As everyone trickles back to their offices and counters after the summer break, now is the perfect time to set some intentions and direction for the year ahead (before things start getting too hectic again.)
We are taking some time offsite with the HL team to consider our direction and offerings for this year and we’re always interested to know where our clients are planning to head this year as well.
For a start we’ll be doing a review of what happened in 2015 – at a company level, client level and industry level, then addressing what’s ahead in each of those areas for 2016.
At an industry level we have some idea of the technology trends that are likely to have an impact this year – but of course the goalposts continue to move, so there will no doubt be some surprises!
What to look out for in 2016
- Augmented Reality and 360 degree video
This tech has been evolving ever more rapidly, but the biggest impact has been through the purchase of Oculus Rift by Facebook. This year will see the release of 360 degree videos on Facebook (already rolling out to some users) and the development of ever more interesting ways for advertisers to promote their products and services through the Facebook platform.
- Integration of Periscope into Twitter to provide live streaming inside the Twitter timeline
Again, moving pictures are what it is all about online, and citizen journalists will be to the fore with this combination of Periscope and Twitter. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
- Long form Twitter posts
Twitter is talking about extending the current 140 character limit for posts to 10,000 characters through the use of a Read More at the end of longer tweets. This idea is heaven for some users who are frustrated by the limitations of arbitrarily short post lengths, and hell for those who appreciate the ability on Twitter to be concise and for timelines to move rapidly.
Other implications are that longer posts will keep people inside of Twitter instead of being sent out to linked content, and that it will replace the recent habit of people to write longer form content as a note then attach a screenshot to their post (which means that content is effectively unsearchable after it is posted and can’t be viewed by visually impaired users).
- Introduction of a new developer API for WordPress
- Marketing Automation – and Increasing Personalisation
All that gathering of your digital data and tracking your behaviours and preferences you might (or might not) be noticing going on is for a reason – to deliver you timely, relevant offers/products/services and promotions at the time and place that is most likely to generate a positive response from you as a customer. That might mean iBeacons on supermarket shelves pushing special pricing to your phone as you arrive in that aisle, or letting you know when you are close to your favourite food or drink stalls at an event. It might also arrive in the form of highly personalised email marketing, that provides offers and vouchers you can store on your phone that activate when you are near those bricks and mortar locations. These technologies have been around for a while, but in 2016 look for them to start becoming more obvious in your inbox, social channels and ultimately on your smartphones.
- Omnichannel Marketing
Expect a higher level of cross channel marketing from your favourite retail and hospitality businesses, as they integrate some of the personalisation and automation mentioned above. Marketers are talking about the importance of having “one view” of a customer that reaches across their website engagement, email marketing, in-store purchases and event interactions at things like trade shows and market. POS platforms like Vend are taking the lead in integrating their offerings into a true omnichannel approach, making this level of technology accessible even to small retailers.
- Priority on Customer Reviews
During 2015, two of the world’s largest review driven sites – Amazon.com and Yelp.com both took extraordinary measures to try and ensure the integrity of their onsite reviews, taking measures to remove reviews they considered to be fake or gaming the system. In some cases this was quite a blunt instrument that may have removed or devalued perfectly genuine reviews, but both companies have placed high priority on the credibility of the reviews on their sites. TripAdvisor has also been working on this for some time, and what we are now starting to see in search results is Google pulling a set of “summary” reviews from around the web, delivered by a company called Trust You.
Ensuring that your site and business is actively seeking reviews from customers is one way to help improve your search results, and Trust You is one of the tools you can use for this purpose. Other tools like Ask Nicely can also be used to get immediate feedback from customers that can be shared easily to your social networks and website.