It’s already October, and the year of 2015 is quickly reaching its end. The perfect time to start summarizing and looking forward towards the year to come. What should we expect in the world of online marketing in 2016? What will be the leading trends? Who will rise and who will fall? We gathered the biggest brains in the industry for an expert roundup to answer these questions.



ann_handleyAnn Handley
Best-selling author, keynote speaker, Chief Content Officer,
Twitter: @MarketingProfs

2016, the year of bigger, braver, bolder content

2016 will be all about Bigger, Braver, Bolder content. A bigger story puts your company in the larger context of what people care about. A bolder marketer upends the status quo, telling a story that hits on specific challenges your audience has (but no one else is talking about in the right way for a certain audience). Gutsier, braver voice is a differentiator in a sea of mediocre content.

You can use your bigger, bolder, braver content to convert more people into your squad, to align them with your company on a level that’s bigger than what you sell or what you do (and not everybody is going to want to be part of your squad. Which is exactly the point.)


Barry Feldman
Content marketing consultant, copywriter, creative director
Twitter: @FeldmanCreative

2016, the year of focus

The leading online marketing trend will be FOCUS. If it’s not, it should be. Online marketers are spreading themselves too thin and freaking out. There are too many channels. Too many initiatives. Toooooo much everything. Marketers want to be everywhere and seldom become standouts.

2016 will be the year of making smart choices. Do you have to do this? Do you have do that? Will your media choices support your objectives? I recommend online marketers do some research and planning, make some educated guesses about what will be most meaningful, reign-in the everything/everywhere approach, and hone their skills for connecting with customers by focusing on one channel at a time.


Daniel Slomka
Content Specialist
Twitter: @SlomkaDaniel

2016, the year of reinventing online marketing

2015 was characterized by the abundance of online marketing, so 2016 must be characterized by the reinventing of it. With so much content, blogs, social media, ads, video, and more, internet users are starting to signalize that they reached saturation point. Marketers who want to make it through 2016 as winners will need to innovate and reinvent their online marketing strategies.


Erika Heald
Head of Content
Twitter: @SFerika

2016, the year of live streaming

The leading online marketing trend for next year will be companies increasingly using live streaming video platforms like blab/meerkat/periscope for personalized customer experience and customer service. In addition to putting a human face to the brand, the video content can be repurposed and reshared by marketing in social channels, and be used to provide more context for buyer personas.


Joe Pulizzi
Founder of Content Marketing Institute
Twitter: @JoePulizzi

2016, the year of purchased media

One of the leading trends in content marketing will be brands, instead of building a platform for a particular audience, will begin to acquire blog sites and media platforms as a buy versus build strategy.  While building a platform takes time, smart brands can identify niche content sites where there is a loyal audience, and speed the success of content marketing through acquisition in multiple markets (which is especially important for campaign-focused brands).


Ian Cleary
Founder of Razor Social
Twitter: @IanCleary

2016, the year of online shows

The biggest trend in 2016 is our move from images and videos to producing shows.  We’ll be producing shows on live streaming platforms such as and taking our video production up a notch. We are now the media and we need to behave like a media company.


Michael Brenner
Head of Strategy,
Twitter: @BrennerMichael

2016, the year of improving online ads

The leading online marketing trend of 2016 will be a massive correction in the advertising market. As more and more consumers download ad blockers on their computers and phones, marketers will start to see the futility of spending so much of their budgets on ads no one wants – ads they are willing to pay an ad blocker to avoid. This will force more marketers to consider how to create and publish content their customers actually want.


Pratik Dholakiya
Co-founder of E2MSolutions and MoveoApps,
Twitter: @DholakiyaPratik

2016, the year of visuals

One thing I specifically foresee is visuals playing a very vital role in all forms of content creation. I have seen an uptick in the usage of visuals throughout this year alone but this is going to be very important and will be in use more frequently by all the marketers in 2016. It works really well, the users don’t get bored from reading too long content, and it also helps in reducing the bounce rate of any landing page.


Rebecca Lieb
Analyst, advisor, author
Twitter: @lieblink

2016, the year of context

As an analyst, I’m looking closely at what I like to call “contextual content” as an emerging trend. Content is extending beyond just screens to objects in the real world because of the emergence of new technologies such as beacons, sensors, wearables and the Internet of Things. So what content will emerge as a result? It’s going to be highly contextual, based on the Who, What, When and Where of the customer experience. It can create new experiences, customer journeys and loyalty between consumers and brands. But used improperly, contextual content can be creepy, or inappropriate. The sector is full of both risk and reward to consumers and brands alike.


