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Digital Marketing In 2016 – What Will Change?

What happened in 2015

Staid, boring, slow, tough – these were some of the words that SME business owners told me when describing this year.
But from a digital marketing point of view, 2015 was remarkable in some ways, including that Google reported Mobile search exceeded that on desktops in 10 large countries.
Understandably, Google decided to rank mobile friendly websites higher than only desktop websites (check out MOBILEGEDDON). The writing on the wall was not obscure anymore, Internet usage on mobile was clearly increasing, and so was the budget of savvy advertisers.
In the Middle East region, this trend is also clearly visible as better data packages, and easier access to Wifi, lure your customers to browse on the go.
This changes the customer behavior and expectations too. See your own digital interaction and introspect:
• Did you get more video files shared in 2015?
• Did your messaging, like Email, WhatsApp, SMS, and BBM (yes, it’s still being used) increase this year?
• Did you feel more ‘connected’ this year?
• Did you use your mobile for more searches and browsing than last year?

The unanimous answer to these questions is a resounding Yes, Yes and a YES!!
And guess what … it is only going to get more.
With ‘Internet of Things’ poised at the inflection point, data getting cheaper, mobile devices getting more sophisticated – the implosion of data and 24 x 7 connectivity may already be knocking on your doors.
Are you ready?
And is your brand ready to capitalize on these trends?

6 Questions to ask about your brand for 2016

How are you going to reach out to your digitally connected customers ‘effectively’?
In the digital world ‘effectively’ has more connotations than in the traditional advertising world.
To reach out more effectively to your customers digitally in 2016, ask yourself these 6 questions:
1. Is my website geared to be seen on multiple devices – is it a responsive, or adaptive or a mobile site? (YES / NO)
2. When my potential customers search for my products, do they easily find them on the net? (YES / NO) or is my competitor more visible?
3. Does my website content answer my customer’s queries? (YES / NO), or does it speak about itself?
4. Do they see my brand across various websites? (YES / NO)
5. Do they interact with my brand? (YES / NO)
6. Is my digital plan geared towards the evolving changes in 2016? (YES / NO)
If you have answered NO to any of the above questions, start worrying!! You should copy these Q&A and paste them on your desktop as a reminder 😉
Actually, get hold of an efficient digital agency, and sort out the challenges immediately. These are not difficult issues to resolve and will make you ready for the changes coming next year.
If you don’t take the steps now, you risk being left behind in a tough year 2016.

What’s going to make 2016 different

A few thoughts on what is going to evolve in 2016 in the digital marketing world …
1. Advertising clutter is going to increase dramatically – Every grocery, bakery, florist and similar shops are going to compete with Supermarkets, Real Estate giants, Cokes, and Shampoos of the world for the attention of your target audience. Creativity will take a leap in the digital spectrum.
The savvy digital marketer will endeavor to use his money smartly and build a bond with his customer. Hard working digital agencies will continuously optimize their client’s plans to be more cost effective. Being flexible and quick to react will be key success factors.
For your brand, new innovative methods of interaction with your customers should be experimented with. Don’t only look at quantitative achievements and feel happy – that the brand increased ‘followers’ or more people visited my website. But, ensure that your agency has the necessary tools to measure and evaluate your brand’s interaction, quantitatively and qualitatively, to really understand the TG’s affinity towards your brand. Also keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing.

2. Usage of mobile devices to access the internet will surge – Whether at the malls, while travelling, or at restaurants, or anywhere you visit – it’s almost impossible to spot anyone who doesn’t use a mobile device within a 5 minute timespan. In some markets like UAE, there are more mobile subscribers than the total population! And with data getting cheaper, mobile usage is just going to increase.
Visionary companies have already developed smart mobile apps to connect with the customers, smart companies are doing so and will ensure that their websites, and other digital presence is device friendly.
Top digital agencies will ensure that their client’s digital content is constantly evolving and optimized for different devices.
For 2016, review your web properties to ensure mobile compatibility, and ease of use. Re-evaluate your content to ensure it is relevant to your site visitor on-the-go.

3. Video usage will sky rocket – If you use public transport, the chances of some co-passengers viewing a video clip are quite high. More video messages are being shared than ever before. From 2016, Google will introduce self-playing videos on their search pages. Aggressive brands will build a library of short videos with the intention of high virality. Video production costs will also plummet. Story telling via short video clips will be the most important creative challenge for the brand. Supporting digital agencies will ensure that video placements are optimized and placed appropriately to generate multiple sharing.
For every planned 2016 campaign, think how you can use video to communicate the message. Give it a priority, it won’t cost too much more.

4. Automation in the digital world will improve – The truth is that Digital Assistants like Siri, Google Now and Cortana have evolved dramatically and can get your search results faster and without the need for you to type in the question! They work on evaluating your digital habits and anticipate your requirements to provide the necessary information. From 2016, websites will have to be optimized for these developments too. A good digital agency should be building this into the action items now.
For your brand, ask your agency what are the key points they will implement to give you the edge over competition. How will they be geared up to optimize your website in 2016?

5. Talking of automation – We are already getting spoilt for choices to advertise on the internet. Which site has more visitors, which website has better interaction with their visitors? Which website offers the best deal to buy web-space for advertising your products? More such questions are cropping up, the large advertisers are already shifting their budgets into PROGRAMMATIC BUYING, and 2016 will see the medium sized spenders take advantage of these benefits too.
Smart digital agencies already have this solution for their clients.
If you spend money on the internet, ensure you are exposed to a decent Programmatic Buying Platform, and stretch your budgets effectively.

6. IOT – Internet of Things will start gaining momentum – And coupled with wearable ‘smart’ devices, it will open a completely new dimension of communicating with your customers. If at every step, there is something that is connected to the internet, it will change the way we interact with our customers in real time.
For your brand, see which wearable devices can be exploited and used to effectively talk to your consumers. For example, if you sell a health drink, ensuring that the health apps carry your ad to the smart watches is possibly a smarter way ahead for your brand.
These are some thoughts that I am sharing with you – as a person driving your business, share them with your team and ensure that they are aware of these impending changes, only then will they be better prepared.
These changes will not affect the basic digital marketing requirements – SEO, PPC, Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing will continue to play a dominant role in your plan.
Is your marketing plan truly ready for 2016?

What trends and changes do you see for the Middle East?
What are you doing differently in 2016?

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