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Our Brave New World: 5 Exciting Digital Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016

by | Dec 17, 2015

Will 2016 be the Year of Instagram or Snapchat?

Will wearable technology start to take center stage?

Will struggling retailers keep up with an ever-evolving marketplace?

These are the kinds of questions piquing the interest of marketers, executives and clients as 2015 comes to a close. And they’re more important than ever before. Recent studies indicate that 2016 will be the first year where digital ad spending surpasses the amount spent on television commercials—making this year a real tipping point for digital marketing. While everyone has a different opinion of what the New Year might hold, we’re lucky that there’s plenty of research and hard data to answer these important questions. And like we have in the past, we’re eager to share these critical insights. So today, with 2015 almost in the rear-view, we’re going to take a look at the 5 Biggest & Most Exciting Trends that will Dominate Digital Marketing in 2016.  Let’s get started!

2016 Digital Marketing Trend #5: New “Smart Lightboxes” Offer a more Sophisticated Call-to-Action

We’ve all seen them… You’re browsing a new website; checking out a retailer’s wares, when the screen goes dark and a special dialog box pops up. It’s inviting you to sign up for an e-newsletter or cash in on a special offer—all you have to do is share your contact information. Already an invaluable tool for webmasters and marketers looking to convert pageviews into active buyers, the lightbox is likely to become smarter and more effective in the year ahead. Because instead of just popping up the moment you visit the site (like so many “old school” lightboxes), newer offerings are getting smarter. They’re waiting until you scroll down to a certain point in the page, or they’re activating when you move your mouse away from the page (referred to as an “exit overlay” lightbox) Exit Overlay Box That way, you’re giving prospective customers the chance to get to know your site/product a little better before making an offer or requesting their contact information. Where an “old school” lightbox might pop up before visitors even know what they’re looking at, these new methods are designed to capture users who are already paying attention and could possibly be interested in making a purchase. This is going to be a massive improvement for firms and websites implementing Smart Lightboxes. Older lightboxes can be annoying … and they can invite browsers and prospects to simply click away from your offer—or worse—from your site in general. By switching to Smart Lightboxes, some companies are already reporting a massive improvement in customer response; increasing e-mail subscription rates by up to 600% according to some parties. It’s a clever change that can seriously enhance your site’s all-important Call-to-Action.

2016 Digital Marketing Trend #4: Customers Going “Wider” with Wearables and More

Over the past few years, most marketers and developers have been wrestling with the concept of making their sites more “mobile-friendly.” They’re streamlining pages, cutting out unnecessary ads, widgets and animations—all in order to create a cleaner, easier experience for mobile users. It makes sense when you consider that two-thirds of all e-mails were read on mobile devices in 2015. But is it going to be enough? Apple WatchAfter all, Apple’s Watch was released just six months ago; selling one million units just in the first six hours of pre-order. Samsung’s Gear 2 is also starting to make a splash in the wearable computing space—not to mention the rapidly-increasing popularity of tablet computers all over the world. So while  marketers and their clients struggle to keep up, consumers technology only evolves faster. Where “mobile-friendly” is finally becoming a boardroom buzz-word, consumers are already moving on to new apps and devices. How will all this new hardware affect the Digital Marketing space? According to a recent study, one in four customers interacts with at least three different devices throughout the course of their day. That’s a whole new kind of challenge that developers, designers and marketers will be facing in the year ahead. Does it mean you should focus all of your energy on turning wearable computers into a primary sales platform? Not necessarily, but it does mean you’ll be facing an even wider set of challenges, alternatives and opportunities in the year ahead.

2016 Digital Marketing Trend #3: Video isn’t optional anymore. It’s expected of you.

Video is one of the most intensely creative aspects of your marketing program—and it’s historically been a hard thing to get right. Finding your voice … getting the right imagery … figuring out the all-important message and theme—these things all take time. That’s why many companies only occasionally create new videos for their sites and social media. To these companies, video is “optional.” But to their customers, video is increasingly becoming a necessity. Recent studies from reveal that consumers are four times more likely to watch a video about a brand than they are to read about it. And one in four consumers will actually lose interest in a company that doesn’t have any videos. When asked directly, 80% of consumers said it was important to have a video showing how your product or service works. This should come as a surprise to nobody. [iframe id=”” align=”right”] Even a short video can easily communicate your company’s voice and style. After all, as the cheesy old saying goes, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Videos make it so much easier to learn about your brand and your products. And with today’s technology, consumers have access to streaming video virtually everywhere all the time. In 2015, according to a study from eMarketer, the average American spent 5.5 hours with video content each day. Just think about yourself. Would you rather read a lengthy press release on a new tech product … or watch a quirky, 30-second video on the topic? We had the same answer. Luckily, many companies are already on top of this new trend. They’re pushing for more and more video assets, eagerly expanding into the space and opening new dialogues with their customer base. It’s an exciting trend that could easily reinvigorate older brands and breathe new life into stale marketing programs.

