Each year, we try to anticipate the trends of the coming year, all in the attempt to elicit a bigger piece of that marketing pie. Keeping your finger on the pulse will help you increase your conversions, extend your reach, and ultimately garner more profits.
Attaining digital marketing success in 2020 seems particularly poignant. It is the beginning of a new decade and one that some are calling the ‘Year of Hindsight’ (because hindsight is – well, you get the picture). While looking back and taking stock of your current digital marketing successes and failures is important, so is looking to the future and planning ahead. Here is what our experts think will be most important to maximizing digital marketing success in 2020.
Leverage Artificial Intelligence
In recent years, artificial intelligence has transformed both consumerism and business. The rise of digital assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home make ordering products and interacting with content easy with little more than a voice cue. In the business world, artificial intelligence can increase efficiency, eliminate redundancies, reduce costs, and improve the customer experience.
At the same time, research suggests that not even a quarter of businesses have incorporated AI into their business products or offerings. The companies most likely to leverage artificial intelligence are also the largest, or those with 100,000 employees or more.
For those who have adopted AI into their business practice, they say that it has already paid dividends. Over half of executives surveyed said that implementing AI solutions has helped them increase their productivity, and 61% of those with an innovation strategy said that AI has helped them identify important trends in data analytics that would otherwise be missed.
Marketing & Brand Coordinator, Thumbprint.com
“Use Artificial Intelligence to interact with customers via chatbots. Customers love personalized support and chatbots are the modern customer support assistant. They listen, answer questions and resolve issues within seconds. Artificial Intelligence is going to push customer service into the new age. And chatbots are at the heart of this wave.”
Jaykishan Panchal, SEO & Content Marketing Manager at E2M Solutions Inc.
“AI plays a major role in content creation, email personalization, product recommendation, customer engagement, and more. In 2020, we look forward to using AI-based software to trace search patterns, analyze customer behavior, and use data from social media behavior to decipher what customers want and how they respond to our products and services.
- Use AI tools to analyze the competition across online channels and make strategic decisions.
- Use unique AI tools to analyze and fill content gaps.
- Use AI technology to convert blog posts into interesting videos.
- Use AI platforms to gather customer data by listening and recording sales calls.
- Use AI-based software to track real-time reactions of our audience on our brand engagements and updates.”
Syed Ali, Film Jackets
“Utilize Chatbots, an instant-messaging tool based on an AI system that interacts with your customer day-in and day-out, so you don’t have to. More and more e-commerce businesses are using live chat tools to solve customer queries and offer real-time support. So, with chatbots, you will disconnect with your customers and the trend will evolve in 2020.”
Personalize Your Marketing Efforts
In today’s technology-driven culture, people feel more isolated. Ironically, heavy use of social media is linked to higher feelings of isolation. People crave connection, and though technology makes life more convenient, it also can make it a little lonelier.
This is one reason why people like more personalization from their marketing. Creating a customer-centric experience should be a top priority for marketers in all industries, not just those in hospitality or retail. Consider, for example, that 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product or service when a brand provides a personalized experience. Additionally, 72% of those recently surveyed said that they only engage with marketing if it is related to their specific interests.
Nadiia Shevelieva, CMO at crowdy.ai.
“In 2020, I think there will be a bigger push for personalization in marketing. Despite how much success it’s proven to have, very few companies personalize their marketing content for their target market. In 2020, we plan to ramp up our personalization efforts, especially with email marketing.
“We get a lot of our leads from email, so we want to segment them immediately as they sign up. That way, we can send them content tailored to their needs. Moreover, we plan to implement drip sequences based on the action they take. For example, we have case studies prepared for those users who signed up for the trial version of our app but never purchased a plan.
“The biggest challenge in our plan for personalization will be GDPR, of course, but we have found our own way of getting visitors to opt in and provide their data without us poking around too much.”
James Gilbert, CloudCherry
“Consumers are requiring a lot more cause behind your marketing and more personal touches. Direct mail is making a comeback, and I think people should use it. I think you should always figure out a way to tie a cause to your marketing as well, and I think those are going to be big trends in 2020.”
Britney Hart, Altisource
“When it comes to lead nurturing, really take the time to segment your lists. A lot of times we have big databases of maybe hundreds or thousands of leads, but not taking the time to actually segment that and focus on key groups, that’s one way you can really improve.”
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Video
Video came up as a must in the digital marketing toolkit in 2019. Expect that trend to continue into 2020. According to IAB’s Video Advertising Spend Report, digital marketers reported increasing digital budget increases of 25% over the year. Why this sudden uptick in digital ad spend? Consumer viewing habits drive the trend. According to their research:
- Nearly three quarters of U.S. consumers watch a streaming video online at least once a week, and 41% watch daily.
- 78% of viewers said that they were willing to watch ads in exchange for free content.
- When watching educational videos, online video watchers reported paying closer attention, including to ads.
There are several ways to incorporate video in your marketing practice, whether it’s starting a YouTube Channel (YouTube alone has over 1.8 billion monthly users) or sharing live videos on Facebook or Instagram (live videos on those social media platforms get viewed three times longer compared to video that don’t go live).
If you need further convincing, it’s worth mentioning that video marketing has a pretty good ROI – 83% of businesses recently surveyed stated that they think their video marketing efforts provide a good return on investment. An array of intuitive online video editing tools are making video production easier than ever before.
When creating videos in 2020, know that the main reason people are turned off by video marketing is that it doesn’t explain a product or service well enough. So when you do make promotional videos or tutorials, be thorough.
Lathean: “Don’t ignore the power of video. Videos have exploded as a marketing trend in the last few years, and there is no sign of them going anywhere. Continue to focus on video and engage your audience.”
Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and Digital Marketing expert at Don’t Pay Full
“In the coming years, audiences will want more information from the promotional contents. A very provoking static content or an awesome video can be viral in the media and hence might provide extreme exposure for your business. But none of those is capable of informing a single thing more than content that is created to deliver.
“Only interactive contents can satisfy the audience with a lot more precise information on what each individual audience is possibly looking for. So, interactive contents are going to be the most vital element in content marketing to win the audience in the next few years. These interactive contents include AR/VR powered contents, shoppable posts, and 360degree videos – among other things with which audiences can interact.
“A few of the most notable benefits of interactive contents include:
∙ These will keep people on your page
∙ These are easily shareable
∙ These will provide higher exposure when shared
∙ People love to interact with digital content.”
Leah Hazelwood, Vice President, Marketing and Admin Go-Forth Pest Control
“We are putting a bigger focus on video. We receive the vast majority of our sales leads through Google search, and we believe both Google and individuals will rely more and more on videos for relevancy. We think people want to read less (think, less people are going to go to our website to READ about what we can do for them) and instead they want to see a short, easy to digest VIDEO to SHOW them what we can do for them.
“We also feel that, to be more relevant on Facebook, video (branded videos, reaction videos, interest videos, etc.) is the way to go rather than graphics or articles.”
Khabeer Rockley, Founder of The 5% Institute:
“[In] 2020 [we] will be more putting out amazing long form content as well as video, then retargeting people on social media platforms who we have already built trust with, as well as people who have already shown a deep interest in our topic of sales training.”
Use Social Media – But Wisely
Social media is, and will for the foreseeable future, play an integral role in your digital marketing campaign. There are a few reasons why businesses of all sizes should be leveraging social media marketing:
- It’s where your customers are. According to Statista, the vast majority of people in the United States have at least one social media profile, and they expect social media users worldwide to exceed 3.1 billion by 2021. This presents an unrivaled opportunity for marketers to make a connection.
- In general, consumers are more receptive to marketing when it comes to social media. People on social media are looking to keep in touch with friends and family, network, and in general stay connected with what is going on around the world. Part of this is following and interacting with the brands they like the most. According to MarketingSherpa, 95% of online users 18-34 are likely to follow a brand on social media.
- Social media marketing improves your brand recognition. When you engage with consumers of social media, you improve your visibility and have an opportunity to let your brand personality shine.
That said, 2020 is the year that marketers should be really deliberate about the types of social media marketing they do. Make sure that your social media marketing efforts align with your target audience and overall goals.
