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Part two: 54 leading digital marketing experts give their predictions for 2016

6 January, 2016

54 digital marketing experts give theirpredictions for 2016

What do 54 leading digital marketing and technology experts predict will be the next big thing in 2016? Find out this week in our special new year three-part blog post.

david-bain-300cThanks to David Bain, who brought together 54 digital marketing experts to give their 2016 predictions on his Digital Marketing Radio programme, we are sharing all the predictions in a three-part blog post this week. You can watch the programme in full here.

On Monday, we published the first 20 predictions [read PART ONE here].

Here are the next 20…

(21) Go where the traffic is

David Shaw from follows on from the previous conversation with Jamie Turner saying there have been some other influences and talks about the move away from personal blogs and personal websites and the increasing use of Facebook Notes as a platform for long-form publishing.

A number of Influencers have been talking about this move, where the attention is with Facebook, YouTube and other platforms. People making use of the extensions like Facebook Leads and Facebook Notes to publish and then using their personal websites or personal blogs as more of an archive. He thinks we’ll see an increase in that practice as these functions get released to the general public. This is likely to result in a change in content marketing and where marketers post their long-form content. This will change the way in which they consider where they publish their content as they have to go where the audience is.

David Bain interjected that this is an interesting point of view as there are so many websites out there that it’s become more of a challenge to get content ranked on Google or drive a lot of traffic directly to a blog. “Go where the traffic is” is a great tip.

(22) Content shock and courage

Tom Treanor from Wrike highlighted the importance of Content Shock, a term created by Mark Schaefer which basically means that it’s becoming more of a challenge to get attention.

As more and more content gets published it’s become increasingly difficult to get it seen. Tom thinks there’s a growing trend to scrutinise content more strictly and pay attention to the social ROI which will involve better tracking and attribution. We’ll need to focus on more original, unique and better quality content in future. One of the key issues is that this new original and unique content requires more creativity and courage and he thinks we’ll see the value of the expert content creators and social mavens increase as people separate themselves from the crowd.

David thought it was interesting that he talks about needing creativity and courage – can a brand have courage or does he mean individuals within a company? Tom replied that it starts with individuals who say “Our brand should stand for this” or “our brand should do this”. The individual requires courage to push it, and the brand requires courage to go with it and be prepared to say something that not everybody will agree with. David pointed out that it will have to be mandated by the company and be part of the brand proposition that we speak like this.

(23) Micro moments for marketers

Martin Waxman from will be paying attention to what Google terms “micro moments” – all those times during the day when we reflexively turn to our smartphones to satisfy that incessant feeling that we want to know, we want to go, we want to buy – the everyday impulses that we all have.

Google knows us, says Martin, and when he heard about micro moments he had an “AHA” moment and thought that it sounds a lot like him. It’s really a rallying cry for communications people, social media people, marketers, etc to really start thinking about our audiences, thinking about things from the audience’s first perspective, really putting ourselves in their shoes and listening and figuring out what they look for and how to create the type of content they want to read/see/share/watch – and when.

And because these are really “mobile moments” when we’re using our phones, it’s really about figuring out how we, as marketers and communicators, can free ourselves from our desktops.  How can we create stories that go in the moment, that can be found, that will help and engage and be really shareable.

(24) Ask the right questions – and use the answers to adapt, quickly

Cosmin Negrescu from SEO Monitor says that we’re becoming very good at content marketing, using video and marketing automation and all the channels available. Yet content marketing is becoming harder for us. If we want to succeed we need to listen to our clients on Facebook, Twitter etc. and ask fresh questions: Who are they following? What are they reading? Then we’ll need to constantly adapt.

We can see an opportunity to use a new set of tools to follow their pains and make us fast in responding.  When people are asking questions on Twitter or Quora that means they can’t easily find the answers on Google – this is a powerful SEO opportunity for marketers. David interjects that he likes the phrase “follow their pains” as it implies that we need to understand the customers, not just what they’re looking to buy, but understand their frustrations and what fires their emotions.

(25) Snapchat grows up

Jeremy Boeh from NEXT High School believes that Snapchat is going to become more legit and we’re going to see a lot more brands using it as a method of connecting with their audiences.

As young people use it more and more and we try to find our place on the platform, he thinks it will become the primary form of brand usage in the next year. Jeremy says that while its current demographic is young (14 – 23), we’ll see more brands using it as these youngsters are the savvy consumers of today AND tomorrow. It will be particularly important for brands that put story telling at the forefront of their campaigns, and start-ups who need to get their story across quickly.


