2016 Marketing Trends To Transform Your Business

Is Your Marketing Getting Left Behind? 5 Key Trends

2016 Marketing Trends2016 marketing trends and predictions are a favorite expert parlor game.

While I respect my peers and think they’re very smart, most of their top 2016 marketing trends were neither new nor ground breaking.


  • Content marketing grows up. This is true but it reached a tipping point in 2012 and the most recent Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs research documents its maturation. Content marketing effectiveness increases with experience
  • Video, video, video. Facebook overtook YouTube in 2014 and exploded in 2015. (Check Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Predictions.) Technology changes make video easier and cheaper to create and share. This includes live-casting.Facebook video vs YouTube Video 2014
  • New forms of social media appear. Facebook advertising has been driving its amazing revenue growth for over 2 years. It was only a matter of time before other social media platforms had to generate revenues.
  • Mobile tipped in 2014. According to comScore, this is when mobile exceeded desktop use. The infrastructure keeps improving enabling faster and better downloads and connectivity. This aids video and audio content. (Get the 2016 Mobile lowdown.)

    Mobile vs Desktop

    Global Mobile Tipping Point – Chart via comScore

When you’re deep in the trenches, it’s easy to miss the bigger picture. You need a high-level view across the terrain to see what’s ahead.2016 Marketing Trends

2016 is the starting point for contextual marketing

As content, social media and mobile mature and evolve, marketers must adapt and modify their plans to be contextually relevant without being creepy.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of contextual marketing. Google trends reveal minimal references. When compared with content marketing (red), social media marketing (yellow) and mobile marketing (green), contextual marketing is a flat line.

Marketing Trends via Google Trends - 2016


5 Key 2016 marketing trends that will transform your business.2016 Marketing Trends - 5 Key Trends

1. Audience context becomes the marketing focus  Tweet This

Marketing personas are no longer an empty exercise. To reach an audience that spends 31 hours 28 minutes per day with media and content, you must understand them and their habits.

How We Spend Our Time (Hint: It's more than 24 hours!)

To know what’s in the mind of your customer, see what’s in their hands and what they’re doing.

Know Your Customer Based On What's In Their Hands and On Their Mind

Know Your Customer Based On What’s In Their Hands and On Their Mind

You need the microdata covering more than just the basic demo and psychographics.

Contexual marketing requires a major shift in thinking and approach.

Despite the mountains of information available, you can’t handle the massive amounts of data at each step of the customer journey. Even if you have resources, it’s difficult, expensive and time consuming.

Actionable 2016 Marketing Trends Tactics:

Improve your marketing by leveraging the microdata that already exists.
The major options are:

  • Your past history. Check your own analytics before seeking outside resources. Your progress is best measured against your history.
  • Paid search. Google is still the 900 pound gorilla. Use their tools.
  • YouTube. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. Build your presence there. Focus on how-to videos, one of the 5 basic content types.
  • Social media advertising. Leverage their storehouses of data.Social Media Advertising Plans 2015 by platform-SOcial Media Examiner
  • Amazon. 44% of shoppers start their purchase journey on Amazon. (Don’t assume it’s only B2C!) Tap into Amazon’s advertising and selling options.

    Google VS Amazon Where US Customers Start Product Purchases - Chart

    Google VS Amazon Where US Customers Start Product Purchases – Chart

2. Mobile first, not mobile only—marketers must be cross-platform.  Tweet This

Mobile has matured. This is the driving force behind video and to a lesser extent audio content consumption.

In some areas of the world, smartphones are the only way to get Internet connectivity. Notably, India is the only place where smartphones are shared devices.

Indian Mobile Device Sharing - Chart- 3Q2015

Your audience uses the best information available when, where and how they want it. Be there or be out of the consideration process.

Mobile is NOT a closed end-to-end marketing loop!

