2016 Digital Marketing Predictions From Six Marketing Experts

Digital Marketing Predictions From the Experts for 2016

If 2015 was any indication, 2016 is going to be a wild one.

In 2015, we saw trends like video streaming finally take off and podcasts become the hottest trend. We saw new technologies sore to the front pages of TechCrunch to only find themselves being an afterthought a few months later.

So what will 2016 bring us?

I’ve compiled some of the most insightful predictions from a few of the most insightful folks I know. If you’re curious as to what is in store for marketers in the coming months, this is an article you won’t want to miss…

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Now let’s get to it shall we…

Prediction #1: Brands finally start to go all-in on Content Marketing

Ronell Smith, Content Strategist & Moz Associate

RonellSmith

Content marketing is a lot like dieting: Long-term success is only enjoyed by those who are consistent (Tweet this). I’m hopeful that in 2016 brands looking to make a serious go of content marketing will finally realize they’ll have to go all-in and stop half-assing it.

This process begins in stages:

1 – Defining the brand’s opportunity (e.g., discerning the vertical that’s best served by the brand’s expertise, products and/or services)

2 – Carving out a niche with a subset of the audience in that vertical

3 – Delivering engaging, meaningful content to the audience consistently It’s simple, but it won’t be easy. But if lasting content marketing success is the goal, options are limited.

In 2016, I’m confident some brands will stop simply knowing better and start doing better as well.

Ross’ Take On This Prediction:

One of the biggest struggles for brands is finding the time and resources to be consistent. When Ronell describes consistency, I believe he’s talking about both the consistency in terms of quality content along with the consistency in the creation of content.

If you’re consistently creating mediocre content, you’ll consistently find mediocre results. And if you’re consistently curating mediocre content, you’ll also find mediocre results. This is why we’ve built Crate. It’s a tool that can help ensure that you’re not falling into the trap of sharing mediocre content.

Resources To Help With You Capitalize On This:

How The Production Mindset Threatens To Ruin Content Marketing

2 Essential Elements for Getting Started With Content Marketing

Why Meaning Will Ultimately Determine Your Brand’s Content Marketing Success

Prediction #2: Tactics surrounding both education & marketing begin to merge

Nichole Elizabeth Demeré, SaaS Consultant + CSO at Inturact

Nichole

The most inspiring, forward-thinking educators and marketers may have different goals, but I see a future in which their methods converge (Tweet this).

Education is evolving right alongside our ideas of how to deliver what people want in the ways they need. And, just as educators learn how to teach their students, marketers can use the same techniques to reach their audiences. Two thought-leaders in education right now are Salman Kahn and Sir Ken Robinson. They both argue that education works better when it’s interactive and individualized – much like marketing.

Ross’ Take On This Prediction:

When you take a look at both Sir Ken Robinson and Salman Kahn’s perspective on education, there’s one constant theme. Both understand the value of creating and delivering content that is tailored to a specific audience. Students interested in graphic design are going to respond differently than students interested in astrophysics. And two students studying graphic design could still be engaged more effectively using two completely different approaches.

For marketers, this insight leads us to ask how well we know our audience, what we can do to know them better and how can we communicate to them in a  way that feels both tailored and valuable.

Resources To Help You Capitalize On This:

Salman Kahn – Let’s Use Video To Reinvent Education

Sir Ken Robinson – Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Education & Marketing In The Future: What They Have In Common

Bonus Prediction From Nichole: 

Content is headed in the direction of being more data-intensive and dataviz (no, not infographics) will be heralding the way. Marketers will have to think critically about the data they’re gathering and how they’re interpreting and presenting it so that they can avoid creating just another population density map.

Prediction #3: You can no longer count on Google as your top source of traffic.

Sujan Patel, Growth Marketer + Co-Founder of ContentMarketer.io

Sujan Patel

Google has been consistently making it more difficult to rank by increasing the bar. As the bar continues to rise it’s going to become out of reach for more and more companies. With the rise of Content Marketing (increase in spend/time up 37% from the year prior) we’ll see social networks become more like search in terms of driving consistent traffic flows and a shift in mindset with more companies focusing on “earning traffic” rather than driving traffic to their website.

Ross’ Take On This Prediction:

This is a trend I’m seeing more and more.

When we look at sites like BuzzFeed or Upworthy, these media giants haven’t built their business off the back of Google – they’ve built their business off the back of social media. As more and more people are spending time on social, it’s going to become more important than ever to focus on creating content that is worth sharing on these platforms. In 2016, brands will be more commited to finding ways to have their content on the feeds of potential customers than having their content in search rankings.