2016 Digital Marketing Trend #2: Millennials and Marketers Meeting in the Middle

While most of 2016’s most prominent trends indicate a slow sea change towards flexible messaging and multi-platform functionality, this particular trend reflects a refreshing surprise for many retailers and marketers … We first observed this trend when looking over Black Friday data during 2015’s holiday season—analyzing how different demographics responded to the biggest shopping bonanza of the year. Surprisingly, studies found that millennials were almost twice as likely to indulge in big Black Friday deals. That’s right; according to studies, some 75% of all millennials planned to indulge in deep holiday discounts during the busiest shopping day of the year. At the same time, just 44% of those belonging to other demographics were planning to join in. But to be fair, they didn’t do it all on their own. Black Friday 2015 saw more retailers offering more online specials than ever before. Not content to wait for “Cyber Monday,” big names like Macy’s were offering online specials as early as midnight on Thanksgiving. Millennials have historically been a hard demographic for retailers to engage. They don’t shop the same way their parents have in the past—often gravitating to different products and new sales channels. Retailers have resorted to creative new digital marketing efforts, spending a fortune to connect with younger buyers—and it’s apparently starting to work. Digital Marketing For MillennialsThis historically hard-to-satisfy generation is finally starting to respond to strong financial incentives … due in no small part to marketers finally finding ways to relate with them. So millennials could potentially become easier to reach in future digital marketing efforts and campaigns. Source: Time Magazine But that doesn’t mean mainstream retailers are in the clear. Far from it, in fact …

2016 Digital Marketing Trend #1: Lagging Vendors Near the “Point of No Return” for Digital Advertising

Because buyers across all demographics are adapting to their new “mobile lifestyle” at a staggering rate, it’s estimated that by 2020 (just over four years away), the average consumer will conduct 85% of their relationships online or via cell phones—without ever speaking to another human being. That means far fewer visits to storefronts … far fewer chances for human customer service representatives to make a difference, and a far greater reliance on e-mail campaigns, landing pages and online sales. This isn’t a surprise though. It’s not a new development. Brick-and-Mortar retail has been getting priced out of the market for over a decade now; with major chains like Blockbuster and Borders having to close up shop because their business models had suddenly become unworkable.Maria Harrison What is surprising however, is the timeline … just four years. Most companies are still struggling to muster just a basic social media presence. There are massive corporations out there with little in the way of an e-mail sales strategy. And there are whole industries that have yet to adopt the mindset of fluid digital sales. “But not my company,” they’d respond, “we’ve got what it takes to make it.” We’re sure Blockbuster said the same kind of thing a few years ago. The reality is that markets are changing far, far faster than most companies realize. And few of them have the institutional flexibility necessary to respond to such a rapidly-changing marketplace. It’s often new market entrants, disruptors, that come in and change an industry while the dinosaurs fail to adapt, stuck in their old ways and reliant on legacy systems. So if your company is already a few years behind the curve—and you’re not working with digital marketing specialists—then it might already be too late.

A Whole New Generation of Buyers & Sellers

Does it all sound a bit alarmist? Perhaps … but when you consider how much our marketplace has changed in the last decade, it’s more of a reality check than anything else. Buyers are quickly becoming more empowered, more connected, and more aware of their options. This is truly a great thing for markets in general. It means buyers can enjoy more organic, more effective relationships with their favorite brands, products and sellers. It means the right company with the right product and the right digital marketing messages will be more likely to succeed—as opposed to being choked out by big box retailers with bigger digital marketing budgets. Unfortunately, it also means that the companies who fail to adapt might also fail to survive; regardless of how great their products and people might be. In short—it’s a Brave New World out there in 2016. But it’s still a jungle. Be prepared.]]>

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