It’s January 2016 and that means… predictions! Everyone speculates about a new year as it begins, including our team at Artonic. We’re most curious about the upcoming digital marketing trends for 2016, and we’re sure a lot of you are, too.

To start 2016 the right way, we reviewed the state of marketing over 2015 and came up with a comprehensive list of trends for 2016.

Without further ado, here’s what we’ve determined are the Top 10 Marketing Trends of 2016.

#1: Show Me the Money

There are two phrases on the minds of digital marketers these days: ROI and Attribution.

First, Return on Investment (ROI): it’s not just for accountants anymore.  Marketers want to know how their marketing investment is returning and what activities are returning the most investment. With digital marketing we have greater insights as to how our marketing dollars are being spent and what is truly working to drive sales.

The second, and intrinsically related, is attribution. In 2016 there will be a direct focus on what specific items lead to specific sales. This allows us to know the exact value of a blog, a video, or any other piece of marketing material.

#2: Content is Still King, but Video is His Goddess

Speaking of blogs and videos, great content is still the number one way to drive traffic and influence buyers.

But, as our attention spans shorten and the amount of digital content increases, video is the content that will be the main driver of interaction with your potential customers.

So, while content is still king on the Internet, what was once written content will now be transferred into high quality video. (kinda makes me wish I had created a video about this)

#3: The Rise of the Machines

Let’s get down to brass tacks here: marketing automation tools are incredible.

Never before in the history of marketing have we had so much power in our hands to deliver content, track user flow, and calculate marketing ROI all in one digital tool.

In 2016 more and more companies will jump on the marketing automation bandwagon. Tools like SharpSpring and HubSpot will help companies lessen the burden of email blasts and tracking and nurturing visitors who aren’t ready to buy. Automating the marketing process is really the next step forward in smart-marketing.

#4: You’re Gonna Have to Pay Zuckerberg

I’m sorry to say it kids, but the days of posting on social media and gaining engagement, even with great content, are over.

From small business to the largest corporations, we all have to pay the outlets to be seen. The upside is that advertising on social media is so targeted. It doesn’t require you to break the bank just to get an audience to aid in your marketing strategy and grow sales.

#5: Time to Get Social, with Sales

While you may have to pay to get your content seen by your audience, or to grow your audience, it will still be a channel for your sales team to use.

Determine the best social lines to connect with your target audience. Your sales team should be active on social media to educate clients and feed them great content.

#6: Time to Get Personal

Your brand and company will need to feel more personal to attract and retain new customers in 2016.

There are more brands than ever vying for buyers and those buyers research before they buy more than ever, too.

Scrutinize your brand, online reputation, and customer service harder than ever this year. Your goal is to ensure that clients feel taken care of in a personal way, which means giving them the most personal attention possible and connecting with them on the levels that matter to them.

#7: Time to Build a Tribe

Building a tribe isn’t about Facebook and Twitter followers who live to share content (no a tribe is comprised of people who are obsessed about your brand). It’s not even about building an attractive brand.

It’s about creating your best marketing and sales people ever – your brand evangelists.

These can be employees, absolutely! You want your employees to love working for you and tout the wonders of your company and products.  But your biggest and best tribespeople will come from your clients.

A tribe doesn’t leave, but it does require a leader. As Seth Godin said, “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”

When you create a tribe, your fellow tribespeople will bring in new ones and grow your ideas.

We’re entering into an age where camps and tribes will be more important, especially regarding brands, because they identify us with a group in a world that seems more and more disconnected.

#8: Market in 3D

I’ve seen this in a few other blogs – they discuss marketing for things like Oculus and other virtual reality devices. There’s also a lot of discussion of marketing for the Internet of things (like for the refrigerator that you can Tweet from (who doesn’t want that?))

But, to me, marketing in 3D means leaving the flat screen, the flat, page, the mobile phone, all the other two dimensional items behind and looking to market in the real world. This means being a part of your tribe and building it with great customer experience.

Looking at alternative ways to advertise will also be helpful in gaining new customers without the oversaturation and dog-fight that is social media and SEO. Looking at who your customers are and how they want to be reached will be huge. The tools such as marketing automation and social media will help you figure those things out. But, if you can afford to make 3D ads and content for Oculus, you should probably try that too – just because it’s cool.

#9: User Experience Will Be About Everything

If you look at jobs in User Experience / User Interface (UX/UI) most of them are design jobs, or software testing. When you think of a UX designer, you think of someone who builds wireframes and prototypes.

This year that thinking will be changed.

User experience is part of marketing, it’s a tribe-building method, it’s your brand, it’s your business. Just think about the name, “user experience.” A user experience expert’s job is to create the best experience for the user (customer) possible. This means looking at your brand, your website, your social media platforms, how you interact online, your customer service, all the way to how well your sidewalks are cleaned. How your customers navigate every aspect of their interaction with you should be scrutinized by you first, before your potential customer does.

Remember, with more companies vying for the same people to join their tribe, the company who gets this right will be the one who gets the new tribe member, and their friends.

#10: Think Mobile First

Well, we are a web design agency too, so one that’s specific to web design would be appropriate. This year mobile usage will obliterate desktop usage on the Internet so designing for mobile first – instead of as an afterthought – will be requisite.

Over the last two years responsive websites have generally started with the desktop and then responded down to mobile, with mobile as the after-thought. In 2016, digital marketers and designers will think about layout and content from a mobile perspective first and fitting it to the desktop second.

Final Thoughts on Digital Marketing Trends for 2016

2016 has the potential to be a really ground-breaking year for some companies in terms of digital marketing.

The tools that have been released over the last few years are starting to gain major adoption. This means the barrier to entry has been lowered and more companies can get into things like marketing automation and high-quality content creation.

2016 really is a golden age for digital marketing. We can see more and know how to spend our time and money better than at any other point in history. We’re optimistic about what 2016 will bring to the companies we work with, and we look forward to bringing on new ones that we can help grow as well.

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