Do you know which marketing trends you should be embracing this year and where you should be investing your precious marketing budget? In such a dynamic industry with so many technological developments, it’s hard to know what trends will bring the best results and deliver ROI.


ALF Insight’s latest report, Marketing Trends, Spend and Forecasts 2016, surveyed over 200 marketers to find out what their priorities are and what they will be spending their budget on.


From our survey and interviews with marketing leaders, we found that marketing budgets are increasing, with 88% planning to increase or maintain their marketing spend this year. However, time and resources are decreasing with 43% of marketers concerned that they have limited staff to get the job done. It is more important than ever for marketers to prioritise and to make the most of the skill sets at their disposal.


“Everybody has a limited budget, so it’s a matter of prioritising. You don’t need a budget to up-skill, so we do lots of internal training from the heads of department and specialists we have in the organisation already,” said Alistair Wayne, CEO, Media Managers.


In order to prioritise their budgets, marketers need to identify their priorities and objectives that they want to achieve for 2016. Our survey identified these as the following points: 


Marketers need to build a stronger sales pipeline


For the majority of marketers (54%), the main priority going into 2016 is building a stronger sales pipeline. Increasingly, marketers are being asked to pinpoint the exact contribution marketing makes to overall revenue. Marketing activity must have clear metrics and data analytics in place to measure results.


Data analytics will unlock insight


Our report revealed that 33% of businesses are struggling to realise the potential of data analytics, making this the second highest priority for 2016. Businesses collect mountains of data, but many are not turning it into actionable insight. Marketers need to know what they want to achieve from their data so they can make more informed decisions.


“We are investing in data to build insight and understanding around particular audience segments. Hunches need to be backed by data, especially with dynamic trends and shifting consumer behaviour,” said Will Awdry, Creative Director, Big Fish.


CRM is more of a focus than ever


70% of marketers plan on using a CRM in 2016. CRMs bring together sales and marketing, aiding marketers’ key priority of improving the sales pipeline and driving more value from existing customers. An effective CRM will streamline all marketing and sales processes across digital, social and offline channels. 


2016 is the year of video and new forms of visual content


As we all know, content is king, but its focus has shifted to visual formats such as video and infographics. 60% of marketers are looking to use video in 2016. In ALF Insight’s 2015 marketing trends report, only 50% of respondents were looking to use it as part of their marketing strategy, making it 2016’s highest climber with a 20% year on year increase. Infographics are also growing in popularity thanks to their digestible content in a world overflowing with information. Additionally, Instagram is now one of the leading social media channels: top for B2C (tied with Facebook) and fourth for B2B, demonstrating the power of distributing visual content via social media.


Email still leads the way


Although email marketing may not be at the cutting edge of marketing technologies, it generates the highest ROI and is the most popular channel for marketers this year, with 75% of marketers sending their content marketing directly via email. Dynamic content, mobile optimisation and engagement programmes enable targeted and visual campaigns.


“Email is an important channel for us, and we will invest in this channel through analytics, segmentation, testing, responsive design and exploring our options regarding ESPs.” Renee Doegar, Head of Marketing, London Review of Books. 


2016 looks set to be an interesting year in the marketing industry, with plenty of developments and new challenges to overcome. As budgets increase but time and resources decrease, marketers must prioritise their marketing strategies to make the most of the skill sets at their disposal. Suppliers and agencies should take note of trends and position themselves as experts in their field and offer services to help marketers meet their targets, specifically developing a stronger sales pipeline.


If you would like more information on these trends and to read the report and interviews in full, download Marketing Trends, Spend and Forecasts 2016. See below for a preview of the report: