15 important digital marketing trends to focus on in 2016
Digital marketing is not just about challenges but opportunities. In fact, the opportunities are staggering. In traditional industries the upside is huge as they are the most ripe to be disrupted by someone who “gets” digital.
So what are the advantages of digital marketing?
- The ability to reach a much bigger market by moving from local thinking to global.
- Scaling and amplifying your efforts with technology.
- Measurable results from data that reveals what works and what doesn’t.
- Free crowd sourced social media brand content that amplifies your marketing for free
These are just some of the opportunities that the mobile and the social web allow.
These are the digital marketing trends that you should be focusing on to take advantage of these opportunities
1. The focus on “Return on Investment”
When social media started to be recognised as not just a plaything for teenagers, the marketers started piling in. They realized that it was free marketing driven by the global online crowd. Facebook “likes” were the new gold rush. For the last 7 years the shiny new social media toy has distracted us. We have talked about trust, engagement, and other fluffy metrics.
Social media is now to be treated as just another digital channel. The reality has set in and the question is being asked “What is the return on investment”. The CEO is saying “Show me the sales”.
Social media is great for traffic, brand awareness, and customer engagement but as you move down the sales funnel the other digital marketing tactics are vital. Landing pages that convert and an email list that gives you control of customer contact. No longer can you rely on Facebook to provide free traffic to your website or blog. It’s become just another paid advertising channel.
It’s time to stop chasing every new social media distraction. It’s time to get serious and focus on what matters. Moving beyond vanity metrics like traffic, likes, and sharing to the sharp end of the sales funnel. Return on investment.
2. The continuing rise in the importance of digital assets
In the past advertising was just seen as an expense.
But in the new age of digital it should be seen more as an investment in the future of your online authority. It is an asset build. Advertisements that had a lifetime of 30 seconds and never to be seen again and cost hundreds of thousands are being added to and even replaced by online videos that can be viewed this year and into the future.
This new media is indexed by Google and shared on Facebook and Twitter. They are searchable now and will be found on the web in a decade. Media creation is a digital content asset that provides brand value now and will keep giving. In 10 years the content you created today will be found in a Google search.
Digital content assets
Your website is your most important digital asset. Its the one you own and have the most control over. Google, Facebook or Twitter don’t have control here. But a website should be a living, breathing, and evolving honeypot that keeps bring people back to read and view. For most sites the blog is, or should be, the content hub.
Search engine assets
Below is one of my search assets. Ranking position one and two on a Google search for “social media facts”. This brings in about 30,000 visitors a month. But it does take time and persistence. Keep in mind that organic search rankings can bring in 300% more traffic than social.
The new age marketers that win will be the ones with the best content who know how to make it flow across the web and optimised for discovery. They will understand the power of content “marketing”.
Social media assets
Another digital asset are your tribes on social media. You may have the content but do you have the crowd to distribute it?
That is why growing and investing in your social network following is a long term game.
I have been investing in building my Twitter tribe for years!
Investing in growing your digital assets is vital and content is the foundation.
The mantra of “think like a publisher” has been embraced by brands like Red Bull, Coca Cola and Lego. You need to be investing in your digital content assets and global distribution networks.
3. Thinking global instead of local
You competition is no longer just local. Amazon is the global competitor for the corner book store and much more. Online stores that are owned by corporations in London are selling to your customers in New York, Los Angeles, or even Sydney.
Small thinking needs to be discarded. The world can now be reached with a tweet, an email or a blog post that is shared on social.
4. Crowd sourced brand content is essential
Coca Cola decided to re-invent and pivot its marketing philosophy from creative excellence to content marketing excellence when it discovered an essential truth about the digital world. That your customers and fans could create many more stories, content, and conversations about your brand than they could ever hope to build or buy on their own.
Scaling content on your own is expensive and hard to do.
In some recent research Onalytica discovered that just on YouTube alone that brand fans were creating 99% of the content that mentioned the brand. Discover how to do that well and you are on your way to earning that free attention that companies crave.
5. The rise of the robots
Marketing was just an art. Now it is being amplified and optimised by technology and science. Human intuition and creativity is being enhanced by data. The splintering of media means that to do digital marketing at scale you need help. Digital marketing platforms provide automation tools that allow you to publish and market at scale.
- Email: Automated email sequences can be designed to run from opt-in to purchase without human intervention.
- Social: Tweets and Facebook posts that were all done by hand are now loaded, scheduled, and automated.
- Paid Digital Advertising: Knowing what works and what doesn’t makes sure that we are spending our Facebook marketing dollars on the right creative, approaching the correct target audiences, and identifying the calls to action that work best.
