Ivan Temelkov
August 4, 2016

The 10 Hottest Digital Marketing Trends

The marketing industry continues to thrive. Changing human trends and patterns in purchasing behavior are causing a shift in digital marketing trends. Some are perhaps not so new, although many are solidifying their place within the marketing mix. Consumers are absorbing information on the internet through an omni-channel approach. Companies should clearly understand the importance of omni-channel marketing.

Based on the current evolution of digital marketing (as of August 2016), there are 10 trends that have proven to be viable for companies. Regardless of your company size or industry it is imperative to comprehend the importance of these driving digital marketing trends. Today’s consumer is far more informed, intelligent, and tech savvy. Their bullshit radars are extremely sensitive and fully capable of detecting the fluff. For instance, the average online user understands the difference between a paid and organic ad. Your messaging stands of significant importance from a user engagement perspective.

The digital marketing trends discussed below are in no particular order of importance, but some are more critical than others. Although from an omni-channel marketing standpoint, I would strongly recommend that you take each into consideration. Especially if your intent is to generate optimal awareness, interest, and engagement with your target audience.

#1 Human Marketing

Emotional engagement and human marketing are definitely not new digital marketing trends. I talked about this in-depth on a previous guest post. The majority of companies to this day do not quite understand the importance of human marketing and emotional engagement in business. Imagine heading to the grocery store one day to stock up on goods. One of the things that you particularly enjoy is the checkout/cashier experience. You get to speak with someone during checkout, which provides a pleasant shopping experience for you. At times you end up shooting the breeze in casual conversation but it’s all worth the personal experience.

Now, let’s reverse engineer this for a moment. The next time you head to the grocery store and are ready to checkout, you are greeted by a robot. You set your groceries on the belt, the robot scans all your groceries, you pay, and then onto your merry way. Not quite the pleasant experience, right?

A human marketing experience allows brands to be personable, interactive, engaging and personable with their customers. This is an absolute must in the digital marketing industry particularly. Although it is also an applicable component within any other industry or vertical.

#2 Mobile Optimization

Mobile is all the rage. 80% of internet users own a smartphone (Source). 48% of users begin their only experience with a search engine (Source). These statistics are quite staggering, and the number of actual users is quite substantial. Mobile technology provides users with accessibility and reach on demand. From a digital marketing perspective, this provides an unprecedented opportunity for advertising of products and services. Although, having a mobile-compliant or responsive website simply won’t cut it for the average consumer.

Some of the most common elements that play a factorial role in targeted mobile optimization include:

  • UX
  • UI
  • Typography
  • Content
  • Simplicity
  • Loading times/speeds
  • Imagery
  • CTAs
  • Positioning (Landscape vs. Portrait modes)

The mobile consumer is demanding and impatient. The attention span of an average user is about 5 seconds. That is shorter than a blowfish. A bit saddening for humanity, but it’s a prime example of the short window of opportunity a brand has to engage with their target audience.

Want more inbound traffic and sales? Put a significant effort towards mobile optimization for your own brand or clients.

#3 Big Data

big-data-analyticsIt goes without saying that big data and analytics play a huge role in digital marketing. Whether for your own brand or a client, it can assist you with identifying user trends and patterns. Historical data has played a determining role in user behavior for some time. In digital marketing, this is more imperative now than it has ever been. Gaining deeper insight into user behavior assists with development of strategic marketing endeavors. Being able to pinpoint the content your users are viewing or products they are purchasing is of critical importance.

Google Analytics is the most commonly used analytical tool these days. It offers many features that can help you delve in deeper into the understanding of consumer behavior. One of the ongoing challenges is big data interpretation. This is ultimately the ability to take historical data, analyze it, distill it, use within a marketing strategy and ultimately, carve campaigns around it. A fluent data analyst can play a major role within any organization. This is a role in high demand currently with many brands across various industries.

#4 Minimal Design

There is a lot to be said about design in general within the digital marketing arena. One of the key elements to keep in mind is simplicity. Simplicity is key! When it comes to desktop, mobile and tablet devices, it’s all about simplicity. Less is more. This is particularly evident with the growing number of¬†mobile users. Minimal design can clearly convey the purpose and objectives of a brand without saturating real estate. It is simply an efficient way to establish a cohesive brand presence on the web.

#5 Storytelling & Content Marketing

Over 75% of today’s online users are consuming blog posts and articles in their decision buying journey (Source). That is a huge percentage of the online user base. From a digital marketing perspective, brands must understand the importance of storytelling and content. It may still be considered as a time consuming initiative with no direct ROI, although it does offer long-term potential. Brands must understand that today’s consumer wants to be enticed first in some form or fashion, prior to purchasing a product or service.

