What marketing changes are going to hit us in 2016? Ask a thousand marketing experts and you'll get a thousand different answers. So I went to the super-experts: those already making waves in the internet marketing realm. Here's what these pros had to offer.
1. Content Marketing Will Get a Whole New Look
Justin Brooke (@justinbrooke) of XXLContent.com predicts that 2016 will be the year of communities and mobile apps. Ad blockers and content overload will force marketers to get creative, he said, and come up with more innovative ways to reach and engage audiences.
"The marketing community," said Brooke, "will realize that we've reached the peak of content marketing and online advertising. You can already see evidence that it takes bigger and bigger blog posts to cut through the noise. This will force marketers to innovate. Instead of free blog posts they'll launch mobile apps and whole websites in an effort to raise the free bar enough to gain the coveted eyeballs. Advertisers will move to mobile ads to try and stay ahead of the ad blocking browser war. It'll work for 2016, but not 2017. Advertisers will also start looking for more and more content sponsorship deals since content isn't blocked by ad blockers. Eventually they'll realize their ad budget is better spent on creating engaging communities, side projects, apps, and even mobile games."
2. We'll All Be Authors
One challenge all marketers face is getting their information seen on an internet already filled with lots of other information. Facebook has been fighting this for a while. The average Facebook user could see about 1,500 pieces of content in his or her news feed every day; Facebook only shows around one in five of them. C. Mike Lewis (@NomadCEO) of ghostpublishing agency BrandedExperts.com sees books as one way in which business owners can shoot past online content and use their knowledge to show their expertise.
"More business owners," Lewis said, "will be using authoring a book as the way to build their authority and trust in their market. Customers' easy access to information has made being seen as the best choice in the market more critical than ever."
3. Smarter Systems Will Smooth Processes and Build Relationships
Marketers have been pulled in two directions recently. On the one hand, we can totally automate the sales funnel. On the other hand, we also know that the strongest businesses are built on authentic relationships and real engagement. Bob Beckett (@bobbeckett) of TheDigitalAffiliates.com sees those two processes coming together in 2016.
"It will be more and more important," said Beckett, "to not just systematize your business, but to create systems that help you engage with your customers faster and more personably."
Having tools that can automate the sales process will become increasingly important. Doug Brown of SalesFollowUp123.com understands the importance of followup.
"Following up with prospects on a consistent basis will be more and more important," said Brown, "as they will get to know you better and are more likely to buy from you over time."
4. Finer Targeting and Higher Engagement With Smaller Audiences
Kathleen Gage (@kathleengage), an online marketing expert at KathleenGage.com, sees businesses building a closer following with experts provided they can deliver exactly what's needed quickly, fluff-free, and increasingly with video.
"It will be necessary for companies and organizations," said Gage, "to be even more streamlined than ever in how they segment their markets and the messaging to their markets."
She continued, "Transparency marketing will be huge. People who allow themselves to be vulnerable in what they share will create a more loyal following among those who are interested in their information and expertise, with an equally fast drop off of those who have no interest in what they stand for."
Internet marketing expert Matt Bacak (@mattbacak) agrees. He sees online advertising meeting email marketing in the coming year. Marketers will be able to have their information seen only by people they know want it.
"My prediction for 2016," said Bacak, "as it relates to internet marketing is that we will see more and more ad networks allowing their advertisers to upload email lists so that they can target customers with ads."
5. More Content Will Be Live
I have been seeing great results from live streaming, so I wasn't too surprised to see a number of followers predict that live content will become a more important way to build those targeted audiences. This is what Reed Floren (@reedfloren) of ReedFloren.com had to say:
"More companies will take advantage of live streaming (Blab, Periscope, webinars, Hangouts, etc.) in order to stand out from the crowd and to build a very loyal following. We will also see a lot more businesses taking their customers online and communicating with them using other methods (phone calls, text, snail mail, etc.). Most of this will be completely automated so your team can sell more to your best customers."
6. Security Worries Will Create New Risks and New Opportunities
2015 saw some big online security stories. The Ashley Madison hack embarrassed a lot of people, but it also worried internet businesses with a database, and every credit card company that deals with them. Tom Cone (@boatwarden), who sells security systems for boat owners at BoatWarden.com, sees online businesses facing stricter payment procedures in 2016.
"Expect credit card companies to increase the burden of card data security through PCIDSS," said Cone. "Watch out for precedent-setting big fines and the removal of merchant resources."
He also sees the internet of things generating plenty of aggregated data that could turn out to be valuable real estate for internet marketers who can use it.
7. LinkedIn Will Link Better
Most people see LinkedIn as a place to ask friends if they know anyone who can give them a job. Jimena Cortes (@thejimenacortes) of LinkedBlueprintCourse.com sees the site doing more in 2016 to turn contacts into assets members can use.
"With the launch of Sales Navigator," said Cortes, "LinkedIn is encouraging you to use its platform to find, track, and contact prospects. LinkedIn has also expanded its capabilities for lead generation through Pulse, its publishing platform, and now SlideShare."
8. Mobile and Video Will Stay Strong
Two trends that we've seen grow stronger and stronger over the past few years are the importance of mobile and the growth of video content. According to Warren Whitlock (@warrenwhitlock), speaker and author of Twitter Revolution, both trends will become even stronger in 2016.
"We've been saying for years that mobile shopping will surpass desktop," said Whitlock. "Now we're at the point where most consumers use smartphone apps for some purchases. If your website doesn't work well on tablets and phones, it won't show up in search results, traffic will decline, and sales will suffer."
He also noted, "Video viewing on mobile devices has been growing exponentially and will continue in 2016. Streaming video, video chat, and video product descriptions will continue to set apart those using them during 2016 and will become commonplace soon after."
Steve Fultz (@stevefultz)of petroleumtrucks.net went even further. He thinks marketers won't just be broadcasting information through videos in 2016. We'll also be lifting the curtain.
"Authentic engagement through transparent connections will be key for small businesses in 2016," Fultz said. "Video use of behind-the-scenes and personalities will enhance trust with prospects and customers."
9. Webinars Will Get Superpowers
Webinars used to be so easy. Sherrie Rose (@sherrierose) of WebinarCoach.com sees them becoming much richer and much more complex. They're going to become interactive marketing machines in 2016.
"Long gone are the days of text-laden PowerPoint decks," said Rose. "Combining powerful images, video, Snapchat, Google Hangouts, and other forms of engagement make webinars into one of the most valuable tools in the marketer's tool chest. The hybrid webinar that has prerecorded content with live moderators and live Q&A extends the value of a well-received webinar that has proven ratings and high sales conversion."
That's a lot of changes to look forward to in 2016! What do you think will happen?