6 Marketing Trends You Can't Afford to Miss Out On

What are you doing about virtual reality? Facebook's expanded search functionality? Real-time content?

learn more about Sujan Patel

By Sujan Patel


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Marketing is always about what the consumer needs and wants to hear. If it's not immediately relevant or interesting, then it's just annoying. That's why there's such widespread use of ad-blocker browser extensions.

Related: Top 10 Customer-Centric Marketing Trends for 2016

According to PageFair, ad blockers were estimated to cost publishers nearly $22 billion in lost revenue in 2015. And that dollar figure will continue to climb: Ad blocking has increased by 41 percent in the last year, with more than 198 million active ad-block users in the world.

In order to stay visible, you need to adapt to growing technology trends and the way consumers prefer to digest relevant information. Look over these eye-opening trends that you can leverage in the coming months.

1. Virtual reality

Virtual Reality has come a long way since the concepts and products released in the '90s. Technology like the Oculus Rift, which was bought out by Facebook to the tune of $2 billion, is going to have a big impact on the way companies engage individual consumers.

Think about the current demand for personalization among consumers and how that can be implemented with a 3D virtual experience. You could quite literally provide your customers with a 360-degree immersive story through visual content.

Virtual tours, one-on-one engagement and interactive and immersive commercials are just a few ways marketing will likely shift in the near future via the use of virtual reality.

2. The new age of search meets social

Google has dominated the search market, followed closely by Yahoo! and Bing, for years. We're now seeing that Facebook is making continued advancements to step outside of the social bubble and create a more expansive service to rival those search giants. By expanding its search functionality, Facebook is able to tie in other components, which include call-to-action buttons and payment messaging.

Mix that with the existing ability users have to follow groups, join social discussions and engage brands while chatting with friends on Facebook, and you can see why the social site is quickly positioning itself to be an all-in-one platform for the web.

It's not just about social engagement anymore: Sites like Facebook are allowing brands to create real digital experiences.

3. A step away from evergreen

Brands frequently embrace evergreen content, or content that will last for an extended period of time and continue to generate traffic. This year, we're seeing a growing trend in the opposite direction: simple, brief content shared in real time. Platforms like Periscope and Snapchat are pushing a "less is more" concept, where we communicate with the end user for a shorter and briefer span of time.

In a world where your target audience is on the go and strapped for time, these kinds of marketing hors d'oeuvres are exactly what users are looking for.

Both Snapchat and Periscope provide unique peeks into brands that consumers feel connected to, while satisfying their voracious appetites for new content.

Related: 4 Trends That Will Shape Marketing in 2016

4. Marketing automation

Automation isn't new, but it's become more necessary and more relevant, especially with the focus shifting to writing 10 times the amount of content that is 10 times better than what your competitors are putting out. The bulk of your time this year is going to be spent competing hardcore for the waning attention of your audience. You can expect that content creation to take up vast time resources, so you and automation are going to become best buddies.

There's no shortage of choices when it comes to platforms, and those marketing automation platforms will make it easier for you to segment your customers for improved email scheduling while tracking them through your sales funnel and monitoring social performance.

5. Location-based marketing growth

The best way to create an interactive experience with your customers is to deliver content and target the user directly at or near the point of engagement.

That can happen as a customer nears a retail location or other designated physical location such as a tradeshow or special event. Using Bluetooth technology, you can use push notifications to nearby devices, attracting the attention of your target audience.

Applications go beyond retail- or location-based marketing. For instance, SK Telecom and Seoul National University Bundang Hospital are using Bluetooth Smart Beacons to provide round-the-clock patient information and navigation to 6,000 daily patients.

Analysts estimate that beacons, acting as hubs, will be deployed all over airports and transit stations to easily send out notifications on departures, delays and passenger assignments. We are also seeing Bluetooth beacons being deployed in the smart home and at large event venues.

That provides serious insight for marketers into ways they can promote engagement, not only with their brand, but among customers during B2B and B2C events.

While retailers and brands have been experimenting with location-based push marketing for a few years, the support was lacking from major phone manufacturers. The new beacon technology from Bluetooth Smart is now widely supported by manufacturers, and is a reliable and cost-effective solution for location-based marketing adaption this year.

6. Better relationship marketing

Relationship marketing is a strategy more businesses are picking up on in order to foster better customer loyalty, as well as improved long-term engagement.

Over the last few years, many brands used social media to improve that level of engagement. While effective, the messaging was still broad -- to a group or community -- and less personalized than what we're seeing now.

Smartphone adoption continues to grow, with an estimated 2 billion consumers worldwide expected to own smartphones this year. A consumer with a 24/7 connection to the web provides the means to directly connect with that individual. Every smartphone is an opportunity to connect with a prospect.

Through mobile technology and applications, you can build a stronger loyalty program and foster long-term engagement based around an emotional customer connection, not just a connection via a product.

You have more data than ever before to fuel that outreach, and that's what's going to help you make the switch from mass-targeted content and interruptive marketing to solid relationships built on trust.

What new trends are you seeing for 2016? Have you made any changes to your 2016 marketing strategy to improve customer engagement? Share in the comments below:

Related: 4 Things Businesses Need to Know But Often Don't About Facebook Advertising

Sujan Patel

Entrepreneur and Marketer, Co-founder of Web Profits

In his 14-plus years as a marketer and entrepreneur, Sujan Patel has helped hundreds of companies boost online traffic and sales and strengthen their online brand reputation. Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits and Mailshake.

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