The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016

The online marketing industry is complex and volatile, but an exciting one for anybody who stays up on modern trends. Each year, new hardware, new software, new companies, and new user preferences dictate a host of sweeping changes that either get adopted or ignored by the businesses of the world. Early adopters get a leg up on the competition, appealing to new markets or cementing their reputations as industry leaders, while those lagging behind miss out on a key opportunity to retain their positions.

2016 looks to be a great year for online marketing, and I anticipate it shaking up the game with these seven trends:

1. Video ads will start dominating. Video ads are certainly nothing new, with social channels like YouTube dedicated to hosting billions of videos and advertising platforms like Facebook and Bing already offering advertisers video options. 2016 is set to be different because Google is finally getting on board with in-SERP video advertising. It’s a sign that users are becoming more accepting of video ads online, and as that trend continues, expect to see more types of video ads popping up in more unexpected places. With Google’s ownership of YouTube, the possibilities are virtually limitless.

2. App indexing will lead to an explosion of apps. Google has offered app indexing for a while, but as the ranking possibilities for apps become more complex, 2016 will be the year more business owners realize the online visibility advantages of a dedicated app. A mobile-optimized site works wonders for appealing to the mobile crowd, but soon, apps will begin to replace them. Apps can do everything that websites can, except in more intuitive, convenient, accessible ways. We’re still several years away from apps completely replacing websites as a medium, but 2016 will be a pivotal year in app adoption from business owner’s perspectives.

3. Mobile will completely dominate desktop. 2015 was a big year for mobile—not only did Google announce that mobile traffic finally overtook desktop traffic in 10 different countries, it was also the year they released the “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update to phase out sites not optimized for mobile. But apparently, you don’t have to have an optimized desktop site in addition to a mobile version—according to Google, a mobile-only site with no desktop counterpart is perfectly acceptable. This alone won’t be enough to drive down desktop traffic, but it’s clear what side of the fence Google’s on; they’re banking on desktop traffic fading away, meaning the smart money rests on mobile-focused online marketing.

4. Digital assistants will lead to a new kind of optimization. Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising are two highly popular strategies for getting your site seen by thousands of previously unknown visitors. But the rise of digital assistants is going to lead to a new kind of optimization. Digital assistants like Siri and Cortana do utilize traditional search engines, but only when necessary to find information. The key to optimizing in this new format is to make sure your business information is easily accessible to these assistants, rather than trying to funnel people to your site specifically.

5. Virtual reality will emerge. There are dozens of different virtual reality devices set to release in the next few years, some of which are dedicated for specific applications like video games, and others which are available for general use. Oculus Rift, arguably the most hyped VR device, is set to release in the first quarter of 2016. Oculus Rift and other VR devices will introduce an entire new medium of online advertising, with integration to popular social media platforms, video channels, and even forms of direct messaging. There’s always a chance VR could fizzle as a temporary fad, but there are billions of dollars of funding in limbo, ready to bet otherwise.

6. Wearable technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) will pave new ground. While not quite to the level of virtual reality, wearable “smart” devices should start gaining more traction into 2016. 2015 saw the unveiling of the Apple Watch, a first-generation smart watch, but more smart watches and similar wearable devices should start emerging next year. Such devices will change the landscape of local marketing, and will do more to blur the lines between “online” marketing and “real” marketing.


Local Business Marketing Trends for 2016

Heading into Q4, now is the time to start thinking about what your business’s goals will be in the next year, including how you’ll to organize your budget and what your overall marketing plan will include.

You already know the organization of your current digital marketing channels — from SEO to coupons and deals — and which were the most effective for you this past year. Going into the next year, you’ll want to make sure that your local business takes advantage of 2016 digital marketing trends so that you can reach new customers that use these mediums.

This article will provide you with guidance about how to structure the different pieces of your marketing plan — 2016 digital marketing trends included — so that you can build a successful marketing strategy. From the up-and-coming social networks to the next mobile device your local business can use for quick customer check-outs, we’ve got the most important 2016 digital marketing trends that can help you start the year on the right foot.


Instagram will take off

Since Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012, the social media giant has been consistently making small changes to the photo-sharing platform. In late 2015 and 2016, all these smaller changes will start to culminate into big developments on the platform.

