Digital marketing is continuously changing so it’s difficult to pinpoint the best trends at any given point in time. Some trends are predicted to be game changers and never fully develop, while others are on the radar and turn out to be huge innovators. Looking back at the best trends is a bit easier since we have some idea of how the technologies and strategies have come to use.
In this post, we are going to do a quick recap of our favorite marketing and design trends from 2016. Will they stick around and continue to flourish in 2017? Or will they fizzle out and be replaced by something new? No one knows, so all we can do is keep our eyes open in the coming year!
In the meantime, here are some of the “bests” from 2016.
Best Marketing Trends of 2016
Genuine relationships with customers
Creating strong brand relationships is a challenge for many brands, but the need for doing so continues to increase. As the competition between businesses grows stronger, brands need to take leaps of faith to secure relationships with their customers.
With so much at stake, brands are more open to doing and spending more on brand intimacy. They are working hard to distinguish themselves from other companies and narrowing in on specific audiences.
A company that sells sunglasses won’t define their target persona as a person who wears sunglasses. This is too vague. An effective description would be a male in his 30s or 40s who wears stylish shades and hangs out at the beach. By being this specific, brands are able to develop deep, meaningful connections that are key to customer retention and growth.
Personalization and the human element
Personalization has been a growing trend for the past few years, which is why marketers are constantly encouraged to “know their audience.” Understanding who they are writing and marketing to allows them to personalize their experiences. Yet as wonderful as personalization is, it goes a lot further when the human element is added.
This year more than ever, brands have been striving to add a human touch to their interactions with customers. Some of the ways to be successful include delivering hands-on customer service and creating products that exceed customer expectations. However, nothing takes the place of aligning names and faces with your interactions. This is where the true humanization comes from.
App development and instant content
Good storytelling is the way to elicit an emotional response from viewers. It used to take full movies to get people to cry, and now it can be done in 45 seconds. As great as this is, a mobile audience has an even shorter attention span. They’re not waiting for their favorite show to come back on. You don’t have their attention. With average attention spans at 8 seconds or less, content needs to be given in a way that’s fast and instant. Welcome apps and quick-fix content.
App development has been huge in 2016 for so many reasons, but a key element has been the ability to fulfill the need for instant information. Users are able to digest a ton of information in a short amount of time whether it’s full recipes, news articles for the entire week or instructions on how to fix something around the home.
As more people use the web to interact with brands, we can expect to see app development increase. Apps are fast, convenient and intuitive, and people often prefer using them compared to traditional websites.
Best Design Trends of 2016
Each day, we carry out small but specific actions that are called microinteractions. We might not think much of them, but they play a significant role in the end result. For example, a person might go through a number of microinteractions that eventually lead them to visiting a website and carrying out a specific action.
Designers have been paying closer attention to these microinteractions since they can influence how a person interacts with a website. The goal is to keep things as streamlined as possible so that web users enjoy a fulfilling experience. Using simple language, preventing human error and conveying the best information are ways to engage users without a second thought.
Images over text
As web design evolves, the need for high-quality images continues to grow. Written content is always going to be important for SEO purposes, but designers need to take a step back and make sure that it’s visually appealing as well. If something isn’t attractive, readers are much more likely to ditch the content, even though it might contain some really good stuff. In 2017, we can expect to see visuals holding just as much value as the text itself.
Designing with real data
Mockups have worked great in the past, but that’s only because designers didn’t know any better. Now that platforms are available to design with real data, designers can get a deeper understanding of how their pages will look and function. There is no idealized picture of what “could” be. This makes for more effective and true-to-life designs with less disappointment for customers.
Remember when “above the fold” was a key concept that designers needed to pay attention to? Well, that’s no longer the case. Since more people are mobile, “above the fold” has lost its significance. Now, infinite scrolling is what makes sense, as it’s the natural thing to do when visiting a website.
Infinite scrolling makes navigation simpler and eliminates the need to click over to “next” pages. That’s just annoying. Sure, infinite scrolling isn’t perfect, but it’s something that users are enjoying, and so, brands must adjust. The way to do this is by making the content even simpler and telling a straightforward story with awesome images.
Many trends have surfaced in the past year, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. But, we do feel that these are some of the best trends from 2016 that have shaped the way marketers and designers do their jobs. Of course, you should never apply something just because it looks good or is getting attention. Focus on practices that will benefit your brand and your end user.