Ryan Deiss
Founder and CEO of Digital Marketer
Twitter: @ryandeiss

2016, the year of ad blocker

2016 will be the year of the ad blocker. Not only will this impact the media companies who depend on advertising for revenue, it will also impact advertisers who depend on these ads as a primary source of traffic. Consumers have spoken, and it’s up to BOTH publishers and advertisers to figure out how digital advertising should work as opposed to leaning on legacy formats that have their roots in the printing press.


Ryan Hanley
Head of Marketing
Twitter: @RyanHanley_Com

2016, the year of conversation

The leading online marketing trend of 2016 is going be creating conversation points for your audience. The execution of these conversation points will involve new live streaming technology and platforms, such as Periscope and Blab (and whatever else emerges), and will focus on creating opportunities for human engagement between brand and audience. Brands who find ways to create conversation points with their audience will begin to stand out in a marketplace increasingly driven by mission instead of marketing.


Sabrina Fenster
Marketing Manager
Twitter: @Shelfinc

2016, the year of evolution in influencer marketing

Influencer Marketing! Brands and marketers are finally starting to realize that shiny marketing messages don’t sell, real people do. By working with really people that carry influence in a given space AND genuinely love your product, brands can market themselves in a relatable and subtle way. They can also tap into very targeted customers they would never otherwise have access to. If influencer selection and campaigns are done well, brands will start to see a huge ROI from their efforts. Since influencer marketing isn’t a cookie cutter solution (every influencer works differently), 2016 will be a year of learning for brands. I think they’ll finally start to find easier ways to streamline their process, select the right influencers, execute campaigns, and get the most bang for their buck.


Scott Abel
Content Strategist
Twitter: @scottabel

2016, the year of intelligent content

The leading online marketing trend for 2016 will be optimizing productivity in order to produce more content with fewer resources. Too much of the content we create today is handcrafted for a specific purpose and output format. As a result, we lock our content in proprietary tools and formats, making it difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to publish to multiple output channels or to create personalized content without significant rework.

Instead of throwing more resources at content problems – a typical solution for many organizations – or inventing another quick fix that solves one challenge but creates more problems downstream, we need a more strategic approach.

We need a formal, repeatable, systematic way of producing content that will support us today and in the future. We need a method designed to strip away all of the productivity-zapping, unnecessary tasks that prevent us from being efficient. And, we need an approach that will allow us to focus on creating high quality content experiences at every customer touchpoint without breaking the bank. What we need is intelligent content.


Steve Cartwright
Digital Business Growth Expert
Twitter: @FX_Digital

2016, the year of creation

In 2016 I believe content marketing will finally evolve. Businesses everywhere realize the importance of it but also start to understand that there are no short cuts to content marketing success.

Over the last few years I have watched business after business try and jump on the content marketing wagon without wanting to get involved in content creation, instead their main focus is on content curation or the sharing of other people’s content. Why? Because it is easier to do, takes less work and they generate some benefits.

In 2016 I believe many businesses will finally start to shift their mindset to one of active involvement in their own content creation and audience engagement, especially with much more customer centric content being created.

Once we start to see this shift the next will be an increase in the importance of social media as the main source of website traffic for many businesses. Businesses can achieve this at relatively low cost simply by promoting their own content via their own social media channels, this will decrease the strangle hold of Google as more and more businesses generate many more visitors from social media than they ever did from Google.


Sujan Patel
Co-founder of Content
Twitter: @sujanpatel

2016, the year of personalization and segmentation

In 2016, marketers will need to focus more than ever on personalization and segmentation. It’s no longer about casting a wide net. You need to zero in on who the people in your audience actually are, what problems they have, and how you can help. Your email campaigns need to be more personalized and catered to actual individuals, your content needs to target specific personas and sub-personas, and your landing pages need to relate to people on an individual, personal level. You need to run more tests, mine more data, and implement new strategies that help you optimize experiences and buyer journeys for actual people.


Ted Rubin
Social marketing strategist, keynote speaker, CMO,
Twitter: @TedRubin

2016, the year of “looking people in the eye”

2016 needs to be the year of doing what I call… ‘Looking People in the Eye Digitally’. The last few decades of marketing tactics have made us lazy communicators and I’ve had just about enough. Most often we don’t even pay attention to who we are talking to other than via the data we collect (and even that’s a maybe). In order to fix this and really start to benefit from social relationships (both as individuals and as companies), we need to start “looking people in the eye digitally.” We don’t need to fit our world to social, we need to fit social to our world.  It’s time to stop making excuses, and start bringing in-person social skills to the digital world. All of the positive benefits are out there waiting, and it’s up to us to make the effort to realize them. Let’s get started!


What about your 2016?

Do you agree with these predictions? Would you add any? Leave your comments and be part of the discussion that will shape online marketing in 2016!

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