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2016 Marketing Un-Predictions: Your Action List for the Year Ahead

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by: Ellen Valentine (@EllenValentine)
14 January 2016

2016 Marketing Action ListThe end of the year is an exciting time for those of us who closely follow what’s happening in marketing. When we’re not shopping or wrapping gifts, we can reflect on the year that was and what we feel is going to define the coming year.

At IBM Commerce, a group of us gather every year to develop a list of emerging marketing trends, debate and discuss them, and reach a consensus on the short list, which we then feature in an ebook that outlines our findings. (Check it out: “10 Key Marketing Trends for 2016 and Ideas for Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences.”)

Looking toward the future is critical, but so is looking at your plan for tomorrow and the next day. With that in mind, I decided to pull together a complementary “un-predictions” list that asks marketers to leverage proven digital marketing functionality that marketers can tap into now to help step up their game in 2016. If you’re a mainstream digital marketing organization, consider this your action list for 2016: 

1) Increase the sophistication of your welcome series.

The welcome series sets the tone for sharing who you are as a company and a brand. In short, there’s a magic window during which new registrants are eager to hear who you are and what you have to say, and the welcome series represents your chance to capitalize on that moment. The sweet spot typically consists of three to five messages that ask new subscribers for a little more information about themselves, communicate the company promise, and show contacts how they can get the most out of the relationship.  

2) Think of new, creative incentives to encourage list growth.

The days of rapidly growing your list by just offering a newsletter subscription are long gone. Instead, brainstorm irresistible incentives you can introduce, and then change up your incentive three to four times over the course of 2016.

3) Use abandoned cart series to drive purchases.

Abandoned cart processes and technology have been around for years, and if you don’t have these in place now, you must do so for 2016. Why? Nearly all marketers have seen amazing order recovery when these processes and technologies have been deployed. Already implementing abandoned cart? Consider upgrading to an abandoned cart series and using dynamic content to further encourage a purchase.

4) Employ reactivation campaigns to automatically “wake up” subscribers.

When a subscriber hasn’t opened or clicked on anything in 90 days, your marketing automation platform should initiate a reactivation campaign that puts some radically different subject lines, content and offers together to jog people to engage. What if someone has been through your reactivation campaign and still hasn’t opened or clicked? Remove them from your database.

5) Reimagine your nurture campaigns.

Nurture campaigns are the drumbeat of your digital marketing program, the place where you nudge your subscribers toward a purchase. Unfortunately, they can also be the place where subscribers tune out and drop out of your database. In 2016, resolve to re-evaluate your communication cadence, content offers and subject lines to make sure you’re offering your best stuff.

6) Move beyond “Hi <First Name>” in your personalization.

Aim to reach higher levels of tailoring within each send by leveraging your database coupled with dynamic content capabilities. For example, embed rules within your digital marketing platform that trigger personalized emails based on prior purchases, demographic data or recent website behavior.  

7) Make sure your emails and website are mobile-friendly.

2015 was the year that Google began to penalize search results for those websites that weren’t mobile friendly. One of the drivers behind this was the fact that mobile opens surpassed desktop opens in 2014. What does this mean for you? If your website or emails aren’t mobile-friendly, 2016 is the year you must get it done.

8) Evaluate the role of SMS in your marketing program.

I know what you’re thinking, SMS has existed for years — and there’s a reason for that. SMS communications are still highly effective, with studies continuing to show that 90-plus percent of text messages are read within minutes. Take the time to thoroughly evaluate the role that SMS messaging (and mobile push) can have in your marketing mix.

9) Deliver more data about each website visitor in your Web forms and landing pages.

This is the year that marketers must plug back into the value of capturing information about your website visitors. But don’t stop there. Consider using progressive profiling in your Web forms to learn a bit more about your audience with each successive visit.

10) Use scoring to provide insights into the state of your marketing database.

Scoring has been around for a long time, but it’s often overlooked as a great analysis tool. Scoring is simple to deploy and can unlock the key to what’s really going on with your audience. All marketers should resolve to get this implemented in 2016.

So there you have it — my “un-predictions” digital marketing action list for 2016. Here’s to a great 2016 where we all increase our sophistication and effectiveness!

Related Resources:

1) Marketing Automation Ebook: “Best Practices for Marketing Excellence and Organizational Efficiency

2) Blog: “2016 Trend: Leading Marketers Use Predictive Technology to Distance Their Companies from the Pack

3) White Paper: “10 Key Marketing Trends for 2016 and Ideas for Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences


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