Marketing is a constantly evolving part of every business, and the marketing function is continually adjusting and reacting to changes in technology that will help businesses better communicate with prospects and customers. While digital marketing has gone through a substantial transformation in the last few years, the technology that sparked these changes is growing at an even faster pace.
So what does this change in marketing mean for businesses that are already strategizing for 2016? To help you take your marketing strategy to the next level, you need to look beyond the usual channels to stay ahead of the curve and ahead of the competition. To help you in your quest for marketing success in 2016, here are three strategies that are going to be more important than ever to consider for next year.
1. Relationship Marketing
What is relationship marketing and how it is helpful? The goal of relationship marketing is to focus on building stronger loyalty and long-term customer engagement rather than short-term customer acquisition. This helps companies develop strong, emotional connections that drive word-of-mouth advertising. After all, we all know that word-of-mouth is going to always be your highest lead generating and, most importantly, your highest converting lead source.
To do this, you need to leverage your own customer and prospect data. In 2016 and beyond, personalized, data-driven marketing will become increasingly important. Intrusive, mass-marketing approaches will continue to become a thing of the past.
One example of how you can adapt your marketing efforts to coincide with your data is to communicate with customers and prospects on the device that you know is most comfortable for them. As smartphone adoption continues to rise with an estimated 2 billion consumers worldwide expected to own a smartphone by 2016, there is an immense opportunity for brands to connect with their prospects and customers on the devices that people are using more frequently than ever before.
Another example is to make your website dynamic. Did you know that you can actually adapt your website content, images, calls-to-action and more based on the data you have on the individual user in your database? Your website is no longer just a static place on the Internet where people can find your information. Your website can actually reconvert your visitors for you because it will be smart enough to know how each person has interacted on your website before. This is the next phase of your website, and something that consumers are coming to expect.
2. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is not something new, but is surely something that is under-utilized. Did you know that only 37 percent of B2B marketers are using marketing automation? As marketers today are spending at least 50 percent of their time on content, content and more content, companies are quickly realizing that they need to find strategic ways to automate marketing, sales, operations and more. If used the right way, marketing automation can truly act as an extension of your sales team.
One example that we’ve seen is the experience of one of our B2B clients, which had a 5.5-month sales process from the time when a lead expressed interest to the time they become a customer. Through marketing automation, and delivering the right content to the right person when they are seeking that information, our client was able to decrease the sales and conversion timeline by more than three months!
Using a marketing automation that integrates with your sales platform/CRM and other digital tools makes it easier to schedule emails, segment contacts, automate social media, manage your content and track the lifecycle of customers in your marketing and sales funnel.
With even more focus on marketing to deliver results, marketing departments around the globe should be really evaluating their team’s skills, noting the gaps and defining a robust automation strategy to help sales through engaging prospects, qualifying leads and shortening the overall sales cycle.
3. Location-Based Marketing
What better way to engage a prospect than targeting users at their point of engagement? Location-based marketing technology, such as iBeacons, help make this entirely possible. If you have a retail location, or if you frequently host or attend events, this is something you need to consider!
Let’s explore the technology. iBeacons are small transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy to detect devices that are nearby. These iBeacons can be housed in a retail location, a point-of-sale display and more. In addition, iBeacons can also help event attendees make the most of conferences through sign-up and engagement in sessions and at trade show booths!
Now to tie in the marketing automation piece mentioned earlier, iBeacons also have a LinkedIn integration that can actually give you the opportunity to request a connection and send a message, reducing the need for unnecessary emails. (I’m sure we all agree we could probably use fewer emails in our inbox!)
It is all about location with this targeted marketing approach. Take advantage of location-based information you have on users to help you connect with them at exactly the right time. This may feel slightly intrusive at first, but a more targeted approach is welcomed by individuals to help filter through the clutter of unwanted, mass-marketing messages.
These are just a few of the many new marketing technologies and trends we will be seeing in 2016. As marketing continues to change and adapt to the new technologies available and the amount of data you have on your prospects and customers, it’s critical to stay updated on the latest marketing strategies so you can continue to stay ahead of your competition.
Elyse Meyer is the founder of Prism Global Marketing Solutions (www.prismglobalmarketing.com), a full-service inbound marketing agency and HubSpot Gold Partner based in Phoenix.