The digital landscape is in constant flux. What’s hot one minute is suddenly not the next. How are you supposed to know where to best invest your marketing dollars? We’ve sifted through 2016’s biggest trends, and created a list of digital marketing must-haves for the coming year.
Here are 12 up and coming digital marketing trends your business should get in front of for 2016:
1. Content Marketing
Yes, content is still king, and its reign is continuing indefinitely. A mainstay on our ‘trending in…’ posts, content marketing remains an influential part of your marketing strategy. In order to capture (and keep!) your audience’s attention, you have to churn out new content on an ongoing basis.
With so much information constantly streaming through the digital landscape, what was fresh a week ago, is out of date today. To keep your brand on top, creating fresh, relevant content is a must. That means frequently posting blogs, PR, social media, videos and any other relevant digital media. Let us repeat: content is still king; it’s a digital marketing trend that cannot be ignored.
2. Flexible SEO
SEO has always been seen as keyword-driven. However that’s been changing over the last few years and will continue to change in 2016. We’ve seen search engine optimization shift to favour user-experience and rich content. Recent updates to Google’s algorithm, for instance, put a higher premium on how long users remain on a website. Why? This acknowledges that videos, infographics and other visually driven media that aren’t as keyword-focused are highly influential and engaging for visitors. Historically, measuring the effectiveness of visual media for SEO purposes has been challenging.
That’s not to say that other facets of SEO, such as meta data and written web content are no longer important. The key to effective SEO in 2016 is a well-rounded and flexible SEO strategy. Crafting content that draws in and captivates your customers, through blogs, videos, infographics and social media posts, is now at the heart of SEO. Be flexible and adapt to your customers’ needs, and your SEO strategy will be on point in 2016!
3. Mobile Domination
For half a decade, digital marketers have been heralding each new year “The Year of Mobile.” 2016 is no different. The influence of mobile devices continues to be an enormous factor in digital marketing.
2015 brought some very significant changes for mobile. It was the first year that global web traffic from mobile devices eclipsed traffic from desktops and PCs. Also, in April 2015, Google announced that their mobile search results would phase out websites that do not have a mobile-friendly or responsive web design. The takeaway for 2016? A mobile website is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s an absolute necessity if you want to keep up with your competition, or more importantly, be found when your customers are searching for you.
4. Relationship Marketing
One to one marketing has been around for years, but it’s reaching new heights in 2016. With the hyper-personalization of social media and almost endless amounts of customer data available, it’s becoming easier and easier to target each and every individual customer with unique content specifically geared to them based on their interests and desires.
Relationship marketing is all about building more meaningful relationships between brands and their customers. Customers are getting wise to mass marketing techniques with a one-size-fits-all approach. Personalizing interactions and reaching out to customers in a transparent and personal manner goes a long way toward building brand trust and a positive reputation. This powerful marketing strategy builds long-term loyalty and invaluable brand advocates.
5. Paid Social Media Advertising
By now, we’ve all been told that keeping up with social media and maintaining an active business page on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media sites is a part of a complete digital marketing strategy. The influence of social media is repeated often, yet little attention is given to paid social media.
In 2016, expect to see businesses put greater emphasis on their paid social media strategy. Now that most businesses are aboard the social media train, they’re looking for new ways to reach their target demographic. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest have paid or sponsored ads that can generate thousands of extremely targeted views for mere dollars. Often paid social media advertising is even more affordable than comparable paid search ads.
6. Card-Style Web Design
Card designs have seen a surge in popularity. What is a card design, you ask? Think sites like Pinterest and Mashable that feature an array of artfully arranged boxes. This web design style has gained traction because it’s easy to reconfigure for any screen size, from the tiniest phone screen, to massive widescreen monitors. It also gives users easy access to bite-sizes pieces of information, making it ideal for teasing blogs, images, videos and other key elements of your website. Also, let’s be honest, it usually looks pretty cool. Check out these examples of Card-Style design for some inspiration!
7. Prominent Hero Images
This web design trend was on our radar in 2015, and it’s here to stay in 2016. People like looking at beautiful images. Give them what they want! Super HD images of your products and stunning visuals are still a sure-fire way to capture attention on your website.
8. Flat Web Design
Flat design is another popular design trend that’s been around for a while, but will continue to be big in 2016. Flat design features a 2-dimensional design style, without drop shadows, textures and other stylistic adornments. Frequently flat designs use solid, bright colours, and simple images and typography. The most famous example of flat design is Apple’s signature minimalist website.
Over the last few years, animated GIFs have seen a resurgence in popularity. Web users like a little dynamic movement – though don’t go overboard! Too much movement can be distracting. Simple but meaningful animations integrated into your web design capture attention and add a cool factor to an otherwise static website. In 2016, expect to see more websites that integrate movement and animation into their designs. This includes hover-to-animate visuals.
In related news, Adobe has rewritten and rebranded the once ubiquitous Flash. Now called Adobe Animate CC, the software is expected to launch in 2016. That’s right, we might just be seeing the resurrection of Flash in 2016!
10. Material Design and Material Design Lite
Last year, Google launched Material Design, their new style language. Material Design uses shadows, movement and depth to generate designs that feel more realistic and natural to users. Material Design aims to continue the minimalist trend in web design, while emphasizing user experience and creating a web experience that feels more natural.
Material Design has already gained traction with app designers, and with the addition of Material Design Lite (which is more suited to website design than the original Material Design, which is more suited to mobile apps.) We expect it to be adopted by more website designers in 2016.
Last year, we were told that Google Glass and augmented reality were going to be the next big thing for digital marketing. That didn’t pan out quite as expected, but 2016 seems to be posed to be the breakout year for wearables. With popular wearables like Apple Watch and FitBit making a big splash, expect to see more digital marketers looking for ways to extend their marketing strategy to include pint-sized screens on wearable devices. Content Marketing Institute has pinpointed 4 ways that wearables are changing marketing.
12. Marketing Automation
With 50% of the average digital marketing budget dedicated to creating and uploading content, businesses are looking for way to automate where a human touch isn’t required. The marketing automation industry is now worth a whopping $5.5 billion, according to Hubspot. Automating blog posts and sharing them on social media, generating email updates, and tracking and segmenting customers are just a few ways that digital marketers are streamlining their content flow.
What big changes are you making to your marketing strategy in 2016? Where are you planning on investing your marketing dollars? We’d love to hear what trends you think will score big in 2016. If you’re not sure of your marketing strategy for 2016, give Eden a call at 1-905-669-9550. We work with businesses in a variety of industries develop and maintain a strong digital presence that generates results.