Now that the holiday season is over, it’s time for business owners to prepare for an even more successful 2016. To help you plan for the new year, we asked our ecommerce marketing and design specialists to predict the most important industry changes we’ll see – here’s what they said:

Bing Grows in Importance

“Bing appears poised to grow in importance in 2016. They’ve got some killer features for search advertisers and tons of incentives for starting ad campaigns on the network. They also offer robust tool sets for SEO analytics and research. Direct integration of Bing with XBox and PC by way of Cortana (Microsoft's answer to Siri) mean more consumers will be using Bing even if they don't know it.”

- Brandon McPeak, Search Marketing Specialist

Refocusing Site Design

“I see a re-focus on minimalist, user-centered design. When it comes to store design, less is more. The goal is to focus visitors on your products — not your store.”

- Dave Huffman, Director of Creative Services

Link Building Changes

“As Google makes a bigger investment in machine learning, savvy link builders will have to pay more attention to how users interact with the links they build. SEO specialists have long been saying that valuable links are the ones that send appropriate traffic to your site, but 2016 is the year the SEO community will need to change their practices to reflect this.”

- Julianne Coyne, SEO Team Lead

Local SEO Must Focus on Mobile

“Local SEO has always been the easiest way for small brick and mortars to compete with the big dogs. Recently, Google has changed their local results to only include the "snack pack" – a very mobile-friendly display – making it pretty clear that we have to concentrate on having a useful and responsive website. And let's not forget the power of the review! The new year will see local businesses making their sites more accessible, and everyone needs a strategy in place to solicit genuine reviews to attract new visitors to your store.”

- Adrianne Beutnagel, Search Marketing Specialist

Content Distribution Will Be Vital

“Content continues to be a high-value marketing tactic, and I don't see this changing anytime soon. Your content strategy should be crafted with the audience in mind. Use the mediums your audience consumes, be it blog, video, buying guide or whitepaper. Good content provides genuine value to the audience, but – more often than not – it does not overtly pitch the sale. I suspect we are going to hear a lot more about content distribution in 2016. It's not enough to simply build great content; you need to actively push that content in front of target markets through social networks, email and good, old fashioned networking. And don’t be afraid to collaborate with partners who touch a similar market segment.  The right content collaborations will amplify your content's reach.”

- Alison Garrison, Director of Search Marketing Services

Marketing Focuses on Emotions

“One thing that glaringly stood out to me at the last conference I attended was the power of emotions in decision-making. As SEO advances, it continues to revert to traditional, tried-and-true marketing strategies. This means that people are shifting the focus from designing a reactive strategy (i.e. reacting to what the search engines want) to a proactive strategy: developing content, a user experience and a purpose that speaks to what people want. Chief among this is creating an experience that speaks to emotional needs and relies on a deep understanding of the target audience.”

- Meg Nanson, Senior SEO Specialist

SMBs Take Advantage of Micro-Moments

“As the buying cycle continues to evolve with the accessibility of mobile devices so, too, must paid advertising strategy. In 2016, small and medium-sized businesses will begin to optimize paid traffic to focus on identifying and optimizing for online transactions, foot traffic to brick and mortar locations and the micro-moments that influence buyers’ decisions. While larger companies already recognize the importance of micro-moments, we’ll see a shift in small & medium-size business owners looking to leverage this data in order to boost the success of their business on multiple fronts.”

- Chelsea Cepeda, Search Marketing Team Lead

Mobile Friendliness Benefits SEO & Paid Search

“I think we’ll see more SMBs with mobile-friendly/responsive sites as more business owners come to terms with Google’s algorithm change and user dissatisfaction with non-responsive sites. We could also see stores with mobile-friendly sites spending more on mobile PPC and utilizing Google’s mobile ad formats, such as call-only & mobile preferred, which could raise the price of currently low CPCs.”

- Kevin Johnson, Search Marketing Specialist

Social Media Ad Spend Will Lead to Conversions

“In 2016, it's going to be even easier to allow your customers to purchase directly through social media! Buyable and promoted pins and Instagram ads will continue to grow in the coming year. If you haven't considered adding social media to your current ad spend, you'll want to do so in 2016.”

- Mikkayla Casey, Search Marketing Specialist

What change do you think will affect your store most in 2016? Let us know in the comments!