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The Top 5 Digital Marketing Developments of 2015

Christmas is almost upon us once again, with New Year’s Eve to follow a week later. In normal life, the incoming New Year heralds an opportunity to look back over the last 12 months for some soul-searching and evaluation.

Well, the same is true for business – especially for marketing managers. The New Year (or the end of this one as the case may be) is the perfect time to cast an objectively critical eye back over the time now lost to us and have a good hard think.

What did you do in 2015 to make sure that your business stayed one step ahead of the competition?

Did you manage to spot the upcoming trends and leverage them whilst they were still in their infancy, or were you late to the party – minesweeping the scraps left by your more forward-thinking peers? Did you spot that great new social platform and get your business up and running on it, or were you fooled into thinking that Ello really was going to be the next big thing?

Whether you got it right or wrong in 2015, let’s look back at some of the biggest developments in digital marketing, and why we expect them to expand even further into 2016.

Video Ads

Video advertising became an even more dominant force online over 2015. Rarely could you open a news article or other piece of online content without at least one or two video ads playing along in the sidebar. Facebook and Bing both offer businesses the option to use video adverts, and sites such as YouTube use video advertising as its main option for creators to earn money whilst keeping their content free to view for the end user.

This trend is set to become even more prevalent in 2016. Google is due to fully embrace video advertising by allowing marketers to promote their wares right in the search result pages.

Video advertising isn’t going anywhere so if you’re late to the party, then now’s the time to get properly on board and work it into your 2016 content strategy.

Mobile Browsing

Mid-year statistics showed that mobile browsing had finally overtaken fixed point browsing by 9%. In return, spending on mobile-based advertising increased to a whopping 49% as marketers reacted to this shifting trend in media consumption.

These stats only go to emphasise how important responsive design for mobile browsing is. With lots of users following links to websites from apps on their phones (more on this in the next item), any sites that did manage to survive April’s Mobigeddon algorithm update without installing responsiveness improvements will nonetheless still suffer hiked-up bounce rates from mobile users. Put simply, we’re all fed-up with sites that don’t look or function well on our mobiles. We expect websites to be responsive on each and every device we access them from, and won’t put up with anything less. For marketing managers then, it’s vital that you understand the importance of mobile UX if you’re to stay ahead of the game in the coming year.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps have become even more popular in the last year than ever before. As discussed in the previous point, a mobile-optimised site should be a priority for all business-focused web designers. However, increasingly marketing managers are cottoning on to the advantages that a dedicated app can bring them.

Apps can offer the same basic functionality that a mobile-optimised website does, but in a more convenient and intuitive manner. This is not to mention the ways in which you can use notifications to deliver up-to-date offers, promotions and other content right into a customer’s pocket.

The ‘mobile website vs. web app vs. native app’ debate still rages, of course, and it’s still a little premature to predict an outright dominator of the future. But, for 2016 at least, expect to see a continued increase in the amount of business apps – both native and web – emerging in app stores around the net.

Big Data

Long gone are the days when marketers could only rely on their experience, skill and intuition to show them the way forward. In recent years we’ve increasingly seen the prevalence of a new and more reliable method of assessment increase – Big Data.

The web – and all customer and marketing activity - is jam-packed with reams and reams of data that savvy marketers can use to scientifically and objectively deduce what is working well and what is not. As well as using data to monitor their own internal efforts, they can also use it to analyse trends and patterns across all businesses around the world.

Whilst your gut instincts and experience are still valuable tools, there is little doubt that summoning the power of data is the future. In fact, it’s already the case that marketing managers who work with data perform better across the board when it comes to improvements in business and in customer service.

So, will 2016 be the year you add a Data Scientist to your staff roster?

Global Thinking

The internet has brought a ton of opportunities to businesses both big and small. SMEs now have much more to worry about than just their local competitors – in the digital age, everyone is local.

The giants that are eBay, Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook – you name it – are genuine competitors to even the smallest outfit as we head into 2016. But it must always be remembered that SMEs cannot beat these Goliaths, and so they must join them. Omni-channel sales distribution is the way that you will access the widest pool of consumers. Your online store may not be found on its own, as consumers will continue to look to Amazon and eBay first and foremost for their online spending activities – so make sure that they find your products on their most trusted commerce sites.

Indeed, with the whole world just a few thumb strokes away, small thinking took a backseat in 2015 and will become almost obsolete in 2016. You need to be thinking about how you can market your wares across all channels not just domestically, but to consumers in Tokyo, Singapore, London and New York.

Because, you know what? Foreign businesses are after a share of the market on your doorstep as well. In 2016, the online high-street is as geographically disparate as Rio and Tokyo, but as digitally proximate as two peas in a pod – or rather two listings on Google.

There you have five of the biggest marketing concepts than really took off in 2015 and look set to increase exponentially into the New Year.

Do you have any to add?

And please feel free to let us know which arenas of digital marketing you will be taking your business in 2016.

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