8 Digital Marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2016

In a space as dynamic as digital marketing where things change rapidly (Google, for example, updates its search algorithm 500 to 600 times a year), it is fairly difficult to predict with certainty how things will turn out in a year. Nevertheless, digital marketing is all about catching the best trends early and leveraging them. Here are eight key trends that we think would be ones to watch out for in 2016:

The mobile web will continue to grow rapidly

Mobile has already seen massive growth in 2014 and 2015. With Google announcing this year that mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic and also releasing its mobile-friendly update (Mobilegeddon), mobile-first has already gone from being a “nice to have” to an absolutely “must-have”. Also, despite the mobile web accounting for only 20% of the time spent on mobile (80% of the time spent is in apps), mobile browser traffic is twice the traffic from mobile apps. With mobile apps facing a massive challenge on the user retention front and the mobile web growing rapidly, mobile marketing strategy is where marketers are going to be strongly focused in 2016.

Mobile Web vs Mobile App Traffic Image Credit: Morgan Stanley

Newer channels like Instagram will continue to gain rapid ground

With a large number of marketers swarming the three most popular social media marketing channels – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (93% of marketers use Facebook!), there’s a great deal of competition for any audience you would want to target.  Relatively new and upcoming channels like Instagram (only 36% of marketers currently use Instagram), Snapchat (a meagre 2% of marketers currently use Snapchat) and Periscope, on the other hand, are fairly untapped and unlike Facebook, have seen a growth in organic reach over the last few years, as illustrated below. Early adopters to these channels are already seeing results and adoption will continue gain ground in the year to come.

Instagram vs Facebook Organic Reach
Image Credit : AdWeek

Influencer marketing will become mainstream

With organic reach of brand pages dropping across most channels, customers trusting social influencers more than brands and the growing use of ad blockers, influencer marketing seems to one of the most viable options for brands to reach out to their target consumers. The savvy early-adopter brands have already started adopting influencer marketing in 2015 and 2016 is when mass adoption will begin.

Spends on Programmatic buying and Real-Time-Bidding will rise

Programmatic buying uses the power of data to ensure the right kind of ads are served to the right kind of people in the most meaningful way, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the ads and the return on ad spends. An increasing number of advertisers are expected to allocate larger spends to programmatic in the next few years.

Programmatic Ad Spends
Source: eMarketer

Video will explode:

Video is no newcomer to the digital space but its consumption trends have seen a massive bump in 2015, especially with Facebook allowing auto-play of videos in the newsfeed. An increasing number of brands will direct a larger percentage of their marketing spends towards creation and promotion of video content. If you haven’t embraced video as a marketer yet, the time is now!

Video-Marketing
Image Credit – Social Media Today

Follower counts are dead, focus will be on ROI-driven marketing

With most social media channels cutting down on their organic reach, the concept of building a fan or follower base which a brand can reach out to for free is almost dead. Fan and follower counts have turned into pure vanity metrics with little business value. The focus in 2015 has already been on marketing that can drive direct return-on-investment in terms of measurable metrics like traffic and sales growth and this focus is only going to be stronger in 2016.

The popularity of Native Ads will increase

The popularity of ad blockers has seen a substantial increase in 2015 and Apple announced this year that its new mobile operating system, iOS 9 will allow ad blocking as well. In this scenario, native advertising, where ads merge into the platform on which they are displayed and do not seem outrightly promotional, is bound to see a huge spike in popularity. If you haven’t explored native advertising channels yet, now is the time to get started.

native-advertising-revenue
Source: Business Insider Intelligence

10X Content will be the new SEO

The focus of SEO has shifted from just keyword optimization and link building to not only producing quality content that addresses users’ needs but also delivering that content to the user with the best experience possible. Content is now the new SEO. But, with large swathes of content being generated every day, only content that is not just the best content out there, but 10 times the best, will stand out. Creating this 10X content is going to be the way forward in 2016.

What are the other trends that you think brands and marketers must pay close attention to in 2016? Do share them with us in the comments section below!

15 Best Social Bookmarking Websites

Got good content up on your website but not sure how to promote it? You’ve landed on the right page to find out the answers.

What are Social Bookmarking Websites?

Websites that help internet users to search, store or manage content they are interested in and share it across networks. These social bookmarks are created using tags, categories or custom keywords and are usually public, allowing all members of the site to access it.

How do they help brands?