(26) Edutainment

Art Jones from ArtJonesTV agreed with many others – that empathy, storytelling, providing the experience, making the commitment, and having the courage would all be important in 2016.

In addition, he noted the emergence this year of ‘edutainment’. With live streaming and video becoming so dominant – if you’re not willing to provide both an education and entertainment experience with the content you provide, nobody will be watching.

Art believes we’re now the ‘microwave culture’. When we land on a website, what’s keeping us there?  It’s no longer enough to have great content – we want to see an interesting website. 2014 and 2015 were all about experience, but the focus is migrating towards edutainment.

If we want to capture the attention of the audience we need to look at the 80/20 rule – 80% impressive deep content with 20% experience. Providing an experience and entertaining your audience to keep them focused on your content will be essential in the future.

(27) SEO and social media get married

Social media has now moved much closer to SEO, says Lukasz Zelezny from uSwitch. There are no longer any silos to divide them and they dance together all the time.

Twitter and live Tweets have become stronger this year and with the Facebook and Google deal announced in November, expect to see more of this in 2016.

If a piece of content is doing well on social media, Lukasz says not to worry about backlinks and SEO performance as social traffic is now such an important measure of success.

(28) Google semantics

Secondly, Lukasz highlights how Google’s semantic learning means it is becoming very intelligent in understanding pieces of content. We see this when we ask Google how to cook pancakes, the search results feature a “How to Cook Pancakes” box at the top of the results with the steps listed but without mark-ups, as Google now knows how to pick up this information from the website.


(29) Hyper targeting for paid advertising

Lukasz’ last prediction is that paid advertising will focus more on exceptionally strong targeting so you can build small, customised groups that you can serve your adverts to.

This is happening already with people pulling data from LinkedIn and using the data from emails for Facebook because 60 – 70% of emails are the log-in for both social media platforms.

Lukasz is actively involved in retargeting campaigns at the moment, and while he’s a fan of organic, he reports that most campaigns involve specific targeting whereas organic is broader.  Sometimes it’s necessary to reach a very narrow audience by specific targeting. from now, he said things are changing so fast, it’s difficult to say.

(30) Repurposing live content

Andrew McCauley from Autopilot Your Business thinks we’ll be seeing an increase in the repurposing of what people are doing.

We’ve seen live video streaming with Meerkat and Periscope, Facebook and Blab, but we’re now seeing, for example: podcasters creating podcasts with their Periscope running at the same time; and events teams running live events and using Meerkat or Periscope in the background to show people what it’s like.

We’re used to sports broadcasts with cameras filming from all different angles, but this shows us more about the same event rather than showing it from one point of view. Now, because we can record live events, the (comparatively small) live audience can be extended through repurposing and publishing on Facebook etc after the event is over too.

If you’re going to do something, you may as well capture it in a number of different ways, says Andrew, and he thinks this type of repurposing will be massive in 2016. He jokes that there will soon be an app that does everything at once so you just press one button to do it all – perhaps that’s what’s on his 2016 wish list to Santa!

(31) Digital marketers rock

Kevin Hillstrom from Mine That Data recently saw a post on Twitter saying there are all these answers for digital marketing but nobody is telling them what the questions are. This implies a disconnect between what digital marketers want to accomplish and what company executives want to accomplish.

Kevin thinks 2016 will see a much broader connection between leadership in companies who want certain goals accomplished and the digital marketers who can make that happen. This will give digital marketers the opportunity for more creativity.

Many of his client companies have executives in their fifties and sixties who are not really connected with the things that we’ve been discussing in this broadcast and don’t understand the value that DMs provide. He thinks that as the communication improves the execs will see the increased opportunity to grow their business from a sales and profitability standpoint and well see them leaning more on digital marketers to take a leadership role and have more initiative.

(32) Ad blockers forcing new funding models for content sites

There are now many ways for users to avoid ads altogether. While pop up blockers and flash disablers have always been around, Adblocker from Apple has for the first time made ad blocking native to the digital experience.  

Mickey Lonchar from is looking at what’s really changing right now to get an idea of what will affect marketers in the next year or so, (especially with Apple and iOS 9 with its adblocks). While ad blockers have improved user experience with faster loading and no distractions, Mickey says, there are ramifications for marketers.

For content heavy sites particularly, this means marketers will need to work out how to make money on their content.  With an ad-based model, it was easy to see where revenue would come from. Without that, it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. People are also starting to push back at the subscription-based model, so what will marketing be like for these content heavy sites in future?

