Cisco Identifies Top Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016 Previous item How Can Managed Services... Next item 2015: A Year in Managed...

Most IT value-added resellers and solution providers tend to lead with technology and more often than not, place marketing on the back burner. Yet, for those who are trying to build their Cisco practices, marketing in the digital age is a must. Dr. Christine Bailey, Cisco Marketing Director for EMEA & Russia, recently blogged about the shift in marketing and the trends to expect in 2016.

These days the focus is on “digital marketing.” Cisco’s CMO Karen Walker has said, “marketing was the last function to be industrialized and the first function to be digitized.” Marching into the future, according to Bailey, means we’re no longer doing ‘digital’ marketing, we’re simply marketing in a digital world.

So what other marketing trends will accelerate in 2016? What will you need to focus on as you build your own practices? Bailey shares her thoughts below.

1. AIDA will become AIDAA

Our marketing text books teach us to drive customer engagement according to the AIDA model: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. In 2016, I’m adding an ‘A’ – for Advocacy!

Once a customer has purchased a product or a service from a company, the ultimate goal is to have that customer share the positive experience with peers. Why? According to Edelman’s 2014 Trust Barometer, customers trust their peers more than any sales and marketing collateral – and even more than industry analysts.

Cisco has taken this message to heart and has officially made it part of our marketing team’s role and purpose – “To inspire people to prefer, choose, and advocate Cisco.” I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more about customer advocacy in 2016.

2. Customer data will improve the customer experience

Market leaders have always had rich customer data on their installed base and could predict future behavior based on past bookings and external insight. We’ve now gained the ability to layer additional data based on what customers are doing online. This is good news for marketers, obviously, because we can use customer intelligence to inform the customer journey. But what’s more important is that it’s good news for the customer – because companies are able to use the information they collect to fine tune the customer experience.

This critical link between customer data and customer experience is echoed by Jeremy Bevan, Vice President of EMEAR Marketing at Cisco. In his blog post, “Is Customer Experience Your North Star?” Bevan implores marketers: “consumers have more purchasing muscle today than yesterday – they are firmly in the driving seat – so why are you not working harder to create the optimal customer experience?” Look for marketers to take Bevan’s challenge to heart in 2016.

3. The use of predictive analytics will explode

Not only do today’s customers want companies to react to the “digital footprint” they leave behind – they are put off when we don’t. As a recent Harvard Business Review report explains, “when marketers send customers a promotion for a product they already own or would never be interested in, they send a clear signal: we don’t know much about you, and we don’t much care.”

Predictive analytics provide the critical information marketers need to know their customers well and demonstrate that they care. A study conducted by Forrester Consulting revealed that most B2B marketing organizations (89 percent) see value in using predictive analytics to identify new opportunities and to better qualify leads. The more advanced users also realize upstream and downstream benefits: 97 percent analyze their best customers and understand how/why they buy; 92 percent optimize the marketing mix to reach the right types of buyers. The takeaway? In 2016, marketers who aren’t yet using predictive analytics will get on board – fast.

To read Bailey’s full trends, click here. As IT solution providers strive to grow their business and focus on engaging, developing, growing and extending relationships with customers, they must realize that digital marketing will have a significant impact.