2016 digital marketing trends, instagram takes off

Facebook is now the social media network that every local business needs to have a Business Page on, accompanied by an advertising package so that you can reach the followers you worked hard to amass.

Reaching your followers on Facebook with a post used to be free — just like it currently is on Instagram. However, with Instagram offering advertising in the form of “sponsored posts,” we predict that soon you’ll have to pay to ensure that your post is seen by your followers (just like you do on Facebook).

Instagram advertising gets strong results for its advertisers. The photo-sharing app says that their ad recall is 2.8x higher than other online advertising platforms, making it an attractive option for those businesses looking to get the most bang for their marketing buck.

Ad recall on Instagram is 2.8xhigher than other online advertising platforms.

New tools that combine trending topics on Facebook and Instragam, such asSignal, are further proof that Facebook plans to continue integrating Instagram into its platform. As the two continue to be more tightly integrated, Instagram will certainly become a bigger and bigger player in the 2016 digital marketing trend arena.

It has been predicted that by 2017 Instagram will have $2.8 billion in advertising sales (it already has $600 million in advertising revenue YTD for 2015). Instagram is available exclusively via mobile and tablet apps, positioning it for a clear leadership role as small business marketing shifts to mobile.


Expand your social media presence on the network that will get the most user engagement in 2016: Instagram.


Search will expand beyond search engines

Search is moving beyond Google, Bing and Yahoo and onto social networks where search capabilities are expanding.

Pinterest jumped into the search engine game, expanding its search algorithm and incorporating “guided searches.” Pinterest isn’t the only one in the search game either; Facebook is already working on tests for its own search engine and Twitter is, once again, being indexed by Google so that public tweets are seen on both the micro-blogging network and the wider Internet.

88% of consumers are influenced by reviews and comments online and the ability to search on Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube will connect people to these comments quickly. For small businesses that have been monitoring and building up the amount of positive customer reviews on social media sites, such as Facebook, you’ll be pleased to hear one of the side effects of a search engine: your business’s reviews are about to get a lot more attention because they will show up in searches.

2016 digital marketing trends


Expanded search means that your business needs to invest in expanding your listings and start monitoring social more closely. Not only should your local businesses claim a social profile on every popular network (Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yelp and LinkedIn), but you also need to be able to respond to what may be said about it online.

If you’re looking for help with reputation management, The Berry Company provides a service that you can use to track everything being said about your business. With this reputation management service, you’ll be able to learn what is being said about your business and also respond to it.


Targeting will be the new black

As the digital market continues to expand, the more consumer data it collects along the way. With all this data, more sophisticated targeting algorithms can be created to help you get better results by using more targeted messaging.

Depending on the state of your business’s online marketing strategy, targeted messaging can be a good or bad thing.You’ll be excited about targeted data if you have a comprehensive local online marketing program that you would like to refine and get more qualified results out of. You’ll be bummed if you don’t use local online marketing because your competitors are — and they’ll be able to reach more local customers than you can.


Take advantage of targeting by starting pay-per-click or re-marketing display ad campaigns. As more and more data is added to the funnel, your ads will automatically take advantage of new targeting capabilities.


Mobile payments will skyrocket

With the development of Apply Pay and the reliance on cell phones, mobile payments will have a steep increase this year.

In 2015, nearly 15% of Starbucks customers already began paying for their daily latte fix with their mobile devices. As a whole, nearly 60% of consumers use their smartphone to pay, so that they receive some sort of reward or benefit from the business.

Furthermore, mobile technology continues to become more and more affordable, as demonstrated at Apple’s latest conference with its line of iPhones. As prices continue to drop, smartphones will replace older phones — eliminating limited payment functionality.


As mobile technology becomes more affordable, mobile payments will continue to penetrate the market. Start looking into different platforms and hardware that your business can invest in to accept mobile payments.


Webrooming will become as important as showrooming

Consumers want to know exactly what they will be buying before they make a purchase, consulting 10+ sources before making a purchase.

Now these savvy-shoppers can use the web want to see how a product or service will fit in their lifestyle before they head to the store to make a purchase. By showcasing your product or service, or “webrooming” (it took me a minute to get that, web-rooming for anyone like me who didn’t get it ), you can help a consumer imagine how your product/service fits into their lifestyle.

ikea on instagram

Ikea does a remarkable job of marketing their products to many generations, from millennials who prefer webrooming, to baby boomers who are used to showrooms and window shopping.


