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The trends defining your marketing success in 2016 (Part 1)

The trends defining your marketing success in 2016
Andrew Taylor Senior PR & Comms Manager

Written by Andrew Taylor,
PR & Communications Director at Freshfield

Engaging visually with customers, greater use of video, and being prepared for a crisis are among the ingredients of business success in 2016, according to the Freshfield team’s annual look at the main PR and marketing trends for the year ahead.

Engaging mobile content is a must

Businesses need to invest in developing their mobile sites, as well as recognising the role of high quality written and visual content, especially video. Effective social media marketing and digital advertising will be key to getting that content seen by a greater number of target customers, as well as capturing customer data for marketing automation. More of our clients are taking a keen interest in their Google Analytics data and the impacts of subtle changes in site design, content style and digital promotional activity on enquiry levels. It’s a realisation that constant investment in a website is required to prevent a digital brand becoming stale. By Mark Brennan

Thinking like a broadcaster

We all know that sharing images on social media gets greater engagement with an audience, but better still is video and it’s becoming easier than ever to make and share videos on social networks. 2016 will see even more videos on social channels, including a greater use of live streaming. So when planning your PR campaigns for the coming year, video shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should, where relevant, form a key part of the plan. Videos don’t need to be lengthy or be perfectly polished, they just need to be thought provoking enough for your audience to watch and share. By Laura Wild

Nothing markets itself, amplify your content

The best content in the world is meaningless if no one sees it. By leveraging employees, partners, customers and fans to share your content through multiple channels you are half way there, but don’t underestimate the power of paid promotion. More than 50 per cent of businesses use social advertising to distribute quality content and this will continue to rise in 2016.

Marrying valuable content with paid tactics, such as promoted tweets and highly targeted Facebook adverts, will allow businesses to get their message to the right people in the right space. By Emma Rawlinson

Greater scrutiny makes a PR crisis more likely


In the age of naming and shaming businesses that don’t meet our customer service expectations, or even our social values, we’re going to see more businesses struggle as a result of poor preparation for crisis situations. Crisis management is a facet of our own business that has grown in 2015 and it surprises our team how many good businesses still under invest in multi-channel crisis management. What’s the saying again, “it takes years to build a reputation and minutes to destroy one…”? Last year, United Utilities provided a good example of responding to a crisis over multiple channels when dealing with a serious water contamination issue in Lancashire. As highlighted above, the company used its own video content to explain the issue to customers. By Simon Turner

‘In the conversation’ is the place to be

Being more responsive to trends and what your audience is talking about there and then is becoming increasingly important. Visual content has grown in popularity because of the ability to educate (rather than sell to) target audiences in a format that’s quick and easy to digest across a number of platforms and devices. Look at the way major news organisations like the BBC are now experimenting with live streaming news and events on social media and you can see the way we’re going.

We have multiple channels at our disposal, but only businesses and organisations that can tell their story succinctly, timely and in a visual way, will get the best audience engagement. By Michael Gregory

The year of the brand activist

In 2016 we’re less interested in what a brand does and more concerned with how it makes us feel, which is why so many companies are taking strong views on relevant social issues. Think Ben & Jerry’s’ support of marriage equality, John Lewis’ Christmas partnership with Age UK to tackle isolation felt by older people, and the Always #LikeAGirl campaign.


Essentially, these brands are telling us they add value to people’s lives and our loyalty increases as a result. I predict the most successful campaigns of 2016 will take their cues from key social and moral issues and the message will be simple: “We care about you, so care about us”. This is something even smaller businesses can achieve on a more local scale. By Laura Cullen

Evaluation has never been more important

In the noise of today’s diverse media channels, measuring and evaluating which of your marketing activities are working becomes increasingly important to make judgements about marketing spend. Measurement is vital in guiding campaigns and projects towards customer engagement and response. For example, how many enquiries were generated from a specific campaign and of those how many were converted? Using evaluation methods which capture these outcomes, we can analyse what works and go forward with sound intelligence, rather than assumptions. By Paul Tustin

Read more of our thoughts in Part Two of this blog.

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