The importance of digital marketing continues to soar through the years with the development of complex search algorithms to innovating world-changing technologies that set the milestone for change. In the past months, the digital landscape experienced a myriad of changes that paved the way for something greater. For the first time in history, mobile usage exceeded desktop use in 2014, and that number is expected to rise exponentially in 2016. With 2016, just a month and a half away, and many things are set to change in the digital landscape, and the predictions come rolling in, setting up the waves of change.
Optimizing for change and adaptability is imperative in the eyes of brands and businesses; when technology changes, so does its behavior and audiences.
The Content King Remains King
It is an established fact Content Marketing isn’t going away anytime soon; in 2016, customized content will continue to grow, further humanizing the brand, almost on a person-to-person level. The core of content marketing remains the same; content remains key to providing insightful, useful, and vital information to current customers and future prospects. Content customization will continue to grow (and flourish), regardless of size, industry, and niche. Simply put; content marketing bridges the gap between brand and audience and functions based on trust.
A lot of people understood the core essence of content marketing was to boost search engine rankings, which is true, but there’s more to it than being ‘number one in Google.’ Content marketing serves a much greater purpose than ‘boosting results’ and rewarding clients with ROI. Content marketing is an identity that specifically goes hand-in-hand with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other branches of digital marketing. Content continues to remain king because the provided information is valuable and fulfills the user’s needs.
According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, the Institute established that:
– 88% of B2B organizations employ Content Marketing.
– 78% (of the 88%) of organizations increased their content creation and overall budget.
– 90% of customers found custom content useful.
– 78% of customers believe custom content is the key for the brand to build a long and trustworthy relationship with them.
– 80% of business decision-makers preferred a company’s information, delivered in the form of articles, not advertisements.
– Content Marketing costs LESS than traditional outbound marketing by 62%.
If a brand doesn’t do content marketing, what’s the point of providing information that simply exists to satisfy search engine rules and regulations but not users? Essentially, content marketing is about marketing your content (articles, infographics, podcasts, and video) that connects with the audience, rather than forcing it on them.
Visual Content is Pleasing to the Eyes
Visual Content is expected to drive engagement through the roof. What is Visual Content? Visual Content, as the name implies, is content developed in the form of visuals, whether it’s simple pictures to sophisticated infographics and videos. Brands will collaborate with visual influencers to create a positive (and astounding) environment around the brand to reflect the brand’s honesty and showcases the brand’s trust.
Video content is coming in strong and by 2017, it’s expected that 74% of all internet traffic will be video by then. Videos are an immensely powerful medium to work with. Powerful videos sometimes don’t need to be long; a well-crafted 15-second Instagram clip can tell a story better than a thousand-word essay. Currently, video is dominant in almost every platform; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and of course, YouTube.
On-the-Go with Mobile
In 2014, mobile overtook desktop traffic in more than ten different countries worldwide. In April, Google rolled a mobile-only update called ‘Mobilegeddon,’ a mobile-targeted algorithm optimized to help mobile-friendly pages rank and devalue pages not optimized for mobile device. The importance of mobile use was recognized in the past few years, but nothing was more hard-hitting than Mobilegeddon. By rolling out a mobile-directed update, it was a sign from Google the age of mobile is here and now. With more and more people possessing smart devices, information had to be quick and direct.
It is estimated mobile usage will reach up to two billion people in 2016, and the number will grow to more than 2.56 billion people (or a third of the world’s population by 2018!). A lot more people now have access to mobile phones WiFi and 4G networks allowing people to stay connected with friends, families, and brands. Mobile phones and smart devices are no longer a luxury item, rather, it’s a must-have commodity for people always on-the-go. Take a good look at the people that surround you; how many people can you visibly count that don’t possess a smart device at home, at work, or at malls or major transportation lines? Everybody prefers to stay connected.
It couldn’t be stressed enough; businesses need to have a mobile-optimized website. Did you know that mobile shoppers convert 160% more often on websites optimized for smart devices? It’s true. People enjoy being on-the-go and without a responsive website to fulfill their needs; you’ve just lost a potential customer. Should a company not have a strong, digital mobile presence, 14% of people will not do business with them.
Ideally, the mobile landscape serves more than just providing information to customers; the apps itself are now used to pay for items. Before, we’ve heard of Apple Pay, Apple’s way of allowing customers to have their own digital ‘wallet’ on-the-go and its ability to transfer money with just a couple of taps. Simple! While Apply Pay shares a strong presence in the West, it’s only a matter of time when Apple Pay becomes a viable payment alternative to smartphone worshippers in the East.
Talk to Me, Digital Assistances
Digital Assistances are expected to come in strong in 2016. Everybody with an iPhone or Nokia Lumia phones is expected to benefit from a digital assistance; Siri and Cortana, both acting as a user’s search engine on their phone (without typing the search query in the search engine). Siri and Cortana may be the key to satisfying Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, an algorithm highly dependent on conversational queries or questions. Those using digital assistances would ask questions. One might ask, “Where’s the nearest coffee shop in Bangkok?” and the results explode onto the screen with directions, transportation routes, and additional recommendations. Digital assistances will transform into a must-use tool for those who would want to go hands-free.
Additionally, it has been projected digital assistances would work well with the use of both mid-range and long-tail keywords to satisfy queries. Assistances will be refined and over time, become smarter and more precise with identifying your queries and producing results you want. Google recently launched the Google app, an app refined to deliver high-quality search results with the help of a virtual assistant.
Virtual Realities are Real
While much of the world is focused on pushing the boundaries of technology to its limits, virtual reality is a thing of technological beauty. While virtual reality is geared to satisfying the needs of gamers that desire a personal and realistic experience, virtual realities can become a marketer’s greatest asset. Last year, Facebook acquired Oculus Rift for a whopping $2 billion deal, and it seems this was the beginning of something extraordinary. For marketers, virtual realities can be seen as a means to get in touch with the customer without meeting face to face, or a customer consulting the doctor in the privacy of their own home.
It’s too early to determine what virtual reality might bring for digital marketers, but, with the ever-evolving digital landscape, there ultimately would be a use for it.
Wearable Technology is a Fashion Statement
Last but not least, wearable technology. Smartwatches on the market are able to send users notifications (synced with their email accounts or calendars), measure and monitor their heart rate, and equipped with compasses, GPS, and more. It is predicted by industry pioneers wearable technology will gain an adoption rate of 28% in 2016. Therefore, companies that plan on optimizing their marketing strategies and approaches must be able to communicate their messages to the customer within two seconds or less.
Additionally, there might be a prospect of wearable technology expanding to other accessories; necklaces, earrings, rings, or sown directly into pieces of clothing, withstanding water, weather, and wear. Perhaps in the future, wearable technology would be more refined and can be used to save lives, one transmission at a time.
2016 is set to be a year of great technological leaps and wonders, with the assistance of gadgets and creative thinking by industry-specific pioneers. There are many things to look out for in 2016, and digital marketers possess more channels to get in touch and stay connected with their audience. Technology is a fickle identity that doesn’t remain stagnant; it’s ever-changing to meet the demands of a technologically-driven audience.
Sources: contentmarketinginstitute.com, digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk, forbes.com