Pick up a few of Ikea’s out-of-the-box marketing strategies to expand your offline experience with your online one.


Video will get the most views

Video has been a part of many online marketing strategies for years, but 2016 will make video the center of attention.

From 2013-2015 there was a 360% increase in video views. Facebook jumped on the video bandwagon and began hosting videos to keep more users on their network (instead of sending them to YouTube).


Your local business can leverage video in 2016, too. Share (and host when available) videos so that you can to attract more views to your content and your business.

Video is an incredibly versatile medium. From showcasing a product to sharing behind the scenes look at your business, start creating videos to drive up your customer engagement.

It may be 2015, but these 2016 digital marketing trends will have a big impact on your 2016 budget and strategy. Make sure you stay in the know with the latest digital marketing trends for local business by subscribing to the LocalVox blog which will also help you implement and track your marketing success.

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How to Run Like Incentive FB Campaigns, Part 2: Construction Tips

Last month, I shared with everyone that the strategy of combining “Like Incentives” with advertising campaigns is a super-successful formula for acquiring a large number of fans – but only if things are planned and executed wisely!

Even if your brand is not one of the “known entities” or social media darlings (like Coca-Cola or Old Spice), you can still grow a significant raving fan base. Part 1 of this series provided some tips for setting up your Like Incentive campaign: Clearly define strategic objectives up front; set the right tone and back it up with a long-term campaign road map; and align your landing page with those goals.

The second part of this series, in turn, will focus on best practices of constructing “Like Incentive” campaigns – namely, to define the “right fans” to fit the goals you have already established, to construct the actual incentives accordingly, and to ensure that the elements that make up your ads are aligned with the above.

Would you “Like” to jump right in?

1. Target the “right” prospects to fit your overall strategic goals

Essentially, “targeting” is the most foundational aspect of any campaign. It’s not enough to just attract eyeballs and likes. You want to ensure that they’re the right kinds of fans – those who are excited to like your page, constantly engage with your brand, subscribe to your email list, purchase your products, share your content, visit your store, etc. (whatever your goals may be). While people have written detailed volumes on targeting practices themselves (Marty Weintraub is my personal favorite!), I’m going to keep this discussion fairly high-level for simplicity.

If you are a small business consultant wishing to incentivize business owners to “like” your page to gain access to the latest, greatest search marketing strategies, make sure to keep your campaign target numbers to around 200,000 at most for the greatest effectiveness. This may involve segmenting your campaigns by vertical.

For example, let’s say your firm provides search marketing services for an array of businesses – chiropractors, in this case. You have to be very careful that when you’re pinpointing your audience, you are not marketing to those who simply LIKE chiropractors; rather, you aim to target chiropractors themselves (even better – those who own their own practices). Therefore, do some research and use the precise interest categories to find, say, chiropractic associations or journals. This allows you to truly narrow your search and can definitely help ensure you’re reaching the rightaudience with your “incentive.”


facebook smb targeting


If you’re targeting small business owners in a different sort of vertical (say, the veterinary industry), this approach may still produce a large audience size (over 200K). In that case, consider using the broad categories section as a supplement to pinpointing professional veterinary associations. You can possibly further target those who are veterinarians but who also own their own practices (i.e. the decision makers regarding whether or not to use your company’s search marketing services).

2. Create an “appropriate” targeted incentive for your potential customers

The corollary statement here is – avoid offering unrelated and/or unrealistic incentives. In business terms, ask yourself, “Is the incentive I’m offering aligned with the types of people I want as customers and what their needs are? Is this incentive consistent with the types of offers we will run in the future?”


ipad giveaway

Well, sure. Everyone likes these.

I see giveaway promotions or “enter to win” contests all the time, aimed at getting “Likes” – however, many times, these ads are clearly non-targeted. The most notorious example is “Click LIKE for a chance to win a new iPAD!!!” Now, let’s consider…

If I own a chain of specialty running stores, advertising a contest to win a FREE iPad may attract a large number of new fans. But they may not be the rightfans, the types of fans who will continually engage on the page and, most importantly, visit the stores (become a customer). A better, more targeted example may be to give away an expensive, state-of-the-art running watch with GPS capabilities – a product the stores actually sell!

