Get ahead in 2016: key marketing trends for startups

Knowing how to effectively promote your brand to customers is essential for any startup. With that in mind, our crack team of industry experts predict the top marketing trends for 2016

Get ahead in 2016: key marketing trends for startups

Startups can now reach customers in ways that wouldn’t have been imaginable around the turn of the millennium. Whether’s it striking up a conversation on Facebook or creating a viral vlog, the marketing avenues available to companies in 2015 appeared almost endless. But, with technology evolving on a daily basis, the channels that were relevant last year might soon become archaic. With that in mind, we asked some leading industry lights what marketing trends startups can ill afford to ignore in 2016.



Siobhan Shipman, digital account coordinator, Liberty

Gmail Native Ads are set to be huge in 2016. Google’s latest foray into advertising, these ads appear at the top of a Gmail user’s inbox and are formatted just like an email. However, it’s their targeting capabilities, rather than how and where they appear, that will drive the success of Gmail Native Ads. Advertisers will be able to use AdWords’ regular targeting capabilities – demographic and geographic, for example – but will also be able to further refine their audience with the ability to target web domains. This precise targeting is made possible by Google’s automated systems, which analyse email content for keywords.

The implications of this are significant: it allows advertisers to directly target those who’ve previously bought from them, those who’ve bought from competitors and those who’ve bought from complimentary brands. When paired with keywords, particularly phrases like ‘your order’ and ‘receipt’, it means you can not only get your ads in front of your ideal customer, you can also get them there when they’re in the mood to buy.

YouTube’s Shoppable TrueView ads are also likely to blow up in 2016 because of their ability to reduce the barrier between researching a product on the platform and searching for and buying it. Basically, Shoppable TrueView ads let advertisers layer specific images and links over video ads, meaning that viewers can easily click to buy featured items, as opposed to having to leave the site to search for a brand or product. Again, these ads are highly targetable, so will only show up when they’re contextually relevant. 

Early indications show that this new format is proving to be extremely successful, with brands like online home goods retailer Wayfair seeing a three times revenue increase per impression for their Shoppable TrueView ads when compared to a regular TrueView campaign. This is big news for YouTube as marketers have typically seen the site’s ads as a brand-building channel, rather than a means to push specific products.



Steve Mark, brand director, Vanarama

In 2016, the challenge will be moving quickly to embrace trends in social that are important to your audience. The millennial generation adopts technology quickly so agile marketing is a must. Apps such as SnapChat and WhatsApp are being adopted by news organisations as mainstream tools for communicating with their audience. Brands have started to adopt these tools in 2015, a trend that will continue in 2016. 

However, the challenge is to integrate these trends within the framework of traditional marketing channels. With so many advances in technology in 2015 it can be easy to become distracted and taken off course with a purely digital-driven strategy but recent surveys have highlighted the effectiveness of face-to-face and local marketing strategies. Successful brands and business owners will use technology available to them to build relationships online but will also have a cohesive and tactical strategy to continue the conversation offline to build rapport with their audience.

A new wave of celebrities are also emerging from Facebook. They have invested time in building their tribe of loyal followers who like and share every one of their videos. Emerging UK talent such as Jack Jones, who has 2.8 million Facebook likes, are using their new found status to their advantage by working with brands to deliver viral content. Videos featuring these new wave stars can very quickly reach one million views, sometimes in a matter of hours, so the trick is finding talent that speaks to your audience. As with adopting any talent, brand reputation is paramount, so do your homework and choose wisely.



Jon Cano-Lopez, CEO, REaD Group

Big data was the phrase on so many decision-makers’ lips last year. It’s a great term and has been influential in elevating the importance of data, especially around the boardroom table. But to a data expert it’s essentially meaningless. Why? Because data has always been big. Back in 1992, we spent £16,000 on four 1GB hard drives to hold as much information as we could for our clients. These days a portable 8GB drive on Google comes in at £2.99. 

There will always be more data coming in than companies are capable of dealing with. Just as the amount of data coming into a business gets larger and our capacity to collect and analyse it increases, the new technologies and touchpoints to collect it also increase exponentially. The speed at which volumes of information come into a company now means that the vast numbers of data scientists being hired at FTSE 500 companies around the world find themselves bogged down in the sheer onslaught, unable to find the really important facts in the torrent. 

The way for businesses to move forward is to recognise that it’s not the mountain of data that’s important; it’s the spoonful of gold that we need to harness and act on quickly. Big data is big business; it has big implications. It is not, however, new, and it is leading businesses astray. Big data is a big distraction from the real issue: fast data. 

Fast data is the processing of big data in real-time. It gives marketers immediate information that allows them to take action when it matters most. The problem for small businesses is that customers have off-the-charts choice in almost every market niche. Therefore, the moment they feel slightly dissatisfied, they’ll move on to a better alternative. Fast data enables businesses to identify the specific moments in time when a customer is about to leave and take action to retain them. Customer retention is crucial to the survival of small businesses so utilising fast data is a great way of retaining their most valuable asset.

Adam Pescod
Adam Pescod

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