Marketing is a constantly changing landscape, especially when it overlaps with the transformative tech industry. With new methods of engaging and interacting rolled out every month, if not week, marketing has never been more exciting. Here are 10 up-and-coming words and phrases you need to know before planning your 2016 marketing strategy.

1. Dwell Time

Dwell time, or the amount of time a user spends on your site, is becoming an important metric to gauge interaction. This metric correlates with the increase in content marketing. As brands seek to engage users on newer and deeper levels, they need new methods to understand how users are interacting with their content.

Retro clock by Balazs Kovacs Images
Retro clock by Balazs Kovacs Images

Increased dwell times have been linked to higher conversion rates; this means dwell time can show what content works and what doesn’t, allowing marketers to optimize future content endeavors with conversion in mind.

2. Content Brands

Content marketing is no longer just a suggestion; if you aren’t creating original, useful, and interesting content for your users, then your brand will be left behind. The future of content marketing means a shift from branded content to content brands. The basic difference is that branded content is meant to push a product or service, while a content brand is meant to build a relationship with an audience. This relationship is then leveraged to create a loyal customer-base ready for conversions.

3. Episodic Content

As content marketing becomes a mainstay in most marketing efforts it is also becoming more sophisticated. One aspect of this evolution is the focus on narrative content that often comes in installments.

Vintage inscription made by old typewriter by MyImages - Micha
Vintage inscription made by old typewriter by MyImages – Micha

Look to the rising popularity of podcasts, which often come in weekly installments centered around a particular theme, topic, or narrative style. Episodic content allows you to create marketing cliffhangers — endings that encourage users to come back for more.

4. Buy-and-Share

The ability to buy products straight from social media and to share these purchases online is an emerging trend in marketing. Earlier this year, Pinterest introduced the Buy It button, which allows users to shop for products straight from the site. As buy buttons become commonplace, marketers will need to find ways to make these purchases social and sharable.

Man's hands holding a credit card and using smart phone by d8nn
Man’s hands holding a credit card and using smart phone by d8nn

5. A/B Testing

With access to stronger website analytics, A/B testing has become an indispensable source of user data. Also called split testing, this method allows you two test the effectiveness two versions of your website, looking at everything from headline text to paragraph text, images, social buttons, call to action buttons, etc. The effectiveness is often dependent on conversion rates: Which variation of your website turns traffic into more purchases or sign-ups?

6. Influencer Marketing

Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine are no longer fringe media — they are as important to marketing efforts as Facebook and Twitter. A method that plays particularly well on these platforms is influencer marketing, which focuses on key personalities in a demographic rather than the demographic as a whole.

Silhouette of travelers enjoy their moment watching sunset by artpritsadee
Silhouette of travelers enjoy their moment watching sunset by artpritsadee

Using this method, popular Vine personalities can become brand advocates for your company, or you might sponsor a widely-read blog to review your products. Influencer marketing takes advantage of a social media world where regular people have fan bases as big as a celebrity’s. (See more: How to Find Influencers & Advocates on Social Media)

7. The Internet of Things

This pervasive phrase (which was one of our top cultural trends of 2015) sounds weird, but is simple to understand: Everything with an an on/off switch will soon be connected to the Internet. We have already seen major developments in the Internet of Things — thermostats, security systems, refrigerators, and wearable tech are all early adopters of wi-fi compatibility. Marketers should prepare, for lack of a better word, for the Internet of ALL Things. This will mean greater opportunity to connect and interact with customers through entirely new methods, in markets that traditionally don’t delve into user engagement and interaction (i.e. the kitchen appliance industry).

8. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)

The demand for do-good companies isn’t going anywhere; in fact, customers are more knowledgable about companies’ business practices than they have ever been before.

Woman hands in winter gloves by everst
Woman hands in winter gloves by everst

CSR should be something inherent in your business structure and act as a way to engage with and give back to the community. It also dictates that your business practices should be transparent, because customers are smart and can easily find out what’s really happening behind the scenes. Finally, CSR should flow into your marketing strategy: Compassionate tweets, posts, events, and videos are often widely shared and offer a reputable way to elevate your brand.

9. Ze

While not a marketing term in any sense, ze represents a new normal emerging across the world that marketers must be aware of. Ze is just one of a slew of gender neutral pronouns, including xe, hirs, xyr, or good ol’ their that gender noncomfortmists are opting for. The abandonment of the traditional gender binary isn’t the only demographic shift — in general, the rise of multiculturalism and the demand for diversity is rewriting the demographic paradigm. Marketers will benefit from watching these developments carefully and making sure their efforts are inclusive of the new normal.

10. Personalization

The age of sweeping, mass-market approaches is quickly coming to a close. Users are increasingly difficult to pinpoint based on their age, sex, race, or income. As demographics fade from prominence, psychographics are quickly taking their place as the main targeting point for consumers. When brands turn toward these lifestyle factors, their marketing efforts become more personalized. Instead of binary variables, marketers can target a vast array of lifestyle choices and preferences, not only creating sophisticated segmented markets but also a more intimate relationship with their customers.

young hipster woman using notebook in the city by Eugenio Marongiu
young hipster woman using notebook in the city by Eugenio Marongiu

Mass-marketing is no longer a bastion of success in the marketing industry. Customers expect immediate and personalized interactions with transparent and engaging brands. But, while customer expectations grow more complex, so does the data available to marketers. Marketing is a brave new world, so be sure to equip yourself with the right knowledge before you take your next step.

Top image: Young freelancer using smartphone, sitting in front of laptop by GaudiLab