5 Digital Trends to Watch Out For in 2016

SMS Text
5 Digital Trends to Watch Out For in 2016

Every year brings with it new opportunities for digital success, and in this post, you will see my digital movers and shakers watch list for 2016.

The focus has been on the top search marketing and digital trends to keep a look out for so you can consider adding them into your marketing mix more effectively (or for the first time) as we move further into 2016.

Social Media Slows but Will Continue to Grow

I feel like I am cheating slightly by adding this in, however, when looking at the dominant, unstoppable forces for 2016, I cannot omit social media. With new social media platforms entering the market and existing channels continuing to grow, this social media take over is far from over, although I expect the channel specific growth to slow somewhat.

Search Engine Journal’s Aki Libo-on wrote about this social media growth infographic that covers everything from active users and annual growth, through to user demographics and platform stats. Here’s a snippet from the infographic:

SEJ annual social network user growth worldwide 2012-2018

According to a recent report from Our Social Times:

  • Over a nine month period, the growth of Instagram far exceeded that of other social media platforms, including a growth spurt (between March and December 2014) where it surpassed the 300 million user mark and expanded its audience by approximately 50 percent
  • Facebook, surprisingly, had more video views in a single month that YouTube from desktops, however, the change in the Facebook video ‘auto play’ functionality likely had a direct impact on that
  • Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social media and messaging apps with six monthly growth in 2014 exceeding that of Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, and many other alternatives

Low-Cost Marketing Will Expand—It’s Not All About Emails

When you think of low-cost marketing the first item that often springs to mind is email marketing. By 2016, I would imagine that a vast majority of businesses have trialed incorporating emails for newsletters, company  updates, industry changes, promotions, exciting news and more. By comparison, a fewer percentage will have expanded this low-cost marketing scope to incorporate items like text marketing (also known as SMS marketing and mobile marketing), but there is a growing trend.

According to UK SMS providers, Textlocal’s M-Commerce’ white paper, a company who I work with,:

Almost 4 million men and women in the UK are keen to hear from retailers by text at least once per month.

When you begin to broaden the types of low-cost marketing and expand the areas within the marketing mix that to employ, you will be surprised by the responses gained, even from the same distribution lists. One of the factors for this is that people digest communication differently, so acknowledging that in the diversity of approaches to your target audience will improve key performance metrics like open rates, response rates, and more.

Digital Marketing Will Become Even More Integrated in 2016

When you have distinct search marketing and digital expertise collaboratively working, you will be able to mitigate most of the drawbacks of one marketing channel with the benefits of another. From initial objective setting and strategy creation, through to identification of key results, metrics for defining success, and ultimately actions completed – many more businesses will be investing in integrated search marketing as 2016 progresses.

Below you can see an example of a digital integrated working model:

A model to show how SEO, socila media, PPC, and other digital mediums can effectively work together

To support effective integrated working, companies will become more creative in their delivery approaches including internal staff interaction, as well as the working relationships with external service providers, changing the historical outsourcing approach to increase the external team mentality.

Omni-channel marketing (really another means to describe multi-channel marketing) was a quickly growing buzzword in 2015 (starting its growth in late 2013), and the trend is set to continue globally in 2016, too. Here is an example of what this trend looks like (you can see the Google Trend here):

omni channel marketing trends 2016

Mobile Will be Included in Every Marketing Strategy

The growth of mobile search has been well documented and a recent study from Smart Insights tells us that this trend is going to remain active for some time to come. Mobile device targeting is not a new trend, but many businesses have not yet embraced it fully, or focused on the mobile opportunity enough to see it reach anywhere near its true ROI potential.  A few key points from this recent study include the following.

Global mobile device users: Mobile users exceed desktop users on a global scale, this means that the opportunity to generate business value from effective mobile marketing has never been greater than it is right now. An increasing number of marketers are changing their approach to reflect this, and I see this continuing to build some momentum through 2016. There is some suggested plateauing of this, but I do not see 2016 being the time-frame in which this comes to fruition.

Internet access types: People are spending the majority of their daily internet viewing time using mobile devices, in fact, 51% of the total time spent in 2015 was with mobile phones and devices. When you consider the often intermittent mobile internet access (consider items like walking to and from locations, periods of working day downtime (breaks, etc.) and often quick internet access actions between tasks) this will shape many marketing approaches based on this and other behavioral identification too.

Mobile ad spend: Compared to the amount of time people spend using mobile phones for accessing the Internet, the ad spend is disproportionately lower than the opportunity. This shows that there is a lag time between consumer technology uptake and marketing focus and spend. This will change the further we move into 2016. While new entry into the mobile advertising space is no longer an option (as it’s potential is widely known), maximising this channel still provides many new opportunities.

Data: It’s Getting Bigger and it’s Real Time

When looking at digital industry trends and key movers and shakers influencing approaches to service delivery, you cannot overlook the role of big data and real-time data. Marketers have access to more information than at any other stage of human existence, and the challenge for successful digital marketing in 2016 and beyond is making meaning from all this data.

Data fuels everything from content creation and insights, through to reporting and strategy refinement. If you are making any digital decisions without data, you are likely overlooking a wealth of extra opportunity.

A data use diagram from Vertical Leap to show integrated team data use

Here’s an example of a deep data platform in action. This is the Apollo Insights platform with information from the agency I work for, Vertical Leap. The screenshot demonstrates agile dashboard functionality, pulling in unique data sets for generating insights from information:

Deep data platform - Apollo Insights - Vertical Leap

What’s Next?

The digital industry is always moving at a fast pace, and perhaps it is the speed of change that is the main constant.

While I am confident in my predictions for 2016 digital trends to watch out for, I am aware that there is so much more that can be added to my list. On this point, I would love to hear what you think about my predictions for digital trend movers and shakers in 2016, as well as your own predictions.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback.

 

Image Credits

Featured Image: Sunny studio/Shutterstock.com
In-post Photo #1: Screenshot by Lee Wilson. Taken February 2016.
In-post Photos #2, #4, and #5: Images by Vertical Leap. Used with permission.
In-post Photo #3: Image by Lee Wilson

Lee Wilson
Lee Wilson is Head of SEO at Vertical Leap, and has headed up digital marketing departments since the early 2000’s. He’s enjoyed delivering search marketing... Read Full Bio
Lee Wilson
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