Mobile marketing is one of the most important digital trends right now. It spans across all types of industries as well. Because both marketing approaches and mobile technology are snowballing in their development, it is important that marketers know how to stay up to date. They must come up with new promotional strategies that fit in with the bigger picture. So what are some of the things that they should look out for this year? What lies in store in terms of mobile marketing in 2016?

1. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Remember when scanning real products was something out of Star Trek? In 2016, it will not just become a reality, it will become mainstream. And, it will go further as well. No longer will people have to focus solely on QR codes to get things like coupons. Rather, they will also be able to scan a bar code in order to access things like mobile gaming, rewards programs and new types of shopping.

One very good example of this has been offered by Heineken. They launched the Legendary 7 Campaign, in which people could scan their beer bottles. The campaign draws attention to the seven farmers that Heineken uses around the world in order to grow barley, hops and other necessary crops in a sustainable manner. Those who use Blippar, the augmented reality app, to scan the labels on their bottles will be able to access unique content. This includes farmer backstories and an animated field. Plus, drinkers can access the Sustainability Report that was published in 2014. Those who just want to have a bit of fun can take a ‘7elfie’, in which their face will be superimposed over that of the farmers.

Another excellent example is Google Cardboard. This has been designed for iPhone and Android alike, giving people an easy and affordable opportunity to experience virtual reality. While VR headsets are in development, these are very expensive and Cardboard offers an alternative to this. Brands have already expressed an interest and are looking for ways to incorporate virtual reality in their mobile marketing plans. In so doing, consumers will be able to experience a product before they actually decide to buy it. NYT VR, the New York Times app, has already been launched and all subscribers to the Sunday paper will receive a free Google Cardboard headset in order to experience it. The North Face has also started using it, enabling users to visit Moab, Utah and the Yosemite National Park. It gives them a 3D, 360-degree climbing experience.

2. Apptimization

Apptimization is the buzzword of 2016. In 2015, it was all about ‘appification’, but a shift is now occurring. Essentially, it means that mobile app campaigns will be less about user acquisition and more about value creation. At present, it is impossible to see traction by forcing ads on customers. Rather, they have to come up with a really good offer, which is done through predictive analysis. On the other hand, through Apptimization, the focus will shift to active users, LTV, engagement metrics, and attribution modeling.

3. Location and Mobile Payments

Mobile marketing, just like with regular SEO, has already begun to focus on location, and this will continue in the near future. Furthermore, mobile payments will start to take precedence. Apple iBeacon is an excellent example of location-based services. Basically, iBeacon uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to enable people to find devices and services (point of sale displays, shopping malls, retail outlets, etc.) that are close to where they are currently located. This offers mobile marketing a huge degree of new potential, as it means that customers can access an interactive experience in real time, receiving alerts about deals and discounts near their location. For marketers, this offers the opportunity to create more loyal customers.

Cafes have already started using this service. When their BLE receiver spots that a customer is in their vicinity it then sends an alert to that person’s mobile device to show what the ‘deal of the day’ is, explaining what is available as a limited time offer if that person taps on a certain button. This deal can then be redeemed when that person makes a payment. As soon as this is done, the next deal will shop up straight away.

While the restaurant business is leading the way in this, other businesses are also getting interested. It is a fantastic tool in terms of creating loyal customers, by giving the personalized service that they want. If, in addition to this, the business will also accept mobile payments, their customer loyalty is set to go through the roof.

4. Video Advertisements

It is likely that mobile marketing will revolve significantly around video advertising. However, the goal would be to create videos that are less than 15 seconds in length, which is known as the ‘sweet spot’. Fifteen seconds is believed to be the length of time that is short enough to keep someone’s attention, and long enough to get a message across. It is already known that Google will enable video advertisements to appear in search results. This means that any paid for advertisements will truly pop out. However, Google isn’t the only one. Facebook is creating the ‘Audience Network’, in which videos will be auto played to users even if they are in a different app. Meanwhile, Twitter is also trying to get involved in this. They have enabled McDonald’s to create a Tweet that went above and beyond the 140 character limit, enabling them to advertise their all day breakfast through GIFs.

5. TV Is Out, Mobile Is In

Since 4G was launched, the possibilities for mobile have grown substantially. Users now expect high quality media experiences when they are online, including being able to stream videos in HD on their mobile devices. It is believed that more people will use their mobile phones to watch TV by the end of 2016. Mobile marketers are urged to use platforms like Vine, Snapchat, Instragram and Dubsmash in order to get their videos in front of their audience.

6. The Internet of Things (IOT) and Wearables

The IOT has been a hot topic for a few years now, and this is set to continue. The next big thing, it is believed, will be the ‘system of systems’. More and more people have smart technologies, including smart houses, smart cars and smart watches. This means that IOT will become increasingly mainstream. The aim of IOT is to have zero human intervention, and it is getting close to achieve that with sensors and cloud computing all around us.

The Apple Watch, a wearable smart device, is perhaps the best example. It enables people to unlock doors to their hotel room without a key, while simultaneously setting their home HVAC system remotely. This is important for marketers, as it means that they can get up close and personal with their clients, relaying information to them in real time.

A lot of marketers have not yet seen beyond the fitness and activity tracking elements of the smart watches. However, even these elements present a marketing opportunity. For instance, those who use a mobile phone to track their activity and calorie intake could be alerted on this device about affordable health insurance plans. If, during a walk, they damage their shoes, then the sensor can tell the smart watch about this, enabling businesses to provide them with special offers for a new pair of shoes. This takes us back to location and payments as well, as these can be combined to alert people where the nearest shoe store is that accepts mobile payments.

7. Social Media Advertising

2016 is set to bring a wealth of opportunities for companies to interact with their followers and fans, as new and enhanced tools for social media will be developed. Snapchat, for instance, is becoming increasingly important and businesses are starting to see that it is useful for marketing as well. Public stories are now interspersed with video advertisements and geofilters, for instance.

A good example is Twentieth Century Fox, which was the first company to buy Snapchat’s Sponsored Lens app. This enabled them, for 24 hours, to promote The Peanuts Movie, enabling users to overlay story characters, including Snoopy, on their selfies.

At the same time, our existing social media apps like Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram will probably become more sophisticated in terms of how they offer their advertisements. A good example is found in Coach, which asked people to tap on Instagram pictures they like, which would take them to an eCommerce page. More and more apps now also come with ‘buy it now’ options, which means shopping is now much easier than ever before.

8. Entertainment Space

Finally, it is vital for mobile marketers to remember that mobile platforms are spaces for entertainment. The gaming industry is growing exponentially and shows no signs of stopping. People are looking at opportunities to purchase virtual items to be used in their games, particularly if these are offered at low prices. Some businesses are now looking at how they can get into that, for instance by enabling people to use their Candy Crush coins as real money.