(33) A creative revolution in digital advertising

Related to Mickey’s adblocker predictions, Paul Julius from Frixil noted the explosion he has seen in the use of machine learning and AI, using all kinds of algorithms to predict behaviour and taking advantage of the full online inventory.

Paul believes this will force more creativity. “We have all this information available, all these different data sources and ways to track people – and now a big portion of that is getting shut off and it’s sending the message ‘enough with the bad ads – let’s do something creative’.”

He thinks content will be where that’s at, whether using different ad units, different sizes, native advertising, paid content – trying to reach people in a different way than via a traditional online ad.  Resolutions might include “some white label stuff or better standards or different companies that can buy access”.  He says something will have to happen to address this situation.

(34) Hypertargeting: search engines will follow social networks

Robert Brady from Clix Marketing agrees with Lukasz Zeleny that hypertargeting will become more important in 2016. But this won’t just happen on social networks, where you can upload and create custom audiences based on website visits and email lists. It is also moving into the world of search engines.

Google now has customer list audiences that allow you to upload emails into Google and target people via their Google ID. Robert thinks that for search engine advertising to remain competitive, it needs to become much more focused allowing hypertargeting to specific audiences that see your ads when they want to see them. Spammy ads at the side of the content will no longer cut it.

(35) The joy of live and ‘one-on-one’ experiences

Connecting with 54 people around the world in a live environment was always going to be tricky, and some interviewees experienced technical difficulties with their audio settings.

John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire revealed that he loves the ‘live’ medium as you can’t go back and achieve perfection. He wanted to  focus on what he thinks will be a big trend amongst entrepreneurs in 2016: that it’s not about scaling or leveraging or thinking that going bigger is  better.  It will all be about fomenting one-on-one communications. This is something he’s seen in every part of his business.

John enjoys talking issues through with clients on Skype and believes that one-on-one connection delivers a better customer experience. This creates a life time customer and the life time value that results from a 10 minute call is worth its weight in gold – they will share with their friends who will pass it on – word of mouth is a powerful thing.

You need to think about how you and your business can set up times to have those conversations that could exponentially grow and be a lot more powerful than other marketing methods.

reach out and share apple

(36) A return to human interaction

Janet Fouts from agreed with John Lee Dumas, saying the focus will be more on human interactions and using social to warm things up, get a foot in the door and actually talk to people. Then it’s just a matter of breaking that down into one-on-one conversations, face to face.  David rounded off the interview with Janet by saying “Face to face, whoda thunk digital marketing would go that way!”

(37) Hope for humanity

Trevor Young from PRWarrior hopes that we’ll see more humanity this year. We’re now overrun by technology with new platforms and tools, and Trevor warns marketers ‘don’t lose your humanity – use the tools to take people behind the velvet rope of your business’.

“Get the leaders out of the boardroom – tell better stories – use your experts internally.” 

We have so many opportunities, Blab, Meerkat, Periscope, all those little snippets can mean a lot.  There will be a lot of micro-actions and, as John Lee Dumas said, those one on ones are important as well. Use the tools available to do that type of thing as well.

If you’re a businesses, tell your customers’ stories, if you’re in a non-profit or have constituents, tell their stories. Don’t make it about you – make it about your people in your community – what’s relevant and important to them?  What can you bring to the table as a result of that? Sometimes just providing a platform, bringing people into the conversation and advancing that conversation will do the trick.

(38) ‘Reputation building’ content

Trevor would also like to see more reputation building content. When every question has been answered, every list is done, every how to, etc., what happens then? We will gravitate towards those people who have opinions and perspectives and have live conversations around those people and topics of interest and relevance to us.  David thought that was great advice – stop adding these silly comments that don’t’ mean anything and actually add a thoughtful paragraph – spend time thinking about your reply to the original piece and that will build your reputation in the industry.

(39) Integration, integration, integration

Mark Pack from Blue Rubicon had two predictions, the first of which is about integrated digital platforms. New technology gets the headlines but old technology is still important. TV viewing figures are dropping but they’re still significantly larger than most digital channels. Most people spend a lot of time watching TV and most successful digital marketing campaigns are those that integrate TV with digital.

(40) More focus on sales funnels

Mark also highlighted the growing importance of sales funnels for building engagement. To drive sales or drive people to a sign up form, you should attract people into a sales funnel; so being able to push targeted messages out to them via email is important. Old technology and email integration will therefore be powerful marketing trends next year.

Watch the full two-hour video below or on YouTube here.

Or come back to read part the final part (PART THREE) on Friday this week.

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  • What do you think about these predictions?
  • Do you have any of your own predictions or new year resolutions for your digital marketing campaigns?

Please do share your comments below!

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