I’m not saying that a FREE iPad is not a draw – I would probably enter to win myself! However, if I’m not really that into the brand/company itself, once I entered, I would most definitely either drop-off (unlike!) or ignore anything from this page in the future. Several online studies have also confirmed that the “unlike rate” after promotions like these can be as high as 50%!

Also consider that incentives do not have to simply be giveaways or promotions. Rather, the value your brand provides, if offered consistently, in many different forms (e-books, webinars, infographics, tips, etc.) could represent the “draw” that attracts andcontinually engages the right customers. Companies and brands like Hubspot,Fooducate, and Kim Garst are constantly offering value in a way that can easily be viewed as incentives to LIKE (and subscribe, and buy…).

3. Ensure the your ad’s elements are in sync with your goal & incentive

Finally, once you’ve mapped out the right target and incentive, the actual ad(s) must be designed in a way that resonates with and attracts your potential audience. The headline (in the case of external landing pages), body, image, call-to-action, destination page – and the alignment of your offer with your overall goals (which we touched upon in Part 1) – must all be considered.

As mentioned previously, Sephora is a great example of goal alignment from start to finish! One featured ad campaign explicitly states the benefit (15% off exclusively for Facebook fans); the customer encounters a Like Gate and clicks LIKE to reveal the offers that were promised.

Amy Porterfield, a FB coach/trainer, is a wonderful example of someone who constantly provides value and is always giving potential fans compelling reasons why they should “LIKE” and follow her. Her ad tone, design, and copy are consistent, on message, and tied seamlessly to the landing page.

In the following example, Amy appears to be incentivizing potential customers, primarily, to opt-in via email. She addresses her audience with an engaging question; if the answer is “Yes,” browsers will hopefully follow the “Click here” call-to-action for incentives they are already told they will be getting – weekly, FREE Facebook updates.


fb like incentive ad


As you can see below, the internal landing page is completely in sync with the ad – not just its look and feel, but also with its promise. Literally, what you see is what you get.

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of ensuring that the landing page is aligned with campaign goals. Amy’s primary objective was to collect emails. Though I’m sure generating a “Like” is also important to her, she did not choose to put up any sort of Like gate here – that would have been asking too much. Most likely, if people opt-in, they will probably hit “Like” anyway, especially if they are confident in the value she will provide. In some cases, companies may still ask for the LIKE (e.g. “Like Our Page” text with an arrow pointing to the LIKE button) – but putting up a gate, when the objective is to collect emails, is too much. Bravo, Amy!


fb ad landing page


In sum, targeting the right customers to match your overall goals, creating appropriate incentives for this target demographic, and aligning the ad elements with these goals are all integral steps for constructing an effective Like Incentive Ad strategy. In short,know your (potential) customers. Understand what makes them tick – and CLICK!

How to Run Like Incentive FB Campaigns, Part 1: Set-Up Tips

One of the biggest lies of social media is that if a ‘business’ builds a Facebook fan page, the fans will inevitably follow – in droves. Unless you are one of the BIG GUYS (or, my personal favorite – Boo the Dog), this just won’t happen.

Smart businesses give people really good reasons – or ‘incentives’ – to LIKE their pages. A retail chain offers frequent discount coupons through Facebook. A search marketing consultant gives away a PDF with the secrets to Google ranking success. A grocery store runs a contest for a $300 giveaway in-store. A musician provides exclusive clips of new songs to Facebook fans first. These are things any brand MUST do to grow – but your fan page won’t achieve exponentialgrowth without advertising.

Combining “Like Incentives” with advertising campaigns is a great formula for acquiring huge numbers of fans (according to Brian Carter of The Like Economy, it can convert up to 80% of visitors into fans), but only if things are planned and executed wisely.

Over the next few months, I will examine the Like Incentive ad strategy from start to finish, with this first post providing tips for setting up your Like Incentive campaign – namely, clear goals and objectives; setting the right tone and backing it up with a long-term campaign plan; and aligning your landing page with your campaign goals.

Would you“like” to get started?

1. Set clear goals up front – and plan entire ad strategy accordingly

First, it is important to ask yourself, “What is our ultimate objective?”