Rockley: “Social media is still key, but with bigger players entering the game as well, we have to be smarter about pay per click strategies. Video is key and will definitely be growing in 2020. Traditional direct response marketing, expecting people to buy directly off the platform, will dwindle.
“In 2019, we spend money on advertising on Facebook and Instagram, leading people into an opt in lead magnet, which gave them access to a webinar. Due to people being on the platforms to see what friends, family, or their celebrities are doing, we weren’t being congruent with the platform. Although we were still profitable, future trends show me we need to change strategy.”
Morgan Taylor – CMO & Financial Advisor for LetMeBank
“A strong social media presence is already vital and will be even more so going forward. Even when people are watching television, they’re still scrolling through feeds on their phones. Instagram now has over one billion users and data shows over 70% of them have made purchases based on the content they’ve seen on the platform.
“Use the appropriate platform. Know the demographics of each social media platform so you’re targeting the right people. For example, Snapchat is primarily used by people 18 to 34. LinkedIn users have the highest levels of income and education.”
Polly Kay, Marketing Manager at English Blinds
“For 2020, we’re looking to continue to invest reasonably heavily in our social channels but to drastically reduce our Facebook ad spend.
“This is as a result of Facebook’s recent partial fall from grace in the wake of various user data breaches, privacy concerns, and contributions to the spread of fake news. We will also be seeking new up-and-coming social channels aside from those within the Facebook family, as well as working to identify new approaches to utilize and reach more audiences on existing channels such as Twitter.”
Panchal: “Immersive stories and videos on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and other platforms will continue to drive engagement. Marketers should also focus on implementing AI tools for their market research and personalization techniques.
“When it comes to the marketing budget, no one campaign will bring conversions. Marketers should be able to prioritize the strategy that works best and experiment with multiple channels. Stop doubling marketing spend and start slow. I recommend marketers allocate a reasonable budget for immersive technologies and AI in 2020.”
Optimize Your Site Appropriately For Search
A large part of successful marketing lies in your Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. After all, if your customers can’t find you, what is the point of having engaging content or campaigns?
There are a few SEO trends that experts believe will be important to focus on in 2020 and beyond, namely, voice search, a mobile-first approach, and optimizing for on-page SERPs.
- According to Google, 20% of all searches are voice.
- With the rise of smart speakers, more searches are becoming screenless.
- 52% of people use voice search while driving.
- A survey from HubSpot found 74% of those surveyed had used a voice search in the past month.
Vasilescu: “Today, more than 30% of smartphone users regularly use voice command to search for anything on the internet. This practice is going to be the maximum in the coming years when almost everyone will use voice search. Hence, voice-based search is going to be the biggest digital marketing trend in the coming years.
“Marketers must converge their skills to optimize their websites so that they can be found by the voice search crawlers of the search engines. Long tail key-phrases will replace short form keywords that are commonly used these days. For example, ‘where to find the best discount coupons for denims’ must be optimized instead for ‘discount for denims.’ So, voice search is taking over in digital marketing in 2020.”
Josh Wardini, Co-Founder at Serpwatch
“One thing that will advance in 2020 is voice search on Google. More and more people will use voice search for finding things on the Web, which will affect the algorithm. However, people will likely use different constructions when they speak, which may change some of the keywords.
“I will pay close attention to the development of voice search and try to optimize my websites in accordance with the algorithm development.”
Ali: “If you want to see success in your business, never ignore mobile users; it is playing an important role in bringing new users to your website, so having a mobile-optimized website is a must. The platform has already set its record in 2018 and in 2019, and we’re seeing a huge growth compared to last year, so why not consider it in 2020?”
Lastly, make sure your SEO experts are optimizing for on-page results. With fewer people clicking on links, making sure your customers can receive answers to their queries with ease is more important than ever.
Georgia McIntyre, Fundera
“From an SEO and organic marketing perspective, optimizing for on-SERP results will become more and more relevant for brands in 2020. There are more zero-click search results than ever (meaning searches get their answer in the SERP and don’t click on results to learn more), and search engines show no sign of slowing down on rolling out these SERP features.
