8 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2016

Introduction:

Happy 2016! We’re fresh and ready and excited to be back. We’re kicking off a year of great content with some digital marketing predictions for the next 12 months and letting you know what those will mean for your company’s own 2016 strategy and planning. We wrote a similar post at the beginning of 2015, where we talked about mobile, social media, and content marketing. A year later it seems many businesses have adopted many of these strategies and platforms, but how will 2016 tweak and transform them?

 

1. A mobile-driven world

As we’re sure you know by now from our Mobilegeddon campaign mid-2015, Google released a mobile-friendly update that boosted the search rankings of mobile-friendly sites. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s hard to find on Google. The Google developer blog also released a statistic reporting that 94% of people in the US with smartphones search for local information on their phones.

2016 will see an even bigger reliance on mobile, and arguably will complete our transformation to a mobile-first world. Newer developments and trends such as app indexing, where your app information shows up in search results, and social media and video advertising taking over the mobile space will push our smartphones further into our hands and into the forefront of marketers’ minds.

 

2. Focus on personalization

Relevance is the word of the hour (or should we say the year?). With website users seeing thousands of pieces of content daily, it’s not just about thinking what they’ll relate to, but what they’ll IMMEDIATELY relate to and want to click. Some of the digital tools out there nowadays take out all the guesswork and easily allow companies and marketers to create in-depth audience insights by and tagging specific interests. The importance of personalization online will also lead to the rise of personalized marketing (also referred to as targeted marketing and one-on-one marketing). This form of marketing usually done through automation, makes a unique product offering to each customer.

 

Video marketing: sticking around and expanding

80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019. (Source). I feel like we can just drop that statistic and end there. But I won’t.

This year, it’s not enough to create and promote a video ad on social media. Brands have gotten the hang of that already. (Seriously, have you taken a look at your Facebook feed lately? I’m looking at mine on my phone right now, and see a video ad for Wendy’s Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger, a Marvel sponsored ad about Netflix’s Jessica Jones, and a Universal Pictures trailer for the newest Tina Fey movie. All within a single swipe).

Video isn’t going away, and it will just get bigger. The ads will be even more prevalent than they are now, especially the ones “under-the-15-second sweet spot, long enough to convey a message but short enough to hold a user’s attention”(business2community). Just like app indexing, video ads are going to start showing up in Google search results more frequently in 2016. Seeing a trend?

 

Marketing automation

Staying ahead of the digital marketing game in 2016 means understanding marketing automation and experimenting with it. As social media expert Jeff Bullas writes, “human intuition and creativity is being enhanced by data”. Instead of randomly firing off a few marketing campaigns on social media and otherwise throughout the year, companies and marketers are now getting more strategic and more targeted with their messages. With billions of mobile moments happening each day, 2016 looks like the time to allow marketing robots to take over and expertly rapid fire your message out to the right people. You just won’t have the bandwidth to keep up with those companies going full robot.

Digital tools out there such as Hubspot, Marketo, and SimplyCast use their own algorithms to deliver email and social media campaigns, decide the best time to interact with users, and maximize the effectiveness of any other paid digital advertising campaigns. Looking into marketing automation is especially useful if you’re a smaller company trying to expand your reach and maximize your dollars.

 

5. Content Collaboration

User-generated content (or crowd-funded content) is on the up-and-up. We went to a great social media event at the end of last year with a panel of Vancouver experts in marketing and social media. The Global Marketing Director at Herschel Supply Co. Mikey Scott had a lot to say about how user-generated content promotes the Herschel brand. “The dream situation is when we can get users to create content for us…if we have product photos on Instagram, they’re from real users sending the photos to us. None of our #welltravelled photos to date are paid”. In speaking of the ‘well travelled campaign’, Scott refers to the company’s well-populated Instagram account that is “65-70% user generated”. “That’s how people get involved”, he said. “They didn’t even know they were marketing. There is a little thing about recognition that makes people want to help and do things for you”. 

As a company, think of ways to expand your content reach beyond just the daily blog post or company newsletter. Speak to your readers about generating content, look into relationship and influencer marketing (another big 2016 trend), and really reach people in the places they visit and read every day. Then offer to have them write about it!

 

Trusting data, not your gut

This goes hand in hand with marketing automation and how digital tools are now able to tell you everything from who’s looking at your site, to where they’re coming from, to what they’re into, to the next time they decide to come back. Phew. The sheer volume of data about your marketing campaigns, your customers, and your target audience is so great that most companies turn to other agencies who are experts at sifting through the info and figuring out what’s working best. One of the beautiful things about all the metrics being made available to us in 2016 is that companies no longer have to guess at what’s working with their digital marketing strategy and what’s falling short.

Getting all this big data is useless, however, if companies aren’t using what they know to make better decisions. The real prediction for this point should be: 2016, the year of the constant tweaking. Online metrics should be checked weekly, if not daily, and companies need to be making changes based on what converts better.

 

Finding your social network niche

When customers are spreading their time evenly amongst Facebook, Twitter, email, LinkedIn, Instagram, text message, Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat (you get what we mean), it’s more important than ever this coming year to be able to talk to them on the channel of their choosing. Instead of spreading yourselves thin and posting everywhere, conserving resources and focusing in on where your target audience hangs out will be crucial in the New Year. Although social media automation like Hootsuite helps with this, what’s the use of maintaining a dedicated Pinterest account when you’re looking to target 50+ year old investors?

On the other side of that, however, are companies that are focusing their marketing efforts on newer, less saturated social networks such as Snapchat and Periscope when old faithfuls like Facebook and Twitter are getting too crowded for comfort. Understanding where your company operates best, whether it’s ‘in with the new’ or the tried and true, will be beneficial for you moving forward.

 

Moving beyond the listicle

Ironic, we know, as you’re reading this in a listicle post. (Hey, we’re only five days into 2016, these predictions stretch out the full year). While the 15 Ways to Bake Incredible Things with Cheese posts are still top performing internet content (thanks, Buzzfeed), we predict the rise and popularity of more long-form content websites such as Medium. Inc, and Mic.com. We’re still firm believers that quality work over quantity will succeed at the end of the day. Although our attention spans are shrinking, people are still willing to read quality pieces, as evidenced by the wild popularity and viral attention of many longer articles on Medium. Plus, we think it’s time people need to start sucking it up and read paragraphs again.

 

 

What did you think about our list? Agree? Disagree? We’d love to know either way. Shoot us an email at info@blendermedia.com or talk directly to us on Twitter @BlenderMedia.

 


Marika Hirsch
Marika Hirsch

As Blender’s Content Manager (aka ‘Resident Wordsmith’) Marika enjoys bringing readers the latest and greatest in both digital trends and IR tips. Follow along on Twitter: