Every year, marketing managers identify their primary areas of focus for the coming year.

At a macro level, the same topics come up again and again – personalisation, mobile and social.

There’s a reason these three themes consistently keep recurring – their capabilities and their role in commerce marketing are continually evolving.

All three have come a long way since they first emerged. When personalisation was in its infancy, it stretched only as far as automating the use of the recipient’s name in a marketing email.

In a similar vein, the shift from marketing mechanics for ‘basic’ mobile phones to those for smartphones offered new opportunities.

Lastly, the arrival of Facebook advertising brought an innovative way to reach consumers. Each of these areas will continue to present new and interesting opportunities in 2016.

Personalisation

Batch and blast is finally falling by the wayside. It’s time to employ real personalisation and the automation that goes along with it to ultimately optimise customer interactions. 

Is your email welcome series a unique journey for each customer? With messages tailored to the actions the recipient has taken previously?

Do you send a message to customers who have just bought to encourage them to review the product? Match their purchase with complementary items and send a ‘thank you’ and a suggestion? Or ask about their experience?

Shoppers tell you online what they are interested in, both explicitly in email preference information they’ve provided but also directly through their behaviour including purchase history and visited product pages.

Be sure to use that information when communicating with them, be it about product ranges, price levels, or offers, in a relevant and engaging way.

By continually testing the key aspects of your communication strategy – tone and content, level of communication, frequency – you’ll find the sweet spot for boosting your revenues while adding value to your customers.

Mobile

2016 is the year for getting mobile right, and it is no longer a matter of choice – your customers are there already.

Recently, Google announced its decision to give a boost to mobile-friendly sites.

And we all know that customers are increasingly using their phones to window shop, check prices from a store, or park items in a shopping basket for later.

Mobile shopping experiences must be inviting, engaging and easy to transact through.

Perhaps the biggest lesson for the new year: if you don’t sell a product people order daily or weekly (think pizza, coffee or groceries), don’t waste money developing an app.

Your budget would be better spent optimising your website for mobile and mastering the latest in responsive design best practice to improve your customers’ overall user experience.

Social

Every year, we hear something new about social. So what will it be this year?

With Facebook selling fewer ads at higher prices, a big advertising spend with the social network buys only a fraction of what it did a year ago.

That’s not to say social shouldn’t be part of your marketing strategy; just be sure it adds value. Your social media investment should build interest in your brand, attract shoppers to your site, and most importantly, retain them as customers. 

Use your email subscription lists to better understand where and how to advertise on social media.

Many social networks offer very powerful segmentation. If you see that a particular demographic is responding to a particular offer, target your social spend on that group of consumers.

Then use that information to help refine your ecommerce messaging and segmentation. This will help you stretch your social media advertising budget much further.

In 2016, we will see how well social media buy buttons on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram perform.

Recent research indicates that one-third of UK shoppers (32%) are ready to make a purchase via social media, so retailers should start to think about if and how to use it as part of a broader commerce strategy.

There are many reasons to be excited and many strategies to consider for 2016, but the common thread should be consistency.

Above all, deliver a great, consistent marketing experience that shows you really know your customers and what they want.