Don’t just think of digital marketing trends as something that could help your business, but instead think of it as something that could destroy your business if you don’t start adapting. That’s the thing about digital marketing: It’s quickly changing and evolving, so your marketing approach must reflect the latest trends to make your business stand out. Here’s our summary of trends that matter this year:
1. Vanity metrics don’t matter anymore
Vanity metrics – also known as “fluff” – are for the amateur marketer, and won’t tell you anything about ROI. Things like Facebook “likes”, email open rates and number of “retweeets” won’t tell your CEO how marketing via these channels is really benefitting their business. Instead, you must create landing pages that convert to customer contact and acquisition, using social media and email as a vehicle. Show how your digital marketing efforts affect your sales funnel, because getting a few more “likes” won’t impress your boss.
2. You’re going to have to spend money on digital resources
Content hub investment
The great thing about digital content is that it never goes away – once Google indexes it, your content can be found on the web 10 years from now. This makes things like your website an investment into your future, not just the now. In contrast, let’s say you purchase a 30-second TV spot to advertise your company – once that 30 seconds is over, your investment is used up. However, if you have a content hub on your website where you can post that video online, your brand will become a living thing; but if you let your website become stagnant, your business won’t be found online in the years to come. This is also known as inbound marketing!
If you’re serious about being an online contender (AKA, making it easy for potential customers to find you), then you need to make SEO your asset and not your enemy. This takes an investment in time, money and tenacity, but with big payoff. Organic search in Google can bring in much more traffic than any other traffic source!
Social media investment
Do you want to make your marketing metrics all about the size of your social media audience? No. But you do want to grow this audience over time so you have a substantial network to distribute your content, and convert passive listeners into leads. This is a long-term game and doesn’t happen overnight, but you’ll need a strategy and not a shot in the dark on this one.
3. User-generated advertising is crucial
Without a doubt, getting your fans to spread your message is one of the most important digital marketing trends of 2016. This is also known as “user-generated advertising.” There’s only so much narrative your marketing department can provide internally – it’s expensive, and your reach is limited. But if you give your fans a voice, and a reason to use that voice, the opportunities are endless. How are you creating ways for your audience to mention your brand on social media? #TimeToGetOnThat
4. You’ll need technology to maximize your time
Five three years ago, there wasn’t access to the digital marketing platforms and automation tools that are available now, allowing your business to publish and analyze content to scale. You may still be handling things like email and social media in-house, but as digital marketing grows, you’ll need technology to help you keep up. Your human creativity will never be replaceable by a robot, but your efforts can be enhanced with the help of specialized tools as marketing trends in 2016 go digital. What tasks are taking up valuable time that could be spent strategizing or creating content? What analytics aren’t you measuring because you simply don’t have the capacity and/or tools to get this data?
5. Email is still key
Nope, it’s not going away – email marketing is still a default business tool for communication. Here’s what does have to change: Email must become smarter. Gone are the days of blasting your audience with marketing emails, and in come the days of relevance and engagement. The million dollar question is how to grow your list. If you deliver content that your target audience wants, you’re giving them incentive to subscribe, so you must invest in your company’s visible expertise to develop a sizeable email list.
6. Data is king
Do you even remember the days when your marketing campaign media mix was direct mail, print materials and commercials? When those were your only options, ROI measurement was hugely limited, and marketers had to rely on experience to get results. But as inbound marketing has eclipsed traditional marketing, the data has become available for marketers to make decisions based on real-time data. Intuition and gut feelings are good, but data is king.
7. Your audience is probably getting your content on their phones
Mobile used to be a secondary way for your audience to search for content and read email, but not anymore – just about every audience demographic has replaced their desktop with their smartphone. Therefore, mobile marketing should become a large part of your focus. That means your emails should be optimized for mobile phones, your website should be completely mobile-friendly and should focus on easy navigation and readable content, and your calls to action should be capable of capturing leads via mobile.
8. Social media isn’t free if you’re using it right
“Wait, it’s FREE??” Yep, that’s pretty much the response marketers had 10 years ago with the inception of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. However, things have changed as social media platforms have become more aware of their influence over companies’ marketing efforts. For example, Facebook has dialed down its organic reach for business pages to nearly zero. Now, you have to pay for advertising and promoting/boosting your content to get noticed. The key is showing ROI for such investments on social media, so don’t overpay for a source that isn’t producing conversions. Like email marketing, social media isn’t going anywhere either – but it is changing, and your business must adjust to make the most out of it.
There you have it – the digital marketing trends of 2016 that you really shouldn’t ignore if you want to bring your company’s marketing campaigns to the next level, and stay ahead of your competitors. Stay tuned, though, because digital marketing is fast-paced and always advancing!