The New Year (2016) is upon us and like every efficient business leader, marketer and sales manager diligently putting plans in place to meet revised sales and marketing targets, you’re probably scouring the internet for solutions to your 2015 business challenges. Now here’s the problem – you’ve got to sift through the dozens of trends that have been cropping up and identify the ones that take into account our specific market conditions. It’s almost like accepting a prescription for treatment of a medical condition when your symptoms and medical history have not been factored in. You wouldn’t put your health at risk, so why put the future of your business at risk?

Fortunately, #TeamCI has pulled together the top 10 Digital Marketing and Sales Trends that are set to impact Caribbean businesses and brands in the following months. We’ve looked at the ebb and flow of the local/regional markets over the past year, and as reflected in our 2015 Digital Marketing Manifesto, we were able to pinpoint the core sales and marketing challenges that hampered the progress of many Caribbean brands.

2015 roadblocks to marketing and sales success

  1. Siloed approach to sales and marketing – marketing and sales leaders continued to believe that they could reach their targets without active collaboration and the formulation of a consolidated strategy.

2. Lack of investment in customer service solutions – A large number of Caribbean businesses failed to invest in solutions that could improve their customer service delivery or the overall brand experience of their customers even though 76% of consumers say they viewed customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. (2015 Aspect

3. Ineffective lead generation strategies – a 2015 study by Forbes pointed to lead generation as the single biggest factor in improving the overall productivity of sales reps in the high velocity inside sales model. Sales and marketing leaders in the Caribbean struggled to develop lead generation strategies that allowed them to attract large numbers of quality leads.

2016 digital sales and marketing trends for regional businesses

Based on feedback from clients, our own market observations, research and data from our recent Digital Habits and Practices study, our team has compiled the top 10 digital sales and marketing trends that will propel Caribbean businesses to success in 2016.

  1. The numbers game – metrics that matter: Since the emergence of Big Data around 2012, most sales and marketing leaders have been stuck in the feel-good phase – investing in data generation tools and harvesting loads of data just to tick the Big Data checkbox. In 2016, CEOs, CMOs and CFOs will be interested in the numbers. Sales and Marketing leaders will be expected to use the data being generated to influence budget allocations and to validate return on investments for campaigns. Gone too are the days when vanity metrics ruled the roost, real success will be driven by the real metrics that matter. (sales and marketing alignment metrics) – Chike Farrell, Chairman of the Board of Directors

2. Lead generation and the shift to inside sales strategies: The biggest challenge for B2B marketers continues to be around the generation of high-quality leads. If sales and marketing managers are to succeed in 2016, they need to shift their focus from outside sales to insides sales strategies. To win at this game, they’ll need to develop an integrated strategy where marketing attracts the leads but they both work to engage them before sales can step in to convert.  – Brevard Nelson, Chief Executive Officer

3.Understanding the role of Social Media: Social media is no longer a trending topic for marketers but a staple of almost every successful sales and marketing campaign for many brands. This year, we predict that more regional brands will begin to understand the role of social media, that this is a tactic that is deployed as part of a wider marketing strategy to support larger campaigns and not a stand-alone strategy. – Lynmerie Parris, Director Client Service

4. Mobile on the move: While certainly not new, the shift to mobile will continue to be highly relevant as we move into the new year. Our recent Digital Habits Study indicates that over 50% of 18-45 year olds owned a mobile phone with access to data. When you couple this data with the last update to Google’s search ranking algorithm (Mobilegeddon), you’ll start seeing the importance of making your content accessible via mobile. After all, you won’t want to lose valuable search traffic or frustrate the leads you’re nurturing as a result of not being mobile friendly. – Chenoa Marquis, Digital Solutions Delivery Lead

5.Personalization: With recent changes to the web and mobile experience and the shift in media consumption patterns of our customers, it has become super easy for marketers to obtain data that tells them who gets what content, where they get it and what they do with it. Marketers will be expected to tailor their messaging and experiences to better match what their customers expect – relevance. In 2016, you can expect more customized landing pages, emails and even ads. – Gisselle Ramsaran, Manager – Marketing, Events and Training

6. Web development game changer: Most developers apply a Waterfall development methodology where clients do not see the end product until it is complete and ready for testing. This year, development processes will shift to an Agile way of delivering on projects – delivering a subset of features, over short time-spans, getting it in the hands of clients for feedback, giving them an opportunity to have a working product in hand to experience what is being built. – Sean Hoilett, Software Development Manager

7. Design and engagement: 2016 will continue to be a year of integration for sales and marketing and design will extend the marketing support role traditionally played. You can expect a focus on designs that foster user interactions on a micro level as we move toward a model that is engaging and built around enhancing the user experience. (Micro-interactions) – Trevyn Roberts, User Experience Lead


8. Sales and Marketing Integration: Sales and Marketing will need to work together to build processes that are effective in identifying and actively engaging prospects at each stage of the sales cycle. Sales teams will struggle if they have to go at it alone.

9. Hyper local content: Think about this as an extension of our drive toward greater personalization. Apps like Periscope will move into the mainstream for both consumers and marketers as we aim to create more content that’s specific to a customer’s location at a specific time. (Hyperlocal success)

10. Customer experience and customer service: Customers will continue to show their disapproval with inconsistent and unfulfilling brand experiences. In an attempt to raise the bar, Caribbean brands will and must, change their customer approach and start thinking about how to deliver greater value. This will include improving customer service models, investing in customer service solutions that afford better monitoring and management and improving online engagement. (Gartner 2014 study flags 2016 as the year of customer experience)

Some of these trends have rolled over from last year and even the year prior, they may not be new but they’ve evolved and are still highly relevant to the attainment of your sales and marketing goals.

We’d love to know what you think about our 2016 Digital Sales and Marketing trends. Have you been trendspotting too, do you have any to add to our list? Share them with us, you never know, it just might make it into our upcoming 2016 Digital Marketing Manifesto!