“The company that figures out how to get the most out of on-SERP results (both optimizing to get in them in the first place and encouraging searchers to click onto yourself from the results page), will have a major advantage from an SEO perspective in 2020.”
Make Data Driven Decisions
In 2020, don’t follow your gut – make sure all your marketing decisions are data driven. Whether it’s conversions, cost per click, or traffic sources, all your most effective digital marketing campaigns and decisions should be based on analytics. Use data to:
- Answer pressing business questions such as “where can we get the most value for our spending? How can we best reach our target demographic? What is likely to be the ROI of x?” Evidence should both answer business questions and provide insight to future goals and directions.
- Find new opportunities and verticals. Data can help you identify sources of traffic, conversions, and more. Use it to drill down on what works best for your customers.
- Make decisions with confidence. Use data to make every decision, rather than using hindsight. This will help produce better results that drive the effectiveness of every campaign you do.
Panchal: “I wish marketers would make more data-driven marketing decisions in 2020 and forgo decisions based on instincts and gut. My 2020 marketing strategy will be based on systematic market research, data, and analysis, and there will be no scope for guessing games! I also recommend marketers invest in technology and tools (only) that initiate effective decisions.”
Eric Lander, Vizion Interactive
“Google’s increasing competitiveness with site owners is a very real threat that should continue through 2020, particularly as machine learning based algorithms improve.
As the zero-click search activity increases, the onus is on web marketing teams to really focus on the traffic they’re already acquiring from organic search, and be ready to improve the productivity of that traffic.
While paid media marketing channels already rely on conversion rate optimization (CRO) to improve their campaign performance, SEOs need to be better prepared to do the same. It’s imperative for all marketing channels – and SEO specifically – to make CRO a core component of the work they do. As content and topics age, user motivations can also change – and CRO campaigns are a great way to test, iterate and improve on-site conversion activity when your visitors’ intentions may change but your content doesn’t need to.”
Tamsen Webster, The Red Thread
“The more that organizations and companies can really focus in and look at their products and services from their customers’ and clients’ perspective and figure out why would their clients agree that this is the right choice for them, the better for everyone. I think that will really make a huge difference in what people do and the results that they get.”
Jim Delash, GlaxoSmithKline
“My biggest tip for 2020 is to really start unearthing data and analytics into real insights about behavior and using that to take some chances. Think in terms of bets. You’re never going to be 100% sure of anything, but if the odds are in your favor, then take a chance on it and take a chance that you have the right insights from data. I think we’ve talked about big data forever, but we do the same things over and over again. I think really understanding the insights of customer behavior is going to be important, and then the side part of that is getting the right creative message to those audiences.”
Work On Brand Loyalty and Outreach
We talk about the importance of conversions and reaching new target audiences, but let’s not forget that brand loyalty is equally, if not more, vital in 2020 and beyond. In a world fueled by instant gratification and overwhelming choice, companies must give customers an excuse to stay and engage again. When companies establish customer bases who become faithful to products and services, they have a significant advantage over businesses who cannot.
Consider, for example, that it costs far less to retain a customer than it does to entice a new one. Continuous engagement with your current customers and conscious brand reputation management are just as important as (or even more important than) commanding the lowest price. While price will always be a factor driving consumer decisions, many people, especially Millennials, are more likely to go with a trusted, preferred, or morally responsible brand over the one that offers the cheapest price point.
Shakun Bansal, Head of Marketing Mercer | Mettl
“We are planning brand reach-out activities with magazines and digital publications in our space to publish high-quality content on their websites, offline publication, and digital publications to reach out to our target audience. It has heightened possibilities for increasing our brand awareness and building brand resonance, which bodes well for our marketing ROI.
“We are also identifying thought leaders and industry influencers in our niche to collaborate with them in the next year. Influencers reinforce a brand to the next level because they enjoy a strong sense of their followers’ loyalty, command specific market niche aligned to brands, and drive massive brand visibility and awareness. We are thinking of running ads on their accounts to effectively capture their audience.”
