5 Digital Trends To Watch Out For In 2016

Nowadays users, or let's face it -- customers are not simply introduced to new products and services as they enter a physical store or browse the web. All different kinds of devices, platforms and social media channels surround them every single moment in their lives (unless you take a trip to Green Zone, where I hear cell phones and Wi-Fi are banned). We are exposed to a digital landscape filled with exciting new and digital innovations.

Looking at the trends for 2016, it takes a great amount of creativity and an analytical approach to execute these trends, but also making sure that these trends are right for your brand or business. We keep hearing about mobile marketing. It's true, mobile marketing is HUGE and will be for the forseeable future. But how much is it worth spending on your mobile marketing efforts? You might have to answer questions like that before delving into every 2016 trend to save money and time.

A new year wouldn't be a new year without a vast number of websites making predictions about the future of the digital world as we know it and 2016 proves to be no different. From a number of articles, webinars, podcasts and tweets by professionals, I have rounded up 5 key trends that we think are the ones to watch out for in 2016.

Yeah, we get it. Content marketing is KING.
Stop creating content for the sake of creating content. Does that make sense? The purpose of content marketing should be about building trust, likeability and familiarity with your brand. Don't try to monetize every single blog post in your website. By getting people to care about you and what you have to say, you will have a ROI with your content creation efforts. As marketing legend, Seth Godin, said in a Contently interview when asked what metrics he considers best for measuring the impact of "doing work that matters," he responded: "I think the only (metric) that I care about is: Will people miss you if you are gone?"


Shopping made (even) easier.
Customers have a very low tolerance when it comes to complicated e-commerce platforms. Simple brands have greater customer loyalty, foster innovation, and ultimately increase profits. In 2016, new leaders will emerge that use technology to create a seamless shopping experience in a way that adds convenience and empowers consumers. With the rise of "Buy buttons", social platforms will make it easier than ever to buy something without leaving the social media platform (because who has time for that in our days?).

Organizing big data is one thing. Understanding it is another.
Jonathan Shaw in Harvard Magazine makes a compelling case around the "big data" mystery. It's important to have meaningful interpretations of data trends. Having a team to analyze the data will bring valuable insight about the information your company is collecting. With the big data market hitting a $50 billion estimate in 2019,
don't underestimate the power of it just because your company or organization isn't huge. No matter which way you slice, big data can transform your business--and the capabilities of current technology are only making it easier to take full advantage.

Virtual Reality is happening. Get used to it.
If the picture of Mark Zuckerberg walking to the stage at Samsung Galaxy S7's Launch Event didn't send shivers down your spine, I don't know what will. More and more brands ask their marketing teams to come up with a way to "integrate VR in their campaigns". As much as the concept of stocking up on Samsung gears and Oculus Rift devices sounds captivating, companies need to make sure they have a solid story to enrich their customers' experiences with VR. The team behind Assassin's Creed did a fantastic job with their "Jack The Ripper 360" trailer not because they used virtual reality technology but because the storytelling behind it was brilliant.

Get ready for new experiences with new...interfaces.
Voice assistants, Internet Of Things, Wearables -- all these are expected to take a big shift in 2016. How can brands utilize the constant expansion of this new technology? The Richards Group offers some excellent advice:

One strategy for developing relevant voice experiences for your brand is to identify and answer specific questions users may have. The best questions to target are natural to the context in which people use or buy your product. For example, Campbell recently released its Campbell's Kitchen app for Amazon Echo, a voice-integrated cookbook that offers a daily selection of recipes when a user asks, "What's for dinner?"

Because voice interfaces are a natural space for prompts and timely information, notifications, digests, alarms, and reminders will also be a natural fit as more functionality becomes available to brands and their apps.

It is clear that - with broadening offerings from giants such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft - voice assistants are poised to become a bigger part of our everyday lives and a popular territory for forward-thinking brands in 2016.

2016 is at a tipping point for the digital world and an exciting year for technology enthusiasts and professionals. There has never been such an abundance of tools, platforms and services and it comes with no doubt that they will keep evolving. The irony of this post is that in 5-7 years time, it will be considered an archaic article. Just take a look at what the digital trends of 2008 looked like: MSN, AOL, Yahoo! and Blackberry were buzzwords back then. Will social platforms like Twitter and technology like Virtual Reality follow? Only time will tell.

Sofia Katsali is a Social Media & Online Community Manager, Co-Founder of the non-profit organization Echelon Donates & has a BSc in Computer Science. She has been interviewed by MTV Act for her online charity work and has a great passion for all things digital, entertainment and design. You can find her in Linkedin where she occasionally shares her personal experiences.