Another year has come and gone, and now with many of our customers taking time off to be with their families, we have an opportunity to sit back and reflect on 2015. The world of digital marketing has continued to move at lightning speed, with new platforms constantly launching, while consumer behavior seems to change from day to day. As we all take stock of our biggest successes from 2015 and the new initiatives we plan to execute in 2016, there a few things to keep in mind that can help provide us with some additional perspective.
Direct Response is No Longer that Direct
With customers having round-the-clock access to both their network of contacts and unlimited amounts of information, what’s standing between their needs and the solutions you offer is no longer just discovery, it’s trust. So while being at the right place at the right time via a Google listing, banner ad or tweet can still be effective, it does not drive the type of results you may have seen 18, 12 or even 6 months ago. Now all your marketing channels need to work in harmony to establish your presence and gain the trust of your potential customer. This entails developing comprehensive re-marketing campaigns, and setting up conversion tracking systems and attribution models that support the multiple engagements you’ll need to have with your customers across their various devices.
Ad Blockers Are Limiting Your Reach
While some ad networks are not having their ads blocked (i.e. succumbing to extortion), most are. This is limiting your ability as an advertiser to target and re-target your customers. This phenomenon puts added pressure on your PR, social and organic marketing channels, as well as forcing you to think outside the box to find more creative, high impact paid advertising channels.
Facebook Ads Will Become Much More Expensive, Soon
It seems that everyone you run into these days is running Facebook ads. The targeting abilities of Facebook’s ad platform puts Google AdWords to shame. Although Facebook users generally have low purchase intent, the ability of Facebook to put your ads in front of just the right people makes it a powerful tool for advertisers of all budget ranges to drive customers. The downside is that these ads are placed via auction. So as more and more people test and grow their campaigns, the cost of reaching your customers will grow, slowly eroding your profit margins (sorry to be such a downer). This process took place on AdWords long ago, which is why squeezing out margins on those campaigns is much more difficult for anyone without significant media buying experience. Some brands will be immune to this increase, such as those selling high priced, high margin products or services, or those serving very niche markets; the rest of you need to prepare yourselves. But don’t worry, many new advertising opportunities will arise in 2016 including new ones within Facebook itself.
Ad Platforms Are Getting More and More Complicated to Use
Though Google, Bing and Facebook would love nothing more than for all small business owners to run their own campaigns, doing so effectively is becoming harder. As they continue to add new targeting features, ad modules and optimization tools, building a profitable campaign takes more time than it did a year ago. Though there are features available that have been designed to help novice advertisers build small campaigns quickly and easily, such as Google’s Standard Campaign Type, they put you at a disadvantage when your competitors are using the full suite of tools offered by these ad networks. The good news, is those who invest the time and effort in mastering these tools have more options than ever to reach their potential customers in creative ways.
The Lines Between Media Companies and Commerce Business is Getting Blurry
With most businesses operating their own blogs, social media accounts and YouTube channels, and investing so heavily in content production, many are starting to resemble media companies that happen to also sell products or services. On the flip side, with online publishers struggling to monetize their traffic due to ad blockers, increased competition and decreasing click-through-rates, some are taking aim at eCommerce to help supplement their revenues.
Though no one knows for sure what new trends await us in 2016, the one thing we can bet on is that the digital marketing industry will continue maturing and evolving.