10 mobile marketing themes to look out for in 2016

With just a few weeks left in 2015, it’s time once again for my annual marketing predictions for 2016. Given that we all operate in an increasingly mobile-first world, it is only appropriate that this year we focus solely on mobile marketing.

1. Apps go mainstream

Last year, I correctly predicted app downloads will surpass Facebook friends and Twitter followers for most brands, and they continue to do so. In 2016, we will see more marketers looking to build greater utility and value in their mobile apps, opening the door for them to actively and aggressively promote their benefits across all channels.

Expect for brands’ mobile apps to replace their social communities as the tag of choice on advertising, including TV. For many brands, the app will also become the go-to channel to reward and build loyalty, drive engagement, purchase products or services via e-commerce on mobile (also known as m-commerce), and manage billing and payments. The value proposition for apps across all verticals will continue to grow, as marketers increasingly make them the primary source for the independent shopper, travelling road warrior, and busy consumers looking to transact more efficiently.


Enhanced functionality such as indoor maps, real-time recommendations based on location, keyless room entry, rewards management and redemption, and payments will become seamlessly integrated into apps – increasing engagement and value for the average consumer in ways never before imaginable.

2. Mobile budgets and resources get serious

Mobile’s influence and impact on this year’s holiday shopping season will usher in an accelerated shift in focus toward mobile. According to Forrester Research, mobile is predicted to be the fastest growing channel among all digital channels (38 percent CAGR), so look for an increasing number of brands to create mobile BHAGs – which stands for big, hairy, audacious goals.


Evidence of transformation started in 2014, when Hilton announced it would invest $500 million in mobile technologies. Others across all verticals will follow Hilton’s lead in the coming months ahead.

3. Indoor location and customer movements rise in importance

Adoption of beacons and their next in line technology will continue to accelerate. A Google Eddystone study found 85 percent of the top 100 retailers are slated to adopt beacon technology by the end of 2016.


Additionally, beacons will directly influence over $4 billion worth of U.S. retail sales and is expected to climb tenfold in 2016. 

Next up: New WiFi sensor-based RF technology may allow handsets to be located indoors between one and two meters. This development coupled with the ability to determine location, movements, and proximity, opens up compelling new opportunities for marketers. Tied to retailer planograms and maps, apps will equip users with a visual of each store along with their shopping cart, wish list, and special item locations “pinned” for faster, easier, more relevant shopping.

4. The emergence of mobile-informed predictive decisions and machine learning

Recognizing the growing importance of location and movement data plays in predicting the next best offer; brands will look to leverage mobile signals to sharpen targeting and create look-alike models to reach similar consumers in other digital channels with hyper-relevant offers. The addition of machine learning allows big data to be further optimized over time, giving marketers the beginnings of a new “sense and respond” marketing automation capability.

5. Personalization scales

Data and real-time technologies allow marketers to finally build highly personalized messages at scale. Next generation platforms allow marketers to take in disparate data sources, combine them with real-time mobile signals – including location and movements – and trigger highly personalized messaging in the mobile moment. This provides consumers with what they need, when they need it, in the appropriate context.

6. Content optimization finds its place in the tech stack

Content management and optimization across channels becomes a required component of any tech stack. While many marketers look to content as a critical component of their strategy, more often than not, brands lack the ability to effectively and efficiently optimize and distribute this content across channels. This is particularly true with mobile, given some of its limitations are more critical because of our mobile-first world. 2016 will be the year in which mobile content moves from edges of the tech stack to a central component of it.

7. M-commerce acceleration continues

2015 is likely to be known as the year mobile commerce finally became meaningful. Earlier this year, eMarketer predicted m-commerce sales would increase by 32 percent, far faster than e-commerce overall.


There seems to be no end in sight, as consumers armed with their smartphones increasingly look to browse, compare, and order directly from their device. This trend, combined with the expanding number of mobile payment options and recently upgraded payment terminals to accept them, will continue to pave the way for m-commerce in the years ahead.

8. Customer journey marketing becomes more multichannel, location-aware and real-time

By embracing mobile, location, and movements, marketers will get serious about crafting hyper-relevant messaging across the customer journey, which spans the physical and the digital. On the physical front, marketers have more tools at their disposal to target customers on the pre-visit via geo-fencing, during a visit through interactions with beacons, and post-visit with multichannel retargeting. Additionally, advancements in real-time mobile messaging enable orchestration with other channels including email, display, and even direct mail.

9. Privacy and ad blocking require new approaches

Increased concerns around ad blocking and privacy sensitivity will mean marketers will have to rethink their traditional approaches. The key to success here will be mastering identity management with consumer preferences and controls.


While notice, choice, access, and control remain the key pillars, marketers will need to evolve marketing efforts to be more holistic, orchestrated, and omnichannel in order to deliver against expressed consumer preferences and drive desired outcomes. Next year, we can expect more privacy centers to be enhanced with greater access and channel controls and more marketing controls – such as frequency caps – in platforms.

10. Micro-moments give way to magic moments

It’s an old cliché – the right message, at the right time, in the right place or on the right channel. Although many brands have quickly realized the enormous opportunity and benefits of helping consumers in their moment of need, we will soon need to do better. With the proliferation of IoT devices and signals as well as increasing privacy concerns and ad blocking, delivering value in those moments has never been more difficult.

For marketers, the risk of a messaging overload is very real and will be upon us before we know it. Therefore, marketers must move beyond the concept of micro-moments to quickly to find “magic moments“; that optimal time across thousands of potential micro-moments to not only be seen, but to also be heard.

There you have it – the top ten list for the coming year. Have a great holiday and very happy and prosperous New Year!

Related reading