Resources To Help With Your Understanding:

The Tom Sawyer Method of Marketing with Brand Advocates

Content Marketing Lessons From BuzzFeed & World Star

A Data-Driven Approach To Going Viral

Prediction #4: Content isn’t going anywhere; it’s going to continue to grow and rule the marketing landscape

Violeta Nedkova, Marketing & Business Coach

Violeta Nedkova

I’m not the best at making predictions, but I can say what trends are definitely going to continue to grow in 2016 – live-streaming, visual content, and content curation.

If you ask me, content is not going anywhere; it’s going to continue to grow and rule the marketing landscape (Tweet This), so start investing in quality content. I put the emphasis on quality because investing in content that parrots what everyone else is saying is just silly.

Finally, authentic marketing and personal branding are going to become bigger and bigger as people get tired of brands trying to sell them things. 2016 may be the year of “brand shock”.

Ross’ Take On This Prediction:

We live in a world where too many people are creating content that “parrots” what everyone else is saying. I understand that there’s only so much you can say about Facebook advertising but that’s when you need to get a bit creative and try something new. It could be running a research experiment like Buffer did when they found that 3rd party apps weren’t being penalized or sharing a Case Study like Brian Dean of Backlinko. The key to standing out in a world of noise is identifying what your audience wants and delivering it in a unique way (Tweet This).

Resources To Help You Capitalize On This Insight:

15 Kings of eCommerce Content Marketing

The 3 P’s of Authentic Marketing: Passion, Purpose, and Personality

The Ultimate Guide to Content Curation On Twitter

Prediction #5: CRO becomes an acronym more agencies embrace

Joel Klettke, Founder of BusinessCasualCopywriting.com

JoelKlettke

I think we’re going to see more and more agencies rolling “CRO” into their service offerings, and more clients requesting this type of service.

All the buzz seems to be pointed at conversion rates right now, and people are waking up to the idea of converting existing traffic in a world where earning more of it is getting increasingly difficult to do. And since CRO plays nicely with SEO, PPC, and Social Media (and boosts the effectiveness of lead gen from all those channels), it’s too big (and too lucrative) an opportunity for most to ignore.

Ross’ Take On This Prediction:

Joel understands the Conversion Rate Optimization space better than most so when he puts this out there, I have to listen. The opportunity here lies in the fact that CRO is a blend of both the art and science of marketing & communications. It’s a combination of data and gut – which makes it exciting but also a challenging code for brands and marketers to crack.

Resources To Help You Capitalize On This:

Five Conversion Rate Lessons From 1 Screenshot

How To Turn Visitors Into Customers

Prediction #6: The line between editorial content & ecommerce will begin to blur

Tommy Walker, Marketing at Shopify

TommyWalker

Thanks to the embeddable buy button the line between editorial content and commerce will begin to blur. Eventually content, marketing & buying is seamless.

If you’re reading a book review on Paste.com, you could buy the book directly on Paste then continue reading whatever catches your eye next. If you’re on a website listening to a podcast, and they mention something you want, you’ll just buy it without ever leaving the website.

This makes sense in a lot of ways, because it means that we can stop competing for attention with the channels that are supposed to bring us customers.

Ecommerce growth has doubled in the last 8 years, and I personally believe we’ll witness a massive explosion once the funnel’s been flattened, and people buy directly from the blogs, podcasts, and news sources they already trust.

Ross’ Take On This Prediction:

This one has me pretty excited. I think the idea of content becoming a part of the e-commerce experience is an approach that more brands need to take. Whether we’re talking about product descriptions or the content that they develop to generate leads – 2016 is when the focus on remarkable content starts to happen.

Resources To Help With You Capitalize On It:

The Death of Advertising as We Know It

11 Easy Content Marketing Ideas You Can Put Into Action Today

BONUS MARKETING PREDICTION: As the content noise increases, the art of content curation becomes more valuable

Ross Simmonds

The signs that readers are ignoring ads are everywhere.

From ad blockers to actual research – we know that people are clicking fewer ads while both the media and brands struggle to figure out a solution. In 2016, I’m a believer that more and more brands are going to look to native advertising as an opportunity to tell their story.

It’s already starting with some of the more crafty and agile brands. In 2016, we’ll see the tipping point as more and more Fortune 500 companies will begin allocating media budget towards native advertising and moving dollars out of the display networks.

Now It’s Your Turn…

You’ve just read what the experts think.

Now I want to hear from you.

What is your 2016 marketing predictions? What do you think has the potential to change the game?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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