5 Things These Smart Marketers Are Doing in 2016 That You’re Probably Not

How many “Digital Marketing Predictions for 2016” articles have you read so far? Be honest. Content Marketers left nothing to the imagination last December!

Besides, how many “Predictions” are actually going to turn into reality? Google any “Digital Marketing Predictions for 2015”, and you’ll find predictions are either too easy (Google+ will die, responsive websites will rank better, content marketing will dominate) or impossible (Bitcoin will be the new online currency, coding will become a necessity for digital marketers).

Are we sure we actually need “Digital Marketing predictions”?

What if I did something different? No one really cares about predictions, but EVERYONE wants to know what Smart Marketers are actually going to do, test and execute in 2016.

If we are to plan our year, then we might as well use strategies that are meant to work – because real marketers have already tested them and decided to use them again.

So, let’s get started. Here are 5 areas you should focus on in 2016.

1. Leverage Marketing: When 1 Influencer Is More Effective Than 10000 Fans.

Why is it that some entrepreneurs are able to attract thousands of customers online while others struggle to attract just a few?

How can you make your product or service “viral”, without speaking to thousands of potential customers, one at a time?

What are Smart Marketers going to do in 2016 (and have been doing successfully so far)?

Well, it’s no news to many. We’re talking about Leverage Marketing. You can also call this Joint Venture Marketing (if revenue is split between the two parties). Or even Digital PR – if you’re cool enough.

So, what’s changing this year? Why is Leverage so important? Why is this still a viable strategy?

Rand Fishkin

I’ll tell you a short story. True story.

I’m a small business owner, a solopreneur, yet I serve the local and international entrepreneur community. Still, I’m very small.

One day I decided: let’s have Rand Fishkin (the SEO legend himself, founder of Moz.com) featured on this blog!

“Sure” – I said – “he will never reply”. (Translation: I’m small, he’s BIG – what’s the point in reaching out?)

Well, I got crazy for a moment and actually emailed him. Result: he personally replied to me in an email.

Neil Patel

And so did Neil Patel, the world’s smartest content marketer (co-founder of Kissmetrics, Quicksprout, Crazy Egg, Hello Bar).

Morale: do try. You never know.

Despite Rand Fishkin said he does not participate in round-up posts anymore as his “experience has been that most are low quality and simply designed to get the participants to share them“, and Neil Patel probably got too busy thinking “who is this Rodolfo?”, leverage is what makes the difference between getting one customer in one day (slow sales) and acquiring thousands of them in the same time (smart sales).

So, what are marketers doing in 2016? Well, they’re leveraging… leverage!

John Lee Dumas

Round-up posts, Podcasts, Joint Ventures, Outreach and Affiliate marketing are what an international newspaper mention used to mean for an unknown, local, small business – years ago. Instant LEVERAGE. Potential scalability. Sudden acceleration.

Chances are you’ve heard of John Lee Dumas, founder of EOFire.com, a podcast dedicated to entrepreneurs and their amazing stories. Each day he interviews inspiring business people with LEVERAGE.

Listeners get amazing stories, John gets huge audiences (influencers attract audiences & bring their own audience) and $200,000-300,000 gross revenue per month thanks to advertising and other offers.


Gary Vaynerchuk

Who is still thinking free, valuable content (coupled with leverage) is not a great strategy?

Podcast presenters invite inspiring entrepreneurs, bloggers reach out to influencers (you’re reading one), video entrepreneurs interview experts.

Gary Vaynerchuk suggests manual email outreach is still “the only way to promote your amazing product“.

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss launched his 4 Hour Chef book by partnering with bloggers and podcasters (write/interview – sell – earn a commission) and by targeting high-traffic blogs that share the same audience. Much better than a $100,000 ad on a newspaper, don’t you think?

Entrepreneurs fully understand the value of “Partnerships” or Joint Ventures. I don’t recall watching a 1-host-only webinar in 2015. I don’t remember any successful 1-author-only blog. I rarely attend 1-person-only live workshops.

TAKEAWAY: Don’t be a solomarketer this year.

Work smarter, identify partners, split profits, increase your sales. With less effort.

2. Content Marketing: When Blogs Must Be Engineered to Sell.

Brian Casel, founder of content marketing agency Audience Ops and writer of “Productize”, is a big believer of content. He says:

My 2016 digital marketing strategy will be retargeting and paid acquisition to drive traffic to content, then focus on smart email followup.

You heard this before, haven’t you?

Ryan Deiss

Ryan Deiss

Ryan Deiss, CEO and Founder of Digital Marketer, possibly the world’s biggest digital marketing authority, said the same: driving traffic to content and then retarget an offer is so much more effective than a standard ad campaign.

Many other marketers will be doing the same, including Gary Vaynerchuk, Bryan Harris, Brennan Dunn, Nathan Barry, Rick Mulready and all those entrepreneurs who deeply know how effective content marketing is when there is an actual strategy in place.

