State Of Digital Marketing: 9 Key Trends You Need To Know

If 2015 was the year of video marketing, then 2016 is the year of digital marketing. According to a Gartner survey, 98% of marketers no longer see digital as a distinct approach from other marketing practices. Digital marketing is now the context for all marketing.

For marketers and those who are new to the industry, what does this all mean? To try to help people make sense of the digital marketing landscape, LUMA Partners has identified nine key trends you’ll want to know about digital marketing and the industry itself:

  1. M&A Boom

Global mergers and acquisitions activity was on a record-breaking pace in 2015. Deal volume was up for most digital media and marketing sectors, including social, mobile, native, display and search.

We’re also seeing a growing pool of strategic buyers acquiring companies in the advertising and marketing tech space. These mergers and acquisitions offer buyers differentiated customer and data assets that drive strategic value and competitive edge.

In the tech space, for example, we see Salesforce acquiring RelateIQ and Oracle with Maxymiser, Datalogix and BlueKai. And in the marketing space, information and measurement giant Nielsen Company has recently acquired the big data analytics platform eXelate.

  1. IPO Market Gloom

The IPO market for ad and marketing tech companies was almost non-existent last year, with Shopify being the only one new issue in 2015. 2014, on the other hand, we saw three new issues with HubSpot, TubeMogul and Rubicon Project.

While public markets may be struggling for ad and marketing tech business models, technology-driven business models and marketing SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies have been acquired or traded well. For example, HubSpot almost doubled its IPO price late last year. Acquisition-wise, we saw Oracle buying Eloqua and Responsys, and Salesforce with ExactTarget, for example.

  1. Private Market Growth

Unlike the public market, the private market and financings for ad and marketing tech companies have remained active. Significant funds have been raised last year by companies like Sprinklr, NewsCred, Percolate, AppNexus and Taboola, just to name a few.

  1. Customer Experience Optimization

Increasingly, marketers are looking for more effective ways to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. From marketing cloud giants to startups, the key focus is providing marketers with solutions that will help optimize the customer experience.

This means using “Predictive Analytics” to enable the right message at the right time, and “Identity” to enable the delivery of the message to the right consumers on whichever devices they are on.

  1. Personalized Marketing

The growing demand for customer experience optimization has been the driving force behind personalized marketing advancements in the last five years or so. Personalization tools used to be very manual and, ironically, generic, but one-to-one personalization has become a reality today.

With every site activity, marketers now have the capability to create detailed user profile of that customer to help target future interactions more intelligently. Display retargeting, for example, is one of the most effective uses of personalization to bring prospects back to a brand’s site by leveraging the information gathered from site interactions.

When a customer makes a purchase, for example, this opens up even more channels for marketing, such as email marketing. But instead of just sending out “blast” emails as in the past, marketers can now deliver “triggered” emails with more personalized content and optimized send times for each individual consumer. This ultimately improves customer engagement and helps to increase the customer lifetime value. What’s even better is that today’s technologies have enabled marketers to do personalized marketing at scale.

  1. Content Marketing

Traditional marketing is typically developed and executed in silos, which can create inconsistent customer experiences. And when marketing content is created by different teams in silos, it makes finding and reusing existing content difficult since people may be unaware of these available materials.

Leading marketing organizations are breaking down these silos with integrated content marketing programs – where teams within an organization collaborate to plan, develop, distribute, measure and promote content.

  1. Mobile Marketing

People are spending more time using mobile apps than watching TV today. In fact, last year it was found that 90% of time on mobile was spent on mobile apps. To reach today’s consumers, mobile marketing platform is longer a nice-to-have but a must-have for leading brands.

Mobile marketing platforms improve the customer experience through uses of tried-and-true marketing tactics such as A/B testing and retargeting, in addition to in-app messaging, email and push notifications to better engage consumers on their mobile devices.

  1. B2B Marketing

Unlike B2C marketing, in the past B2B marketing did not advance as rapidly for a long time. Increasing pressure and demand from sales teams for more and better leads, however, have led to two recent trends in B2B marketing: Account-based marketing and predictive analytics.

Since companies are the buyers in B2B marketing, account-based marketing focuses on delivering the right message at the right time to the right accounts. Similarly, predictive analytics are being used in B2B marketing to better identify high-value prospects with the highest probability of closing, to drive more revenue and minimize cost.

  1. Ad And Marketing Tech Convergence

For many brands, their marketing campaigns, particularly digital campaigns, are executed outside the organization by media and digital agencies. Since each team plans and measures their activities independently, this becomes a major challenge for marketers as it’s difficult to see what is happening across their marketing programs and channels.

This explains why many advertising and software companies are making strategic acquisitions to unify all marketing platforms and data-centric capabilities, from planning to data management, CRM and attribution. An integrated system, or an “enterprise stack,” enables marketing organizations to better plan, manage, execute, measure and optimize their marketing campaigns.

Did LUMA Partners miss any other key digital marketing trends you’re seeing? Please share your ideas and thoughts below!

To read the full presentation from LUMA Partners, see the SlideShare deck below.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.