Written by James Scherer
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5 Marketing Predictions for 2016: How to Prepare for the New Year

The year is wrapping up fast, and 2016 will be upon us before you can say “Why oh why did I drink that much champagne?”

Your business needs a marketing plan for 2016, and I think I can help.

This article will break down my five most influential marketing predictions for the new year:

  • Video Will Become a Competitive Space
  • Marketing Automation Will Become Available and Manageable for SMBs
  • Hyper-targeted Emails Will Become the Norm
  • Social Media Budgets Will Decrease and Lead Generation Increase
  • Content Marketing Will Remain Essential, and Will Get More Personal

If your business is looking to grow its online presence and optimize your time and efforts in 2016, this article is well-worth a look.

Let’s get started.


#1. Video Will Become a Competitive Space


2016 will be the year when businesses will recognize the value and necessity for quality video content - both promotional and educational.

As with any kind of content, an influx of creators drives an upsurge in quality. And your business and mine will have to step it up to stand out.

The growth in video is reflected in the options available to marketers - as many platforms for visual expression as there are creative uses for it:

  • Facebook Live
  • Twitter Video
  • Periscope
  • Blab
  • Instagram
  • Vine
  • YouTube
  • Wistia

I'm confident in predicting, as well, that the increase in video usage will translate to an increase in cost, so budget accordingly - particularly on Instagram and Facebook.

Below are a few examples of how Wishpond has stepped up video production in the past year. The video on the left is from October of 2014, and the two on the right are more recent:

We've hired a video producer, added a studio to our office space as well as invested in camera equipment, a green screen, lighting and software. In 2016, it'll be worth it.

To inspire you, here's an article (and video) we absolutely love from Wistia on How to Make Your First Video.


#2. Marketing Automation Will Become Available and Manageable for SMBs


Bear with me, as I'm not just saying this because part of Wishpond's service is a marketing automation tool.

When SmartInsights asked their readers not just what they expected to drive the most leads and sales in 2016, but what they predicted will give the biggest increment - or improvement, here were their answers:

2016 marketing predictions

And it makes sense: automation is at the heart of modern online marketing. Marketing automation allows you to maximize the usefulness of the limited time you have and create optimized channels of communication with prospective and existing customers. Automation results not only in an improved ROI, but genuinely better conversion rates, reduced churn, increased customer loyalty and an improved brand reputation.

Automation enables you to send sales-ready leads to your sales team at the exact moment they're most likely to convert. It enables you to create personalized email marketing campaigns designed for segments created based on actions and personal details and then delivered at specific times. It enables you to see every behavior of your traffic, leads or clients at any given moment, meaning you can copy their name from a customer support chat and see exactly how they've interacted with your business (from other chats to emails opened, pages visited, tools utilized, and more) from their first interaction to their last.

Unfortunately, up until now it's been pretty exclusive. It's been restricted to huge organizations with limitless marketing budgets and huge teams.

But in 2016 that exclusivity will lessen. Wishpond isn't the only company who's realized there's a market there for small and medium sized businesses (and free-lancers) who could get an awesome return from marketing automation if only there was a platform built for them: something simpler, more affordable, designed to be intuitive and integrate with the software they already use.

To learn more about how marketing automation works, check out my article "The Foundational Guide to Your Marketing and Sales Funnel". Alternatively, check out the more specific "How B2B Marketing Automation Works: A Simple Guide."


#3. Hyper-targeted Emails Will Become the Norm


You know the email lists you hate being on. How did this person get my email address? Did I sign up for this?

And, as a marketer, you likely know exactly how difficult it can be for a business to manage each and every one of their contacts in a way that builds relationships (rather than destroys them).

That's why one of the things I'm most excited for in 2016 is an increased ability to not spam people; an increased ability to target, personalize, and optimize the way we (as marketers) interact with the valued people on our email lists.

And we'll be able to do it, too. Email marketing automation (increasingly available from marketing automation platforms as well as email-specific tools) will make it easier and easier for your businesses and mine to target email recipients based on personal characteristics, time-zones, and much more.

But the coolest part of email marketing automationhttps://www.wishpond.com/marketing-automation/ is the triggered stuff: the ability to send emails to leads or clients based on how they've interacted with your platform. In 2016, you'll be better able to send emails not based on segment, but based on individual actions (but without all the work of actually sending them individually).

Let me give you an example…

Let's say a lead visits, and then leaves, your company's pricing page twice in two days. This indicates they're very interested in your platform but aren't completely convinced. This is an excellent time to send a sales-based email. Something like "Hey, it's James from Wishpond. I was just wondering if you had any questions or concerns regarding our tool. Oh, and did I mention we have a 25% off deal running right now?"

