Digital Marketing Predictions for 2016

Another year is coming to a close. Now is the time that many people are looking back on 2015 and analyzing their successes and failures. At the same time, people are looking ahead into the crystal ball of 2016.

  • What will be different in the New Year?
  • What will stay the same?
  • Should we shift course or are we on the right path?

For marketers, the last question is one of the most important. There are constant changes in Internet marketing. Not shifting course could cause you to fall behind fast. Shifting course too quickly could cause you to jump down a rabbit’s hole of a new idea that never seems to pan out.

The best way to tell what you should be doing is to listen to the experts. Here are the 2016 marketing predictions from some of the industry’s leaders.

“Content Marketing Grows Up” ~ Ann Handley

Ann Handley
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Content marketing has been named King of the Internet world for years. Now, Ann Handley, a speaker and author, says it’s time for it to grow up.

In 2016, she predicts it will become more strategic. New processes will be put in place. New metrics will be monitored. All in all, brands will need to have a better story and a bigger voice to get heard in the content marketing world that has become noise.

Want an example of what this looks like? Read her prediction told in an artful, unique way. This is what she’s talking about. This is the direction she anticipates content marketing taking in 2016.

“We will see shining examples of content marketing magic in action” ~ Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi
Photo Credit: Twitter

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, admits his predictions are a mixed bag. Sometimes they’re wrong but most of the time they’re on target.

Pulizzi has put together a full list of 40 predictions he’s made for content marketing specifically in 2016. You can download this list here.

One of his predictions is that most brands will “crash and burn” with their content marketing efforts. Although there will be a few “shining examples” of content marketing done right, many brands don’t have the patience to let it grow. These are the brands that will give up. These are the brands that will falter because they aren’t strategic in their creation or distribution efforts.

It takes time to build a loyal audience and Pulizzi thinks many brands won’t wait long enough for it to happen, falling back into a rut.

“Marketers need to shift from sorting tactics and channels as either digital or not.” ~Michael Schinelli

Michael Schinelli
Photo Credit: Twitter

The CMO at UNC Kenan-Flager Business School, Michael Schinelli predicts the digital marketing world will end. Instead, businesses will start marketing in a digital world.

It’s a small shift but he believes making this change in thought pattern will diversify the companies who market to a consumer experience versus the companies that market within a channel.

No more pigeon holing campaigns. For brands to get serious in 2016, they need to drop the focus on various platforms and start watching how consumers operate in the digital world we live in today.

“TV as we know it will change forever.” ~Matt Voda

Photo Credit: LinkedIn
Photo Credit: LinkedIn

Businesses relying on television commercials to reach customers are in for a rude awakening if Matt Voda’s prediction holds true.

Voda is the CEO of OptiMine Software, a cloud based, omnichannel marketing analytics solution. He notes that consumers are buying new devices to watch their favorite shows instead of relying on cable or satellite networks. Consumers are fast forwarding through commercials faster than ever, making much of the traditional advertising methods obsolete.

Voda also predicts that virtual reality will arrive in 2015, changing the way the world streams. This, he says, will be the death of the old world distribution.

“The opportunity for brands to be connected to their customers and prospects is set to be closer than ever.” ~Meaghan Moraes

meaghan moraes
Photo Credit: Hubspot

Relationship marketing will change in 2016 too, according to Meaghan Moraes, at Responsive Inbound Marketing.

Companies have long built up relationships with customers to drive repeat business. This year, with more people expected to own smartphones, Moraes believes brands are going to have a unique opportunity to get even closer with buyers.

The key to making this relationship work? Data, she says.

With so much data at our fingertips, it’s getting easier than ever to understand what customers want, connect with customers on a deeper level, and show up in the right place at the right time. For brands, that’s the key to developing a loyal base of brand advocates.

“There’s going to be a whole lot more data for marketers to mine.” ~ Himanshu Sareen

Himanshu Sareen
Photo Credit: Twitter

Look around at people’s wrists these days. Smartwatches and fitness trackers adorn people from all walks of life. Every second they’re worn is a second of data being captured for use by marketers, according to Himanshu Sareen, founder of Icreon Tech Inc.

The Internet of Things is quickly expanding. Adobe predicts wearable technology will see a user adoption rate of 28 percent.

Many brands are already relying on data from Facebook algorithms and Google analytics. Now, they’ll be able to use this and other data to reach customers at the time in their day when they’re most likely to buy.

“Marketing automation will pick up.” ~ Kimberly Crossland

Kimberly Crossland
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Time is one of the most valuable assets people have. No amount of money can ever buy back the minutes someone gives you.

This year, more marketers will take back their time and refocus it on tasks that matter more by employing marketing automation, according to Kimberly Crossland, founder of The Savvy Copywriter. With so many products available, such as Infusionsoft, automation has never been easier. The best part is? Marketers don’t have to sacrifice personality to make automation work. It’s ingrained in today’s best systems.


“More savvy pros will begin to explore (virtual reality) in their PR programs.” ~ Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich
Photo Credit: Twitter

Virtual reality probably isn’t on the top of most business owner’s minds, but listen to the PR pro, Gini Dietrich and you’ll wonder why you haven’t at least considered adopting this in your marketing and publicity strategy.

Dietrich gives credit to Shel Israel for bringing up this potential new channel for reaching new people. Israel says, “… it will soon be refined and become more fashionable.” As it does, more people will immerse themselves in an alternate world trying new experiences and new realities that might not have been possible before.

Think about what this could do for the travel, energy drink (Red Bull especially), and sporting industries. The possibilities are endless. In 2016, we just might see some businesses take the leap and explore this new channel.  

“Live 360 degree broadcasts … will allow people to move thier mobile phones and experience the action as if they were actually present.” ~Michael Stelzner

Photo Credit: Twitter

In 2015, live streaming took hold with new apps, such as Periscope and Meercat. These were so popular, Facebook quickly picked up speed and created its own live streaming. Now, Social Media Examiner, Michael Stelzner, sees the live streaming game picking up even further.

Introducing, 3D experiences live. This is similar to the virtual reality experiences cited by Dietrich and Israel. Customers can get tours through factories and feel as if they’re there in person, looking up, down, left or right whenever they choose. Customers can go on wild excursions by following along a live stream of someone who is taking the journey of their dreams. This will revolutionize how marketers interact with their fan base.


Marketing will once again make tremendous strides forward as we come into the New Year. Continuing with the same old strategies won’t work. Businesses today need to make strides forward to get the attention of the customers they’re targeting.

What are your marketing predictions for 2016? Do any of them here stand out to you?

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