2016 has been an eventful year for social media and online marketing. With the pace of technological developments becoming faster paced, these trends aren’t likely to die down soon. And the marketers who have adopted them are already gaining an edge over competitors.

This year appears to be a great one for marketers who want to stay ahead of the curve by taking advantage of digital marketing practices to make their campaigns engage more audiences. Here are some of the most popular trends in digital marketing that brands should know about.

  1. Live Streaming

Facebook’s “Live” broadcasts were instant hits when the social media giant launched the feature this year. It gave brands the chance to provide a unique perspective of themselves to fans. Channels like Snapchat and Periscope also followed suit. Now, live streaming has become a part of the social media scene and also offers brands a new way to draw customers.

  1. Social Posts are now Ranked Higher

Social media channels aren’t only good for reaching a wider audience. Most marketers now use social media to gain more visibility on search engines as well.

Google has picked up on the popularity of these posts on social channels and has responded by ranking social posts. Social channels have also picked up on the trends with such as Facebook which launched a revamped Notes feature that encourages long form content.

  1. Video Blows Up

Being blasted by auto playing videos is one of the more unpleasant aspects of browsing online especially if you have your headphones on full volume. But now, you don’t have to mute the sound while scrolling through your social timeline thanks to silent video.

One of the reasons why videos took off is affordability. It is so simple and cheap to use that even small businesses can use it to leverage their brands. For example, a small bakery can use it to live stream the talents of a small staff of bakers or showcase confectionaries.  Similarly, a small production house can use it as a budget friendly way to stream live sporting events.

Twitter and Instagram got on board with this trend by launching their own auto play silent videos. Other platforms that have launched live streaming services include Facebook, Periscope, Hangouts on Air and Meerkat. Facebook’s Auto play videos, in particular, introduced a new era of silent storytelling when the feature was first launched a few years ago. Now, the trend is a major part of digital marketing campaigns.

  1. Search is Moving Away from Text

The era of text heavy search results is coming to an end. The consumers of today prefer richer experiences and richer content, which is why a lot of companies now optimize their ads with video and images too. Google puts emphasis on visuals in ads. Your ads can skip to the top of search results if you create relevant images like infographics or videos on key searches.

  1. Integration of Wearable Tech

Apple Watch 2 was released in Apple’s keynote in September and one of the features that made a comeback was integration with social media apps. As wearable technologies become popular, brands can expect to target people based on their browsing habits on these devices. The trend is not more than a few years old but with the introduction of other wearable devices in the future, it is bound to go off.

  1. Buy Buttons are Becoming Common

Online shopping isn’t limited to ecommerce websites anymore. While ads aren’t new to social media, buy buttons are not that common. That is changing as ads and products for purchase are making their way onto newsfeeds.

Integrating carts in social media ads has its benefits. Not only does this spare users from going to another page after they click on an ad, it makes it easier for companies to convert followers into paying customers. It won’t be surprising if “Buy Now” buttons become common in the online social scene at the end of this year, especially during the holiday season.

  1. Apps are Changing Social Interactions

There is an app for everything these days, especially when it comes to social media. It isn’t surprising why. Since the whole point of social media is the social aspect, it became a popular fad fast. In time, the interactions started to get more diverse and with them, the platforms that support them. Social media channels like Facebook are releasing new channels of communication. Facebook’s Messenger app is a good example.

Business owners are beginning to realize the importance of dedicated apps too. Case in point is its Messenger for Business which enhances client and customer interactions.  Another advantage is increased visibility on Google. The search engine has enabled app indexing for a while now, but it is only now that they have exploded. It is easy to see why. An app can do everything that an mobile optimized website can, but in a more intuitive, convenient and accessible way. As things stand, it won’t be long when app adoption becomes a norm for businesses.

  1. Personalization

Visitors just don’t like seeing posts that they don’t care about on their news feeds. Social media platforms have taken note and are doing what they can to ensure they don’t have to thanks to new personalization options.

Marketers are also gearing up to take advantage of opportunities to optimize marketing efforts by using mobile tools to leverage data which is now readily available across channels. Until now, marketers did little to leverage data gained from retailers. To create fully personalized experiences for consumers requires platforms that can be used to collect data from different feeds like tablets, smartphones, contact centers and point of sale systems.

  1. Multi-Platform Marketing

User purchasing behavior has become more complex than ever before thanks to the Internet which has made data more accessible for users. Almost every product or service offered by a brand has information or an online review about it online, which is accessible with a few choice keywords on a search engine. Since consumers now use more ways to search and take more time to make decisions, marketers are seeing the benefits of leveraging platforms, mediums and channels that can help them connect.

