Digital Marketing in 2016: What Worked

Every January, marketing companies make predictions about what trends are going to take hold in the coming months. 2016 was no different. From mobile dominance to virtual reality, and from wearable technology to ditching “filler content,” we heard it all.

With 2016 behind us, we now look at the trends and techniques that worked for digital marketers in the past year and how they will affect 2017.

Mobile, mobile, mobile

You’ve heard it for years: Consumers are relying more and more on mobile devices to connect with brands and purchase goods. In 2016, wearable technology like smart watches, and the increased use of smartphones and tablets, continued to make it easier to check reviews, make online purchases and find local businesses. Having a direct line to businesses has shortened the sales cycle, but has also given consumers unlimited choices.

At the beginning of 2016, 37% of all website visits originated from mobile devices, and 87% of smartphone users confessed to having their phone on them at all times. What do these numbers mean? If you didn’t have a mobile strategy last year, you were missing engagement and sales opportunities. We don’t see that changing any time soon.

App Marketing

Companies of all sizes are developing apps to build a mobile community of consumers. Giants like Groupon and Target use apps to offer users exclusive discounts and an easier way to buy directly through a mobile device.

Furthermore, apps provide the retailer the opportunity to send “push notifications” to consumers that can be viewed in real time. When executed properly, push notifications help increase retention by keeping the brand at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. When executed poorly (too frequently), the user is likely to uninstall the app.

Even if a custom app for your brand didn’t seem feasible, there was no need for your business to be left out of this trend. Apps like Ibotta or Checkout 51 partner with brands to offer discounts on everything from grocery items to restaurant visits. With mobile device use continuing to grow, one of these or a similar partner app may be an option for you in 2017.

Live Streaming

The best part of live streaming is that it works for companies of any size. First of all, it is cost-effective. With platforms like Facebook offering free live streaming tools, anyone with an internet connection and a camera or a mobile phone can go live with the touch of a button.

In 2016, that’s exactly what business owners and marketers around the world did. It was successful when it gave consumers a look behind the scenes at their favorite brands. This helped build a meaningful connection with the consumer. Building a true, face-to-face personal connection with customers is no longer an option for many businesses, but generating a sense of loyalty will work in today’s marketplace, where consumers face so many options and demands on their attention.

If live streaming intimidates you, start with Facebook Live. If you have a smartphone and a Facebook page, you’re ready to go live.

These three trends dominated digital marketing in 2016 and will continue to reign over the next 12 months. The common thread is the consumer’s desire to connect with brands. Whether you use live streaming, storytelling, a mobile app, native marketing or blogging to forge that connection, the important thing is that you create it and nurture it.

If you need help creating a marketing strategy for 2017, we’re ready to plan with you. Please call us at (510) 680-3300 ext: 130 to schedule a consultation.