Once a year I break out the old crystal ball and share a few marketing predictions on trends I think will be important for small businesses. Last year I correctly predicted the rise in social advertising, the expanded role of content as an SEO tool and the fact that mobile responsive design would no longer be optional. You can read all my 2015 marketing predictions and see how close I was. Then read on to see the top trends to watch in 2016.
Content, Social Media and SEO Marketing Predictions
- Live social broadcasts: With apps like Periscope, Meerkat and the new Facebook Live it is easier than ever to share “what's happening now”. There is no need for expensive video equipment or cumbersome live streaming applications. All you need is a smart phone and an internet or cell connection and you can broadcast anything, at any time. The ability to live broadcast from an event, an interview with a happy client or a quick product demonstration is in your pocket. Not only is video easy to use, but the statistics on engagement and sharing are dramatically higher than simple photographs. If you want to be noticed in 2016 you will need video to make that happen.
- Buy NOW, NOW, NOW!: Last year small business owners felt the push to advertise on social platforms as they saw organic visibility drop. To make advertising more appealing, the addition of new “buy now” features in Facebook and Pinterest will transform social advertising from awareness building to sales generating. As this catches on I expect more social platforms will follow.
- Getting your content read: Last year we said goodbye to random link building and keyword stuffing strategies. The good news – This caused a shift to content as the core of an effective SEO strategy. The bad news: The explosion of content on web pages and social media sites has made it harder than ever to get noticed. In 2016 successful companies will focus more attention on their distribution strategies, getting their content in front of the right people through targeted email communication and dedicated social groups. .
Web Design Marketing Predictions
- Goodbye sidebars: Once a standard feature of every website, they are fading fast because they just don't work well in mobile environments. The critical information in the sidebar falls to the bottom of the page on mobile devices making them useless as a home for any type of call to action.
- Modular design: Think of a modular sofa. You can arrange the pieces to form a couch or a love seat and separate chair. With a wide range of design tools (including Divvy by Elegant Themes), web developers can build pages which are actually a series of separate modules arranged to meet a specific objective. This modular approach frees web designers from the restrictions of a particular theme. Every page can be completely different. Expect to see more innovative use of these modules in 2016.
- Not so flat design: For the last few years, minimalism has ruled. Simple designs, without shadows or other elements which gave images depth and dimension dominated because they loaded quickly on any type of device. However the technology is improving and both Apple and Androids now support a modified, semi flat design. As this style creeps into mobile it will work it's way back into web design as well. I don't expect we will see a return to the drop shadows or wet look popular ten years ago, but we can look forward to slightly richer looking designs in 2016.
- Devices talking to each other: I thought the move to interactive marketing would catch on faster than it did so I am going to move this prediction about IoT (Internet of Things) from 2015 to 2016. IoT are applications which allow communication between the devices and/or between the devices and humans. For example, smart electronics built into your car tell you when your tire pressure is low or it is time to change your oil. My Fitbit automatically syncs with my smart phone which then lets me know when I am close to my daily goals. If smart devices can send alerts to other devices it is only logical they will start sending messages to merchants and service providers. Your furnace might alert your HVAC technician when it needs to be serviced, or your refrigerator might reorder milk when the shelf is empty. In 2016 there will be more applications which allow your customers to sign up for reminders and alerts for all sorts of products and services
We are always interested in trends, particularly among small business owners ( companies with less than 100 employees). If that sounds like you, will you take a few minutes to complete our annual survey?