Here's how I'd set up the conditions for that triggered email to be sent:

For more on how you can set up behavioral email campaigns, check out my article "5 Behavioral Lead Nurturing Ideas and Examples." Alternatively, check out "How to Create Email Drip Campaigns to Nurture Leads."


#4. Social Media Budgets Will Decrease and Lead Generation Increase


My most controversial prediction for 2016 is that there will be a distinct fall in online businesses' use of social media as a marketing platform.

Social media isn't a marketing strategy, it's a marketing platform. It's a part of a far larger concept: inbound marketing. And 2016 will be the year when smart businesses come to realize this, and budgets will decrease.

Creating social media buzz is a great thing, and many businesses will cite that one post they had in 2013 that "blew up" and drove a few thousand people to their site. It's awesome, but it's not a strategy.

What is a strategy is utilizing social media as a platform for driving people to your content, there to turn them into true leads (remember, social media fans are not leads).

This means that generating Fans should not be a primary focus for your business. Turning those fans into leads should be.

My SaaS strategy for social in 2016 is as follows:

  • Use Facebook and Twitter to promote blog content
  • Use Instagram to promote Wishpond PR
  • Use the Facebook Ad feature to drive qualified traffic to optimized landing pages
  • Put time and energy into optimizing Wishpond's content and marketing funnels, rather than social traffic sources.

To see exactly how I recommend your business turn the Facebook platform into a lead generating machine, check out my article "5 Facebook Ad and Landing Page Combinations Critiqued. Alternatively, check out my colleague Nick's article "4 Simple Ways to Turn Facebook Fans Into Paying Customers."


#5. Content Marketing Will Remain Essential, and Will Get More Personal


More and more people are adding ad blocking plugins to their browsers, and this will increase in 2016. As a result, being organically at the top of search results will be increasingly important in the coming year. That means, of course, that content will retain its status as king.

The challenge for online marketers is to recognize that content has, in the past couple years, completely discombobulated the traditional sales funnel: Your prospective customers are educating themselves, becoming sales-ready often without direct interference from you.

In 2016, your content and sales teams will need to work very close together. No longer does your inbound team get to generate a blog subscriber and drop them off at the nearest sales bus station, waving as they drive away and washing their hands of the lead. Instead, you need to, jointly, craft a marketing and sales funnel which incorporates content and education into every stage. And beyond into user onboarding and creating customer loyalty.

"Content marketing in 2016 will be more about framing the path for your prospective customers than putting them on it."

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It's about grabbing their interest and developing a trusted relationship; educating them on a personal level; showing genuine interest in their growth and then, delicately, introducing the concept of your business as the solution to their specific pain point.

3 Content Strategies I Recommend for 2016:

1. Use click popups over landing pages:

On the Wishpond blog, click popups have shown to convert traffic 85% better than campaign-specific squeeze pages.

growth tips

2. Use content to nurture leads into sales:

Deliver segmented, educational content to leads over the course of a couple weeks based on their initial conversion (i.e. if they downloaded a landing page ebook, deliver landing page-focused blog content in a drip email campaign).

marketing predictions

3. Recognize SERP gaps and fill them:

This is just one part of Brian Dean's Skyscraper technique, but, for me, it's the most scalable. Here's how it works:

  • Identify the top 15-20 keywords/keyword phrases for your business on Google (if you have any kind of ad campaign set up, you'll already have done this)
  • Read the articles which currently rank highest for those keywords
  • Determine if those articles deserve to be ranked on the first page of the search results.
  • If the content is so good that creating something better would be prohibitively time-consuming or expensive, or if the company's SEO rank is unbeatable, move on to better options.
  • If not, create something significantly better. Rand Fishkin calls this "10x" content: content which is 10x better than a competitor's similar content.
  • Go long-form, highly educational how-to, highly visual. Invest.

For more on this strategy, check out Brian Dean's Skyscraper Technique.


Wrapping it Up


2016 will be an exciting year for online marketers. it'll be a year in which small and medium businesses will have access to software and strategies they couldn't previously implement. It'll be a year in which personalization will be possible, but also crucial. It'll be a year where social media becomes just another part of a larger marketing strategy, rather than a strategy in itself.

I, for one, am excited for it. And I'm excited to see what you think of my predictions as well. Do you agree? Or do you think I'm full of it? Do you have predictions of your own?

Let me know in the comment section.

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Written by James Scherer

James Scherer is the content editor at Wishpond. When he's not writing or designing for Wishpond he's risking his life biking around the city. Reach out to him on Twitter @JDScherer.