Perhaps you want to build your fan base, grow your email list, generate sales, etc. Let’s say you decide you want to generate as many LIKES as possible. This decision must dictate all future actions of resulting campaigns – from conceptualization to landing page. In the end, every step of the ad strategy should be aligned with this overall goal.

Sephora is a well-documented success story for building a fan base with Like Incentive ads. As you can see, the below ad explicitly states the benefit someone will receive by clicking LIKE (15% off exclusively for Facebook fans). The ad directs the customer to a custom landing page – in this case, a “Like Gate.” All the customer has to do is click LIKE to unlock the exclusive offers on the “Reveal Page.” Pretty straightforward – great alignment from start to finish!

sephora fan offer

sephora fan gate

sephora deals


It is important to note that Sephora did not ask for anything else at this stage besides the LIKE. The goal was to bring in new fans – NOT to collect emails, at this point.

Many companies run into trouble when they ask for too much up front from potential fans. They push the limit – asking for the LIKE… and THEN the email, both before providing the value. You may think the value customers will receive exceeds the “lesser” expense of making them take an EXTRA step in the redemption process. However, I argue that it is better NOT to risk alienating the customer altogether. If you want the LIKE, then don’t try to get the email. Ultimately, you cannot maximize campaign successes if you have conflicting strategic goals.

2. Set the right tone with your ad and make a plan to back it up

Before launching a Like Incentive campaign designed to grow your fan base, it is important to consider the effect of your ad(s) – and the actual offering – on customerexpectations moving forward.

For instance, let’s say you’re a donut shop striving to entice new fans. You’re offering a dozen free donuts (ok, so this is my own little dream world now!) as an incentive for LIKING the page.

If you were planning on making this a one-time deal, think again! If this type of incentive is what drew new fans in, now they likely have high expectations that you will continue to run such offers in the future. NOT doing so will only get customers’ hopes up and is a sure-fire way to turn off your new “fans.”

However, if your company does plan on running consistent offers, you should set up and build your Like Incentive campaigns into a promotional calendar for efficient organization and communication. This way, any future events or offers could be scheduled – and your advertising efforts will be dictated by this pre-launch set-up.

Again, Sephora offers a FanFridays page that highlights exclusive deals every TGIF. If you wanted to do something similar, you could schedule your offers and build your ad campaigns to drive new fan growth every week, etc. (You could even promote the offer to existing fans for less money! But that’s another strategy for another post).

sephora fan campaign




3. Ensure ad landing page is aligned with campaign goal

If your company seeks to increase LIKES through incentive ads, the landing page should be constructed with that goal in mind. For example, the Sephora example above set up a Like Gate that, once clicked, opened up a Reveal Page with the exclusive discounts the original ad promised. Super!

Reveal pages like this are great ways to spur people to LIKE your page. The greater the incentive offered, the greater the chances of “conversion” to LIKE. According to, “By implementing the reveal tab, you’ve effectively cut your cost of Facebook advertising in half.”

However, a Like Gate and Reveal landing pages must be properly executed. Again, this tip is very closely tied to the importance of goal-setting mentioned in tip #1, above.

Let’s say a local restaurant chain ran a LIKE incentive AD, taking people to a Like Gate. The promise is that the person will receive a free coupon for an appetizer IF s/he LIKES the page….


FB coupon with gate following

However, what customers encountered next was an email form, requiring a full name and email address – NOT the promised free appetizer coupon….

extra gate to coupon


If the ad itself promised a deal after a LIKE, no one will be really happy. The customer has to take an extra “required” step to receive what s/he was promised after the initial LIKE. Here, the restaurant is trying to do too much on the back end, which does not optimally support its goals (getting good likes) on the front end (i.e. consider customer unlikes or future disengagement).

A better option in this format would have been to “reveal” a printable coupon (or link to coupon), after the LIKE.

If the restaurant’s goal is really to collect email addresses, this will alter the entire campaign strategy. (In my next blog, I will compare how to design actual incentive ads with your unique goals in mind – and highlight the mistakes to avoid!)

In sum, defining objectives up front, setting the right tone throughout the campaign series, and aligning implementation with strategy from start to finish are all crucial steps to setting up an effective Like Incentive Ad strategy.

Stay tuned to learn how to build your Like Incentive campaigns (Part 2) and how to quantify and measure your successes (Part 3). Thanks! Leave comments!