4 Digital Marketing Trends for 2016

Throughout 2015, digital marketing dominated. It challenged the practices of traditional marketing and proved it's where marketers should focus their attention. The number of users on social media platforms continued to increase. Content helped drive sales. Video ads rivaled picture ads. And mobile screens took the views away from desktop. 

So with the conclusion of 2015 upon us, what new digital marketing trends are experts predicting, what current trends will continue to grow and what trends will see a major decrease? We've rounded up what the experts have predicted, as well as what a couple members of our 360 team think you should keep an eye out for. 

Small Screens Will Dominate

In May 2015, Google reported that more searches took place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the United States. This number is expected to increase even higher; more and more users are turning to their phones to do all their Internet browsing. In turn, businesses are realizing that having a mobile-friendly website is crucial - an unresponsive site will force customers to look for business elsewhere. Desktop traffic is expected to decrease, so it's important to make sure your website is fully functioning for small devices. Not only that, but with more people using smart watches, companies are going to have to again reformat their websites to make it responsive on a 2 inch screen. The bottom line - you can't think about just desktop traffic anymore. Small screens (mobile phones, tablets and watches) are dominating web searches and that's where marketing tactics need to focus. 

Prepare for an Instagram Takeover 

Like a dark horse, Instagram came through and swept 2015. According to an article published by Social Media Today, Instagram has not only seen a 200% increase for potential organic audience, but 68% of users actively engage with brands, compared to only 32% of Facebook users who engage regularly. Even though brands on Facebook and Twitter tend to have more followers than on Instagram, engagement is dismal, according to a report released by TrackMaven and reported by Catherine Clifford of Entrepreneur. Additionally, since Zuckerberg purchased Instagram, the ability to advertise directly on the platform is super simple if you're already utilizing or at least familiar with Facebook advertising. Both are done through the business manager, which makes it much easier for marketers to create ads. Another bonus according to Social Media Today - 93% of marketers are on Facebook and only 36% are on Instagram, making the competition far less intimidating. If there is any question as to which social media platform to utilize in 2016, Instagram is definitely where you and your business want to be. 

Set Aside Money for Advertising Costs

Advertising now appears on virtually all social media platforms; something that many companies began investing in throughout the year. With the increase of people on social media, as well as the want of businesses to advertise to these people, you can expect that costs will rise. While experts don't have a specific amount the costs will jump to, most are in agreement that prices will go up as the demand for ads to be shown on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram continues to rise. However, this shouldn't discourage any advertising. Instead, be aware of the possible budget changes and adjust accordingly. An advertising plan should be implemented before the end of the year or, at the very latest, early January. Not only will this help you stay organized, but it will get you focused on the most important advertising or remarketing effort, have an idea of the price and set aside additional money for ads if need be. 

Content is Still the Reigning King 

Marketers predicted in the beginning of 2015 that content would take over - they nailed it. According to an article published by Jayson DeMers on Forbes, 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing as part of their overall marketing plan. 61% of the most effective B2B content marketers meet with their content team weekly or daily and 85% of B2B marketers say lead generation will be their most important content marketing goal in 2016.  Despite all the bells and whistles of social media and websites, the thing that really keeps customers coming back is content they can count on. It's important to think of content not only as the written word (articles and blog posts), but also as your website, social media accounts and videos, too. If you think of content as more than just what you write, it opens up many possibilities to reach your desired audience and allows for your creativity to flourish. Many marketers are planning on setting up concrete content plans to stay on schedule and maximize their efforts - something for all of us to consider. 

Our Predictions

With so many people speculating the future of digital marketing, we asked two members of our marketing team to give their predictions for 2016. Jeremy Galante, director of search and social at 360 PSG, believes that content will continue to reign, with some improvements, and the introduction and implementation of virtual realities will be explored.

"People understand how important content is but now they need to develop truly unique and valuable information to their audience in order to even have a chance at getting good visibility," Galante said. "I also believe people will pay more money than ever in digital advertising to make their content visible.

"Additionally, virtual and augmented reality have been gaining a lot of momentum over the past few years and I think in 2016 we will see an even bigger push in advancement. It will be exciting to see how many consumers buy in," he said.      

Joe Vu, marketing assistant, said that he believes the future of digital marketing is all about user experience and engagement. 

"I think above all things the most important trend to pay attention to in 2016 will be increased attention to user experience," he said. "Increased preference to mobile devices are driving a renaissance in the way we design and blue print our strategies and designs, and I think soon we're going to optimize for mobile first, as the primary touch point for most organizations.

"Emphasizing the user experience will help facilitate the sales funnel and just give people a better feel for your organization." 

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