5 Key Digital Marketing Trends That Brands Should Focus on in 2016

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It's that time of the year already! Brands are currently focussing on the Christmas holidays, but before you know it, we'll be diving headfirst into the New Year. Digital marketing has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, and in 2016 will bring with it new focuses, trends, and strategies across the board. Helping your brand stand out from the crowd means you need to always stay ahead of the curve, and your competitors.

Digital marketing is constantly evolving, and with new tools, channels, and technologies springing up each week, it can be hard to keep up with it all. But, by keeping an eye on emerging trends, you can make sure your brand's digital marketing strategy is at the top of its game and consistently delivering the results you want.

As 2016 approaches, here are five key digital marketing trends brands should be focusing on.

Mobile Optimisation

G1 shutterstock_129038348oogle released its Mobilegeddon algorithm back in April, which started using a site's mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. Initially, this means sites with a good mobile friendly rating will get a boost in the SERPS, but also indicates a long term trend to penalise sites that aren't fully optimised for mobile.

Many people will be reading this article on a smartphone, and if they aren't, they probably will be in 2016. Mobile was once called the second screen, but that has now changed, with mobile and tablet usage overtaking desktop. Optimising for mobile will not be a choice in 2016, it will be a necessity, and brands need to make sure they're creating mobile-friendly content as a priority.

Visual / Interactive Content

Visual content has already been a very popular trend throughout 2015, and this will continue into 2016 with more of a focus on video, HTML 5, and live streaming. While "content" is still the word on everyone's lips, engagement is never far behind. In an increasingly noisy world of online marketing, it can be hard to create content that interests your audience and makes them engage with it and share it.

There are lots of ways to create engaging and entertaining content, including the use of animation, polls and surveys, quizzes and apps, and even just simple videos. Moving into 2016, content is likely to focus less on standard, text heavy blog posts and press releases, and focus on bigger, better campaigns that use attention-grabbing visual content.

Wearable Technology

2 shutterstock_206273662Wearable technology will become a $6 billion market by 2016 and is expected to reach a user adoption rate of 28% by this time next year. This gives marketers a whole new scope of data to work with and provides them with new opportunities in which they can engage with their audience. This wearable technology will provide brands with all the data they need in terms of consumer behaviour, by picking up and reporting on the wearer's day to day habits, both online and offline.

Content marketing will need to become more data driven. Marketers, in turn, will need a more comprehensive understanding of exactly what each target market wants, and how that content can be shared with them quickly. Co-founder of Wearable World, Redg Snodgrass, calls this new phenomenon "glanceable marketing", meaning if content displayed on wearables is not interested at first glance, it will most likely be dismissed. Digital marketing strategies for 2016 need to ensure content that is communicated through wearables is relevant and useful, and gets the message across in two seconds, so the user doesn't lose interest.

App Development

Applications are now appearing in mobile searches, and app indexing is most likely going to result in an explosion of new apps in 2016. Google will allow users to quickly find the app they want in the search results just like they would with any other content. Apps are now more convenient and accessible than ever, and new technology means they no longer cost the world to develop.

When it comes to mobile strategy, apps will play a big part next year, and marketers need to be thinking about how they can develop an application that their audience actually wants and needs, get it indexed, and grow their overall mobile presence. The perfect mobile app will increase brand visibility and give businesses the platform they need to develop a community and build customer loyalty.

Relationship Marketing

3 shutterstock_271779080With mobile and wearable technology making an ever-increasing impact on the way we connect with our audience, relationship marketing is likely to come into its own in the next year or so. Relationship marketing involves building strong, trusting relationships with customers, though on-going engagement and humanisation.

The social web plays a big part in content marketing, and without existing relationships, you are missing out on a loyal community that can help your content spread like wildfire. By building relationships with people, you start to learn more about them and begin to understand what content they actually want and need, whether it's an informative blog post, a funny video, or a helpful guide. By providing readers with the content they want, you trigger an emotional response within them which will keep them coming back for more. Relationship marketing builds up your audience, allows for tailored content and develops your PR capabilities.

Take Away

A new year will always bring with it a range of new changes to the way we work in digital marketing; and 2016 won't be any different. With a strong focus on mobile, interactive content, and relationship marketing, the future of digital will concentrate on the humanisation of brands and the creation of content that users want and need. Wearable technology will change the way marketers have to think forever, but this just shows how important it is for brands to stay one step ahead when it comes to maximising their online presence and creating campaigns that stand out from the crowd.