It’s no big surprise that trends in marketing for 2020 are going to evolve to encompass new technologies while building on changes that have been happening over the past couple of years. However, with so many changes in marketing, it’s important to keep up with some of those trends to make sure you’re one step ahead of what’s to come. I’ve been doing some research and have come up with my list of top 10 factors that can affect your marketing in the year ahead.

"The future depends on what you do today."

― Mahatma Gandhi

Voice Search

Voice search allows a user to use a voice command to search online. You’ve probably already used a voice assistant such as Google Voice Search, Cortana, Siri and Amazon Echo.

When you ask a question to your voice assistant, it will use information in a featured snippet of information online to answer your question. Those featured snippets aim at answering the user's question right away and are an SEO dream because they get more clicks, more visibility and a higher conversion rate.

There’s a lot of talk out there about this stat: 50% of all online searches in 2020 will be voice searches, but some discrepancies lie in the fact that the stat was merely a prediction made in 2014. Regardless, there is evidence that consumers are embracing voice searches.

At this year’s 2020 CES (Consumer Electronic Show), Google announced its new voice features such as speed dialing and leaving virtual post-it notes. Sure, most of the features are for home use, but these two are ones you can work for your office as well.

How else can you use Voice Search for your business? With voice search directly related to what’s written in online content, you need to ensure you have the right words on your website. The use of conversational language within relevant content is key here. Think about it. How do you ask Siri or Google a question? That’s the type of long-tail question query you need to consider for your website's optimization.

Data Intelligence

Data intelligence includes all the analytical tools and methods companies use to collect marketing information. This helps to gain a better understanding of the target market, and/or how to improve a product or brand.

Gaining intelligence from data means focusing on the analysis of information in a meaningful way for better future decision-making. In short, it’s really important to understand what your market does by analyzing their behavior through their interactions with your brand and purchases from your business.

There are so many Data Intelligence tools available. Let’s start with what Google has to offer. Google’s Data Studio is a reporting solution that goes beyond the data and dashboards of Google Analytics. It was initially a part of the enterprise Google Analytics 360 Suite, but in May 2016, Google announced a free version of Data Studio for individuals and smaller teams. This is a good free option.

If you’re looking for metrics to direct your overall business decisions,  there are a number of high powered tools for business intelligence. There are also tools designed specifically for Digital Marketers. A couple of favorites are Hubspot (because you can integrate different marketing and sales initiatives to track the complete customer journey) and SEM Rush (simply for its SEO capabilities).

Whatever tool you choose, you have to first collect the data and, second analyze it for ways to improve how you can get products into the hands of your specific target market.

Facebook and Instagram

Facebook continues to be the social media leader while Instagram is the fastest growing platform in Canada. More than one third of the world’s population is on Facebook so it’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s still the most popular social media platform among a broad age range; even a younger demographic is still using Facebook. Plus,  86% of marketers use Facebook in their marketing strategy.

Source: https://www.oberlo.ca/blog/facebook-statistics

Predictions for Facebook in 2020 include shifts to more Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) and an integration of Messenger with WhatsApp and Instagram. There seems to be some talk about Facebook and Instagram removing likes, but no one is really sure what that impact will have on user experience.

As for Instagram, Instagram TV (IGTV) is likely to increase in popularity in 2020. Same with Instagram stories. Video marketing in general continues to be a growing trend, to the point where it’s driving more views, engagement and positive response compared to any other social media post option. On top of that, there’s another aspect of Instagram that’s gaining favor among marketers: interactive content. This is the use polls, contests, quizzes (and the like) on Instagram as a marketing strategy to get market insights and ideas for future products, services and launches.

It's important to find out what platforms your target market is on and get on them too. But, don’t neglect Facebook and its collective platforms (Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger) for a broader reach.

Brand Experience

When it comes to branding, performance marketing has been a trend in recent years, but it's no longer just about communicating your brand by the metrics; it’s now about connecting with consumers and focusing on how they interact with your brand.

At the heart of any strong brand is the experience we, as consumers, have with it. Experience led activities aim to give the consumer a taste of what they can get with the intention of boosting customer loyalty, satisfaction, and ultimately gaining more conversions and retention.

How does one build out an experience with their brand? To start, you have to know what consumers like and want (this can come from the performance metrics), and then use that knowledge to deliver customized experiences across the whole customer journey. What it comes down to is creating enduring relationships with your customers by giving them more of what they want.

"We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in."

– Craig Davis

Influencers

In the last decade, Influencers have carved out a place for themselves in the social media world. An Influencer online is the same as one that’s offline. They have a large following, and they have clout - so what they say or do impacts others.

Let’s break this down into categories of Influencers online: Micro-Influencers (everyday people), Bloggers, Content Creators, Industry Experts, Thought Leaders and Celebrities. Some Influencers are free, some require payment.

Influencers continue to be a key channel for marketing strategies, but if this is approach is going to be in your marketing strategy, be sure to focus on these 3 tips for 2020:

  • Find Influencers that have a similar target market to your business
  • Seek to build long-term relationships rather than trying to reach out and ask for them to share content without having any connection with them
  • Don’t necessarily focus on the larger players; instead, look for some of the Micro-Influencers with organic followings to promote your brand. They can have more of a sense of authenticity and that can appeal to your market more.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) creates an interactive experience by enhancing reality with computer-generated perceptual information. For marketers, AR is also an amazing tool for analyzing data in the blink of an eye (much faster than any human).

AR is expected to achieve significant growth worldwide in 2020. With the use of smartphone apps (think Pokémon Go) and smart glasses that can be worn anywhere, we’re on the verge of a shift in our perception of the real world.

