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Reviewing the marketing trends of 2015: Moving forward

Posted by Darren Leishman on January 29, 2016 at 8:57 AM
Darren Leishman
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Marketing trends retrospective headerEach year, content on trends - upcoming, outgoing, ridiculous, valuable – is prolific. No matter the industry, you can find multiple trend reports about what to expect in the coming year - but not much on where those trends have taken you so far. We look at what was popular in 2015, and give you our breakdown on where those trends will go in 2016. 

The top 8 trends of 2015 are oportunities for 2016:

We’ve taken a look at eight of the marketing trends that were highlighted by the industry during 2015 – from Forbes to Google, digital agencies to publishers – and would like to share our thoughts and insights: 

  1. Transparency

This trend will continue to grow There is no longer anywhere to hide. You can’t sweep negative press under the carpet, especially while the power of word-of-mouth increases. The consumer is in control, so be honest, be real, embrace your humanity, own your mistakes, and ensure that your brand is transparent.

“The trend to watch in 2016 will be transparency - between clients and agencies, between brands and consumers. It’s a two-way street. Just as a client can call an agency out on its mistakes, so should an agency return with feedback that is honest and to the point, without fear. Brands should be able to stand up to consumers when it is right to do so.” 

- Gary Whitaker, Media Director

“I believe the trend for 2016 will be on identifying agencies that are accountable, agile and who can deliver results. Marketing budgets are, more than ever, under close scrutiny. Clients will rely heavily on agencies they can trust to propose innovative ways of achieving results with strained budgets. Agencies will need to take the time to immerse themselves in the clients' business to fully understand what needs to be done. Relationships are key. Clients buy from people they can trust with their reputation and deliverables.”
- Wendy Mitrovich, Business Unit Director

  1. Personalisation

This trend will continue to grow Personalisation took off in a big way in 2015.  People who have shared their information with a brand expect to be addressed by name and served relevant information. If a brand fails to take these actions, the consumer is, quite frankly, disappointed. 


“Personalised content will remain a focus but we need to ensure that face-to-face communication continues. It is important that automation in the digital space enhances the sales process and does not replace it.”

 Darren Leishman, MD

  1. ROI and the focus on lead generation

This trend will continue to grow Adwords campaign success is measured on goals, not traffic. Inbound marketing activity is measured on lead-generation and, ultimately, customers, not on blog views or social shares.  However, it’s not only measurement that is critical – being able to interpret the data you get is a massive part of the pie. Finding the insights and implementing changes to drive better customer experience and sales ultimately leads to an improvement in ROI.


“I think the biggest trend for 2016 will be the continuing growth of digital and social media, due to the excellent results delivered in 2015. There is still so much room to optimise our social activities, and the proof of ROI that 2015 gave us is a great sign of future improvement and development.”

 Andries van Wyngaard, Business Unit Director

  1. Mobile

    Have you started yet? If not, start now
    Mobile is hailed as a trend every year, and in 2015 it was no different. In all honesty, if you were only getting mobile-friendly in 2015, you have quite a lot of catching up to do. Stop talking about mobile as a trend, and treat it as a priority. Optimising for mobile is no longer a choice, but a standard.


Google highlighted that, in 2015, mobile would shape the “Internet of Me” – a drive to simplify your life using your mobile applications. There is no likelihood that mobile will be discarded as a fad, so keep updating and optimising for mobile engagement.


2016 is the year in which we will take personalisation on mobile to another level to ensure that we interact with our tribes. At the end of the day, it is about how we are communicating personally in the social space. It is about how we are using the insights from our audience’s everyday habits and routines, and creating meaningful communication.”

- Kerry Campbell – Social Media Manager

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  1. Video

This trend will continue to grow Video penetration worldwide has exploded, and these days it seems that everyone has a Youtube channel and access to video equipment (especially on phones). Nobody is afraid to use these tools to share their views. 

Brands are using video not only to make ads, but to explain their product, educate their users, and promote corporate values.  In 2016 we can expect to see not just a continuing rise in video content, but visual content in general – images, infographics and video - will continue to dominate the marketplace.

These mediums take us on a journey and promote brand storytelling, ultimately pleasing consumers.

Grant Leishman, CEO of Penquin: “We know that people want to contribute and want their opinion known.  We know that content needs to be about the consumer and not only the company.  In 2016, content is going to become more engaging, and, beyond video, have a focus on interactive content.”

  1. Content marketing 

This trend will continue to grow Content marketing has been a disrupter in the last couple of years, and this disruption will continue into 2016.  Our pace of life is increasing, and content needs to be useful in the moment, when it matters. Content must be fast, simple, easy, digestible and attention-grabbing – but none of this makes any difference if it isn't relevant. As marketers, we must not merely add to the content noise, we must add value.


Inbound marketing gives us the insights we need to produce the content that matters, and then carry the relationships we develop through excellent engagement to sales, where the sales-marketing loop can be closed. 


“I think marketing will become even more intuitive. It’s already started internationally where you can choose the content you wish to be served. When we directly choose what we want to see, it will help with the mass digestion of content that is currently overwhelming. Consumers will be more willing to share their likes and dislikes in order to get content that is relevant to them.  More savvy consumers require more savvy marketers. Marketing will need to become an extension of daily life rather than a disruption. The concept of ‘like, click, buy, deliver’ will continue to grow in leaps and bounds. Industries and businesses that don’t have an online buying option will lose traction.”

- Veronica Wainstein, Business Unit Director and Head of Strategy

  1. Marketing Automation

This trend will continue to grow We can’t argue with the growth of marketing automation in 2015 – whichever angle you see it from. Marketing automation could encompass a multitude of options:

  • Analytics
  • Programmatic buying
  • Inbound marketing tools
  • Mailers
  • Sales and marketing integration
  • CRM

Marketing automation across the marketing and sales cycle will become more important.  Marketing analytics will give insights into the sales process, and in return, the insights and experienced gained from the sales process will be a great driver of content strategy in 2016. 

Remember, the best kind of automation is the kind that involves people. We love automation, when we can use it to enhance (and not replace) human thinking.


“Marketing automation platforms that close the loop between marketing and sales through the use of integrated CRM platforms will continue to trend. Content that is relevant, in context to the industry and individual, and most importantly, helpful and easy to consume, will be the key focus of content creators in 2016.  ”

 Alison Leishman, Inbound Marketing Strategist 

  1. The rise of marketing technologists

    Not yet, but we're still moving forward
    Harvard Business Review published an article in 2014 regarding the rising role of the Chief Marketing Technologist, and research and consulting firm Gartner predicted that by 2016, the CMO will spend more on technology than the CIO. Google Trends, however, indicates that the interest in the term ‘Marketing Technologist’ has been insignificant with insufficient search volume to generate results.

Moving into 2016, with a predilection for content marketing, big data and marketing automation dominating the digital space, this may indeed become the trend it was hailed to be in 2015. 


“In 2015 we saw the use of technology to understand the market and deliver information that results in rapid adoption and measureable impact as a disrupter in marketing. This will continue into 2016 with the rise of new roles and jobs being created in the marketing space.  Filling these roles will be a challenge as these new skills and talents will change the face of marketing.”

 Darren Leishman, MD 

And there you have it.  A trends retrospective to take you forward in 2016.  We will continue to trend-watch and share our insights throughout this year - we've already kicked off with our first Trend Alert: Consumer Experience in Action. See how the customer-experience can make your business boom.

What do you think the major disrupting trend in the industry will be in 2016?

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