Digital marketing evolves quickly. Every year brings new hardware, new software and new user preferences. In order to develop a successful digital marketing strategy, companies need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Those that can identify the next big thing have an advantage over their competition in reaching new markets and further establishing their reputation and expertise.

I have researched what experts say about the digital marketing trends for 2016 for entrepreneurs and small business owners. In this blog, I combine three blogs I have found on Entrepreneur.com and one on Forbes.com. The experts of these blogs (Jason Parks, Sujan Patel, Matei Gavril and Jayson DeMers) agree on a few trends, but also mention some that the others do not. The trends include tools, extensions on existing platforms and best practices, among other things.

This way, I offer you a comprehensive overview of what to keep in mind when planning your marketing in 2016. Bigger companies will already have set up a marketing plan for 2016, but I suspect the smaller ones will plan ahead a shorter period of time, which is why this blog in the first week of 2016 is still of use.

‘31 Promising Digital Marketing Trends for 2016’ I present the digital marketing trends for 2016, which include tools, extensions on existing platforms & best practices. Keep these in mind when planning your marketing in 2016. Bigger companies will already have set up a marketing plan for 2016, but the smaller ones will plan ahead a shorter period, which is why this blog is still of use. Read the blog at http://budgetvertalingonline.nl/business/31-promising-digital-marketing-trends-for-2016/

Google AdWords

Have you started to bid on keywords related to the product you are selling or the service you are offering? Google now processes more than 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to more than 3.5 billion searches per day. People are clearly looking up information in search engines before making a purchasing decision. Bidding on the proper keywords targeted towards your demographic and region can drive instant new business, if executed properly.

Landing-Page Design

According to Search Engine Land, only 25 percent of advertising accounts average above a 5 percent conversion rate. How do you break through the 10 percent barrier? The answer is custom landing pages. Using a service like Unbounce, you can build, publish and launch A/B test landing pages without special I.T.

Moz

Are you curious why your competitor outranks you on Google and they are sitting on top of the first page while you are buried on page three? Moz allows you to compare competitive metrics, such as domain authority. Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. Once you start to learn the reasons why your competition performs well on the major search engines, you can formulate a strategy for your business.

Help a Reporter Out

If you are looking for amazing and free publicity for your company, you need to sign up for HARO. You will receive daily queries from reporters all over the country that are looking for quotes from business owners and entrepreneurs.

Outreach

Become an expert within your industry by contributing content on well-known websites. This is a great way to drive referral traffic back to your site from readers, who are interested to learn about your insight. Create a “dream list” of 10 websites you want to write content for. Make sure to send each of these 10 publications a compelling pitch that conveys what you will bring to the table by sharing your insight on their site.

Sidekick

Let us say you reach out to a prospect through email and a couple of phone calls, but nobody gets back to you. Is it time to throw in the towel? Not so fast. Sidekick, which is powered by HubSpot, tracks whether or not a recipient opens up your emails and clicks on any links inside. If you see a prospect open your proposal 10 times, you know they are interested. Sidekick can be a game changer for your business strategy, and they have a free package.

Postable

Another great way to close the door on prospects is to utilize Postable, which offers nice cards mailed for you all over the Internet. They have a wide assortment of thank you cards that you can customize to reflect your brand image. The best part is each postcard typically costs less than $3.60 to ship and be delivered into your hot prospect’s actual mailbox.

Display Remarketing

Have you ever wondered how the jeans you looked at on Nordstrom’s website magically appeared on your Facebook newsfeed 10 minutes later? This is called display remarketing, and it is a great way for you to follow up with website visitors who do not make a desired action on your website. Display remarketing builds brand awareness and is a cheap way to get customers to come back to your website to convert. People will think you are spending a lot of money on your advertising when your advertisement appears on CNN.com, but little do they know that you are only paying around $0.30 per click because of an awesome remarketing campaign!

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Video Content

Online video advertising is on the verge of explosion. It seems that right now, only larger businesses with a substantial advertising budget are investing in video advertising, but this does not have to be the case. You can implement video-remarketing ads to tell your brand’s story for you when visitors drop off your site. All you need to do is schedule a three- to four-hour shoot and strategically script out the video content you are looking for. You can obtain amazing video content that can play a crucial part in your marketing strategy in 2016.

