7 Digital-Marketing Predictions You Need to Keep Your Eye On

If you want to gain an advantage over your competition, you need to always be on the cutting edge.

learn more about Samuel Edwards

By Samuel Edwards

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Digital marketing is very fluid. Strategies are changing on a continual basis and it's impossible to sit back and relax. If you want to gain an advantage over your competition, you need to always be on the cutting edge. And while digital marketing changes on a weekly basis, there's something about the launch of a new calendar year that puts things in perspective. As we are getting comfortable with 2016, you should be aware of a few things.

1. Video advertising to kick into high gear

Everywhere you look, video is on the rise. Every single day, people watch hundreds of millions of hours of YouTube videos. Facebook is already heavily invested in video advertising. Bing offers advertisers video options. And finally, Google may be preparing to get involved with in-SERP video advertising features.

Related: How to Overcome the 'One-Size-Fits-All' Marketing Trap

All of these things mean that video advertising is on the rise. In 2016, expect to see even more dollars spent on video advertising. As a marketer, you can no longer ignore this medium. It's now an integral component of successful digital-marketing strategies in all industries.

2. Live-streaming social platforms rise to the top

Last year, live-streaming social media platforms were birthed. It started with Meerkat being unveiled during March's SXSW in Austin, Texas. Soon thereafter, Twitter revealed that it had been working on a similar platform known as Periscope. Ever since, the two have been battling it out for supremacy -- with Periscope being the clear winner at this point.

While social live streaming gained some serious steam during the latter half 2015, this year things will really take off. Look for additional players to enter this space and expect more users to migrate towards Periscope as they become comfortable with the concept. From a marketing point of view, it'll be important for brands to begin leveraging this new medium in unique ways. Here's how some brands are already using Periscope.

3. Mobile will trounce desktop

For the first time in history, the number of mobile-only Internet users surpassed the number of desktop-only Internet users this year. This marked a transformational period in the history of the Web and indicates that the future lies in mobile devices.

As a digital marketer, this doesn't come as a shock to you. This is just a reminder that mobile will continue to trounce desktop in 2016. All of your efforts -- social media in particular -- need to be optimized around mobile users. There's still a place for desktop, but it's no longer the primary platform.

Related: 3 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing

4. Virtual reality will experience growth

While there were a lot of signs that last year would be the time in which virtual-reality technology finally became mainstream, it didn't quite happen. We're still a while away from mass adoption. However, all signs indicate that significant growth will continue in 2016.

"Virtual reality represents the most complete immersion into an experience that consumers have ever had," writes Onit Digital. "When it comes to marketing digitally, this means that you can completely surround your potential client with the experience of your product, providing them with a much more realistic view of what you can actually do for them."

5. Relationship marketing is emphasized

In 2016, experts are calling for the rise of relationship marketing. If you're unfamiliar with the term, you're not alone. According to one definition, it refers to "a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement." This happens by promoting ongoing and open communication via personalized marketing campaigns that are aimed at individuals, as opposed to mass targets.

Along with the rise of relationship marketing, there will be a rise in the cost of digital marketing. While this may be alarming, it's only natural. Businesses will begin focusing on high-touch marketing, as opposed to casting cheap, wide nets. The result will be more profitability per touch. Ultimately, marketers will see a higher return on their efforts.

6. Marketing automation becomes a widespread priority

While personalization will become more important, this doesn't mean marketing automation loses value in 2016. In fact, most agree that it will gain prominence. Marketing automation is currently a $5.5 billion industry and marketers will continue to rely on these features to manage time-consuming tasks.

7. Location-based marketing takes off

It's challenging to ignore the potential of location-based marketing this year. As beacon technology grows and marketers are educated in regards to how these technologies function, the creative wheels will start spinning. The possibilities are virtually endless. Perhaps the best part about location-based marketing is that it allows brands to bridge the gap between online digital marketing and in-person digital marketing.

One group estimates that $9 billion will be spent on location-targeted mobile ads by the end of 2015. That number is expected to balloon to $15 billion in 2018. This upcoming year will be a pivotal period of growth and market education.

Related: How to Craft Your Social Media Marketing Plan

As we make our way through 2016, you want to make sure your marketing efforts are moving along with you. While all of the predictions laid out in this article won't be 100 percent accurate, you should keep an eye on them. It's clear that these are the directions we're headed in as an industry.

Samuel Edwards

Digital Marketing Strategist

In his four years as a digital marketing strategist, Edwards has worked with many local businesses as well as enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. He is also a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series. Today he continue to work with and establish SEO, PPC and SEM campaigns across all verticals.

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