8 Experts Predict What Digital Marketing Will Look Like In 2016

Even though the fundamentals of marketing remain the same -- creating unique or innovative messaging, knowing who your target audience is, knowing where to find them -- one has to continuously acquire new skills, learn and understand as the consumption patterns change over time.
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Marketing strategies, tactics and channels are evolving just as rapidly as technology is in today's context. The rise of the social web has given rise to many a channel and formats for reaching out to potential customers.

Even though the fundamentals of marketing remain the same -- creating unique or innovative messaging, knowing who your target audience is, knowing where to find them -- one has to continuously acquire new skills, learn and understand as the consumption patterns change over time.

We, for one, at Arkenea have adapted with the changing landscape of content consumption and has worked extremely well for us through video-based content delivery -- #BiteSize expert videos that address some of the most pressing concerns startups have when building or marketing their product.

We changed gears in the content format owing to the growing popularity of video content in 2015 and we see that only growing in 2016. According to Cisco, by 2017, video will have accounted for 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic. Video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled.

So that's one such medium that has really worked for us and will continue to in 2016. But not every channel works for everyone. I spoke to 8 experts to get their prediction for effective growth channels in 2016. Here's what they had to say:

Brian Dean of Backlinko.

"I was watching that show Pawn Stars the other day. And the manager of this massive pawn shop said: "When people buy something here, they're really buying a story."

Wow. And that anecdote doesn't apply exclusively to rare coins and autographed Jimmy Hendrick's guitars. Stories very much apply to your digital marketing.

Why? Because there's an insane amount of content online. To put it in perspective: Facebook users post over 2 million pieces of content...every minute.

So for your brand to stand out, you need to tell compelling stories. Stories grab people by the shirt and say: "Pay attention to this". Not only that, but stories pull on emotional heartstrings. And positive emotions mean more signups and sales for your business.

If you're not a good storytelling, learn the skill or hire someone that does. If you don't, you're going to have a tough time getting anyone's attention in 2016."

Neil Patel of NeilPatel.com.

In 2016 you'll see more US companies going abroad. Right now the US market when it comes to online marketing is competitive. By doing simple things like translating your content into different languages, you can generate traffic from different countries.

Some of these countries like Brazil have a lot of people and the competition is low. Their spending power may not be as high as the US, but the low competition makes the opportunity attractive.

Chirag Kulkarni of Insightfully.

Content marketing is going to be a continually emerging trend even in 2016, especially with online syndication platforms such as Medium becoming more popular. With increased content will mean marketers are going to have to learn to produce higher quality content. Similarly, video is going to be vital as a distribution tool as content production increases.

Lastly, with social media becoming more prominent, marketers will have to learn to become more genuine and help others to make the sale versus just creating compelling ads, especially with the influx of online selling.

Brian Balfour of Coelevate.

In 2016, I think we'll see the savvy marketers increase their efforts around personalization. Including the "{firstname}" tag in an email is not personalization. There are two things that increase the ability to personalize our marketing efforts, data and tools. Both have gotten much better over the past few years and the rate of improvement is accelerating. We'll see personalization applied to email, CTA's, content experiences and more.

In 2015, we started to see a trend of what's old, is new again. I think that will continue to increase in 2016. Many tech companies have moved to more traditional media like TV, Radio, Billboards as they continue to seek out scale beyond what digital channels can provide. Even email newsletters have made resurgence.

Dave Kerpen of Likeable Local.

2016 will be the year in which live streaming goes to the masses, and smart marketers will take advantage by being present at noteworthy events to stream from, and partnering with live streaming talent. Apps such as Periscope, Meerkat and Blab will grow in popularity and create opportunities for marketers to cut through the ever-cluttered landscape.

Brian Solis of X: The Experience When Business Meets Design.

Experiences are more important than products now. In fact, experiences are products. They've also become a lively topic of consumer comment for all the world to hear. In order to be competitive, brands must get better not only at understanding and satisfying customers' wants and needs but at anticipating them, even before customers know what they want and need. This type of experience design is referred to as creating proactive experiences, and these are quickly becoming the new standard.

Sujan Patel of ContentMarketer.io.

I believe in 2016 video is going to dominate. With the rise and growth of Periscope, Facebook Live Video, Instagram Video and Vine in conjunction with YouTube continuing to grow its marketshare (it's also the second largest search engine), video is going to become a big part of every company's content strategy.

This isn't just my opinion, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen, 64 percent of marketers plan to increase their focus on video content. Brands and Marketers are embracing video because it not only allows them to have a stronger connection with their audience, it also has higher engagement. Combine that with the lower cost of producing video and the increase of video quality from mobile phones; small businesses, early stage startups and solopreneurs can afford video as well.

Here's a real life example, I just finished creating a series of educational videos (45 videos in total) using only my iPhone 6+, tripod, a $300 lighting and backdrop kit and a video editor from Upwork. In total, costing me ~$1500 to produce quality videos such as my guide on publishing on Linkedin.

Morgan Brown of Full Stack Marketing Inc.

For marketers, 2016 is about addressing the elephant in the room: mobile. We've all talked about mobile-this and mobile-that, but at best, for many of us, our pages are responsive, but still designed for the desktop user first. For marketers, 2016 is the year when finally "mobile first" becomes more than just a buzzword.

To succeed, marketers need to think from the mobile user perspective ahead of all others, from landing page content, speed and functionality, to email content load and font sizes. Each part of the user journey needs to be re-architected to meet the mobile first perspective. Whether it's app store optimization or mobile content delivery and user acquisition, the landscape has shifted dramatically, while many marketers still concept and create their campaigns within a desktop experience and mindset.

What's your growth channel going to be in 2016? Would love to hear your views in comments below.

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