Brands and content marketers can leverage on social bookmarking websites to build brand awareness and promote their content. These sites help brands or users share articles, blogs, images or videos, in order to drive relevant traffic into their site.

  • Being featured on social bookmarking websites is an important step in the SEO process. They help in indexing profiles, blogs or articles faster; increase Google Page Rank and Domain Authority
  • Sharing fresh content regularly helps in building a community of users who are interested in your content and eventually become brand loyalists
  • Users can rate, vote or share your blogs/articles across the web, thereby increasing the chances of your content going viral
  • Adding social bookmarking buttons to the website or blog articles improves the shareability and serves as an opportunity to reach a wider audience

Here are some of the popular social bookmarking websites and how they work:

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  1. Delicious

Delicious is the world’s largest social bookmarking service that lets users to save, organise and discover links on the web. The interface is quite simple and lets users build a collection of links, thereby creating their own personal search engine. One can also browse for interesting content shared by their friends or trending topics around the web. Getting listed on Delicious can certainly improve the page ranking & drive more traffic, provided the content is great.

  1. Tumblr

A popular micro-blogging platform and a social network with huge traffic volumes globally. It that allows users to create any content in the form of short-blogs with relevant tags, enabling other users interested in similar topics to easily find it.

  1. Pinterest

A photo sharing website with more than 100 million active users. It allows users to create theme-based picture collections called ‘boards’ and helps discover, save or find what interests them. This site is best known for its referral traffic and image categories such as infographics, guides, tutorials and DIYs have a higher click-through-rate.

  1. StumbleUpon

A discovery engine that finds and recommends web content to its users. Majority of StumbeUpon users are there to look for unique or creative content personalized based on their interests or peer group recommendations. With over 30 million registered users, this site provides high quality backlinks and lets users like, rate or share web pages.

  1. Reddit

A well-known social bookmarking website where users can submit links to blogs, images or videos and its position on the Reddit page will be determined by votes from other users. A text heavy website that covers a wide range of popular topics and organised by areas of interest called ‘subreddits’.

  1. Scoop.it

With over 1 million registered users, Scoop.it is a popular social bookmarking tool that caters to professionals, businesses and corporations. One can publish or curate unique content based on interests, keywords and share it with others in a visually appealing way.

  1. Diigo

This user-friendly social bookmarking service lets its signed-up users bookmark web pages for a later use, annotate files as they browse and share it with friends or colleagues. It helps in easy indexing of shared content on Google and drives good amount of traffic into the site.

  1. Newsvine

An open source, social news service that allows users to create content, seed links to external content and participate in discussions. Most-voted content pieces appear in the home page and usually belong to popular topics like news, politics, business, art and technology. The site has over 40 million unique visitors a month, a Google page rank of 7 and high quality PR backlinks from related sites.

  1. HubPages

HubPages is a social content community where users share content, pictures, videos or pose questions to find answers. It is also a revenue-sharing website where authors can create original, quality content about various topics & earn via Google AdSense or other commission-based vehicles. Creating unique content articles or ‘hubs’ regularly can help brands in indexing pages more quickly and generating targeted traffic into the site.

  1. Visual.ly

Visual.ly is a community platform exclusively for data visualization and infographics. It is also a marketplace for publishers and researchers looking for images using keywords and category tags. Brands can create a profile and publish interesting insights & infographics that will drive relevant traffic into their site. It not only allows the users to share it across social media platforms, but also provides an analytics tool to measure the overall content reach.

  1. Typepad

Typepad is one of the oldest blogging platforms with built-in tools for customization and additional features like mobile blogging, multiple author support & photo album creation. This online publishing tool is a paid service that comes in four different subscription levels.  One can also promote their content within the site and measure performance through their comprehensive stats tracking.

  1. Organizer

A bookmarking website that lets users to store all their favourite links at one place, which can be accessed from anywhere. These bookmarks are created using labels or tags and can be shared with anyone.

  1. Facebook

This world’s largest social networking site also serves as a content sharing platform with large numbers of referral traffic every single day. Facebook also captures latest trends, news articles and topics of discussions using keyword searches. Thus, brands can take timely measures on generating relevant content on Facebook, which might bring in more shares or page impressions.

  1. Twitter

Yet another social sharing site with millions of active users worldwide, generating 500 million tweets every day. Fresh and interesting content can help brands gain followers on profiles, lists and also monitor user interaction levels in terms of retweets, replies and likes.