Content marketing exploded in the late 2014 and digital marketers cannot praise this enough. Write 1 blog, and you instantly have content for your newsletter, for your social media channels, for Google, for your ideal leads, for capturing prospects. And it’s evergreen: you write today, and leads will come for years.

What other strategy is so cost-effective? What other channel also prompts users to share, Google to index your website, leads to get education and prospects to enter your marketing funnel – all for free, forever and strictly targeted at your ideal customer audience?

If content is unarguably the most recommended digital marketing strategy for this year and the years to come, it’s the content promotion that entrepreneurs are looking at right now.

It’s like launching a new website today and expecting sales tomorrow: creating content doesn’t give you overnight success, and requires a lot of promotion.

Ryan Deiss always shocks the audience (I met him twice, in San Diego and London) when he says: “there is no such a thing as having a traffic problem. Traffic is a commodity. Just buy it“.

One more?

Ian Cleary

Over the last year we have been building content conversion funnels and we’ll continue to build on this in 2016. Our content conversion funnels starts with a tweet, blog post, Facebook update and lead people through a path which ultimately leads to a sale.

These funnels are very effective at generating revenue. For example, with our monthly subscription club we have signed up 105 people at $48 per month in 5 weeks. There is so much scope in this area so lots of more work still to do here!” ~ Ian Cleary, Founder, Razorsocial

Buying traffic to promote a (free) blog post, and then retarget ads at users who visited your super-targeted content is such a great, smart, affordable, sensible strategy.

TAKEAWAY: a user who’s previously read your blog is much more likely to purchase your products and services.

So, avoid advertising your products (1% conversion rate) directly for high cost per clicks, and instead buy cheap, targeted traffic of hungry for content readers whose next action is likely to be an opt-in or a small purchase.

Want an example of how to use Content to educate your audience?

Here you go (yes, I look pretty cool in this image) 🙂

3. Education Marketing: Bored of Webinars? What About an Online Workshop or an Online Summit?

I’ve spoken to hundreds of entrepreneurs. People hate webinars.

“Webinar” is synonym of “I’m going to sell you something at the end… be sure to be with me until the final slide as this offer will not be repeated!”

Heck, many webinar users just know when to leave – right before the sales pitch starts.

Webinars are out of date. If no one shows up for the live event you know why. Webinars are like rat poison: animals evolve and get used to the “smell” of poison. Habits turn suddenly into danger. Rats get instantly turned off by the first bait and stop eating poison.

So, entrepreneurs recommend 2 solutions for video sales (shhh, I meant… video education) in 2016.

Perry Marshall

Perry Marshall, best selling author and one of the “world’s most expensive and sought-after business consultants” has evolved. He now sells his webinars.

When you sell a webinar, when you ask users to pay $9-$39 just to be on the webinar, there is no poison – users know they either get enough value or Perry knows they’re going to unsubscribe immediately.

Perry has leverage and credibility, so he CAN. But maybe you can run a little test and charge $19 for your next webinar instead of promoting it as “free”.

Guaranteed you’ll have 80% attendance ratio, eager participants, ready-to-buy prospects (even if in low numbers).

I think that too many online entrepreneurs don’t take full advantage of their website and the capabilities websites built with WordPress give them. Running a summit, building a course, blogging, and just presenting your business in the online world has so much potential. Yet, I’m meeting new people everyday who feel overwhelmed with all the tech stuff and especially WordPress. I hope this will change in 2016 and I’ll do my best to contribute to this change.

Webinars suck – unless they’re highly targeted.

Sandro Piancone

Subscribed-for-free leads know what to expect at the end of the video presentation… but what if you’ve managed to promote it to a limited group of hot leads?

This is the case of Sandro Piancone, a San Diego entrepreneur who has been extremely successful at establishing big brands in Mexico and recently at raising capital for his new company Vidbox Mexico. They are basically replicating the success of Redbox in Mexico.

We are doing webinars on LinkedIn, which can draw up to 100 people, but more importantly, people who could not listen live, can go and watch the recording. Each webinar is a sales-asset: we can send it to our leads by e-mail or have it placed on Social Media for maximum exposure.

Now, nothing wrong with this. Leads are on the webinar as they’re potential investors. This is slightly different from the poison-type of webinar. This is were the crowdfunding and investors are now: online.

TAKEAWAY: in 2016, start a webinar series (and make sure to call them “Online Classes” or “Live Workshops”). Even better, launch your Online Course – I bet you’ve something amazing to teach.

Video education and, more generically, online education, conference streaming, Periscope, Blab, Hangouts, Udemy, YouTube and so on, are changing the way we learn. Don’t let it go!

4. Relationship Marketing: When Digital Success is Exclusively Achieved by Real People

Let’s accelerate.

We have 2 topics to cover and I’ve almost wrote an eBook 🙂

I’ve interviewed several entrepreneurs and from what many of them said, 2016 is going to be the year of transparency. Also, the year of “trust me, I’m a real person”.

