The Biggest Marketing Trends For 2016

Trying to predict the future is something humans have done for generations.

We have looked at the stars, we have used the Tarot cards, and we have tried to read animal behavior. Some have looked into crystal balls or tea cups.

All over the world, in any culture, this phenomena exist.


Just imagine the power someone would have if they knew what the future would bring. They could adjust their behavior in beforehand and they would reap enormous advantages compared to the ones who knew nothing of the future.

This week I will speak of the future but I have not gazed into a crystal ball or read the Tarot. I did something completely different. I did old fashioned research.

Photo: Green Chameleon

Photo: Green Chameleon

I read several articles about marketing predictions or trends for 2016. After I had read the articles I made a list and simply counted how many times each marketing term was mentioned in the articles. A very simple and rough summary.

I will list my findings and then I will go over them more thoroughly. I will start with the term that was mentioned the most times and count down to the ones that were mentioned the least. Words or terms that were only mentioned once I have not included.

  • Search branches that go past the search engines or Social Media Campaigns.
  • Humanization/Personalization of the brand.
  • Marketing Data and analytics
  • Mobile will dominate
  • Oculus Rift and other virtual reality
  • Snapchat
  • People like Apps
  • You need to be recognized by Siri
  • IoT The internet of Things
  • Content Marketing-Storytelling


Search branches that go past the search engines or Social Media campaigns.

That people spend a lot of time on social media is nothing new. As a company it is important to not only show up in search engines but also on social media.

Photo: Wilfred Iven

Photo: Wilfred Iven

“With Facebook already working on tests for its own search engine, it seems inevitable that search capabilities will go far beyond Google, Bing and Yahoo.”(Marketing Trends to Watch For in 2016, Himanshu Sareen).

“Social media is the perfect channel for communicating with target audiences-it is the one place on the internet where all major demographics groups, from the baby boomers to the millennials, congregate, exchange news, shop and mingle. It has become the town square of the 21st century, and all marketers want to be part of it.” (Top 6 Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2016, Rohit Roy).

If you haven’t already it is time to start a Facebook page, an Instagram account and a LinkedIn profile and start market yourself.

An active role on social media helps you with the second term on my list Humanization or Personalization of the brand.

People want to feel that you are real and care about them as customers. That you are there for them and see what they need.

Photo: Anna Dziubinska

Photo: Anna Dziubinska

“Offering personalized content means sharing relevant and knowledge based posts that a consumer can get a solution from. Companies that have been making and effort to humanize their content strategy, have been able to: a) increase sales, b) inspire users to stay longer on their websites and c) foster customer satisfaction!” (7 Digital Marketing Predictions in 2015, Vanhishikha Bhargava)

If you costumers feel that you are doing something for them they are more likely to be loyal to the brand and the company and also spread the word. Word-of-mouth promotions still work even though we live in a digital world.

To be able to personalize your content to reach your customers you need to know what they are looking for and what they need and of course be able to pinpoint who your customers are. To be able to do this you need marketing data and analytics.

“Despite the challenges, data continues to be the key to modern marketing since it provides a deep insight into consumer preferences.” (Top 6 Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2016, Rohit Roy)

Photo: Negative Space

Photo: Negative Space

The prediction for the future is that marketing data will only grow but also that it will become more accurate because more and more specialized and stronger analytics will emerge.




“What most brands do in the name of measuring marketing success is look at hollow “vanity” metrics as likes, shares, or tweets. Even in terms of data mining, we are still developing more sophisticated means to capture the right data. Many ideas are hypothesized, but few are practical. The future will witness the rise of better analytical tools to help marketers gauge the success of their campaigns.” (10 Top Trends Driving The Future Of Marketing, Daniel Newman, Forbes.)

As you can see these first three are closely related and connected. They intertwine and affect each other.

You need to know what your customer want/need/their buying habits (data) to create personalized content that makes them loyal to your brand. A satisfied and loyal customer is more likely to spread the word on social media.

Photo: Trent Yarnell

Photo: Trent Yarnell

Social media today is like the old time market place.

Several products are on display and the customers browses by during the day.

If they recognize a brand or product they will look a little longer and perhaps purchase. If they have heard a good word about a special product they will most certainly pay more attention.

If auntie, uncle, friend, brother, sibling, parent uses a product. This product automatically will become more positive.

This leads me into number four on my list; Mobile will dominate.

“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.” (The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016, Jayson Demers, Forbes).

The articles I read all say that companies’ websites have to work on mobile. Even that it is ok to not work on a desktop as long as you work on mobile.

Photo: Darid Nepriakhina

Photo: Darid Nepriakhina

Think about it; a lot of our lives are spent on mobile phones nowadays. We email, we text, we call, we update social media, we shop, we take pictures, we search, we play games, we listen to music, we watch movies etc.

Of course if you are a company that aims towards senior citizens you still want a desktop version.

I clearly remember my father exclaiming on more than one occasion as he tried to work his cell phone. “This buttons are so damn small.” 

I wonder what he would have said about Oculus Rift.

He probably wouldn’t have believe it.

One of my favorite movies is Strange Days. This movie takes place in Los Angeles, the last few days of 1999. A sad ex-cop named Lenny Nero works on the black market for SQUID.


