Online Marketing Trends for 2016
With the New Year upon us, aside from all the New Year’s Eve traditions, many marketers are starting to forecast what’s to come in the world of digital. In 2016, marketing will shape the way that businesses grow or fail to grow. Here is a list of online marketing trends I predict will be on the up and up in 2016.
1. Videos over written content.
After Facebook, YouTube is the second most visited site with more than a billion users accessing it every month. If this doesn’t indicate a clear dominance of videos over the written word, what does! With production costs falling considerably and availability of apps such as six-second video wonder Vine, even small business can afford to use videos for promotion. This offers an easier and more impactful medium for engaging your target audience. If market trends are to go by, written content will become outdated in 2016.
2. Content marketing as a standalone strategy.
Content will still be king, however until now, content has been part of well-rounded SEO campaigns. In 2016 content marketing will emerge as a standalone tool for improving online visibility. The focus will shift from engaging to interactive content. Interactions will be marked by features like real-time polls, animated presentations and gamification (more on that to come). It is, therefore, important to work on dedicated content marketing projects customized for a target segment’s specific needs.
3. The rise of gamification marketing.
This opportunity is by far my favourite! I know what you’re probably thinking because it’s what I was thinking before I went to an event focused on gamification marketing at the start of 2015 – “What does the gaming industry have to do with marketing?” Coming out of the event, I was not only intrigued by the psychology of “gamification,” the tactics of engagement and how it could be incorporated into a marketer’s communications strategy, I am also convinced that it will play an increasingly important role in how businesses attract, cultivate and retain brand advocates over the coming years.
4. Marketing automation will become standard.
Marketing automation is leading the way in sales, lead generation and prospect nurturing. Using a marketing automation platform makes it easier to identify market opportunities, referral partners, segment databases, align service offerings, map sales sequences, schedule communications, automate social media posting, manage content, and track the lifecycle of customers in your marketing funnel. This automation trend also highlights the growth of convergence, which allows businesses to stay lean, efficient, focused, and as profitable as possible without compromising on quality.
With even more focus on marketing to deliver results, marketing managers should be taking stock of their team’s skills, noting the gaps and defining a robust automation strategy to enable sales through engaging prospects, qualifying leads, and shortening the overall sales cycle.
5. PPC will be more targeted and customised.
For the past few years, paid search has been all about targeting the right set of keywords to find people who may or may not be in-market for your products, but this strategy has a lot of flaws. From generating irrelevant clicks and site visits, PPC can be very saturated in a competitive market and expensive if your keyword strategy isn’t flawless. Even if you’re targeting the most relevant set of keywords, your volume might be so low that you’re not reaching nearly enough searchers to generate new business let alone achieve a ROMI.
Google prides itself on protecting searcher information, but it also knows what advertisers want, which is why Google introduced Customer Match in November 2015. Customer Match allows you to upload a list of contacts you already have and target them through search. This feature is also available on Facebook and Twitter, and will essentially make search and social become more like email marketing by serving ads to people who are within a certain stage of your sales funnel.
For instance, let’s say you captured a list of emails from a recent webinar. You can then target these people on Google, Twitter, or Facebook with relevant offers. In 2016, PPC will need to become more personal to ensure effectiveness. Marketers will need to utilise new features, to connect with their prospects and customers at the right time with messages catered to them.
6. Social content will be indexed by Google.
Did you know that Google have deals with Twitter and Facebook? In the upcoming year, social posts will carry a higher value and will be considered equivalent to any other independent web page. The distinction between web and social media will begin to blur and content strategy leveraged through social media will become as important as ever.
7. Marketing charitable efforts.
More and more (especially with millennials) charitable giving is being seen as a valuable and praiseworthy asset to have. When a customer is deciding on which online business to go with, how much they trust the business will play a huge role in their decision. More than product quality, service quality, or reputation, a company’s level of trust and rapport with its customers is critical to the buying decision. Thus, if a company can illustrate itself as charitable and caring, customers will have a higher level of trust. A key part of executing community service efforts for acquisition and retention is marketing. Without marketing, charitable efforts can be wasted. Once you have planned and participated in a charity event, make sure that you take photos, write articles, and gain content that you can show to other people. Post the content on social media, in newsletters, and in emails.
8. App explosion thanks to Google app indexing.
With Google recently taking up app indexing, 2016 is likely to be a year that sees an unprecedented rise in mobile apps. More and more businesses are waking up to the viability of a dedicated smartphone app over mobile-optimized sites. Although a complete wipe-out of websites is still a long way off, 2016 will definitely herald this change, with effectiveness of apps for improving online becoming apparent.
9. Clear dominance of mobile over desktops.
When was the last time you used a desktop computer to browse the internet, log on to social media or shop online? Can’t recall? You are not alone. The growing outreach of smartphones has marked a clear deviation from the use of desktops. The State Of The News Media 2015 report by the Pew Research Center highlights that mobile users account for the majority of traffic on digital portals. This is reflective of a general trend in the way internet accessibility is changing.
10. Need for newer optimisation techniques.
With so many changes coming about in different aspects of digital marketing, how can the same SEO techniques work effectively? The most crucial SEO techniques for 2016 include mobile-friendliness, with a perceived impact of 88%, dwell time in terms of data usage (67%), analysing perceived value of webpage content (81%), whereas tools such as anchor text and back links are likely to lose effectiveness.
Periods of quick searches and online browsing intervals during the user journey were labelled Micro-Moments by Google in 2015, and businesses will need to be present in all steps along the way to gain favourable SEO results. Tracking events and using goals on various devices, and measuring protocol overview will be needed in 2016 to stitch a full user journey together.
11. Use of machine-generated content.
While machine-generated content is not completely unheard of even in the present context, it is likely to become a hot and debatable topic in the realm of digital marketing in 2016. A majority of online content may still, however, be written by humans. However, e-commerce portals may turn to companies specialising in machine-generated content for elements such as unique product description. Auto-generated content will simplify the problems of affordability for small and medium level players in e-commerce.
12. Rising popularity of wearable technology like smartwatches.
Apple led the way in the field of wearable technology by introducing the Apple Watch, and all leading electronics players followed suit. Though the trend took some time catching up, 2016 is likely to be the year when wearable gadgets such as smart watches rule. These devices will make the concept of Internet of Things more tangible and blur lines between real and online marketing.
13. Greater convergence on social media platforms.
Social media platforms are constantly evolving in a bid to address all user needs in one place. Facebook making way for purchasing directly through the site is a case in point. With a view to provide an overwhelming customer experience, more and more social media sites will aim for greater convergence of features such as offering search and shop options. This will also give rise to targeted social media advertising.