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Advances in digital data collection, the increasing mobilisation of platforms and a new single customer view leads us to believe that 2016 will be the “year of engagement” for brands of all kinds seeking to connect and reconnect with their prospects, supporters and advocates.

With greater emphasis being placed on forming authentic relationships with user groups, we’ve put together six key trends to add to your marketing new year’s resolutions…

1. Create a user engagement strategy

With increasing scrutiny over ROI, many organisations are now focused on tightening up their tactics and techniques at each stage of the customer journey in order to minimising wastage. At ntegrity, we are starting to a see a great deal of interest in building sustainable User Engagement Strategies that can shift brands away from mass, campaign-style marketing expenditure and adopt tactical, “always-on” techniques that sustain dialogues with prospects to incrementally transform them into advocates. In 2016, user-centred strategies will be the overarching theme.

2. Activate a mobile-first mentality

The smartphone is the most ubiquitous personal communication device on the planet, and yet marketers are still a long way off creating digital experiences that make the most of mobility as a paradigm rather than a screen size.  

More and more marketers will demand that responsive websites become adaptive websites, which will give users an experience that is more in line with their on the go usage behaviour. For instance, NFPs that run charity stores may find that their mobile users are primarily using their shops locators so may seek to build their mobile experiences around that directive, whereas the same organisation’s desktop version of the site may have a different user experience in line with generating donations.  

3. Adopt hyper-personalisation

Developing a complete view of each user journey means that more brands will seek a greater opportunity to work with direct-response marketing automation techniques that enable even greater personalisation at each stage of the journey on a mass scale.

Programmatic advertising will be another term that will be bandied about with increasing familiarity, as digital advertising evolves to become even more hyper-targeted to an individual’s experience of the web. If you’ve seen Minority Report, that future where all the ads seem to know who you are is becoming eerily closer to reality, and marketers and consumers alike will grow increasingly comfortable with the idea of tailored advertising to the point where we come to expect it.

4. Advance your content marketing

There’s a classic adage, “if advertising isn’t relevant, it’s annoying”, and the growing demand for ad blocking technology is certainly an indicator that users believe this too. Sure, it’s not so much a new trend, but Content Marketing is one that is growing exponentially for this very reason.

What we will therefore see in 2016 is a continued blurring of the lines between entertainment, editorial and advertising as marketers rally around creating attention through paid influencers, advocates, storytellers, bloggers and news sites.

5. Integrate video & live streaming

With developments in mobile video capture and editing, video has become cheaper, faster and easier to produce than ever before. Marketers will continue to use video as a prime content delivery mechanism for promotions, but it will take on an even more raw and real-time dimension with the adoption of live streaming video applications such as Periscope and Meerkat.

There’s also a lot of buzz around virtual reality (VR) at the moment, but as marketers struggle to contend with using the first-person perspective well, it may be some time before we see this gaining traction as a mass marketing technique. Nevertheless, VR is one to watch no pun intended.

6. Connect with human-centred communication

Did you know the fastest growing language in the developed world is Unicode 8, AKA the emoji? There’s a reason we receive and interpret messages faster when we are able to connect emotionally. This will become increasingly important as your audience demographics shift towards a younger generation.

More and more brands will be looking to relax their language tone and voice to align with how real people mutually converse. Millennials are a generation who have grown up with access-anyone and access-anytime standards; as a result, the language is more succinct, direct, but also multi-layered with relatable, human context. In 2016, we hope to see a lot more brands engage with their followers and fans in a way that breaks the barriers of formality and borders on friendship.

Want an ally to take your digital marketing to the next level in 2016? Get in touch!

Originally published on ProBono News Australia.