It’s that time of the year again when we all look back and re-evaluate our marketing strategies in the last year and craft future plans according to the new year predictions made by industry experts. The digital space is forever evolving, making it important for marketers to stay abreast with the latest tools,  techniques and trends for marketing.

Here are 9 digital marketing trends to adopt this year:

1. Mobile first design and marketing

Mobile first design and marketing has been in the digital industry for sometime now. But as every year that passes by, it seems that the ‘year of the mobile’ is not going to end. In fact, mobile is no longer the second screen users turn to – it is the first.

With mobile traffic surpassing desktop traffic on Google in the summer of 2015, it is clear that mobile searches are constantly growing along with mobile device adoption rates.

What’s for businesses and marketers?

2016 too is predicted to be the definitive year of the mobile. And with mobile overtaking desktop, marketers will certainly need to shift their focus towards crafting dedicated mobile strategies for more conversions.

2. App Indexing

Even though Google App Indexing was introduced into the digital sphere a few years ago, 2016 will see it go mainstream. The reason being, more and more companies are adopting apps to replace websites for mobile devices.

App Indexing basically helps you re-engage with your existing app users through Google search for both Android and iOS. It allows the user to click on the search results right through to the app or the app store on their mobile devices. Even Facebook announced that it would be making use of Google App Indexing to drive visitors from search and ads to the app.

For example: Here’s what happens when you search on mobile for a topic covered by an App Indexed business/brand – 

app indexing digital marketing trends

What’s for businesses and marketers?  

App Indexing presents a huge opportunity to gain more traffic through Google search results. While most brands have already built dedicated apps to cater to their mobile audience to get more visibility on mobile search results and offer a better user experience, there are still many out there who are yet to adopt the trend.

3. Wearable technology

If you’ve been keeping a tab on the technology development for consumers last year, you would know that wearable technology has come a long way. This year, it is all set to become a bigger part of our everyday lives – even marketing.

wearable technology digital marketing trends

Wearable technology is basically a category of technology devices that can be worn by a consumer. Some of these let the consumer track information related to health and fitness, and others have motion sensors as well as cameras to take pictures on the go, and sync with your other mobile devices. Smartwatches, activity trackers and other communication gadgets are already being used by people – especially the millennials.

What’s for businesses and marketers?  

Wearable technology has opened a plethora of opportunities for brands to find innovative means to stay connected with their customers. It will enable them to enhance their retail experience, run hyper targeted advertising campaigns and improve their customer service. According to PWC, wearable technology future is ripe for growth and will need crafting a distinct value proposition to demarcate itself from their existing alternate niche, smartphones.

4. Video marketing/advertising

Remember the ad blocker you installed on your browser sometime back? With ad blocking to better the experience of a web user, traditional advertising techniques are all set to go down in the digital industry. They will no longer be able to justify the ROIs they bring in – even on the biggest of marketing budgets.

About 50% online videos account for 50% of all mobile traffic. With 78% of people watching videos online every week and 55% every day, video marketing or advertising is certainly set to rule the industry. (source)

What’s for businesses and marketers?  

Video advertising is growing faster than any other ad format and has a much higher click through rate and ROIs. According to Business Insider, video ads are predicted to reach a $5 billion revenue in 2016 – having grown at a 19.5% three year compound annual growth rate.

65% of video viewers watch more than 3/4th of a video, which gives businesses an innovative way to reach out to their audience via a content format they prefer.

video marketing statistics digital marketing trends
image courtesy: HubSpot

5. Content marketing

Over the last few years, content marketing has become the first marketing technique that businesses and brands use to engage their existing as well as prospect customers. It has also become a major part of their customer retention strategies.

In fact, 45% of marketers say blogging is their #1 most important content strategy this year. And 69% of marketers say that they plan to increase their use of blogs this year, with the average word count of top-ranking content on Google being between 1,140 – 1,285 words.

Here’s what marketers have been using content marketing for:

content marketing use cases digital marketing trends
image courtesy: Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs

What’s for businesses and marketers?  

With both B2B and B2C businesses all set to adopt content marketing, marketers who will prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts. Businesses can use content marketing to reach out to their target audience in a relevant manner. All you need to do is ensure your content is tailored to suit your customer persona needs and is delivered to them at the right time. Some of the most effective content marketing strategies include:

  • Newsletters (61%)
  • In-person events (67%)
  • Illustrations/photos (66%)
  • Social media content (66%)

6. Marketing automation

With marketers having a lot more on their hands – especially keeping up with the changing trends and marketing techniques, marketing automation is ‘the thing’ for 2016. Marketing automation softwares will enable marketers to effectively market on multiple online channels (such as email, social media, websites, etc) and automate repetitive tasks, thereby increasing their productivity.

According to a survey by Smart Insights on the biggest digital trends for 2016, marketing automation is said to be the top choice of marketers.

What’s for businesses and marketers?  

From CRM, social scheduling, email automation, behavioral targeting, etc, marketing automation will enable marketers to get more things done in a better and faster manner. According to VentureBeat, companies that are able to tap into the full potential of marketing automation softwares, are able to get upto 80% increase in leads and a 77% increase in their conversions.

7. Personalisation

Today, there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ in the digital industry. Marketers need to focus their efforts towards recognizing who their ideal customers are, what each segment needs and what solutions their business can offer them. Creating personalized experiences for customers and prospects is a must follow trend this year.

Infact, the hyper informed generation of today expects some form of personalization from brands. According to CMO, 3/4th of online users reported frustration on being served irrelevant content and marketing messages.

What’s for businesses and marketers?  

Personalization is predicted to dominate the digital marketing industry in 2016. In order to personalize marketing campaigns and experiences, marketers need to understand their existing as well as prospect customers better. The biggest challenges faced by marketers during personalization include gaining insights quickly (40%), having enough data (39%) and poor data quality (38%).

Tools like Wigzo use machine learning to enable marketers to set up personalized marketing campaigns along with predictive and actionable insights to craft them better.

8. Predictive analytics

Marketing automation and the need for personalization has given rise to predictive analytics. And the trend is all set to take off this year.

Getting insights into user behaviour and actionable data, allows marketers to create effective personalized campaigns for their audience. Adopting this trend will give you a better idea of what’s next in the ever changing digital world that you need to be set for, apart from the current interests of customers.

predictive analytics digital marketing trends

What’s for businesses and marketers?

Predictive analytics can be used by marketers to make efficient data-driven decisions by understanding user needs better, predicting user behavior and identifying the industry’s future trends. More and more companies are now adopting predictive analytics in their marketing strategies.

9. Virtual reality

Virtual reality has always been popular in the gaming industry. But over the last year, it has found itself one of the top slots of trends to follow in 2016. With major investments being made in this technology (such as the Oculus Rift acquisition by Facebook), virtual reality is certainly a trend digital marketers need to look out for.

What’s for businesses and marketers?

Businesses and marketers will be able to monetize on this technology by finding innovative ways to deliver engaging and educating experiences for their customers. For example: Implementing virtual trials of products on an ecommerce website can help enhance the customer’s online purchasing experience. (Take a look at how Lenskart allows you to try frames in 3D)

Over to you

While there are a lot of other digital trends that marketers will need to look out for this year, we think these 9 are a must.

Which of the above trends do you think should become a marketer’s #1 priority to adopt?