Marketing effectiveness is also able to be measured for impressions, engagement, and clicks. We now have the ability to measure almost any data point. The old marketing joke attributed to John Wanamaker over a century ago will become a relic of the past — “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Measurement is what the digital world excels at. But you need to know what to measure and the digital tools to do it.
6. Email is alive and kicking
Email is still a digital trend that isn’t going away.
The rise of social media and all those multiple messaging apps (Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, and much more) have lead many people to question the future of email. But it will not be going away anytime soon. It is still the default business communication tool.
Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Slack — a chatroom app for teams in workplaces — says this about email; “The reason email survives — even though everyone seems to hate it — is that email has many benefits, it’s the lowest common denominator for official communications”. To those that expect email to disappear… wait another 30 years!
For marketers, email will continue to be the key communication channel for acquiring leads and customers. The money is indeed in the list.
7. Personalisation has arrived
Relevance is key to catching and holding attention offline and online.
Delivering content that engages and sells means tagging customers interests as they discover you and subscribe to your email list.
There are now a variety of digital marketing technologies from email to marketing software that are now available that can provide personalised marketing. They are also within the resources and reach of most businesses. They will allow you to do personalisation at scale.
8. The data scientist is your next hire
In the past direct mail, print, and mass media were your only option. Experience, skill, and intuition were the marketers only friends to achieve optimal results. Today there is a new and vital component.
The web now provides us with the data we need to determine what works and what doesn’t. The guesswork is disappearing. A/B split testing can be automated (eg Leadpages.net allows this with their template landing pages). The new emerging media sites like Buzzfeed, Viral Nova, and Upworthy’s success is not from just creative excellence but data driven decisions.
So believe the data… not your intuition.
9. Mobile is now your first screen
Mobile was called the second screen but that has been flipped. It is now the primary screen for most.
You only have to look at where most of Facebook’s revenue comes from (over 75% is from mobile advertising) and it becomes clear that smart phones should be a big part of the marketers focus.
Mobile raises the challenge of “less is more”. You cannot do everything on mobile so you have to do what matters. So what is that?
- Capturing email leads via mobile (see image below)
- Easy to read and view content on mobile
- Calls to action that are easy to use
- Contact details that don’t require finger dancing
Keep in mind that as you move from local to global that most of the 3 billion new internet users coming online in the next 5 years will be accessing your website via a smartphone.
10. Powerful digital platforms for all business
As the cost of technology drops, the access to powerful software that was only in the past accessible by the big end of town has become a reality for all.
What are those platforms?
They are customer CRM and digital marketing automation software such as Infusionsoft, Ontraport, Hubspot, Marketo and many more. Once they have been acquired by the business the next challenge is learning how to use them.
11. The rise and rise of paid social media advertising
Social media was free. That is what attracted me and many marketers 7 years ago. But things have changed. Facebook has wound it’s organic reach for pages back to almost zero. Want to reach your Facebook fans? It’s pay to play.
All social networks are now in this game and as social media has become just another media channel that reality is not going away. You are going to need to adapt.
Facebook makes big money from this. But if you are paying you need to make sure you are measuring the results. You don’t want to be spending $100 in advertising every day and only making $50 in profit. Don’t pay for traffic until you know what it produces.
That is why advertising on the web and a data scientist are a match made in heaven.
12. Influencer marketing takes off
Nike pays Tiger Woods and many other athletes for one thing —helping them reach the right audience.
Online influencers and niche bloggers now offer this for brands to reach targeted global audiences. They offer not only global reach but credibility and trust. Companies are now willing to pay for that attention.
A recent report from Group High reveals that influencer marketing is no longer a freebie but often requires a paid investment.
13. Virtual reality is real
It’s still early days but the rapid evolution of virtual reality and the big investment by players such as Google and Facebook with its Occulus Rift acquisition for $2 billion is setting the stage for immersive marketing.
Marketing webinars that educate while wearing a virtual reality headset will have incredible engagement capabilities.
14. Wearable technology takes its first steps
Do you wear a Apple watch? Have you been reminded to stand to reach your standing goal several times during the day as it vibrates gently on your wrist. As the web becomes noisier and more crowded the use of wearable technology by marketers will be tested.
Standing out will become even harder and marketers will need to find different ways of communicating with potential customers that work.
15. Mobile apps for all business
In the past the cost of developing an app was high. Today the costs are plummeting as the technology has improved. The domination of the web by mobile will lead to companies realising that an app is no longer an option, but a necessity.
What about you?
What digital marketing trends have you adopted? Has it made a difference. What technology are you thinking of implementing? What do you think is the most important trend that will disrupt your industry?Back