10 Digital Marketing Essentials to focus on in 2016

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Marketers who use the power of digital marketing need to be aware of some of the essential activities that are re-shaping the way brands are managing their marketing efforts. Needless to say, integrating digital channel and engagement strategies into the holistic marketing strategy is core, and a channel neutral approach starting with a focus on the audience is key Here are some of the focus areas in marketing today that will help you develop a better marketing strategy in our connected world.

1. Content Marketing

Content Marketing has been, and is today, the absolute favorite – and must-have for the industry. With audience attention decreasing every day, direct advertising messages – which speaks to rather than with the audience – is losing most of its steam. When you focus on the user – and the value he or she seeks today, you realize content is perhaps the most feasible and endearing way to engage. If your brand does not have content marketing as part of your marketing strategy, start now. Here's how to get content marketing right .

2. Social media marketing

This is today a must have, an absolute essential, and I am surprised when I meet clients today, who actually have a "No-Social-Media" policy. Social media marketing is a huge area, and often, content marketing sits within this focus area. With social medioa marketing, again, the focus shifts to conversations and dialog rather than monolog advertising. Social media marketing is Always On and is about engagement rather than selling. Here's how you can improve your social media engagement.

3. Mobile Marketing

Today, your best marketing efforts (and the best results you may get) should be from mobile. If around 80 percent of social media time is now on mobile, and the numbers of video consumption on mobile is up 100 percent (50%+ of YouTube views are on mobile according to Google ), it's time your brand got mobile marketing right. Here's a post that discusses 5 simple ways to get Mobile Marketing done right .

4. Big Data and Insight

Big data is still big, but today it's not about the volume of data, it's more about how that data is used, and how it's converted to marketing insight rather than just information. Here's how to understand what data is all about

HSBC global head of marketing for commercial banking and global banking and markets, Amanda Rendle in an interview says “We need customer insight roles where their job is insight but it’s also about looking at what do those insights really mean? You have so much insight now but can you tell me what we need to do? How do you take all that and turn it into something really useful for our customer? That’s what we absolutely should be doing."  Customer Insights is your First Step in Digital Marketing.
Start there.

5. Marketing Automation

Advanced marketers across big brands today are investing heavily into marketing automation. Face it, technology and consumer adoptions of it across various technology platforms, devices, and trends is what's driving digital marketing. Digital transformation programs at marketing departments today are adapting constantly to changes and 'updates and upgrades', and marketing automation is a key focus area. It's complex and simple at the same time. Essentially, marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and brands to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. You're not doing that ?

6. Search – SEO and SEM

Using "Search" as part of Digital Marketing efforts is now a given. Every single person in your marketing team, or your agency – regardless of whether they are in media, in advertising, in social media needs to understand the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) – and it has really evolved over the years to where it stands today in 2016. With a lot of brands focusing heavily on Paid Search (SEM/PPC), they forget the massive importance of organic Search or SEO.  Here's how to understand the basics of Search and how to get it right. Put down Search on your essential marketing strategy list today. 

7. CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)

This is kind of a new development on the marketing front, but it is a very important one. In digital marketing, conversion optimization, or conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers, or more generally, take any desired action on a webpage.

At its most fundamental, CRO means figuring out what users are looking for when they arrive at your site and then giving that to them. CRO takes many different forms, based on the KPI you’re trying to improve. Sometimes this involves making your call-to-action more apparent or placing it on a traffic-heavy (but under-optimized) page. At other times this means removing or relocating unnecessarily complicated or time-consuming steps from your conversion funnel, as the added friction can prevent a conversion from ever happening.

8. Programmatic in Display Advertising and in Creative

Programmatic Media (basically, automated, display media buying) and now Programmatic Creative is another area you need to focus on. Usually, this is something you would, as a brand, get your media agency to work on, and media agencies are now combining the power of their forays into data and insights and providing creative solutions as well. Programmatic is really part of Marketing Automation mentioned earlier. The advertising industry is on a march toward automation. Plenty of advertisers today are buying digital ads using automated buying methodologies (via dashboards) and print and TV ads might not be far behind. Automated, or programmatic, buying is growing not only because it makes ad transactions more efficient but because it can make them more effective, as long as the right data is applied.  Here's Programmatic Media explained.

Programmatic Creative allows you to infuse creatives with real-world data from all kinds of first- and third-party data sources. By doing this, you ensure each impression is not only targeted to the right person, but also presents that person with the most relevant message.

9. Wearables and IOT

Sometimes people speak of Wearables and IOT in the same breath, but they're not the same.  But, as a marketing strategy for our hyper connected world, you as a brand needs to address both of these. Wearables, simply, are items you can wear that happen to have computing power. Their potential impact on our behavior and expectations  — and our marketing strategies — is far more complex. As a feature in WIRED magazine recently explained, the newest wearable devices aim to reduce “the time between intention and action,” going so far as the day when “the device knows what users want before they want it.”

IOT is the Internet of Things. Instead of computers talking to humans and vice versa, this kind of marketing involves M2M or Machine to Machine conversations. These smart, connected devices are ringing in a new, exciting era for marketing. IoT provides endless opportunities for marketers and advertisers to listen and respond to the needs of their audience based on behaviors. Forget the days of trying to figure out what people want; IoT presents opportunities for real-time engagement and customer service. Examples of this are quantified self products and applications such as the fitness sensor devices made by Fitbit or Nike's Fuel Band.

I created this visual to explain how IOT and Wearables can come together – where your fridge alerts your watch that you are out of milk. Great. But where marketing comes in is when the local supermarket actually offers you a coupon for buying a fresh jug of milk. That's wow. And that's something you need to think about.

10. Online PR

PR – Public Relations – yes, still around. Online PR? Big. Online PR is very similar to traditional PR in the sense that it’s about influencing people rather than advertising. With online PR, traditional media may still be a target, but online PR targets online publications, along with a spectrum of other platforms and networks, from search to social. The methodology of online PR has adapted to the platform that it is focused on – and it involves real-time analytics, news, influence, social, search and other signals. Online PR is one of the most cost-effective marketing approaches for all types of business. Online PR isn't really easy –  it is often managed by different people and there's the overlap with SEO and social media marketing. But having Online PR as part of your marketing strategy in today's world is a must.

There are other areas that complete the whole picture of digital marketing. And, as I said, you should never, ever, contain the above essentials into a 'digital silo'. Only when they are properly integrated into your 360° marketing effort will they work. (Here's how specialization and integration work in advertising and marketing) That's essential. That's basic. That's Marketing Strategies 101.


This is one of the best posts on this blog. While it is pretty much up to date and useful in the 2016 context as mentioned, please do not consider the list to be complete. There are quite a number of other things that make up a comprehensive marketing strategy list. Influencer marketing is missing for example. So is the importance of in-retail digital which is becoming quite useful to engage with people at the moment of shopping. But overall, its a good starting place.


Again, another useful blog post. Thank you for sharing this with us all. We see that some things are new, for marketing in 2016, for example, Weareable and IOT, and also CRO (which is quite interesting).


Marketing Automation, Programmatic Buying are both very dangerous unless done right. I don't think that most marketing departments can do this. This requires specialized skill sets from people who understand how to do this, and of course advanced software.


Really appreciate your blog and the posts. One comment: can't you make your posts shorter and so they are quicker to read. You must know that a lot of posts today actually tell you right on top how much time you need to read the post on average. All your posts are interesting and deep, but take too much time to read and absorb.


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