.
Rebecca Honeyman, senior vice president/general manager for Hotwire PR, says 2016 will be a year in which marketing professionals will be required to gather a much greater understanding of their audiences through research.
"They'll need to be able to understand not just the broad demographics of their audiences but the nuances that bind them together," she says. "People no longer want to simply consume, they want to be an active member in and participate in your business."
Honeyman's advice for best success in 2016? Don't just try to create "shiny ads"; instead, "create experiences that help people see you and live your beliefs and messages. Learn who your audience really is, where they spend time, and what inspires them to connect with you."
(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)