Online Marketing in 2016: The Complete Guide to Internet Marketing for Business

This year was a tough one for online marketers, what with the rise of social media and Google optimising their search results for sponsored posts, among others. The digital marketing industry as a whole adopted a cautious approach, adjusting their strategies and spending habits to fit the new environment.

The Growth of Video Platforms

One of the biggest trends this year was the rise of video platforms, such as YouTube, which introduced live video-streaming and 360-degree video content.

Before the end of the year, YouTube announced over 500 million monthly active users, proving the platform’s massive popularity among consumers. If you’re not yet using video content to promote your business, now might be the right time to consider integrating video content into your marketing mix.

The Growth of Personal Branding

Another major trend that emerged this year is that of personal branding, where consumers actively choose the products and services that they use and trust to represent them. This trend is attributed to the fact that people identify more with brands than with products, which gives businesses an opportunity to forge a stronger connection with customers.

Since 2014, when marketing consultant Mary Ann Mackenzie coined the term ‘celebrity branding’, people have been able to recognize and associate brands with famous personalities. This trend has now reached its peak, with many businesses seeking to use celebrities to establish themselves as experts in their industry.

The Growth of Virtual Shopping

One of the trends that emerged this year is the growth of virtual shopping, where customers can browse products and purchase them with the click of a button, without ever leaving the comfort of their homes. According to retail analysts, this trend is attributed to online marketplaces, like Amazon, gaining more trust from consumers.

As a result of this trend, retail e-commerce grew by 23% last year, reaching $258 billion globally. It’s an area of the market where businesses can really grow and prosper.

Facial Recognition Technologies

A technology that you won’t want to be without is facial recognition technologies, which allow users to identify people based on their appearance.

Businesses can integrate this technology into their marketing strategy to create a more personal connection with customers, allowing them to target prospective buyers based on their profile, rather than just their demographics.

By matching customer faces to profiles of existing customers, businesses can create highly personalized experiences, tailoring content and offers to each individual. At present, most businesses that use this technology are relying on Microsoft’s Azure, Google’s Cloud, or Amazon’s Web Services for facial recognition.

Content Is King

Last but not least, we’d like to point out that content is still very much the king of marketing, as attention-grabbing content that delivers value to the reader is more likely to produce lasting impressions and help the business to gain brand loyalty.

According to HubSpot Blog reader and Senior Manager of Marketing Essie Acolatse, “The more you can do to engage with your audience, the better. Whether you’re trying to educate them about your product or service, or you want to inspire them to action, a well-written piece can be a powerful tool.”

To prove her point, Essie cites examples of how effective content can be. “LeapFrog did a wonderful job explaining the differences between virtual shopping and physical shopping. They were able to translate that abstract idea into concrete steps, something that many businesses struggle with. The content was extremely valuable to me as a virtual shopper, because it gave me the courage to go out and make a purchase. What’s more, they were able to keep me engaged with the content, as it was updated regularly, which is a trait that most brands, including brand-name retailers, lack.”

So, even though the landscape has changed, with new technologies giving birth to new marketing methods, nothing is necessarily replacing good old-fashioned word of mouth marketing.