Storytelling and content marketing endeavors are intricate because they offer enticing value to your existing and potential customers. If you are unfamiliar with Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” book and methodology, then I strongly recommend that you check it out. The gist of it is giving your potential customers something of value that helps them solve a problem or need. The book is based on boxing techniques. You jab long enough before going in for a right hook – and if you land that ‘on the button’ you score a knockout. With content marketing, you jab to a given value and then go in for the right hook – in this case, the actual sale.

#6 Pay-Per-Play

Organic reach will only get you so far these days. If you are seeking to occupy prime real estate space in SERPs or social media, then you must consider the Pay-Per-Play approach. From a Search perspective, organic search results have over 70% higher trustworthiness than paid ones. However, paid results offer targeted visibility and quicker engagement. Facebook’s organic reach is now down to 7%, which means that the majority of times, others are not seeing your posts for days at a time. Using Facebook Marketing can enhance social campaign performance.

The Pay-Per-Play model should be factored into every digital marketing campaign. That is unless of course, organic growth is a sustainable approach for you. Growing organically within any digital channel is extremely costly and time consuming. Any company with less than $5-$10 million in annual sales should probably consider Pay-Per-Play in their marketing mix.

#7 Search

window-1231894_960_720Nearly 50% of today’s consumers that have smart phones begin their online journey through the Search channel. Typically it starts with Google or Bing. Google dominates nearly 70% of the Search market, which means that majority of users are using the engine to look for products, services, comparison shop or research. From a digital marketing perspective, every brand should consider SEO and SEM as part of their marketing mix.

As I used to tell my students,¬†“SEO is like running the marathon and SEM is like running the sprint.” While running a marathon you need to sprint at some point to gain a competitive advantage. That is precisely what SEM/PPC offers with the ability to occupy targeted real estate in the SERPs.

#8 Social Media

The internet had 3.17 billion users as of 2015 (Source). Out of those, 2.13 billion are active social media people (Source). An average user has 5 social media accounts. These most likely include some or all of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat. Yes, social media is here to stay for sure. One of the ongoing challenges brands face in their digital marketing endeavors is the ability to engage with their target audience.

Developing a social media strategy requires seasoned experience. Certainly, just about anyone is capable of operating a social media channel these days. Although only a few are capable of compiling a social media strategy that adheres to a specific buyer persona. Another continuously pushing issue is social media selling. Social media is primarily about community building rather than selling. It absolutely does offer selling capabilities, although not the hard-sell approach. Brands must consider active strategic social media strategies to engage on top platforms.

#9 User Segmentation

Any company that includes with digital marketing endeavors in their strategy, should be familiar with user segmentation. What does that really mean though? Understanding your buyer persona should be quite obvious to you at this point.

  • Who are you attempting to target?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Where are your buyer personas?
  • When are they online?
  • Why are you attempting to reach them?

The 5 W’s are the easiest way to create user segmentation. Identifying your buyers is critical to the ability of selling products or services on the web.

#10 Email Marketing

For many brands, email marketing seems like an outdated digital marketing technique. Although when it comes to the mobile screen, email marketing plays a huge role in user engagement. Email marketing technology is utilized by 82% of B2B and B2C companies as a viable marketing tactic (Source). Seems a bit surprising? Well, not at all in fact. The majority of email marketing practices are now focused towards the mobile screen.

Over 50% of emails are opened on mobile devices (Source). That is a substantial amount of users. Truth be told, email is still a practical way of communication. Therefore, B2B and B2C companies should allocate a marketing budget towards mobile user engagement through e-mail marketing.


CRMs are not technically considered as a digital marketing trend. Although they are a necessity for lead generation and nurturing. Any B2B or B2C company interested in capturing, harnessing and cultivating their prospects, should utilize a CRM solution. Especially if you are strongly focusing on long-term development. Some of the most commonly used CRM solutions for small business include HighRise, Zoho, SalesForce. There are also certainly many others.

Are there any other current digital marketing trends that you can think of? Please share your thoughts and comments in the section below.


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A digital marketing practitioner bringing nearly two decades of seasonality to the table with emphasis on Search, Social, & Content. I'm enthused about helping small businesses increase their digital footprint by utilizing the power of technology, web, strategic thinking, and targeted execution for maximum market penetration. CEO of @RazorSharpDigit, a human-centric digital brand but can be found @ivan_temelkov on Twitter as well.