Greenwich Harbor Partners: Top Five Trends in Marketing in 2016

As executive recruiters, we are privileged to work with a wide range of CEOs and CMOs on recruiting their marketing team.

In 2015, consumer facing companies were scrambling to recruit people who could help them adapt to the rapidly changing availability of new marketing technologies. These technologies allow CMOs to connect 1:1 with customers and to quantify that contact in ways no-one thought possible even a few years ago. As a result, consumer facing companies are investing new leadership who can drive 1:1 connections through the internet, emails, social media, smart phones, beacons and digital signage. According to Greenwich Harbor Partners, here are the top five trends we see for 2016:

Integrating customer engagement has become a top priority. Companies want to polish the customer journey from first inspiration into a retail location, through to a purchase and including aftermarket service. This customer experience should be intuitive and friction free. This means maximizing the speed of the website, minimizing the amount of data a customer needs to provide and offering multiple ways to get service. It is critical that the in-store experience coordinate with the digital experience. It is critical that customer service coordinate with sales. CMOs are concentrating on the entire journey as a marketing opportunity.

CMOs want 1:1 targeting with predictive capabilities. The advent of smart phones has allowed companies like Pizza Hut, Amazon, Gilt and Starbucks to develop engaging apps that customers love and which account for a large percentage of revenues. Some companies like American Express and Starwood Hotels have over 100 customer profiles they can message with unique emails at the push of a button. However, targeting demographics is not enough. CMOs want to be able to predict when these demographics are likely to buy. College graduates moving to their first job are likely cable or satellite TV buyers – can you partner with the moving companies to target them?

Loyalty programs and relationship building proliferate. Companies beyond the obvious travel businesses are building loyalty programs to develop a long term relationships with customers. The trick is not to simply replicate airline or hotel models providing frequency points and discounts to the most loyal customers. Companies must come up with unique offerings that are specific to their market. Pizza Hut allows customers to order online and track precisely how long until delivery. SONIC Drive-in has secret menu Items. Guitar Center gives factory tours. AT&T/DirecTV gives cash for referrals. This requires a strong CRM system and customer insights program to drive profitable offers.

Location targeting is huge. Location based technologies are developing rapidly and companies are increasingly able to identify when a customer is in or near a retail location. Beacons, blue tooth, cellular and other technologies allow companies to drive location information and communicate with customers at precise locations at precise moments that was not possible 3-4 years ago. There are digital signs that can accurately identify the age and gender of viewer and tailor the message. Starbucks knows you are in the store and can ask you if you want your regular order.

Creative content matters. How do you get noticed in a complex and saturated media market where consumers have six second (or less!) attention spans? Who among us will sit still for an ad if it is not immediately engaging? Creative content is the key to attracting consumers through digital channels in the form of news, special offers, amusing videos, blogs, white papers, games, surveys, events or product information. Team One (Saatchi & Saatchi) produced over 1,000 unique ads for the Lexus Facebook campaign to be able to target specific customer profiles. Creative content matters.

Ted Pryor
Thought leadership category