Samantha Kelly, Lead Organizer of The Social Media Summit (Dublin, Ireland, March 2016), talks about real relationships.

Twitter and Blab.im are going to become even more valuable for businesses. People buy from people so customer experience is where it’s at. Companies will no longer be able to ignore the power of real relationships and nurturing the relationships will become more important. Automated messages and tweets won’t get as much traction as a real life person behind a Twitter account.

Blab.im is in beta still but already the power of this platform is being talked about as a way to show you as the expert in your field. Online relationship building and then taking those relationships offline into an event setting will thrive. The Social Media Summit in Dublin will be one such event that connects people globally and teaches business owners the power of Social Media.

Louis Grenier, a French entrepreneur now based in Ireland who specializes in Website Conversion Optimisation (increasing sales by improving several aspects of a website), confirms:

The biggest trend in Digital Marketing, and Marketing in general, is the rise of transparency and honesty as a way to raise awareness and build trust. Buffer (social media scheduling) has for example published on their blog the way they calculate their employees’ salary (from the newest team member to the CEO).

People want to connect with people and build a trustworthy relationship. Online, there is nowhere to hide. As the founder of a conversion optimisation agency, I’m sharing our lessons learned, highlights and lowlights, via email every month.

John Lee Dumas, introduced earlier, regularly posts EntrepreneurOnFire’s monthly earnings. Shocking? Or just trying to make a point there?

Bryan Harris blogs and describes his (and others’) entire product launch strategies. Check out “How I Made $10,000 in 24-hours With My First Product“.

TAKEAWAY: Go check your business website right now. Can you find a photo of yourself?

Real relationships can be created online. As long as there’s mutual trust.

5. Trends’ Marketing: When Marketers Must Adapt to Current Trends in Order to Identify Gaps

Time to complete our round-up by bringing in our last guests.

By the way, I just made this up: “Trends’ Marketing”…

To me, this means knowing what works right now and guaranteeing your company and digital strategies can embrace revolutions.

So, what are entrepreneurs doing to stay up to date?

Martin O’Leary, Head of  Marketing at Realex Payments, says:

In 2016 I plan on increasing our marketing lead-gen capabilities. To achieve this goal we plan on rolling out a new mobile responsive website & continuing to produce high quality content. Then, in order to nurture existing leads & increase conversion we will need to invest in marketing automation. Unfortunately this investment will probably mean our Swag will even get worse.

I saw a great quote recently which I think perfectly sums up the state of digital marketing going in to 2016 “There is no digital strategy, just strategy in a digital world

It’s good to hear from successful companies.

And what about digital agencies?

Tristram Dyer, Head of Strategy at Leading Social, says “I am required to be on top of the latest trends that happen in social media. This in turn allows me to decide which is best for the clients we serve. 2016 will be a big year for the digital marketing landscape as everyone is now on their mobile. This is a shift from 12 months ago as people have now fully shifted their attention to mobile. We already test hugely to show that mobile is the best way to find someone.

Craig Jacobson

To build on this, we will begin to test how multiscreen advertising will have an impact. One of the things that has become bigger and bigger in the last number of months is “In-the-moment updates”. I can barely look at my phone or watch for an update from Periscope, Snapchat, Instagram. Every one of them reporting something happening in the world. As it becomes a bigger piece, live marketing will begin to take over and events will become more scripted to give the experience of “in the moment”. We will be testing this out with our content plans that will be including more and more “live events” happening with our clients.”

And finally, what do digital consultants think?

In 2016, I’m investing most of my energy learning more about effective mobile web marketing.

Since Facebook shows that 67% of their visits are on mobile and Google vaguely alludes to mobile being over 50% of search, I understand that most people are reading this blog on a mobile device.

I have figured out a few practices that work in this “mobile first” world.

I need to expand my understanding of how this new digital world works so my clients can capture more leads and sell more.”  ~ Craig Jacobson, Small Business Growth Practitioner, Open Spaces Marketing.

Takeaways: what should you work on in 2016?

  1. Find partners or join your efforts with affiliates. Scale and sell faster.
  2. Write content with a purpose. Not just to write. Set up retargeting and content upgrades.
  3. Create an online course and start turning your 1-to-1 business to a 1-to-many platform.
  4. Build true relationships. Show your face. Let online users see you and connect with you.
  5. Read, watch, listen – stay up to date. Digital marketing is changing way too fast. You’ve probably just missed a business opportunity by the time you’ve gotten this far in reading this blog.

Now, don’t tell me these are just predictions 🙂

Go and do some amazing digital marketing planning now.

About The Author

Rodolfo Melogli

Author, WooCommerce expert, WordCamp speaker and Internet marketer, Rodolfo Melogli helps entrepreneurs overcome their ecommerce nightmares :) Rodolfo is the organiser of the Dublin Ecommerce Meetup, WordCamp Dublin, the Dublin WordPress Meetup and the Dublin WooCommerce Meetup. He enjoys interacting with people, running on the beach and chasing tennis & soccer balls. Of course, he loves pizza too.