The nature of B2C marketing is changing, with new technological developments shifting power away from businesses and towards their target audience.
With social media and other forms of digital communication, consumers have increased influence over the marketing messages they receive from businesses. These messages are no longer one-way, and can often start a conversation or be further spread as people share content online.
Hotwire PR recently announced the communications trends that will define 2016, many of which will have a notable influence on the way organisations communicate with their audiences. In some cases, businesses will be forced to redefine their target audience to maximise value to the consumer.
Websites are no longer content hubs
Previously, the digital success of an organisation was measured by having a website, with those who embraced the early potential of the web demonstrating a notable degree of forward-thinking.
Businesses that just have a website risk lagging behind their counterparts.
Naturally, as is the case with the world of technology, this has rapidly altered, and now businesses that just have a website risk lagging behind their counterparts. The enterprise social media revolution started with platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and has now spread as far as Snapchat, reflecting the fractured nature of consumer social media use.
This trend led Hotwire PR to declare that company websites will no longer be an end-point for the customer journey, and will instead become a channel to direct people to further content or online stores.
Businesses can also use email marketing in a similar manner, allowing these messages to act as a hub for further communications on other platforms.
Target audiences are divided by more than just age
Businesses are already aware of the value in dividing their target audience by demographics that cover traits such as age and gender. However, Hotwire PR believes this criteria is now too broad to effectively engage with consumers, leading the firm to proclaim "the death of the millennial".
Instead, 2016 will usher in a focus on "sophisticated content" that targets audiences based on shared values and interests instead of simply grouping people based on the year they were born.
According to research firm Kantar, social media is likely to be the key to this trend for businesses, as it gives them greater control over the messages they distribute to consumers. Global Director of Connected Life Joseph Webb believes businesses should keep this development in mind heading into 2016.
"As people's online habits become ever more fragmented, brands need to tap into the growing popularity of instant messaging (IM) and other emerging platforms," he began. "The need for a content-driven approach across IM, social and traditional channels has never been clearer."
"Yet at the same time brands need to be very careful. Instant messaging is a more closed medium, meaning it is essential to share limited content that is genuinely relevant and valuable."
Advertising expands as consumers react
Hotwire PR's declaration that consumers are actively blocking advertising on their devices illustrates an important trend for marketers to consider in 2016. In many cases this is a continuation of the "death of the millennial", and can be seen as a reaction to content that invades rather than engages.
The organisation draws on the fact that iOS9 allows users to block intrusive advertisements on their phone, a function that can negatively impact a business's marketing strategy. With audiences reacting to general advertisements in this way, it paves the way for organisations to focus on tailored content and offer consumers content they actually want to see.
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