Digital marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2016

By Jess Shanahan

No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll probably have at least dabbled in digital marketing. Whether you simply encourage customers to your website or have a full digital marketing team working hard to get the biggest return on investment, you’ll still find value in keeping on top of the latest trends.

Video advertising

Video is everywhere and millions of videos every day are watched on Facebook. The social network understands the power of video as a marketing tool and sponsored posts featuring video content are always going to do much better than simple text posts.

2016 is going to be the year this steps up considerably because Google is finally getting on board and will be offering video content within the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is something Yahoo and Bing already do but with Google’s ownership of YouTube, the possibilities are virtually endless.


Twitter-owned Periscope has been gaining traction since it launched and it’s expected that additional players will be entering the market in 2016 to offer their own social streaming platforms. It’s important for brands to start leveraging these tools to reach their customers in the moment.

Virtual reality

While virtual reality (VR) has yet to become mainstream, there have been a lot of signs that things are moving that way. Car manufacturers are already using it to introduce their customers to new vehicles and there’s a rise in the amount of games being launched on VR platforms.

This is the year that businesses need to start focussing on VR as a way to market to their customers. It’s a great way to immerse your audience in your products and what you do, and it’s great for product demonstrations that might be a little more tricky in real life.

Relationship marketing

Relationship marketing is a strategy focussing on customer loyalty, engagement and interaction. Marketing will get more personalised in order to reach customers on a deeper level. While this approach may cost more money than casting a wider net, the return on investment per person reached will be higher.

Marketing automation

While personalisation will be important, advances in software and technology are making it easier than ever for marketers to automate some marketing processes. Things like email marketing can be more closely linked to website interactions, meaning emails get sent automatically when a customer completes a requirement such as an enquiry or product purchase.

Further focus on location-based marketing

It’s estimated at around $9 billion was spent on location-specific mobile adverts in 2015, this number is expected to grow to around $15 billion by 2018. This growth is down to better targeting and the need to bridge the gap between digital marketing and the more traditional in-person marketing in the real world.

Thought leadership marketing

This is all about establishing an individual in your business as an expert in your industry. It might be the head of PR, the CEO, general manager of a branch, or a brand ambassador. Having one person that potential customers can connect with is really important and having that person show their expertise builds trust in your company.

There are a number of ways to go about thought leadership marketing. One is to create articles on a company blog, another is to offer guest posts and articles to websites, and you can also offer your expert for comment on topical subjects. Working with a digital marketing company or PR agency is the best way to go about this and they’ll already have the contacts in place to get the content out there.

Now is the time to make your digital marketing more direct. Where possible, businesses will start upping their digital market budgets in order to increase return on investment, and will focus more closely on each individual customer’s needs.

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