$5 Boosted Facebook Post

If you want to be seen in 2016 on Facebook, you will need to invest money into promoting your content. Otherwise, you will go unnoticed.

Instagram Advertising

Schedule a two-hour photo shoot for your business and show off your awesome pictures on Instagram for your target demographic to see. Facebook (which owns Instagram) now offers advertising to businesses of all sizes, everywhere! If you do not want to spend money on advertising on Instagram and want to grow your following organically, make sure to ask local businesses to follow you and return the favor. You can create a network of local businesses and influencers elevating one another.

Email Marketing

Are you sending out at least two emails per month for your business for marketing purposes? According to Marketing Sherpa, 60 percent of marketers believe email marketing produces positive ROI. Make an effort to collect more email addresses in 2016. From obtaining the email addresses from customers on your website to grabbing business cards at trade shows, the larger your email list and the more effort you make in sending out memorable messages, the more business you will get for very little cost.

Mobile Friendliness

Google says more searches now take place on mobile versus desktop. Is your website mobile friendly? Do you have an easy way for site visitors to get in contact with your business when they visit your site on mobile? For instance, including your phone number at the very top of your mobile site is crucial for B2B businesses to increase their conversion count. Are you tracking conversions that take place on mobile versus desktop? Make sure mobile becomes a focal point for your business in 2016.

Google Analytics

In 20 steps, you can master Google Analytics to understand the visitors coming to your website and make implementations to your online marketing strategy to convert those visitors better. Dedicate at least 10 minutes per day to dig into GA to become an expert on the traffic coming to your site.

Online Reviews

Create an email template for your business to send out personalized messages to satisfied clients or customers.

A vs. B Testing

You and your coworker could have different ideas on what piece of creative will perform the best for an advertisement that you will be running for the holiday season. Rather than getting into an argument, why not run an A vs. B test to determine the winner? Approximately 61 percent of companies carry out fewer than five A vs. B tests every month. Make sure your business is on the forefront of the online frontier by running tests to generate more conversions and lower your cost per acquisition.

Relationship Marketing

Forging ongoing, personal relationships with consumers is nothing new, but how that evolves in 2016 goes beyond just being helpful to customers, staying in touch and offering exemplary service. Relationship marketing will see explosive growth in 2016, especially as more consumers turn to their smartphones for shopping reviews and advice. Focusing on short-term wins will not work in a world where consumers are shifting their focus to ongoing service and relationships with brands and are looking to their peers to see which companies offer the best buying experience. How can you go above and beyond in the relationships you have built with your clientele?

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Content Marketing

Content marketing has gone from being an emerging trend and buzzword to the mainstream norm, but that does not mean everyone is doing it right. Content marketing should incorporate the philosophies of relationship marketing and mobile in order to succeed. It also requires more robust content than simply throwing together a blog post and adding some links. More businesses now offer video content and free, in-depth white papers and infographics to compete.

Geo-Precise Marketing

Small businesses can officially stop worrying about how to reach every consumer that could possibly want their goods and services: Geo-precise marketing and precision targeting is now leading the pack in consumer marketing. Businesses can use their analytics and purchasing data to identify zip codes that are extra active when it comes to purchasing or even use IP targeting to narrow down their focus to individual households. Tools like Google Adwords, Facebook ads and just about any other serious advertising platform offer robust geo-targeting services that help businesses find the perfect consumer — either around the corner or across the globe — based on exactly where your buying power is coming from. By fine-tuning their targeting, small businesses can increase their conversions by focusing their landing pages or content marketing campaigns to the geographic norms and preferences in the areas where their consumers are coming from.

Outbreak of Apps

In April when Google changed its algorithm to reward mobile friendly websites, it began using information from indexed apps as a factor in search rankings. Since then, app indexing, which drops app content into Google mobile search results, has taken off. Business owners are slowly catching on, particularly because apps are more responsive to individual users and can be more convenient. While mobile websites are not going anywhere just yet, 2016 will be a turning point in the adoption of apps by business owners.