Meenal Upadhyay, SEO Director, FitSmallBusiness.com
“Success for digital marketing in 2020 depends on two key ideas: consumer sentiment and brand loyalty. Understanding the markets and behavior of the economy can explain a lot about what consumers will search for and how they might go about getting it. Using key insights from economic trends can be valuable to creating a targeted strategy for your audience.
With that said, brand loyalty also continues to grow; digital marketing efforts should continue to focus on building up a trustworthy and reputable brand that brings back repeat visitors to maximize growth. Spending money and resources on brand reputation and growth (social media, influencers, media coverage) is essential to taking marketing efforts to the next level and creating a strategy that can scale.”
Hazelwood: “We will continue to push for customer reviews. We continue to think that in our industry, online reviews play a big role in the customers’ purchase decision. We achieve this through service follow-up communications and encouraging our team to request reviews from their customers.”
Always Put Customer Experience At the Forefront
If we were to ask you about the last time you really had a great customer experience, you would probably have a story about a business or employee who really went above and beyond to make sure you were satisfied. If asked about the last time you really had a poor customer experience, you could probably just as readily recount a time that an experience with a business made you frustrated or annoyed.
People remember customer experience, whether they are good or bad. Providing a good customer experience not only makes the customer happy, it also leads to additional revenue. Remember that a happy customer will naturally promote your business through referrals (which are free!)
Your approach to customer experience can profoundly affect your business success. The customer experience is important to sustaining the growth of your business, as it promotes brand loyalty and generates positive reviews (which, in turn, leads to more customers).
In today’s business landscape, it is the customers who hold all the power, thanks to the internet. Customers are empowered with both options and influence (via social media and online reviews). They also give you the opportunity to grow your brand awareness and recognition in a positive manner.
Your customer experience is comprised of many elements, from the optimization of your website and platforms to the daily interactions you have with them in store or online. When you keep customer experience at the forefront, you will naturally promote brand loyalty and drum up more business. Sometimes, the best tips are the simplest.
Stan Tan, Digital Marketing Manager at Selby’s
“Focus on marketing activities that sustainably improve results of the company. The keyword here is sustainably. For example, work on improving your company’s website speed because your visitors will always want a fast website. Even 10 or 100 years later, visitors will always want a fast loading website. They won’t go ‘I wish the website is slower.’”
Shelly Fagin, SEMrush
“I focus a lot on schema and optimizing the website appropriately, depending on the niche, the topic, and the location. I educate myself, and it’s a constant process because it’s always changing and evolving. You don’t want to just set it and forget it, because it’s one of those things that’s constantly adding new features, new ways to mark up our content to give Google clues as to what it is.
“Frequently Asked Questions, that’s one of the recent ones that came out within the last year or so and most websites have an FAQ page, but maybe they haven’t been marked up and so those are really easy things to go back and fix.”
Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva
“In 2020, we’ll hope to move the industry further along towards full adoption of customer experience management platforms. CXMs go beyond CRMs to integrate marketing, customer success, and sales departments.
“This push will not only streamline marketing and sales efforts, reducing CAC, but also enhance customer experience along their omnichannel journey. With active CXM, we will be able to target the channels that most align to each campaign’s goals, rather than take a guess at which channel we should focus on across the board.”
Make 2020 Your Best Year In Marketing Yet
In 2020, several trends will help inform your business success, from leveraging analytics and making data driven insights to offering personalization and smart social media engagement to both attract and retain customers. Positive customer experiences will help drive brand loyalty and create opportunities for positive online interaction.
As you incorporate these trends into your 2020 marketing practices, don’t forget to use only what aligns best with your business and its goals. If it doesn’t make sense to market your dentures on Snapchat (hint: it doesn’t), then don’t feel pressured to do so just because Snapchat use is increasing.
Tan: “Never compromise the brand of the company for short-term results. For example, if your company is Rolex, you don’t want to offer 50% off all your Rolex watches to boost sales by 20% for the year. In the long run, this would damage the Rolex brand image of premium and luxury.”
In other words, keep your brand personality at the forefront of every decision you make. By applying the tips from our experts to your marketing practices, you can enjoy increased profits and better ROI in 2020. Contact Vizion Interactive to see how we can help you achieve your digital marketing goals in 2020, and request a free mini site audit!