Marketing is an old game. It’s been with us since the first civilizations had goods to sell, and it will be with us long into the future. But the marketing game is fluid, ever-changing. What worked in decades past would be laughed at today. And in the digital age, marketing trends are changing faster than ever. Here’s some big things we expect for 2020. Don’t sweat, we’ll break down each of these insights and how you can apply in following posts!

Personalization

This is a big one. We’ve seen an increasing trend of personalized marketing over the years, and it’s only getting bigger. 

Traditional advertisements are working less and less. People just aren’t converting to customers when they see generic marketing campaigns. The more personal you can be, the better chance you have. 

This doesn’t mean your ads have to be plastered with a customer’s full name and street address. Rather, which ads potential customers see should be tailored to their needs, wants and buying habits. The kinds of algorithms used by Amazon and other companies that accomplish this aren’t perfect (we’ve all experienced the joys of personalized advertisements shortly after the holidays, when every website thinks we bought that exotic Christmas present for ourselves) but they’re effective when they work. 

Chatbots

More than half of customers surveyed prefer to use a chatbot for website and sales help. There is obviously still a place for personal communication and customer service, but the advantages of chatbots are numerous. 

They offer 24/7 assistance, for one thing. A chatbot is never “off” and in today’s globalized economy, being available to customers (or at least able to field simple questions) regardless of timezone is essential. 

We could go on and on about chatbots here, but this goes hand in hand with automation. Running functions like lead gen, customer service, project status, new orders, FAQs and basic day to day business tasks can be and are being outlayed to AI. 

The fact of the matter is it is cheaper and more consistent than what a human can offer. Unfortunate, yes. However, this is opening up an opportunity for organizations to get leaner and reallocate those resources to more impactful programs. 

Voice

“Ok, Google – what should I eat?”… Search engines like Google have been using voice search as far back as 2016. Data from 2017 shows that up to 33 million voice devices were already in use. Some of the leading contenders were Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. Up to 20% of the users were using it for mobile searches.

Industry figures estimate that by the year 2020, there will be more than 21.4 million smart speakers in the United States alone.

Voice search has specific characteristics that you need to pay attention to. You will find that they are generally longer and more conversational in tone. You do not have the limitation of using short phrases due to the physical effort required to type. Developers are making voice assistants more human, thus allowing for better interaction when doing the voice search.

Focus on how your target consumer talks about your services, products, and business. You will find many tools online that will help you come up with appropriate phrases that you can use when doing your voice search optimization. These phrases will help you understand the consumer’s mindset, and you can use it for your online marketing strategy.

Many people who use voice search are looking for personal assistance. Many will use it to ask for directions or to make calls. Now Google has made it so much easier for the online user to make a choice.

Let us, for example, say that you are looking for a new Chevy Dealership in Richmond; Google will give you very detailed feedback. It will show you the location, opening hours, customer reviews, among others.

Or, more relevant to the coming season, you’re looking for accounting or Audit Services; Google, Siri, Alexa or Cortana can help you find the most applicable and relevant service provider to your request.

As a service provider, give it a go? Put yourself in your ideal customers shoes and look for your services. Do you show up? 

Quick, authentic conversation

Following up on the popularity of chatbots, customers these days are demanding an ever more conversational tone. 

Online marketing is by its nature a little more laid back than more traditional marketing outlets. The internet has not yet shaken its original appeal as a little piece of escapism for people to chat, hang out and have fun. Digital marketing trends in 2020 seem poised to maintain this tone. 

Conversational does not mean rude, and all marketing communication should still remain respectful, but don’t be afraid to add in that personal flare. Online customers are expecting something a little bit friendlier. 

And they are also expecting something a little bit faster. The days of potential customers clicking through multiple screens and opening a half dozen windows just to get a read on a product are long over. Your online marketing needs to be friendly, easy-to-navigate and well-integrated with your website and overall brand. 

Video

Video marketing has been on the rise for several years now. You might even think of it like coming full circle back to the days when television ads were the hot new thing. 

Video content on the internet has undergone some serious transformations. The video marketing that is poised to be the most important thing in 2020 is not your simple recorded commercial. It’s something different. 

It’s video content. 

Content marketing is the method of creating product-adjacent content to drum up interest in your company and help build your brand authority. People aren’t going to sit through a two-minute, straightforward advertisement about your product. They’ll scroll right past. But engaging video content is guaranteed to get you the right attention. 

Video content is by far the most difficult marketing trend to capitalize on as it requires higher production expenses than most other forms of content. Video content has to be top notch to get the kind of engagement you want. So go for quality over quantity. It’s better to put out one really solid video piece as opposed to three sub-par ones. 

Check out our post from August 2019 about Video Marketing & Your Strategy

Influencers

One of the more recent developments on the digital marketing scene is influencers. While the idea of paying someone to endorse your product is far from new, the way modern day influencers interact with their audience is shaking up traditional marketing. 

On average, consumers are much more likely to trust an influencer’s opinion on a product than the word of the company itself. This is because influencer’s content comes from a place of authenticity. With traditional celebrity endorsements, there’s an obvious cycle: a celebrity is famous, a company pays them money, and the celebrity shoots a commercial. With influencers, the product endorsement tends to come more naturally. 

For example, a Youtube channel about keeping saltwater aquariums may rise to prominence. The channel’s creator may then get sponsorship deals with various aquarium suppliers that they will recommend to their audience. This has a much more organic feel to it.

Unlike traditional endorsements, influencers tend to also hit that sweet spot in terms of personalized content and conversational tone. Social media platforms like Youtube and Instagram will be doing half of the work for you by suggesting influencers’ content only to those who are interested in it. 

Marketing Automation

In 2019, we also saw the Marketing Automation industry grow considerably amid an increasing demand from business, all over the globe, to automate their marketing workflows and be able to better engage and retain their users.

Going into 2020, the Marketing Automation Software market is expected to continue growing at 8.55%, to $6.4B by 2024. Industry reports show that more than 50% of companies have started to implement marketing automation technologies with more than 58% planning to adopt next year. 

2020 will be all about creating unique, engaging experiences that add value to the evolved, super-connected, always-online consumer, and Marketing Automation will act as a catalyst in making it all happen.

To paint a picture, imagine if there were a way to be in front of your customer throughout their entire buying cycle. A way to stay top of mind. And even better, to understand exactly how their interacting with your brand and your services when you’re not speaking with them.. 

Spoiler alert, there is. 

Marketing automation lets you implement a digital marketing strategy without having to manually press “send” on each and every email, message, campaign, or post you create. Good automation tools help you identify your audience, design the right content, and automatically trigger actions based on schedules and customer behavior.

Flexibility

Above all else, this new decade is going to bring with it the need for companies to be flexible. The digital landscape is constantly changing, and the businesses that stay at the forefront of innovation are the ones that thrive. It’s not enough to chase marketing trends, you need to push the envelope as best you can. Get in early and get in fast, because in a few years, the trends will be shifting again.