Rakuten Marketing reveals digital marketing trends for 2016


The past year has seen the rise of more relevant and targeted outreach to consumers, and marketers are already seeing results from doing so. For example, Facebook’s head of agency relations Ed Couchman revealed that users are twice as likely to click on a video that has an element of personalisation.

This trend will only continue; over the next year marketers will use data in increasingly sophisticated ways to develop tailored content and target customers in the right time and place based on their online behaviour.

In light of this, Rakuten Marketing reveals four trends marketers should be aware of for the coming year.

  1. Marketers will use social messaging apps to engage consumers

WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are both set to reach 1 billion monthly active users in 2016. Yet, social messaging apps are still often viewed purely as a private comms channel. However that could change next year as they become the tool to further social commerce.

Brands are already seeing success across social networks like Instagram, so the rise of social messaging apps as a means for engaging customers with targeted products and offers, and providing support will be the next phase of this trend. For example, YouGov found that 61% of customers aged 18-30 would prefer to communicate with their bank through WhatsApp.

In 2016, brands will increasingly use social messaging apps to build personal and targeted relationships with customers and if executed correctly it could be highly successful. Already, Facebook is testing “M,” a personal assistant in Messenger, as well as providing payment capabilities and customer service feedback via the messaging app and it is likely to expand this service to WhatsApp in 2016.

  1. Mobile will be increasingly integral to the customer journey, and used to target customers on a more personalised level

Although payment technology has been slower to catch on than many expected, next year, 61 per cent of banks expect to increase their payment technology expenditure. In 2016, mobile wallets will become a standard feature on new smartphones and the number of retailers and services (such as the London underground) accepting such forms of payments will increase.

As the link between digital and physical commerce becomes clearer, mobile will become an increasingly integral part of the customer journey to bridge these channels, allowing marketers to understand online to offline shopping more and consequentially leading to marketing budget being attributed more fairly and effectively.

In addition to mobile wallets, another technology driving mobile development will be location targeting. For example, brands like Papa John’s are looking to mobile to inform hyperlocal targeting, ensuring they share tailored marketing messages with customers only in specific regions. This helped them to achieve a ROI of £22:1, suggesting that location has the power to unlock mobile ROI.

Many marketers have struggled to spot links between offline and online shopping, but new tools launching in 2016 will allow advertisers to pay publishers based on how they influence consumers, meaning all of the stages of fractional attribution can be recognised.

  1. The Internet of Things (IoT) will pave new ground in data

Smart devices from TVs to connected home heating systems are providing consumers with more convenience in their lives than ever before. One example is Amazon’s Dash Button, which allows you to order items at a press of a button, enabled by the Internet of Things. With adoption of the IoT expected to rise steadily in the coming years, these devices will become more available in our day to day lives.

Marketers will then be able to tap into this detailed lifestyle data to foster loyalty, by providing a personalised customer experience across all touchpoints. Consumers already expect brands to recognise their shopping activities and personalise their experience through relevant messaging, products and promotions, and the data collected by these devices will enable marketers to build a much fuller picture of customer behaviour. The data will also assist automated and programmatic buying to make future transactions more efficient and effective.

  1. Better customer service and experience will lower the use of ad blocking

Earlier this year, Apple launched iOS 9, the first update from the tech giant to allow ad blocking software. Since this move, ad-blocking apps for iPhone and iPad have become increasingly popular, causing major concerns for digital publishers.

To combat this, publishers will responsible for educating consumers on the value of receiving advertising. For example, City AM made its policy clear by blocking content from customers using adblockers. Advertising has enabled the internet to deliver free content for many years and audiences will need to pay a premium for content delivery without it.

In addition, publishers and advertisers will be forced to raise their game in order to avoid being overlooked by customers with ad-blocking technology and this will provide an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition. Publishers will look to unique content, personalised experiences and brand partnerships that add value in order to do this.

In 2016, it will become even more important for marketers to provide outstanding audience experiences and deliver relevant and targeted messages at all times. With consumers able to interact with and share feedback with marketers on a variety of different devices, as well as having the choice to ignore certain brands with ad blocking technology, the winners in 2016 will be the brands that really know their customers. The smart choice for brands in the New Year will be providing personalised content made for the individual and recognising the way customers search and shop for items, both offline and online.