  1. Google Plus

Owned by Google, this social networking site allows users to share content, images or videos across circles, communities or interest-based groups called ‘collections’. Social bookmarking sites allow users to easily find content around topics they are interested in, store or share it with like-minded individuals. Thus, brands should capitalise on websites such as these, to amplify content and drive more targeted traffic into their site.

Do you currently use any of the above-mentioned websites for your brand? Or have more sites to add to this list? Share it with us in the ‘Comment’s section below. For more tips and insights on SEO / content marketing techniques, watch this space.

ISB Program on Marketing & Analytics for Ecommerce

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At the beginning of 2015, we had spoken about how social media analytics is going to change in 2015, especially for ecommerce companies. Since then we have seen significant strides in multiple aspects. Each of the social media channels, their targeting and analytics has become a lot more powerful. In terms of integrated CRMs to build a single view of the customer we have seen lots of new products such as BetaOut which have made advanced personalization tools available to even SMEs and mid-sized businesses. In terms of content creation and using analytics, there are tools like BuzzSumo which help understand what kind of content is trending and being shared.

Introduction to the ISB Programme

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2016 is going to be an even more exciting year for such advancements & we hope to see a lot more interesting tools being launched. With so many advancements, one needs to be abreast with the new trends and how to effectively integrate it into a singular approach. In this context, we came across the programme on Marketing & Analytics for Ecommerce Industry by Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. We have a list of digital marketing courses in India and this programme is an essential addition to it. This is a 5 day programme and ideal for CMOs, Digital Marketing Strategists, Ecommerce entrepreneurs. With faculty from ISB & Emory University, the programme is designed to give a strategic and hands-on perspective of cutting edge topics in eCommerce & mCommerce marketing.

The programme gives a holistic approach to omni channel retailers who are leveraging the ecommerce market place model and brick & mortar stores. Aspects like the purchase funnel and lifetime value of the customer are essential for an e-business and the programme focuses on how return on investment can be optimized for such businesses.

Analytics is key to success

Website/app analytics and social media analytics is also a key element of the programme and that is absolutely essential for ecommerce startups. By using tools like Google Analytics or Omniture for websites or MixPanel for apps, companies can get a lot of structured data in terms of which channels of acquisition are working, what content & messaging is getting better results and as to which demographics of users are converting. At the same there is a lot of unstructured data because still a lot of startups don’t have a single view of the consumer – there are emailing tools like MailChimp, On Site engagement tools like WebEngage, Intercom & HelloBar and ofcourse the ecommerce platforms like Magento, WooCommerce. All these tools don’t talk to each other yet and tools like BetaOut are trying to fix the issue. There are also a lot of conversations & comments across social media channels and it can be challenging to manage this and to decipher meaningful insights because it’s unstructured data.

Cost effective Customer Acquisition & Customer Retention is the only way to make it sustainable

Experimenting with different channels, messaging & audiences is an essential way to optimize customer acquisition cost. Granular targeting & advertising has never been easier to accomplish and each of the tools – be it Facebook, Google Search, Twitter or even Native Advertising, the tools are getting better at segmenting the audience and their interests. To add to this complexity users have multiple touch points with an app or ecommerce site – across multiple devices, multiple locations and gaps during their interactions. So attribution becomes a challenge as the last touch point cannot be attributed just to the last touch point. Zarget or Improvely are great tools to set this right where it captures each touchpoint of the user so that attribution can be made appropriately. This allows for optimization of marketing spends in the right channel. With immense competition in ecommerce with each company vying to retain the customer, retention strategies and personalized messaging is key to success.

Optimising your website and especially optimizing the product pages is critical to effective cost per acquisition (CPA). As Neil Patel points out in the above article, product pages is where visitors become customers and that should be the page that needs to be made persuasive, not just the homepage. Tools such as ZargetCrazyEgg and Inspectlet help you understand how users are behaving on the site and how it can be optimized to get better conversions at lower costs.

The programme at ISB has a key component to understand how this structured & unstructured data can be used to get actionable insights on acquisition, retention and conversion optimisation. Usage of many of the advanced tools will also be covered. The ISB Programme is from 4th to 8th Jan at Hyderabad and would be a great opportunity to get practical insights into the above aspects and to also cross learn from other specialists who will be attending the programme too.

ISB has also introduced a new program on Digital & Social Media Marketing Strategies, and the first batch of the same is going to take place from May 22 -25th, 2016. More details can be see at ISB Centre for Executive Education.

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