We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have over a decade of experience in digital marketing and an obsession with reading about the latest technologies, tools and trends the marketing sphere has to offer. This year, we’ve made a lot of great things happen for clients old and new. You’ll see a lot of ho-hum advice about how you have to “optimize for mobile” or “focus on content marketing” or “track big data” — but we find these suggestions to be tired and, quite frankly, beaten to death over the years.
These aren’t the only marketing trends you will see in 2016 but are the ones that will give you the best results.
8 Marketing Trends For 2016
1. Live marketing will take center stage.
At least one form of live marketing should be in your arsenal come 2016. With the debut of exciting channels like SnapChat, Periscope, Meerkat and Blab in 2015, these platforms are likely to see significant growth in the year to come. These sites are great ways to:
Marketers are already buzzing about ways they’ll use new virtual reality platforms like Oculus Rift to live-stream events. For instance, Elle magazine is planning a fashion show that gives consumer access to exciting interactive environments. Senior VP Kevin O’Malley explained: “That could be a tiki hut jutting over gentle waters in Polynesia, or it could be front row at a fashion show that they normally only see on TV, where they can see the celebrities who are there. It’s quite another thing to be front row and when you turn to your left, you are sitting next to celebrity X, Y or Z.”
For years, we heard “Content is King, Content is King,” so we invested in producing more content. Of course, more isn’t all there is to it. Your messages need to be compelling and sell a personal narrative that makes your brand unique. Your target audience expects you to know a lot about their preferences and tailor your messages to suit them. As Elena Prokopets points out, last year was full of winning digital storytelling campaigns — like the H&M Garment Collecting initiative and The Last Selfie Snapchat campaign by WWF. To get a pulse on your customers, she recommends the Kinnect2 platform to gather opinions and feedback that can drive your brand story in 2016.
It’s estimated that 28% of Americans will adopt wearable technology by the end of 2016. Google Glass has been one of the most talked-about products of 2015. There are seemingly limitless ways a product like wearable Google glasses can change the marketing landscape. For instance:
– A person walking through a neighborhood can switch on Google Glass for local business reviews.
– Walking tour apps can be developed to make Google Glass more relevant for users.
– Behavior tracking data goes offline and ads can now be sold in “pay-per-gaze” increments.
– Company execs can livestream what they’re seeing and experiencing through their eyewear.
– Online shopping will become easier and more effective than ever with faster delivery expectations.
– Marketers will have new opportunities to provide real-time deals, discounts and promotions to passersby.
– Investing in providing more micro-data on your website will pay off as shoppers seek more information.
The Apple Watch is another product with many practical applications for marketers — particularly in the travel sector. Skift.com reports that consumers are using the smart devices for navigation, bookings, and slideshow viewing. The Content Marketing Institutehas a good article on how to start wrapping your mind around the changes that wearable technology will bring in the next year or so.
Marketers will need to think of social networks as their Search Engine Optimization investments. It’s no longer all about Google. Though Google currently handles about two-thirds of search traffic, a huge chunk of the populace is shifting to social media searches. Consider these stats:
– Twitter handles over 19 billion search queries a month (more than 5x the volume of Bing!)
– Facebook handles about 1 billion search queries a day.
– YouTube receives over 3.7 billion search queries a month.
– One recent survey found 87% of respondents went directly to Pinterest for advice & opinions on what to buy.
– Another survey revealed that 80% of consumers are heavily influenced by online reviews, comments and social media recommendations.
Digital List Mag explains that customers will likely flock to social media sites searching for product image and video-based content, which they view as more trustworthy. Neil Patel advises businesses to “stay active on your social networks: pay attention to them, curate them, improve them, enhance them, and remain plugged into this valuable resource.”
[Tweet “In 2016, #social networks will be the new #SEO.”]
5. Voice activation optimization is worthy of your consideration.
Siri processed 1 billion search queries per week in January 2015. ClickZhas referred to voice-activated search as “the next great marketing opportunity.” To optimize your business information for programs like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana, Mobile Marketerrecommends:
– Consolidating local business listings and checking for accuracy on sources like Google+ Local, Yahoo, Facebook, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, and Yelp.
– Creating a formal customer review program to boost Siri ranking.
– Using rich snippet and schema tags to make your business easier to find.
– Optimizing for highly targeted long-tail keyword phrases matching variations in the way people talk.
“A veritable app explosion is expected in the new year, given 87 percent of all mobile time was spent in apps versus browsers in 2015,” reports Memphis Daily News. About a third of all e-commerce sales originate from mobile devices and are largely in-app sales, so the Return-On-Investment for companies who develop their own apps is often worthwhile.
These old staples of online marketing are quickly being replaced with native advertising, which “seamlessly blend[s] engaging content into the property’s environment.” More than ever, 2016 web surfers will receive their information in the form of juicy headlines posted at the bottom of mainstream media sites, engaging videos coming up in their social media feeds, or relevant blogs that surreptitiously slide out of the background of a site they’re on. The line between paid advertising and organic content becomes blurry — but people are largely cool with that, as long as the message is relevant, timely, and not too in-your-face. Marketers are finding more powerful returns with media-rich ads, podcasts, video ads, content marketing, promoted posts and user-generated content.
8. Pay to play with influencer marketing investments.
There are endless ways you can “pay to play” in the world of digital marketing. According to MarTechAdvisor, “earned media value from influencers during the first half of 2015 was 1.4 times higher than the yearly average from 2014, garnering $9.60 for every dollar spent.” Brands looking to engage with millennials specifically will find great success using influencer engagement, they report. “Companies create loyalists and brand advocates” by engaging in relationship marketing — and doing it well, says Hubspot.
Even so, 84% of marketers are planning at least one influencer marketing campaign in the coming year, says Augure. In terms of ROI, influencer marketing trumps celebrity endorsements, experiential marketing and TV advertising alike. The cost of sponsored social campaigns can run as low as $331 for a sponsored tweet, $384 for a sponsored blog, or $554 for a sponsored video — or accumulate to reach $500,000 a year if you’ve got that kind of cash lying around.