SQUID is a device that records from the cerebral cortex on humans wearing it. You can buy a SQUID disk and not only watch but also feel everything the human did who wore it as it was recording.  You can experience things you never would have been able too as yourself. Thrilling!

Oculus Rift, is a head seat that you put on to experience virtual reality.

Photo: Julian Bialowas

Photo: Julian Bialowas

This can’t make you feel anything but it will make it seem that you are inside another world.

For gamers this will be huge. But VR isn’t only for gamers anymore.

Imagine being able to bring your customers into another world. Let them experience something they never have.

If you sell fashion, invite them to sit in for a fashion show. This won’t be like watching it on TV because when they turn their head they will be able to see what is next to them or behind them.

Or imagine being a company who sell products for campers and hikers and you can let them see how your products look like and act outside. They won’t just be a flat surface on a screen. The wind will move in the tent fabric. They will be able to see how to put up the tent.

PhotoÖ Julian Bialowas

Photo: Julian Bialowas


If you are a house designer you can let your clients walk through the house instead of only seeing your blueprints and plans.

Photo: Liliane Limpens

Photo: Liliane Limpens







To fully incorporate virtual reality into marketing will take a while, it is not something that happens overnight but if we trust the predictions it will be important.

Just because VR will get a platform in marketing pictures and images or videos won’t disappear as ways to market.

SnapchatOn Snapchat you can watch content, snap pictures of yourself and send them but it all have a very short lifespan.


You can swipe through a lot of pictures and videos with timely content.

“Snapchat is the ultimate platform for making consumers feel connected and at the same time, unique. Brands such as ESPN, Vice and Comedy Central already use it to push their messages to voracious consumers of media. […]Take advantage of this huge opportunity to connect uniquely using just a small window of your audience’s time.” (7 Game Changing Marketing Trends To Tackel in 2016, Meaghan Moraes).

For example today as I am writing this, the day before Halloween, you can watch live videos from Salem with  witches. Tomorrow it will be something else. How intriguing for costumers to have something new to look through every day.

Even some of the 2016 presidential candidates are using Snapchat to reach their voters.

Photo: Gilles Lambert

Photo: Gilles Lambert


To be able to see what they have posted on Snapchat you need to download the app and then learn how to use it…somewhat complicated but manageable.

You can only use Snapchat as an app something that would have seem strange a few years ago. This only shows you that apps are getting more and more important.

“Apps can do everything that websites can, except more intuitive, convenient, accessible ways. We are 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.” (The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends That will Dominate 2016, Jayson DeMers, Forbes).

I think what attracts people to apps is the convenience.

You don’t have to turn on your computer.

You don’t have to log in.

What you need is right there when you have a few minutes or when you need it.


I know I love my apps.

I have maps, train schedules, subway lines and weather easily accessible.

I can send messages all over the world and see what my childhood friends in Sweden have been up to lately.




Another thing I like is Siri.

Mostly because my son can do “research” by himself but also because you can get a fast answer without having to type or think.

Several of the articles I read mentioned how important it will be in the next few years to make sure your company, product or brand can be found by Siri or Cortana(Cortana is Windows voice assistant)

I am getting to the bottom of my list now but IoT The Internet of Things have a lot to do with the Data and Marketing Analytics. IoT is the things that collect and exchange data.

BraceletAs an example is a fitness tracker, a bracelet that you wear as you either exercise or go about your day.  The bracelet will track steps, miles, pulse, calories burnt and so on.

But when you think about it a lot of things collect and exchange data about us. Maps on our phones. Search engines remember what we have searched for before.

For marketers IoT would give valuable data about customers. Perhaps in the future companies will be able to collect data about consumers’ whole buying process from the first step, doing a search until the actually purchase.


Now I have come to the last thing on my list Content Marketing and Storytelling. As a teacher and parent I know how effective a story can be.

If you have a class full of teenager who aren’t paying attention; tell them a story. I have been able to quite a whole room of teenage boys by telling the story of Jesus on the Cross.

Photo: Charlie Foster

Photo: Charlie Foster

If you have a child who doesn’t want to get dressed or brush their teeth; tell them a story and make the clothes into spy gear or the toothbrush into a monster catcher.

“Perfect for driving in engagement and nurturing leads, storytelling is slowly becoming one of the most sought after ways to communicate the brand’s core message. A mix of visual and textual storytelling is all set to inspire emotions in consumers that make them interact with the business. (7 Digital Marketing Trends For Your Brand Success in 2016, Vanhishikha Bhargava)

So go ahead and tell a story about your company. You don’t have to worry about being a storyteller because when you speak out of conviction and when you speak about something you believe in that will shine through. And authentic feelings will always be impactful no matter if they are told by word or images.

The next time you struggle with getting people on board with your projects and ideas, simply tell them a story, where the outcome is that doing what you had in mind is the best thing to do. According to Princeton researcher Hasson, storytelling is the only way to plant ideas into other people’s minds.(The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains, Leo Widrich)

Now as I have come to the end of my list I have come to the conclusion that marketing has two sides: data and to create emotions in people. They are intertwined and work together.

How we reach our consumers isn’t as important as the fact that we make them feel something for what we offer. But in this day and age we have to use social media because there is where people spend their time, get influenced and make decisions.

Looking for more tips and tricks? Here are 10 marketing tools to grow your business.


What do you think about these predictions?


Have I missed something important?


Do you think virtual reality will be used in marketing?







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