Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends for 2016


As BetaKit expands its coverage in 2016, we’ll delve not only into more startup verticals, but the specific trials and tribulations that employees across all Canadian startups face. To kick this off, we asked a growth marketer to talk digital marketing for startups. Enjoy!

10. Mobile – you can no longer bury your head in the sand

For much of the past 5 years, I’ve been one of those marketers burying my head in the sand when it comes to mobile-first. For the first few years, the numbers were stacked to desktop anyway, so there was lots of desktop traffic to acquire, and mobile responsive and mobile web has been good enough. But no longer.

The mobile traffic to most sites now exceeds desktop traffic, and responsive isn’t good enough. For 2016, product marketers need to think mobile-first and develop mobile-centric user experiences for their mobile traffic. Check out some examples of awesome mobile experiences here.

9. Video Ads – video killed the radio star

Video advertising is going to continue to boom, with some people feeling that Facebook is one step away from becoming a video-only platform. Video ads continue to outperform static ads, and the cost of production is lower than it has ever been (especially for a scrappy growth marketer). There’s still a barrier to entry, as it takes effort and commitment to create compelling video ads. It takes even more commitment to optimize video advertising. So take advantage! 2016 is the year of the video. Check out AdEspresso’s guide to video ads to learn more.

how to start a podcast

8. Podcasts – not just for nerds anymore

In 2015, Serial podcast proved to the world that mass numbers of North Americans could have their attention captured by audio waves. It also featured MailChimp as a podcast sponsor and proved that podcast marketing can by hyper-efficient. Are podcasts a trend or a fad? Most of the experts I’ve spoken to say a trend (that will be fueled by better podcast discovery). It makes me wonder, can the MailChimp sponsorship integration be reverse engineered? Check out Shopify’s ultimate guide to starting a podcast.

Shameless plug alert: BetaKit has recently launched a new tech podcast, sponsored by PayPal. You can check it out here.

7. Hybrid Advertising – is it an ad or content?

One thing we’re sure to see in 2016 is the continued blurring of advertising, advertorial and content. We’ve seen many successful companies create a hybrid of advertising and content, and it propagates efficiently thanks to higher engagement stats that the content enables. Media sites are scaling in content inventory faster than we’ve ever seen in ad inventory, and even Google is blurring the lines between sponsored and organic. There are huge opportunities in sequencing your messaging and matching the hybrid content to your customer’s specific funnel stages. Hint, copy HubSpot.

6. Paid Content Distribution – you can bet on it

You know that amazing evergreen piece of content you’re spending all that time and money on? It may be great, but if a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?

Most of us don’t own a large enough following to support the amplification we strive for with our best content. So in 2016 we need to create a paid distribution plan to make sure that the snowball gets rolling. The best way to distribute efficiently? Test a million different amplification channels, and measure the conversion rates. Then you can rank them by efficiency and spend accordingly. A good place to start is with this guide on paid content amplification.

5. Automation – unlocking the secret to scale

Marketing automation is getting easier every day, and in 2016 the non-technical digital marketer will have more automation tools within their grasp than ever before. Automation allows you to segment and personalize your marketing tactics at scale. Not only that, marketing automation promises to connect the silos that exist in corporations, so all functional areas can learn from each other.

Start automating the processes that are causing the biggest bottlenecks and work back from there – it’s better to automate slowly than to spend resources automating a non-essential marketing task. Not a coder? That’s ok. Try out Zapier and create your own automations with no coding necessary.


4. Segmentation – the science of data

So you know all that great customer data you’ve been collecting throughout 2015? Well it’s not going to analyze itself. 2016 is the year that marketers begin to pay incredible attention to their customer data, with the hope of uncovering data trends that will enable them to better segment their customers.

The better your customers are segmented, the more specifically you can market to them. There have never been more accessible tools for non-technical marketers to segment their marketing data. In 2016, there’s no excuse not to be leveraging it. If you’re using MailChimp, get in the habit of segmenting your lists early so you can scale your email efforts later.

3. Personalization – one to one relationships

The segmentation trends leads to the personalization trend for 2016. Now personalization is much more than “Dear Jeff” in your MailChimp email. Now that you have your customers’ data segmented, you can work on dialing in the messaging to each segment.

Your job as a marketing sleuth is to determine which benefits of your value proposition speak to which segment. With this knowledge, you can speak to your segments directly, in a one-to-one fashion. You can also personalize newsletter content, email subject lines and even homepage copy and imagery. Head on over to and see how easy it is to segment and personalize your email marketing.

2. Competition – you think it’s expensive now!

The digital channels we’ve all grown to love are set to become hyper expensive in 2016, as more and more brands shift more and more budget towards digital marketing. In Google search marketing, more industry entrants bid for your same keywords, driving down the channel efficiency. On Facebook it’s worse, with dozens of potential advertisers, across a huge swatch of industries, compete for placement on the same Facebook account feeds.

For advertisers to succeed on these competitive platforms, they will have to iterate aggressively to find combinations of creatives and ad units that remain efficient. As a good indicator, you can use Google Keyword Planner to research the competitiveness of your search terms.


1. Interactive Content – time to get engaged

Smart marketers are going to look to create interactive content in 2016. Interactive content is any type of content that allows the customer to engage with it, and not just read or view it. Think infographics, videos, quizzes, calculators, surveys and contests to name a few.

There are many reasons why interactive content is amazing: It’s engaging and allows users to customize their content experience. When executed well, it provides great value to the customer, before asking the customer for a conversion activity. This value exchange gets the customer used to engaging with your brand earlier, long before the big ask.

Finally, this content can be proprietary and not easily copied by competitors. Want an example? Check out the Financial Spirit Animal Quiz we launched.


Jeff Goldenberg

Jeff Goldenberg is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Abacus, a digital agency focused on performance Facebook and Instagram ads.

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