increase revenueBy now, you all have settled in to the new year. Have you settled in to the new marketing trends?  2016 will be the year of the customer.  Customer-centric marketing, customer experience, customer journeys, customer insights and other ways of analyzing, attracting, delighting and obsessing over customers are all a-buzz. The following top marketing trends for 2016 can help you be more customer-focused and stay ahead of the competition, if your marketing strategy includes them in the proper proportions.

In 2016, make sure you’re taking advantage of the free and low-cost apps available for email marketing, social media marketing, promotions, advertising, contact management, customer experience, analytics and other marketing tasks you need to get done.

1. Insight-driven marketing.
Marketers like to talk about data-driven marketing, but data isn’t very useful unless there is technology and analysis in place to help make sense of it. 2016 will be a year of ignoring big mounds of irrelevant data and focusing instead on simple insights about customers that help marketers to be more relevant to individuals and audiences. In other words, get down to the nitty gritty and concentrate on WHO your customer is and HOW you will compell them to buy your product or service.

Make sure your marketing team uses the research and a few simple insights about the people your company does business with to tie together your marketing campaigns.

2. Interactive content.
Blog posts, white papers, infographics, videos and reports can be great content for people AND search engines. The importance is huge. Of course, it’s best if the content is engaging. Your 2016 content plan should include things that keep people clicking, pressing, swiping and sharing information with you that you can use to either gain visitors to your social media accounts and your website, enhance your brand, and hopefully and ultimately increase your revenue.

marketingstrategy3. Just enough personalization.
Personalized marketing messages such as emails and custom landing pages have stood the test of time and will continue to be great ways to drive action and purchase behavior in 2016. However, the rules of personalization are changing for each type of inbox and device, and marketers need to adapt their messages and the level of personalization in 2016 based on what consumers expect.

It makes sense that customers want to be treated “special”, but some online and mobile advertising is too personal and can be construed as creepy.  Businesses should show that they understand the needs of their consumers through social media and other online connections.  Brands will utilize the social media to make their potential customers feel more comfortable and friendly with them.

4. Advocate marketing.
If you give your customers an awesome experience with your business, you’ll get referrals. If you take advantage of advocate marketing in 2016, you can give a big boost to your referrals. Marketing to and through advocates will prove to be a more effective way to promote referrals than other forms of incentives and affiliate programs. That’s because identifying influencers and advocates is much easier than ever before.

Ask influencers you’ve built relationships with through positive experiences with your company to give you a review on Google, Facebook or Yelp.  Make sure you give your current customers/clients your contact information so they have it readily available when another person says “hey… where do you get your…?

5. Social care.
Social-media marketing can involve a lot of sharing and posting, but these one-to-many interactions often result in individual people commenting, sharing, rating and replying. Make sure your social-media marketing messages are accompanied by the ability to have short in-the-moment conversations with the people you reach with your social marketing. That means using social-media monitoring tools to respond to social engagements and opening up further dialogue with customers who demonstrate a need to be serviced or sold.

6. Data Management Platforms
Technologies such as data management platforms (DMPs), tag management, cloud connectors, user management and application program interface (API) services. These un-heard of things are system connectors and will help you maintain the flexibility to use a variety of marketing technologies in 2016 while maintaining consistency in campaign management and reporting.

7. Account-based marketing (ABM).
The marketing funnel will change in 2016 for business-to-business marketers for two reasons. First, multiple decision-makers, influencers and stakeholders inside companies make it more difficult for marketing messages to influence a single decision-maker. Second, reaching multiple decision-makers with marketing content is more important than ever, because most business decisions are started online and are quite advanced before a salesperson has a chance to talk to anyone involved in a decision at a company.

Account-based marketing or ABM has been around for a while but will gain significant momentum in 2016. This marketing method involves inviting and measuring engagement and mind share at different roles and levels of authority within an organization, as opposed to attracting leads who turn into customers on a linear progressive path.