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What will your digital marketing toolkit look like 5 years from now?

As marketers today, many of us already feel a bit overwhelmed by all the new things going on – after all, how many of us have a SnapChat content strategy, know how to advertise with programmatic buying, or have a plan for when Instagram ads roll out? The pace of change is not slowing, and we need to start looking ahead at upcoming marketing trends if we want to have any chance of capitalising on them for our brands and strategies.

Here are four interesting new trends – which are just emerging now, but are likely to be a significant part of the marketing landscape in the next five years.

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Trend: Internet of Things

What is it?

The internet of things is the name given for the phenomenon where increasing numbers of objects – cars, watches, fridges, homes and more – are connecting to the internet and giving users access to web-based tools, data and features. Forbes estimates that there will be over 40-billion connected devices in the world by 2020, and Nerdgraph predicts that 90% of new cars produced in 2020 will be connected to the internet.

What does it mean for marketers?

We’ve just about learnt to design for mobile devices – but can we design effective interfaces and campaigns for fridges, or cars? What about smart watches?

The increasing number of connected devices means that our audience’s attention is becoming more fragmented than ever, so it’s essential for marketers to think very carefully about how, when and where they deliver their messaging. It also means that people are going to become more aware of privacy issues, and will demand brands to respect their boundaries.

Trend: Behaviour science

What is it?

The idea that marketers need to understand human psychology and behaviour is nothing new, but increasingly, applying the principles of user research, behavioural economics and data insight is becoming essential for delivering marketing campaigns that actually work. Consumers are no longer passive, captive audiences – they have a massive degree of agency over what media they consume when, and are increasingly ignoring or seeing through weak marketing messages.

What does it mean for marketers?

Mass marketing simply won’t work in the near future. Rather than bludgeoning audiences with big, generic campaigns that they will ignore, marketers must learn how to nudge people to take desired actions.

Savvy marketers need to understand the principles of behaviour economics (the study of human psychology, choice and decision making) and feed these directly into targeted, segmented and highly personalised marketing campaigns. Rather than making assumptions or using old-school approaches, marketers will need to use real data and human behaviours to guide their activities.

Trend: Instant everything

What is it?

It’s no surprise that the world is moving at an ever-faster pace, that attention spans are shortening and that customers are getting used to instant gratification.

In 2004, consumers were willing to wait about 10 days to receive a response from a brand; in 2014, it fell to 10 minutes. Amazon is piloting a service called Amazon Prime Instant, where airborne drones deliver products to customers within 30 minutes of purchase. KLM posts their average social media response times directly on their Facebook and Twitter banner images – and updates this figure every 5 minutes, ensuring it stays below 1 hour.


Amazon Prime Instant drone prototype

What does it mean for marketers?

Examples like these show that consumers are expecting increasingly instant responses from brands – however, quick response will no longer be a differentiator in the near future, but a necessary component of customer service and engagement.

KLM Facebook response time

If you don’t yet have a benchmark for your social media or email response time, start measuring this and find ways to get the delay down as much as possible. Also consider investing in systems that can help automate your marketing processes, such as CRM and segmentation databases.

Trend: Lifelong learning

What is it?

With so many exciting and scary new trends facing the marketing industry, how can the average industry professional keep up? The answer lies in ongoing professional development and learning. LinkedIn’s recent $1.5 billion purchase of Lynda.com, an elearning platform, cements the idea that success in business is now closely linked with constantly learning new things, whether in a directly related field or simply by being more open and aware of the broader world.

What does it mean for marketers?
Learning new things is simply not negotiable. A study by LinkedIn found that the job roles of Mobile App Developer, User Experience Analyst, Social Media Manager and Big Data Analyst simply didn’t exist before 2008 – meaning that anyone who completed their education through traditional learning before then could not have been equipped for the role. Most marketers are in the same boat – but it’s those who can build a strong portfolio of cross-disciplinary knowledge, hard and soft skills, and deep subject expertise who will pull ahead.

Excited about the future? Terrified? Tell us in the comments!

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