New Optimization Strategies

In the past, most online marketing strategies have relied on search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Now, digital assistants such as Siri and Cortana can be optimized to answer consumers’ questions. In 2016, more and more business owners will be looking to ensure their business details can be easily found via virtual assistant rather than simply listing the information on the web.

Emergence of Virtual Reality

Dozens of virtual reality devices are scheduled to launch in the next couple of years. Some are built for specific applications like video games, while others are designed for use that is more general. The popularity of Oculus Rift and other such VR devices will usher in an entirely new form of online advertising that connects popular social media platforms, video channels and even direct messaging.

Adoption of Wearable Technology

Wearables will continue to gain momentum in 2016. Because the devices’ screens are so small, web and app content should be shorter, favoring a “listicle” format over a traditional article format. Wearables also require online marketers to think about how to best provide “on-the-go” information, as well as create content that is easily searchable via voice commands.

Increased Advertising Investment

Over the past few years, online marketing has grown more competitive, a trend that will continue in 2016. Companies are expected to spend $10 billion more on all areas of digital marketing than they did in 2015.

In-the-Moment Updates

Social media is already “in-the-moment” by nature, but there are some posts that are more “in-the-moment” than others. For example, take Periscope, which was recently acquired by Twitter—it allows users to give a live video broadcast of some stretch of their lives. Compare that to simply taking a video and posting it later—Periscope users collectively watch 40 years of live video each day. Instagram and Snapchat also support on-the-go, in-the-moment updates as opposed to late-game retrospectives, and could collectively herald in a new era of immediacy in social media. If it catches on, you can forget about scheduling all your company’s social media posts in advance.

Buy buttons

Facebook and Pinterest are just two of the platforms that gained attention this year by introducing new “buy” features for their advertisers and users. Mobile users of Facebook and Pinterest who see a product they like in a sponsored post can now use one click to purchase it, without ever leaving the app. By the end of 2016, most major social media brands will feature some kind of buy button naturally as an element of their advertising campaigns.

Diversification and Spread In-App Functionality

Facebook is the king of adding new functionality. In the past year, they have introduced Instant Articles (a new form of publishing), an in-post search engine (to find articles you are referencing), and videos that play instantly when scrolling. Now, they are developing their own digital assistant (though it is technically a digital/human hybrid assistant). Other platforms are working similarly, with Twitter, Instagram, and others trying to expand their platforms to a similar degree, preventing users from ever leaving the app. Expect this trend to continue well into 2016, giving marketers ever more opportunities to engage with their audiences on one platform.

New Publication Options

Facebook’s Instant Articles are only the beginning. Publishers on board with the program can publish full-length articles to Facebook users, without having to link to an external source. As social platforms become more competitive and more aggressive about keeping users in-app for as long as possible, I imagine they will dream up even more sophisticated forms of publishing for businesses and organizations. Twitter’s upcoming Project Lightning puts publication in the hands of its users, but it still represents a dynamic way to present material to the public.

All-Time High User Privacy Concerns

After another year full of high-profile security breaches (like the one with Ashley Madison), user concerns over privacy are going to hit an all-time high. Snapchat’s explosive popularity is, in part, due to user demand for a more private, secure method of communication and engagement. Facebook is introducing more privacy awareness tools for its users, and it is smart to do so, because as tension continues to rise. Only platforms that offer a degree of privacy and security will continue to thrive. For advertisers, that might mean backing off of sometimes-intrusive forms of advertising.

Competition for Organic Visibility

Finally, as the ROI of social media marketing becomes more established and social marketing itself becomes more accessible for a wider range of businesses, there will be a greater level of competition for organic visibility. Already, Facebook is throttling organic visibility to force people to buy advertising, and as more businesses emerge in the market, that throttle will only increase, and among more social media channels. The cost of advertising, too, is set to rise over the course of the next year.

Fewer Small Platforms

For the last several years, we have seen at least a few dozen new social media platforms rise up and either blink out of existence just as quickly or settle in as a middle-of-the-road platform that never gets more attention but never really dies out. This past year, the trend has changed—platforms have tended to skyrocket in popularity to stand on their own, get enough attention to be acquired by one of the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), or die a quick death. In 2016, we will see fewer small platforms as the big players race to gobble up the promising small fry, meaning you will have to worry about fewer up-and-coming opportunities.