4 things to keep in mind when crafting your 2016 digital strategy

Some sections of the marketing community announced the death of digital marketing last year. We were a little taken aback initially, but then we analysed exactly what they meant when they declared it extinct.

The message was that businesses should no longer see digital marketing as a separate entity, on the basis that we (and our customers) experience one life, offline and online. We don't have a problem with the term 'digital' like some do, but we agree with the sentiment that digital marketing should no longer be viewed as a second-class citizen.

Our digital marketing tips for 2016 are in keeping with the belief that the online world now enjoys parity with the 'real' world. Here are the things we think you should keep in mind for the year ahead:

1. Smartphones are now more popular than laptops

Not only are people in the UK now more likely to pick up their smartphone than turn on their laptop to browse the Web, but the amount of time UK adults spend online has also doubled in the past decade to more than 20 hours per week.

Both of these shifts in customer behaviour can play into your hands if your website is optimised for mobile and without accessibility issues. You might be surprised how many firms are doing themselves out of business by failing to move with the times...

2. Customers making their minds up on social media

Research shows that 71% of consumers are likely to purchase an item based on social media referrals. It's stats like that which suggest that social media is now the biggest influencer of buying decisions.

Customers not only expect a quick response, but a refined presence. That means engaging with them in a way that shows you care, and making sure your posts add value to their online experience – that means moving away from the self-promotional approach.

3. Attention spans are on the dwindle

If Microsoft research from last year is to be believed, humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish – a mere eight seconds. While we like to give our customers a bit more credit than that, all the evidence does suggest that the human attention span is not quite what it used to be.

That might explain why new research from Xerox found that coloured visuals increase people's willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. That's something to think about when you sit down to draw up your content campaign.

4. Consumers keeping personal information close to their chest

With data breaches becoming more commonplace, internet users now need some serious convincing to part with their personal information. That's entirely understandable, but in order to making your marketing endeavours more effective, you need that individual data.

We believe that personal messaging is a key way of showing that you can be trusted with personal data. The Direct Marketing Association's study, which revealed how three quarters of consumers will share personal information with a brand if they believe it will improve their experience and interaction, drew similar conclusions. Keep an eye out for a follow-up post on what personal messaging actually means.