Hotwire | Communications Trends 2016 - Hotwire

Platform wars

Websites aren’t as important as they used to be. Since the World Wide Web was created the goal of marketers (whether through advertising, social, SEO or PR) has been to drive our digital audience to our websites and then convert them into a lead or customer. It worked for a while – but it relied on a lack of choice.

It also meant we had to do all the heavy lifting of distribution ourselves and hope our content was good enough to lure our audience to come to us.

The internet of 2016 will be different…

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Funnel reversal

If you work in marketing or sales, there is a fair chance at some point in your life you’ve woken with a jolt in the night, as you imagine the words “but we had enough leads in the funnel” leave your lips, as if someone else had shouted it.

It’s a well-known nightmare, which tends to hit around the tenth week in a quarter and is most often caused by something called “Funnel Anxiety”. The sales funnel is a well-worn description of the full sales and marketing process.

The slowly narrowing pipe which depicts the different stages within the buying process from awareness through to purchase. Lots of leads go in the top and a percentage of those turn into customers at the bottom. Or at least, that’s the theory…

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Our audience is killing advertising

Display ads don’t work. Users don’t click on banners. Full screen pop-ups and takeovers elicit howls of rage as they interrupt our browsing experience.

This is especially true with mobile. Our smartphones are an extension of our daily lives and we resent poorly thought-out advertising intruding on our private space.

To fight back users turn to ad blockers…

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Age! What is it good for?

Age is just a number. It’s the year we’re in now minus the year we were born. So why do we make it such a central plank of our marketing campaigns?

It’s mostly because of laziness – age is one of the first things we find out about people, whether through conversation, asking them to fill out a form or the targeting options given by our advertising platform of choice…

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Live in the moment

Being mindful is the place to be. While 2014 was dubbed the year of mindfulness, the hype around the meditative practice is still very much buzzing a year on.

Digital health platform Headspace, which provides guided mindfulness training, is now used by more than two million people in over 150 countries.

The idea behind Headspace is that you pay more attention to what you’re feeling at any given moment and focus less on external factors. This helps you maintain a more objective perspective. What we’re starting to see is people apply this to how they communicate…

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Go big. Go hyperlocal

Do you and your cousin of the same age who live at different ends of the country think the same way? Probably not, yet when we’re creating marketing campaigns we assume the same piece of content will work for both of you. We’re in danger of looking ignorant if we stick to this approach.

Media organisations are ploughing time and money into creating content which works at a hyperlocal level – chasing the success BuzzFeed enjoys with its “22 things you’ll only know if you come from X” format…

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Be relevant. Be useful. Be heard

Reaching any audience is difficult. The average person sees up to hundreds, if not thousands of pieces of brand messaging a day, no mean amount of noise to try and cut through. What’s more our routines change, we hop back and forth between physical and digital media at will.

So how do we become the signal our audience is drawn to rather than just another piece of white noise? Increasingly companies are trying to turn communications efforts into useful experiences, which add value to their audiences’ daily routine…

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VRy nice to meet you

Betamax, mini-disk, 3D TV; all technologies which didn’t quite cut it. 

Although you can still buy a 3D TV today, the fact remains, after two hours of charging the glasses, 20 minutes of getting them to work and five minutes of viewing you’re left with a hatred of the technology so deep it almost gets in the way of the migraine you now have as a result of the viewing experience…

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Values-based activism

Some of the world’s biggest brands are increasingly entering the fray over divisive political and social issues,
particularly in the United States. Putting a stake in the ground on social issues such as marriage equality, immigration and the Confederate flag inherently raises business and communications questions. We need to consider  such issues when working for, or counselling, these brands.

For those unfamiliar with the Confederate flag debate, South Carolina had been flying the flag over its statehouse grounds for decades. Proponents of the flag cited it as a symbol of the positive aspects of southern history…

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Transmedia branding and the re-invention of public relations

The public relations industry is in the midst of a profound identity crisis. With the erosion of mainstream media and the surge of social media, PR experts aren’t entirely sure what their profession is or should be. Some view this as an opportunity to shun the PR label and replace it with integrated marketing or integrated communications.

This may be the exact wrong response. The strength of public relations has always been the ability to engage audiences and negotiate relationships – mostly via media relations. These two skills, arguably, have never been more important than now, in a media environment where all participants are communicators and selectively choose information they engage with…

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The rise of the cord cutter

Since media started its journey online, we’ve had to break with tradition – but we’ve done so quite willingly. How we find and receive information has changed forever thanks to the move online and almost entirely for the better.

This move has been happening for a while. The written word started its journey towards the end of the last century with the BBC launching BBC Online becoming one of the pioneers in online journalism in 1997. And today, more than half of Brits access their news online…

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Legal and political trends

As our world becomes increasingly data-driven, from wearable technology to smart cars, more and more personal data is being collected, processed and transferred.

However there is potential for conflict between how advertisers and consumers feel about the commercialisation of personal data.

Growing consumer suspicion about how their data is being used online may explain why there has been a rise in ad-blocking technology…

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