With so many articles, guides, and research findings from companies about upcoming trends and best practices, it can be challenging for marketing leaders to sift through it all and determine what exactly their teams should really focus on. But as the CEO of a content marketing agency, I know that some of the best advice I've received about changing practices has come from other leaders who are experiencing exactly what my team and I are experiencing.
That's why I reached out to a few key influencers in marketing to learn more about what they're preparing for in the new year. We asked these leaders, "What is one marketing tactic your company is trying (or that you recommend others test) in order to grow in 2016?"
Here's what they had to say:
1. Marketing A.I.
"In 2015, we saw the rise of artificial intelligence for marketing, which is a snazzy way of saying data-driven creative automation for content marketing. In a world where our cars are beginning to drive us, it's time we let data and software direct our creative teams and make them more efficient and effective. The results are spectacular (and the easiest way to buy a leg up on the competition)." -- Brennan White, CEO at Cortex
2. Behavior-driven messaging.
"Customers don't just respond better to extremely personalized communications--they expect it. In 2016, marketers need to do two things: Segment audiences into the smallest possible groups to deliver seemingly one-on-one messages, and automate systems to deliver rapid-response, behavior-driven messaging." -- Diana Smith, director of marketing at Segment
3. Budget for empowered buyers.
"It's my opinion that inbound marketing is part of the cost of doing business today. With the way in which companies are buying services--moving three-fourths of the way through the buy cycle on their own--companies need to get their messages out both overtly (web, whitepapers, etc.), but also covertly (media, both paid and earned)." -- Reuben Katz, business development director at NVISION
4. Website personalization.
"Marketers are allocating budgets to targeted paid media campaigns and driving them to generic websites, which results in wasted funds. Smarter website tools are making it easier than ever to leverage behavioral and contextual data, helping put the right call to action in front of the right user at the right time." -- Justin Thorp, senior marketer at AddThis
5. Audience connection over disruption.
"In 2016, ad blocking will continue to gain steam while becoming more effective, so brands will need to get serious about driving positive associations through digital video, native programmatic, and retargeting. The days of disruptive pre-roll and digital pop-ups are coming to an end (and that's wonderful!). We're looking to connect with audiences across formats in ways that captivate, motivate, and inspire action." -- Tyler Kelley, CEO of Slam! Agency
6. Highly targeted market segmentation.
"Finely tuned audience segmentation will be a key tactic for paid advertising in 2016. When paired with automated ad optimization, these specific target audiences help marketers find the best possible outcomes for every digital campaign. More precise targets will make your content more relevant and convert more often than broader categories." -- Lior Tamir, co-founder and CEO of Accomplice
7. Dynamic creative.
"Digital ads are suffering from poor user experiences, which can directly impact a brand's image. This problem mainly stems from outdated ad formats that don't work in today's apps and websites. We're using dynamic creative technology to create personalized 1 to 1 ads at scale based on audience data and various contextual signals such as location, weather, or time. Otherwise, you run the risk of irrelevant ads affecting your brand perception." -- Lynda Liu, director of marketing at Celtra
8. Marketing automation.
"Stop thinking of marketing automation as just a tool for triggered emails--it's an ongoing process that requires constant attention, testing, and refinement. At SilverTech, we recommend strategic planning to configure and set up workflows, to integrate data to feed into or with other systems (such as your CRM or CMS), and to develop content that nurtures leads and directs them to online or offline conversion points." -- Erin Presseau, director of strategy at SilverTech
9. Stronger brand voice.
"I think the best marketing tactic is having a cohesive strategy. It is not about a social media strategy, install ads, or a street team--these are all just channels. A brand needs to think about its voice and optimize it using the data it generates from using the various methods through which it communicates. It will ultimately require an on-and-off digital strategy to build awareness. I think in 2016, we will see a lot more people learn that it is all about building a well-rounded, cohesive voice and vision to share their messages." -- Lucky Lance Gobindram, co-founder and president of OAB Studios
10. Social selling.
"We're seeing more hyper-targeted campaigns, especially in the B2B space, so ensuring your sales team is well equipped for social selling will be vital. Research audience pain points, create exceptional content, and actively target them via influencer outreach, personalization, retargeting, etc. That way, you can experiment with various channels and determine what resonates best with your audience."--Travis Wright, chief marketing technologist at CCP Global
When it comes to planning for another year of quality marketing and business development, trends, articles, and predictions are great to stay up-to-date on what's new and changing in your industry. But looking to and learning from other experienced company leaders can show you what these trends look like in practice. Keep these tactics in mind as you prepare for 2016, and if your team is taking a different approach for the new year, I'd love to learn about the tactics you recommend in the comments.