This year is the year of integrated marketing. We’ll see more and more examples of disparate parts connecting, both across the customer touchpoints, and in the way marketers are operating. Back in the Web 1.0 days, digital came along and fundamentally changed how we were able to reach customers. Web 2.0 brought us social media and software transitioned to the cloud. Now, another shift is coming, as there are more ways for devices to connect to people, with the Internet of Things (IoT), and more apps interconnecting with one another. Marketing teams have a big job to do in harnessing this rapidly expanding toolkit so that they can reach their customers in new and impactful ways.
Here is what to look for in integrated marketing, in 2016:
Search, beyond Search
There’s no such thing as a search program that’s just about a website and a search engine. It’s all about the signals and serving results, and search is increasingly leveraging signals from social media.
Social Display Advertising
Social advertising is the new darling of the display world, pairing a hugely engaged audience with novel targeting methods. I remember the days when social advertising was considered only for brand marketers. Now, performance marketers are seeing a lot of success, and pouring dollars into it.
Native Advertising and Video
The rise of the vlogger has resulted in a new way for brands to do brand placement in a really organic way. Real people are creating a huge amount of video content around their interests, and taking brands along for the ride. There are naysayers who claim that vloggers have no real influence on brand decisions. But, it’s hard to ignore the relative authenticity of these endorsements, and how they are reaching niche audiences like never before.
This is about integrating marketing channels, so the customer gets a consistent experience that makes sense, based on who they are and where they’re at in the customer journey. What was once a vague philosophy is now not only possible, but it’s necessary in order for brands to stay competitive. The technology is in place to support personalization, like Demandbase for understanding audiences (business audiences in particular) and Optimizely for delivering a cohesive experience. Brands that aren’t using tools like these will get left behind.
The Battle for Your Wallet
It’s not about handing over your credit card anymore. We’ve even moved way beyond PayPal with serious contenders like Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Square, and a huge host of other players vying to be the platform you choose to manage payments with, both online and offline.
Speaking of offline – there are more ways for people to pay than ever, while they’re out and about. Magically wave your iWatch or iPhone and make an Apple payment at your local grocery store. Take a Coin card out of your wallet and use that one card to make a payment with any of your credit cards.
Social Commerce by Facebook
Facebook advertising is taking off, and one reason it’s so powerful, is that brands can embedded a ‘buy’ buttons in their posts. That means, Facebook is collecting the payment info, and creating a seamless transaction for the user – so they can click buy, and keep browsing their stream. Facebook continues to roll out morefeatures to support commerce, so it looks like the ‘buy’ button is just the tip of the iceberg.
Many of the tools used in digital marketing are using API’s to talk to one another, and the net effect is a more powerful capabilities, overall. Marketers can puzzle together their apps to share data and take action. For example, MailChimp connects with hundreds of apps, allowing marketers to pull email lists from their CRM tools, leverage custom templates, or post results to analytics tools. Platforms leveraging APIs and participating in the app economy are serving marketers by allowing them to use the point solution that best fits their needs, rather than locking them into a one-size-fits all suite. Expect in 2016 that the big tools that aren’t participating will face increasing competition from apps participating in the connected economy.
With mobile tech firmly established and the IoT breaking serious ground, the digital environment has merged with offline experience. These worlds are increasingly mixed. That means traditional marketing teams need to join forces with the digital marketers. Marketers need to work with developers. Creative teams need to be able to handle print and responsive, multi-device screens. Siloed teams will fail at creating an integrated experience for customers.
We’re excited to watch this integrated landscape unfold in 2016, because it presents so many new opportunities for marketers. Those opportunities will undoubtedly uncover new challenges, but solving that is the fun part, right?