by: Kaysha Kalkofen and JoAnna Dettmann (featured in websitemagazine.com)
According to Gartner’s 2015 CMO report, marketing budgets in 2016 are set to increase, on average, to 11 percent of total company revenue.
What’s more, the report shows that 98 percent of marketers believe that digital and offline marketing are merging; digital marketing is no longer a separate, foreign entity but, instead, part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Staying up-to-date on this evolving industry will provide significant competitive advantages. Here’s what you can expect from the ever-changing digital landscape in 2016.
Death of single-page sites
Over the past year, we have seen more and more company websites adopt the single-page site model. This kind of website involves putting all of the content into one long scrolling page. The idea behind it is to guide the user through the company’s story, start to finish, without having to click from page to page. We have always advised our clients not to adopt this trend. It is no secret that SEO is much more challenging for single-page sites. Since the content is saturated on one page, search engines will only index that page for keywords. This means you’re missing out on opportunities to have multiple pages indexed for a variety of associated keywords. A multi-page site gives you more chances to be known for all of the things that your company does, and it gives consumers multiple site entry points. We foresee the single page trend going away in 2016 as marketers realize their sites are being penalized for this design, and they’re losing out on valuable leads.
In May, Google confirmed that more searches are conducted on mobile devices than desktops in 10 countries (including the U.S.). As mobile use continues to dominate so, too, does consumers’ demand for a seamless mobile experience. It is now more important than ever for your website to have a responsive design. Google also released the “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update this year to severely penalize sites not optimized for mobile. If you haven’t already, we recommend investing in a new, responsive website, to maximize return in the long run.
After launching four years ago in hopes of becoming a major rival to Facebook and LinkedIn, Google+ has decided to throw in the towel as a social networking service. It is uncertain, though, what exactly this will mean for local businesses pages, which are hosted on Google+. As mobile search grows, your Google+ Business Page becomes even more important. This is because in order to be easily found by consumers searching from mobile devices, your business needs to be displayed in the local section of the search results. That is exactly what your Google+ Business Page does for you. It is the most efficient way for prospective customers to locate your business via Google, click to call, see hours of service and even access your website. It will be interesting to see what the ramifications of the death of Google+ will be for SEO. In the meantime, we recommend keeping your Google+ Business Page live and updated with the most current information.
A monopoly in the paid search arena
In October, Yahoo announced that it would be partnering with Google. What this means for you: Yahoo can now show Google’s search results – both organic listings and paid ads – giving your business more opportunity to be found. This deal came to life after Yahoo and Microsoft renewed a search deal in April, in which Yahoo agreed that Bing’s ads would appear on 51 percent of desktop searches that Yahoo delivers. They agreed that the other 49 percent could be “powered” by Yahoo’s own ad system or from any third party that Yahoo wanted (read: Google). Yahoo may also use Google for mobile search results with no restrictions, meaning it could potentially serve only Google results. So, how does this impact paid search? The Google/Yahoo partnership gets Google AdWords back into Yahoo results. Consequently, marketers will likely soon be able to target consumers searching from both engines by using Google’s Adwords platform. While paid search may feel monopolized, we recommend (and always have) running paid search on both Google and Bing. When you ignore Bing, you’re ignoring a whole group of potential customers and clients.
Increase in Bing search
Since Windows 10 launched in July, Bing advertisers have been expecting to see a lot of opportunity for more search volume. Why? Bing is the default search engine for the new operating system. Searching with Bing will feel intuitive for Windows 10 users, because the operating system makes search a much more integral aspect of the user experience. Instead of launching an app or browser to use Bing, users can easily access an “ask me anything” box which appears in a task bar at the bottom of the screen at all times. Users can speak or type Web searches in the box, and Cortana (a virtual assistant similar to Apple’s Siri) will default to the Bing search results. Those results can include ads when relevant. Microsoft’s Edge browser (which has replaced Internet Explorer) allows users to highlight text in the browser and right click for Cortana to bring up Bing results in a sidebar. They also just launched Bing Native Ads, which can appear across MSN.com (the default Windows 10 start page) and are managed within the Bing Ads interface. As long as Windows 10 remains relevant, we predict a continued increase in Bing search in 2016.
These certainly won’t be the only five trends to emerge next year, and there’s no guarantee exactly how they will evolve. We can promise, however, that it’s worth considering each of them when creating your marketing plan for 2016. The earlier you begin implementing new digital practices, the more time you’ll have to fine-tune and leverage the benefits of your informed, overall strategy.