10 Digital marketing trends to ring in 2016

One of the secrets to succeeding in digital marketing is staying on top of the trends. Imagine being an authority that is always aware of and acting on these trends. Now imagine your competitors sticking their head in the sand as you whiz past them. The following digital marketing predictions for 2016 will help you to quickly make this a reality.

  1. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is one of the most important innovations since the beginning of the Internet. It allows marketers to streamline activities by having tasks done automatically rather than manually.

A Gartner study states that, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with a company without talking to a person. If you are not automating, you are missing out on a massive part of the population that is not ready to talk to you yet.

Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights shared this graphic of his 2016 digital marketing poll and marketing automation is in the lead.

 Future of Digital Marketing

I believe that there are enormous amount of companies not doing marketing automation that will start to get on board soon with tools like HubSpot, Infusionsoft, Pardot, Eloqua and Marketo.

  1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is in second place in the Smart Insights poll and the reality is that you should not separate content marketing from SEO and social media marketing. See the integration section below for more details.

The Internet has enabled people to do an incredible amount of research that used to be mostly provided by sales people and the trend isn’t letting up:

“Content marketing continues to grow like crazy, with one research report boldly predicting that by 2019 it will become a 300+ billion industry.” Trevor Young of Authority Partners

Check out this documentary – The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing, to see where it all began:

And also check out the B2B Content Marketing 2016: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

This B2B report is from 2014 but it has a great image that shows the trends of the most used content marketing tactics. Go Bloggers!

Most Used Digital Marketing Tactics

But just when you thought it was safe that blogging on your site is the way to go, you need to check out this piece by Social Media Examiner on whether or not blogging is dead.

Not to mention that the trend of social media networks making you pay for traffic instead of giving you much of any organic reach continues and companies are realizing they need their people on social not just their brands. See #2 and #3 of these social media predictions.

In 2016, companies will become much more sophisticated in their content marketing and make use of advanced technology to enhance it.

  1. Integrated Marketing

Gone are the days of thinking about marketing in silos such as traditional marketing versus digital marketing.

Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights says that we will see more marketers move from “‘Digital Silos’ to Integrated teams”.

And David Kranker elaborates on the integration of SEO, social media and content marketing:

“Some agencies hire content marketers and social media managers to produce content to be handed off to SEO experts for optimization. Instead, content should be created with SEO in mind from the very beginning.”

  1. An Increased Focus on Data

Erik Devaney of HubSpot, in the future of marketing ebook says:  “a recent State of Inbound survey shows that “proving the ROI of marketing activities” is the number one challenge marketers are facing.”

I have no doubt that in 2016, marketers will continue to improve upon their analytics set up and tracking, as well as leverage big data.

Currently there are far too many decisions based on what the highest-paid people, board members, marketers and agencies feel is the right thing to do. A/B testing software and leveraging analytics can help you make more informed decisions that are proven to impact your bottom line.

  1. Personalization

Providing a personalized experience that factors in past preferences and behavior to provide a more relevant experience can improve your conversion rate.

Just look at the stock price of Amazon.com, who is a leader in personalization, if you need inspiration to work on this tactic.

Your content and marketing materials are going to be much more appreciated by people that have a preference for exactly what you’re offering.

HubSpot’s CMS system is a website platform that lets you create multiple versions of your website and offer them up individually when you know which one makes more sense for the user. They call the personalization part of this, smart content.

Evergage is a tool I just heard about that “allows companies to personalize customer experiences in real-time to compel more web conversions and promote customer happiness.”

If you’re worried about content overload and how you will stand out from the crowd, consider personalization.

  1. Native Advertising

Native advertising is paid content that fits into the flow of organic content. With so much ad blocking going on, this trend is expected to continue steadily.

Native Advertsiing Revenue

  1. Mobile Marketing

Mary Meeker’s internet trends report includes the following chart and I expect the focus on Mobile to continue in 2016.

Mobile Marketing Stats

Local and mobile are also tied directly together and optimizing your Google local experience is still absolutely essential. And don’t forget that the Google Pigeon update allows Google to utilize a more comprehensive set of factors when judging your local rankings such as your level of domain authority.

In addition, Google App indexing will lead to a proliferation of apps that someday may lead to a lessening of websites.

  1. Video Marketing

The perception that video is hard to do, holds a lot of people back from making it a regular part of their content marketing strategy. Maybe it’s the technology or maybe it’s the fact that you have to be on top of your game visually when you get in front of the camera. A lot of your competitors for these reasons aren’t doing enough of it and the stats below suggest that we should all be doing more.

According to SalesForce (in 2015) “74 percent of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video – suggesting video formats like Snapchat, Instagram, Vine and others will be must-view and must-produce content.”  

This graphic from Testastory nicely sums up Youtube stats:

Youtube Stats for Video Marketing 

  1. Virtual Reality

Oculus, the most hyped VR company, wants to make it possible to “experience anything, anywhere, through the power of virtual reality”.


It might sound far-fetched but VR is definitely a trend to watch. Pun intended.

  1. Internet of Things (IOT)

Peter Carey of Silicon Beat says that 2016 could be the year for the Internet of things.

“The IoT is still evolving, but it includes connected wearable devices like the Apple Watch, driverless cars and fitness bracelets. That’s the tip of the IoT iceberg. Beneath it are business-to-business applications and data center technology that are likely to dwarf the consumer side in the revenue they generate.”

And David Pierce of Wired says:

“Juniper research predicted that by 2020, there will be 38.5 billion connected devices. IDC says it’ll be 20.9 billion. Gartner’s guess? Twenty-five billion. The numbers don’t matter, except that they’re huge. They all agree that most of those gadgets will be industrial—the Internet of Things is less about you changing the color of your lightbulb and more about companies large and small finding new ways of making their businesses, and your life, easier and more efficient. But the market for connecting the devices you use all day, every day, is about to be huge.”

I just hope my toaster doesn’t get too complicated or start showing ads on the front while it toasts my gluten free bread.

IOT Cartoon


Marketing and technology have fused tightly together, opening up a world of possibilities. Hiring the right people with a range of creative and technical talent, as well as integrating your teams will be an essential part of taking advantage of new marketing opportunities in 2016.

What are some of your digital marketing predictions or trends you are watching?

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