Mobile Isn't closed loop marketing

Mobile Isn’t closed loop marketing

As part of the mobile evolution, customer habits continue to change due to lower prices and new products and services.

  • Customer purchase journeys will change. Neglect this at your peril! Most prospects start buying research on a mobile device. Expect a break in the process when buyers seek best price or substitute product.
  • Customer payments for mobile services have an upper bound. The price ceiling will depend on the offering. For example, subscription music services are well defined.
  • Apps will gain ground at the expense of SMS (text messages). The major players are Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Actionable 2016 Marketing Trends Tactics:

For marketers, a mobile first, cross-device ecosystem requires:

  • Improve cross-device, cross-channel tracking without being creepy. People are more concerned about their privacy.
  • Test how to avoid prospect bailout. Customers can check prices and substitutes before buying. Figure out what will convert them to buy beyond offering lower prices. This will cost more and lower margins.
  • Allocate budget to be visible on key third-party apps. This is the traditional media model. This advertising has the potential to wear out quickly based on the number of impressions and target audience size.

3. Marketers face increased difficulties attracting customer attention.  Tweet This

There’s more and more content and media every day, especially if you live in a city.

As a result, people find ways to reduce information clutter. They focus their attention on what’s important to them with various coping mechanisms, including:

  • Changing content consumption habits. People will adjust their personal content habits to meet their specific needs. This will increase video and audio (for otherwise media-free activities) use. Micro-content (especially visual content) and long content will increase.

    Content Marketing- 4 Types of Consumption - INFOGRAPHIC by Heidi Cohen

    Content Consumption Habits – Infographic

  • Content inner circle. People will limit information intake to handful of key sources. These sources will depend on the individual’s tastes and needs.
  • Established media platforms. As more and new options appear, the major players, like Facebook, will gain attention share.


Actionable 2016 Marketing Trends Tactics:

  • Allocate advertising budget to your audience’s prime media consumption. Media sellers need to provide better targeting to prove audience attention and advertising value. Media mixes will become more diverse and higher priced to compensate for the targeting.
  • Improve marketing mojo to create quality ads and content (Hat tip to Velocity’s Doug Kessler via Curata ). You have to go beyond attracting your reader’s attention; you have to pull them into your experience and get them to act!

4. Marketing stops being once and done.  Tweet This

Social media and content marketing have moved marketing beyond the “campaign” mentality. Target audiences, both B2B and B2C, want to have a dialog to build relationships with the businesses they buy from.

Despite this, marketers are still on the content creation hamster wheel. We’ve moved from discrete campaigns to a non-stop cycle of making more and more new marketing communications.

For years, Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs research has shown that creating more content and more effective content remain top marketing challenges. Their most recent survey revealed content marketing maturation. (Personally, I love how Ann Handley compares content marketing to a teenager!)

2016 B2B content marketing challenges-chart

While the data shows that marketers will maintain or grow their content budgets, like getting the keys to your parent’s car, this has consequences. (Did you think that you could keep getting more budget without showing results? Really???)

As part of content marketing’s maturity, content, social media and advertising will become these 2 distinct sub-functions:

  1. New marketing. This is the first iteration of your marketing message as original content. It includes related elements to maximize resource use. Jay Baer calls this content atomization. You must tailor content for different platforms including social media.
  2. Enhanced existing marketing. This second content iteration extends your content lifespan and eliminates one-off orphan content. It updates, improves and distributes your existing content using additional resources. This process involves content curators and intelligent content.

    Content Marketing Reuse Chart

    Once and Done Content – Kapost Chart

Best of breed marketers will extend their content marketing approach across their organization to include all company information.

The goals are to improve the content quality and usefulness, keep branding consistent and reduce expenses. Your must create this information anyhow. Make it the best it can be to ensure it’s read.

The content challenge: Avoid homogenized, cookie-cutter content without personality. Templated content doesn’t get read!