AR developers are implementing machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) into many of their apps. This started with Instagram’s filter function and is now being implemented in a variety of larger capacities across different industries.

All this means is that we’ll see an increased number of companies looking for ways to adapt AR, AI and Virtual Reality (VI) into their marketing strategies in the future. If you haven’t started to investigate how this can work for you, 2020 is the time to begin.

Personalization

Personalization of products, services and content is simply about giving consumers more of what they want. One way to find out their specific preference is a loyalty program that works to fine tune a consumer’s preferences so they receive information of value. This helps to build long term relationships with customers as you get to know them better (and ultimately gain more sales). Digital Marketing tools make this easier than ever to deliver relevant and timely content to consumers through email, social media, texts and blogs.

What is at the heart of personalization is the emotions attached to it (yes, that was an intended pun). It is a human need to want to belong and feel taken care of. When a company such as Starbucks acknowledges its customers personally (i.e. it gives loyalty cardholders a freebie on their birthday) and seeks to build a deeper connection by personalizing their experience (did you say you wanted a double shot espresso skinny latte?), customers feel a sense a loyalty that can effectively spin them into pure brand advocates.

Personalize your offering as much as possible so it's specific to market segments and consider a loyalty program for your business.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Google regards you and I as their target market, so they’re going to do their best to provide the most relevant and quality results when we go searching online. Since its inception, Google has introduced a number of changes to its algorithms for SEO.

Last year, Google introduced a major change in their search algorithm by the name of BERT which stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers” It's a language processing technique that helps Google understand the way we speak in order to present the most relevant results in a search. What it is comes down to is developing your website content in such as way that contains wording that your target market asks for in conversational language.

Also, applying many of the points made in this article - such as preparing for Voice Search, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and personalizing results - can lead to improving the SEO for your website. But wait, there's more.

"The only constant in life is change" - Heraclitus

The best advice for improving SEO is to stay on top of on-going changes by subscribing to credible sources that provide regular updates. No longer is it good enough to have a website that's technically well set-up with backlinks and fresh content. To make your website one that is optimized for searches, you have to continually research changes that go on behind the scenes and apply that knowledge to your marketing strategy.

Content Marketing

Content Marketing is developing and delivering marketing related material online. This can include social media posts, videos, blogs, newsletters, eBooks, podcasts, curated info and the ike. It’s not actually about what you do or who you are; it’s more about sharing information, data, images, etc. that your target market cares about.

Content development, and marketing of that content, takes some work. You have to do some research, and then test content to find out just what makes your brand one that consumers want to follow. However, your content is only as good as its ability to not only draw consumers in, you want them to then buy from you. The first step to getting customers to buy, is getting them interested in your content.

"Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue."

– Andrew Davis

For starters, use quality images and information / data to attract your potential customers. Focus on being the industry expert who’s in the know and that will keep them coming back for more. Once your capture their attention, be sure to stimulate some interest with trial offers or something they can download to capture their contact information. Once you know they're interested, re-targeting methods or email campaigns can be effective ways to convert them into paying customers. Don’t stop there! The after-sale approach of reminding them of your complementary products or services can inspire repeat purchases, referrals and brand advocacy.

Creating a Gravitational Pull

To truly understand Inbound Marketing, you have to wrap your head around how it should cause a gravitational pull by drawing an audience into your online sphere. Gravity is literally a force that attracts any object with mass (see Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation). The success of your online gravitational pull depends on the shared experience you create with your target market.

Want to be a star in your own universe? Look to creating meaningful interactions online. It’s great to post pretty pictures and witty sayings, but does it intrigue your audience and inspire them to do something?

Make your content less about what you do, what you offer, why people want it, and more about explaining the shared purpose your / your product has with them. If you sell shoes, don’t just post photos of shoes and product offers. Share information about how to take care of your shoes or how your shoes represent your personal style.

BONUS TIP: Gen Z – the Next New Buyer

Gen Z is the newest generation (born from 1995 to 2016). They’re at the age where they’re now entering the workforce. With their own money to spend, this generation is worth paying attention to. Here are a few facts to know about them:

  • They grew up in an interconnected world – from the Internet to touch screens, social media, and apps, they are the truest digital natives – making them extremely comfortable with new technologies. They are used to using Smartphones rather than a desktop computer.
  • Two of their most used social media platforms are Snapchat and Twitter.
  • Most of them (59%) were raised by Gen X parents, so they have some of their parent’s traditional values such as security and saving money. (Kovary, 2019)
  • Their top three priorities: are enjoying life, finding a great job and becoming a better person. (Kovary, 2019)
  • As learners and an active marketing audience, they prefer to be involved by co-creating content and having tactile experiences. (Kovary, 2019)
  • Gender-fluid is a Gen Z thing. According to Pew Research Center, 35% of Gen Z knows someone who identifies as nonbinary. Clothing retailers have jumped on this and are starting to introduce non-gender items.
  • As for how to market to them: they like storytelling, visual displays and experiences.

Summary

They are a few running themes in my research as presented in this article. One is that you have to pay attention to what your market wants. Another is that experiences and personalization are becoming more important. And, lastly, this is just a list of current trends, they keep changing, so your best bet is to keep up with on-going research.

REFERENCES

Kovary, Giselle. The Gen Z Learning Journey from Higher Education to the Workplace. (October 29, 2019)

Pelletier, Morgane. How to Choose the Perfect Influencer: Strategies to Guide Your Search. Upfluence, 2019

 

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