Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2016

Digital is continually on the rise. In 2015, the UK became the first country in the world to spend half of their advertising budget on digital, according to eMarketer. £8.1 billion was spent on digital marketing, a 12% increase compared to 2014, and this is set to further increase in the new year.

The majority of retailers have some form of presence online. However, that is no longer enough. In order to fully utilise this channel, brands should have a digital marketing strategy in place. Not sure where to start? Our experts share their insights on what you should be focusing on for digital marketing in 2016.

 Continue to Evolve the Mobile Experience

76% of adults now own a smartphone, each spending approximately two hours a day accessing the internet with it. As 50% of online traffic now comes from here, and the number of smartphone owners are predicted to increase to 2.6 billion worldwide in 2016, the need for mobile-optimised content has never been more important.

If you haven’t already, you should optimise your content for mobile phones. Content-wise, ensure paragraphs are in easy, readable chunks and images fit correctly. Titles should be succinct, and CTA buttons clear and easy to tap. Just like on a desktop, the user experience must be smooth for customers to feel like visiting your site is beneficial for them. We recommend responsive sites, but if you choose to create a separate mobile-specific site altogether, you should still enable users to click through to your main site too.

Another aspect to consider when optimising the mobile experience is the payment process. 80% of Apple watch users use Apple Pay. In fact, Apple’s virtual payment system was so successful, it integrated its Passbook with Apple Pay, and even Android have created their own system. If you have a physical store, it could be hugely beneficial to become involved with this. Fast and easy payments lead to more loyal customers, which leads to more revenue for you.

Create Frequent, Good Quality Content

According to HubSpot, 70% of marketers increased their creation of content in 2015 compared to 2014. 37% of B2C marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, so if you don’t have one in place for 2016, you need to make one.

Having good quality, ‘sticky’ content will ensure users regularly visit your site. Form a content strategy where you can schedule a frequency of varied content that your target market will enjoy consuming.

When you write content for your website (such as a blog article), you need to SEO optimise it. This is so potential customers have a better chance of finding you through Google search with relevant key terms. Nevertheless, don’t forget that interesting content for the reader is the most important aspect. You can include the key term a couple of times in each post, but don’t repeat it in every other sentence.

Engaging content works well when promoted through social media. Post a link to a really great article you’ve written, and readers may well bookmark your site for future reference.

There are a few brands that create good quality content that are worth looking into. Topshop and Topman’s blogs are regularly updated with style tutorials and seasonal trends. Wallis offers a style adviser, where you enter details about yourself in order to find clothing that bests suits you. It’s interactive and engaging, and will encourage users to then browse the website for clothing based on the recommendation given.

You can also create good quality content for the specific purpose of social media. Ted Baker’s #tedtotoe initiative encourages customers to hashtag photos of themselves wearing the brand, for a chance to feature across their social media sites. By encouraging users to interact in that way, it opens up a larger pool of potential customers in the form of friends and followers.

Essentially, creating good quality content may take time to begin with; but it’s an extremely useful aspect of digital marketing as it encourages engagement.

Increase your Social Media Presence

Social media has been a major part of our lives for many years, but it’s not just the younger generation who are active on there. 25.3% of Facebook users are over 45 – that’s 39.6 billion people. Whoever your target market is, you have the opportunity to reach them through social media.

If you’re targeting to the younger generation, then you may want to consider Snapchat. 71% of their 200 million monthly active members are under 25. While you may not win a coveted spot on the highly exclusive Snapchat Discover just yet (only 15 handpicked brands have had the honour), there are still ways to utilise this channel. Personality is key here: you need to connect with customers so your brand sticks in their mind, without pushing your products. Taco Bell provides a great source of inspiration for getting started.

For more information on getting the most out of social media, take a look at our top tips here.

Create Engaging Videos

2015 was the year of the video, and this is set to continue into the new year. Brands increased their spend on video by 43%, and by 2017 it’s been predicted that 69% of consumer internet traffic will be for videos.

In order to stand out from competitors, you need to ensure your content is engaging, and captures the interest of your audience. 360° (perfect for product reviews), and meet-the-team videos are ideal for featuring on your site. Behind-the-scene clips perform well on social media sites, injecting personality into your brand.

Videos even have a positive impact on your email marketing campaigns. Research from HubSpot has shown that the word ‘video’ in a subject line boosts open rates by 19%, increases click-through rates by 65%, and reduces the number of unsubscribes by 26%.

Live video is set to become even more popular in 2016. Periscope, launched last March, already boasts 15% of the top brands on Twitter as active monthly members. Facebook are also trialling their own live video function, awaiting feedback, before potentially rolling it out to the masses. Nevertheless, live video raises its own set of issues: with only one take, it’s crucial you get it right.

But…. Beware of Ad Blockers!

As more brands advertise online, it can ruin the user experience for potential customers. Enter ad blockers: software that removes ads from a web page or app. Apple kicked it off by allowing iOS 9 users to install ad blocking applications from the app store. In 2015, ad blocking grew by 41% and it shows no sign of stopping.

Apps with commercial videos use up to 79% more data and 16% more battery power compared to those that don’t. It’s no wonder that many people are turning to ad blockers, if the ads are so uninspiring.

To ensure your hard work optimising your digital marketing strategy doesn’t go to waste, you need to avoid ad blockers. The best way to do this is through the use of native advertising. If you can advertise in a way that integrates onto your chosen platform, the user experience isn’t disrupted. Therefore, your self-promotion isn’t going to look like advertising, and (potential) customers are more likely to engage with it.

If you’re looking for some digital consultancy, then look no further. We’re passionate about all-things digital at Photolink, and we’d love to help you. Simply drop us a line at, and we’ll be in touch.

Imogen Gee

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