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4 marketing predictions that small businesses should look out for in 2016

In today’s digital world, competition is tougher than ever before, and marketers need to work hard to ensure they stay ahead. Although the growth of social media has brought brands closer to their customers, many businesses - particularly smaller ones - still find it difficult to promote their products and services, and that’s largely because the marketing industry is always developing so quickly.

So with the end of the year and the dawn of a brand new one drawing ever closer, Love Energy Savings has put together four key marketing trends that small businesses should look out for in 2016.


1) Content will stay on top

Content is an asset of marketing that is already incredibly valuable to both brands and their websites for a whole number of reasons, and this is something that is likely to continue in the future. But content won’t just be limited to written text. Visual content like photos and videos will only grow in importance as increased competition leads brands to become more and more creative in order to attract customers. In today’s modern world where everything is expected to be instantaneous, brands that are able to create and upload good quality content at speed will have a distinct advantage.

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User-generated content is a trend that has been gaining traction for a number of years, but 2016 is likely to be the year that it really comes into its own as a marketing tool. Everything from online reviews and social media posts and tweets to blogs and Instagram photos can be considered to be user-generated content, and all of them can be utilised to influence a customer’s opinion on your brand. This kind of content is the perfect way to bridge the gap between your company and customers, and it will help massively when it comes to creating a positive impression of who you are.

2) A strong customer-brand relationship

In a nutshell, people no longer buy from companies. They buy from people. Nowadays, customers are searching for a genuine relationship with companies and a good level of engagement, someone who offers them real value. Businesses that look after their customers and appreciate them, rather than just thinking of them as numbers on a spreadsheet, will find that they return again and again.

Rather than constantly focusing on bringing new customers to the brand, which in itself is very important, these genuine companies also focus on retaining current customers, often through a loyalty scheme. But the problem with many loyalty schemes is that often companies will rush them out without giving it much thought. Because of this, Love Energy Savings decided to find out what ordinary customers want from a loyalty scheme, just by asking them! They conducted research and found that 52% of B2C customers preferred a Points Scheme, where their rewards were given based on points accumulated, whereas B2B customers preferred a Spending Programme where awards would be given depending on the amount spent. This research will hopefully open the eyes of businesses everywhere, showing them that their retention plans should be tailored to suit individuals, if they are to succeed next year.

3) Fewer ads, more creativity

How many advertisements do you see in the average day? We bet that you can’t even count but the number is likely to be in the hundreds, and that’s just when browsing the internet. You may remember that Apple made headlines recently with an application in their store that could block internet adverts, which shows just how ineffective advertising is becoming. Rather than panicking about how you are going to attract customers in the future, brands should embrace the changing dynamic and use it as motivation to become more creative in their marketing.

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As advertising becomes less of an important player, marketing teams up and down the country and in all sectors will have little choice but to come up with creative and engaging campaigns that people actually want to engage with. Rather than pushing money into advertising that often ends up wasted, that money, along with the time and effort, can be better spent creating interesting stories that will attract people to your brand.

4) The technology takeover

It’s no secret that technology has become a crucial part of how companies market their products to the world. Everything from social media to smartphones, and even technological marvels like virtual reality, has influenced engagement between customers and brands. But as more technology makes its way into the mainstream, it gives brands more opportunity to personalise their offerings to each individual customer. This in itself would have an extraordinary impact on the relationship between brand and customer.

A great example of this is the Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset from Facebook. A consumer release is currently pegged for Q1 of 2016, but this brand new form of technology will allow companies to completely personalise their marketing; creating 360-degree stories and bringing them to life. All sectors could benefit from this kind of technology, including the motor industry which could put people behind the wheels of cars without stepping inside, and the fashion industry where people can try on outfits without needing the physical clothes. Of course, it isn’t likely at all that we will see virtual reality headsets in high street stores in January 2016, but this sort of technological revolution could really transform the world of marketing fairly swiftly.

A second example is the effect that social media has had on our market. And it’s not Facebook and Twitter, but other platforms like Snapchat and Periscope. What social media does is help to nurture the unique relationship between company and customer, allowing messages to be sent and accessed in ‘real-time’, creating a really strong feeling of exclusivity. This helps customers and those reading the content to feel both unique and connected to the brand at the same time.

As we mentioned earlier, the world of marketing is one that is constantly shifting as new technology and trends emerge. So while these four predictions barely scratch the surface, it definitely gives you something to think about for the future. There’s so much just around the corner and, rather than clinging to old practices that may have worked in the past, brands across the world should embrace these new trends and use them to further their offering to customers, as they are sure to lead to exciting things in the future.

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