The Best and Worst of Digital Marketing in 2016

2016 was a year filled with innovative, witty and surprisingly controversial campaigns. As we all adjust to the fact that it’s 2017, let’s take a look at some of last year’s best (and worst!) digital advertising.

2016’s digital marketing in review

So, where to begin? This year we’ve included a list of the top mobile campaigns that engaged consumers at a local level, as well as a showcase of some of the most creatively-driven social media campaigns that will leave you inspired and motivated. Of course, not all digital advertising last year was award-worthy, so we’ve also rounded up the campaigns that left us all shaking our heads.

MobileMarketer.com’s top mobile campaigns of 2016 

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Mobile Marketer published a well-rounded list of successful mobile campaigns. Their list is largely based on the broad reach and popularity each of these campaigns were able to garner. These brands were able to engage consumers through strategically targeted campaigns that were both relevant and timely.

A personal favorite from this list is the #GiveaDamn campaign created by Budweiser, which supported the brand’s responsible driving message. This campaign encompassed mobile utility as they created a standalone website. This platform allowed Super Bowl viewers to enter their location in order to find a safe ride home. Budweiser also cleverly incorporated Twitter as a channel to promote safe driving: the hashtag #GiveaDamn triggered a branded emoji.

Econsultancy.com’s 10 best social media campaigns (March)

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Econsultancy created a list of top of social campaigns and stories that engaged users in March of 2016. Although this list does not compile a year’s worth of top social campaigns, our favorite social story comes from Microsoft’s campaign to inspire young women to join the world of technology.

Microsoft released their #MakeWhatsNext social media campaign on International Women’s Day. Looking to challenge the narrative that inventions are only “man made”, Microsoft brought forward female inventors that have had a meaningful impact on society. The message was powerful and timely, evoking emotions of joy and inspiration. In addition to the social campaign, Microsoft launched a patent program that aids and supports female inventors during the patenting process. 

Hubspot’s 12 Personalized Email Examples You Can’t Help but Click

birchbox 

In 2016, the best email campaigns continued to use hyper-personalization to drive conversions. Hubspot compiled a strong list of the top 12 email campaigns in terms of high customer engagement and reach.

Of this list, our personal favorite is BirchBox, who communicated to their subscribers that they have taken a look at their purchase history to create a highly-tailored email offer. Birchbox does an exceptional job of understanding and investing in consumer behavior data and it translates to strong customer retention. 

Biggest fails

As always, we can’t showcase the best of digital advertising without mentioning the biggest blunders of 2016. We won’t name names, of course, but here are some gaffes we don’t want to see repeated in 2017!

  1. Confusing celebrities: With many brands looking to engage in pop culture conversations, some have fallen victim to mislabeling celebrities who look alike. In one particularly embarrassing and widely reported case, a brand confused Whoopi Goldberg with Oprah Winfrey.

  2. Geography fails: National pride is a powerful thing, which means mistaking the outline of a country’s geography on an ad can really stir up controversy. In 2016, one brand used an outdated map of a targeted country in their social media campaign, causing immediate backlash.

  3. It’s politics: The Republican party sent out a tweet toward a Democratic leader, stating “She doesn’t stand up for Veterans”. Sadly, this Democratic leader had lost her legs while serving in Iraq. To make matters worse, this tweet was sent on International Women’s day.  It really doesn’t get much worse than that.
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