Even best-in-class marketers can benefit from updating existing content. Enhanced content increases your audience by reaching people who haven’t seen it before. Also it signals search engines that it’s still relevant. (Yes, search still matters!)

But enhanced existing marketing isn’t free. It requires headcount and budget.

Enhanced existing marketing requires content curation and intelligent content. Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi hired a content curator, Jodi Harris, who was part of their content team! She knew their content and their brand.)

Actionable 2016 Marketing Trends Tactics:

To keep your existing content alive and visible across platforms and formats, follow these 7 tactics.

  • Regularly perform a content audit. This highlights what’s working, what needs improvement, what should be deleted, and where the gaps are.
  • Improve your content asset management. Add appropriate metadata to facilitate content findability. As you create more content, the problem increases.
  • Improve and augment existing content. Based on your content audit and analytics, determine which content can benefit most from improvement. Start with your best performing content. It’ll benefit the most from different presentation. You can’t predict this pre-publication.
  • Add or create new related content where appropriate to extend reach or provide more of the same. This is very different from atomizing new content. This augments existing content based on performance.
  • Leverage long form social media (such as LinkedIn Publishing ) and guest posting. Once you know which content resonates best with your audience you can leverage other people’s audiences to spread your message. Provide a different take on your successful content. Avoid duplicate content.
  • Continue promoting existing content. While many marketers promote existing content more than once, it’s generally limited to the first month. Instead keep redistributing and promoting strong content. Social Sharing Schedule-CoSchedule-2
  • Supplement content promotion with paid support or advertising. Depending on the platform, you need to pay to get additional visibility.

5. Marketing ROI is a necessity (or bye, bye budget)  Tweet This

Determining marketing ROI is a perennial problem.

In part, this is attributable to the fact that even the best analyst can’t track every piece of marketing touched between the first piece and the sale. As a result paid search often gets a disproportionate amount of the marketing budget.

Moz’s Rand Fishkin estimates that a prospect sees 7.5 pieces of content on a site before registering for a “free” trial. Traditional advertising assumed that viewers needed 5 to 8 impressions before buying (and they didn’t have direct measurements!) Social Media Conversion

Your internal information and tracking yields the best indicator for your future growth and alerts you to problems. Your metrics must be associated with your business goals.

While your marketing data will never be perfect, you can capture better information during the buying process. To make your marketing more accountable add these 3 factors to each piece of content. Where possible, make them measurable.

  • Contextually relevant call-to-action.  If you don’t ask, there’s a good chance your readers are gone.
  • Related landing page. Ensure that prospects recognize your business when they leave social media, an article or an ad. Use a product like Unbounce to streamline the process.
  • Follow up emails. Keep the conversation going where possible. Consider your offer bait and welcome series.

Use customer revenue optimization (CRO) to continually test and improve your processes. Reduce steps to customer purchase.

Actionable 2016 Marketing Trends Tactics:

Measure only what’s key to your business performance.

  • Email addresses. Your house file is the audience you own.
  • Measureable actions towards purchase. This depends on your business, marketing and content.
  • Sales. Revenue is your bragging rights! At least attribute them to the last piece of content touched. Break them out by type to determine product profitability.
  • Expenses. This shows budget accountability.

2016 Marketing Trends - 5 Key Trends

These 5 key 2016 marketing trends mark the start of contextual marketing where deep knowledge about your target audience and their activities will make the difference in marketing success, both near and long-term.

It heralds increased marketing complexity that accompany cross device and cross platform efforts. The increased complexity and need for wider content visibility will cost more. Manage this carefully as businesses increasingly require better tracking associated with sales and budget investment.

How is your business positioned to deal with these trends? Where do you see opportunities and challenges? We welcome your input in the comment section below.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Photo Credits: 

  • https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-person-mountain-hiker-16010/
  • https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-woman-typing-on-keyboard-of-laptop-6352/
  • https://www.pexels.com/photo/hands-coffee-smartphone-technology-4831/


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