  1. Enhanced On Page SEO

Search Engine Optimized content was crucial for getting a website ranked higher on Google search results. Other factors that enhanced SEO were link building practices and updated site structures.

Now, it takes more than these three to ensure that your SEO is on check. To market themselves online, companies now have to consider everything from engagement, click through rates and social signals to relevant content.

Click Through Rates – It’s simple really; the higher your Click Through Rate (CTR), the more people will visit your website. The CTR of your ads indicate the content’s relevance to your target audience. Similarly, the CTR of your social media posts can improve the visibility of content that you post in the future.

Engagement – People become fans because they are driven to brands that offer them value. They want to be a part of the experience that is promised to them. Driving engagement through online social interactions boosts social SEO. No one likes to engage with brands that spend more time promoting themselves and not enough in telling audiences how they can benefit. Sure, product updates and services are value but they are not only what matter the most. This is why engagement matters. It builds trust, gives a company a voice and strengthens relationships.

Relevant Content – Of course, if you want your content to engage audiences, it has to be relevant to them. Google values content that actually contains useful information.

  1. Mobile will Dominate Desktop

Last year, Google announced that mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic in around ten different countries around the world. This was also the year in which the search engine introduced Mobilegeddon algorithm update to prioritize websites that were optimized for mobile. These also include websites that aren’t optimized for desktop at all.

With Google’s algorithm update and the growth of mobile usage, it is clear that desktop traffic is destined to fade away. Businesses are realizing that mobile focused marketing tactics offer more profitable routes to success.

  1. Messaging

According to Statista, five of the most popular messaging apps have around 3.5 billion monthly users. This isn’t surprising considering that these applications now offer functionalities that go far beyond text based messaging. WhatsApp has now opened up its platform for business accounts. Snapchat allows businesses to make their own geofilter on with Snapchat on Demand.

Marketers have also begun to notice the popularity of these applications with using the more popular varieties, like WhatsApp, to communicate better with clients. You can expect Messaging apps to be a large part of digital marketing strategies in the future.

  1. Real time Engagement

The internet never sleeps. And with the emergence of platforms like Snapchat, brands are expected to interact with consumers 24/7. Moreover, as mobile makes up for more than half of all online retail traffic, marketers are going the extra mile to engage consumers in real time. In fact, some brands are already seeing the benefits in real time engagement. Case in point is Cinnabon, a baked goods store that gained around 2,000 followers within a span of two days after it joined Snapchat.

  1. More Integration

As mobile and social media platforms dominate consumer spending, marketers require tools that can help them track engagement across these channels. However, since campaign integration is only limited to a handful of factors, it has forced marketers to stop thinking about marketing strategies as separate and instead as different sections of the same strategy. The rise of integration arises from the popularity of sophisticated integration software that allows business owners the convenience of tracking multiple channels at once.

  1. Content Remarketing is Popular

Content marketing is all about getting leads. But visitors who read your content might not necessarily turn into leads. Is the content useless? According to most online marketers, it isn’t especially when it can be remarketed.

In general, content remarketing focuses on tagging people who have read your content, but haven’t become leads. Strategies that focus on eBook, blog and email marketing are effective in acquiring valuable contact info from visitors. Content remarketing ensures that marketers get back to people who might be interested in what they have to offer. This means giving them unique experiences while they engage with your content and remarket ads that might interest them enough to make deals.

  1. Paid Advertisements

As online advertising results in more gains for marketers, demand for it increases, which also increases its price. It is predicted that this demand will increase the cost of web based advertising in coming years. However, with added advantages, marketers are more than willing to pay up.

Facebook’s paid ads are a good example of the advantages of paid advertising for marketers. Other platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter have also followed suit and have met with some success.

  1. Multi-Channel Ad Options

Social media and online advertising channels have given the marketers of today seemingly endless resources for promoting themselves on the web. It seems like every marketing campaign incorporates digital advertising in some shape or form. With growing reliance on online promotions, these channels have become an indelible part of marketing campaigns.

These are the most significant trends in the world of online marketing. Business owners who adopt them now position themselves better to dominate markets when these trends become mainstream. Some of the technologies mentioned help business owners reach a broader audience while others allow them to adopt a more informed approach to their marketing efforts. Not all of these trends might be relevant to a brand but they are still worth considering if you want to grow your campaign.

Author Bio: Mark Davis is a digital marketing executive in a private firm of California, USA. He is passionate to write articles and share our experience on different online channels. He is fully capable to perform digital marketing duties.

Note: Images are added by the Editor of Business Fundas.

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