(This post was first published in December 2018 and has been updated for 2020).
It doesn’t matter what your industry is, or what products and services you offer – digital marketing trends cannot be ignored. Not so long ago, companies needed little more than a website and a Facebook page, but now, the digital landscape is evolving so quickly that it’s hard to keep up.
By now, there aren’t too many successful businesses that don’t have an online presence. In 2020, new technologies and tools will come to the fore, forcing marketers to adapt in order to keep their organizations at the top.
After all, Digital Darwinism is an unforgiving reality. If you don’t adapt, you’ll surely be left behind. Read on to discover the digital marketing trends to be ready for in 2020.
1. Facebook May Be Peaking. Really.
Facebook is no longer the kingpin in the social media world. According to Forbes, 41% of its users are over the age of 65. While it is by no means struggling, it’s clear that Facebook is losing ground with the younger demographics, who tend to prefer the more visual, interactive experiences offered by Instagram, Snapchat, and the rising star, TikTok.
After the data breach scandal in 2018, Facebook has lost significant credibility, with many people growing frustrated and resentful with the platform’s proliferation of fake news, political propaganda, and cyberbullying. The once-dominant force is continuing to drop in popularity with younger demographics, with TechCrunch speculating that Facebook may be dead to Gen Z.
It’s essential for future digital marketers to really look at who their target market may be because Facebook may be very unsuitable for some campaigns, especially as it continues to trend downwards with younger people. Facebook is still massive, and many Americans continue to check in on it. Still, marketers should be more cautious with who they are trying to connect with and make sure their target audience is still on Facebook. If not, you could be wasting your marketing budget, targeting the wrong social media platform.
2. Instagram is a Hit with the Kids
Instagram’s meteoric rise has already seen it pass one billion users, an impressive achievement. That means it’s one of the most rapidly growing social media platforms and, perhaps more importantly, much of its user base is the coveted younger demographic, especially under 30. Facebook is losing much of that cohort, due to its reputation as the social media platform for “old people.”
One potential problem that marketers should keep in mind is that Instagram recently decided to remove the likes feature from the platform. Many influencers have voiced concerns about this move, and therefore, companies should keep a close eye on the impact this will have in 2020. While it could lead to an uptick in content quality, many users may drift away from the platform in search of vanity metrics elsewhere.
3. Chatbots Will Dominate Customer Service
Chatbots are artificial intelligence (AI) software that acts as a virtual “concierge,” communicating with users and assisting them in completing their goals. Chatbots interact with humans in a natural way, primarily through the use of text chat windows, but verbal interactions are also possible. Over time, as the system collects more data insights, the AI learns more about the customers, making it possible to offer a continuously-improving service.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, chatbots carved out a regular role on Facebook, by the tens of thousands, for different tasks. Everything from providing weather reports to automating some basic customer support functions can be easily handled by sophisticated software. Bots allow users to get personalized, focused interactions without pulling too much from limited human resources.
80% of businesses claim they want to start using chatbots this year. When you consider the benefits, it’s easy to understand why:
- 24-hour service
- Instant responses to customer queries
- No need for breaks, vacations, or overtime pay
Tidio research from January 2020 found that 43% of consumers prefer to message an online chatbot rather than to phone customer service centers when communicating with a brand. So, with businesses and customers keen for more involvement with chatbots, this is sure to be one of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends in 2020.
4. Video is No Longer an Option
If your business isn’t already using video marketing, you should get on board this year. Text-based content simply can’t compete with the power of video, especially when it comes to trying to sell products and services online.
In a mobile-mad world, people are watching more video than ever before, using smartphones to watch and share videos about everything, learning more about brands, and what they have to offer. Think about these stats from ImpactBND:
- 70% of consumers have shared a brand’s video.
- 52% of consumers claim that watching product videos makes them more confident and guides their online purchasing decisions.
- 72% of businesses believe video content has improved their conversion rates.
Video marketing is highly-engaging, especially if it’s live video. Live streaming is a powerful method of digital marketing when combined with influencer marketing. Whether it’s the new generation of social media influencers or traditional sources, such as celebrities, athletes, and musicians, having a live stream with an influencer who is interacting directly with comments is a huge draw for an audience.
Twitch has over 15 million daily active users, most of whom tune in just to watch live streaming videos from influencers like Ninja. Arguably the world’s most popular gaming influencer, Ninja, recently signed an exclusive deal with Mixer, which was a power play by the Microsoft-company in recognition of the expected value of live video streaming in the year ahead.
5. Good Content Still Matters (and Now Context Matters More!)
Content marketing continues to be an essential component of digital marketing, although there’s an increasing emphasis on nuance in content. The quality is always going to matter, but now there’s more emphasis on the context and targeting. Google is developing a deeper, more sophisticated understanding of online content, and so, marketers must think carefully about their target market and how they can tailor content more precisely in 2020.
Much of this boils down to the BERT update, released on Google in November 2019. The new algorithm helps the search engine giant get a better understanding of the natural language in user search queries. Advice from Google is that “rather than chase the latest SEO trends, it’s more important to ensure a site has fast speeds, useful links, and well-written content.”
Make no mistake:
Content marketing is going nowhere.
That being said, Google is getting smarter, and it gives preference to in-depth, accurate, current content that is closely aligned with user intent. Companies must keep this in mind as they create new content in 2020.
6. Email is Getting More Personalized
Email continues to be a major channel of communication, with billions still using it for personal, commercial, industrial, legal, scientific, and academic purposes. In other words, email is here to stay, and email marketing itself continues to be important.
However, email marketing is evolving, and generic marketing emails aren’t as effective as they once were. It is now a combination of automation and, more importantly, personalization that makes email marketing important for 2020.
When you can trigger your email marketing to something specific, such as a user browsing a particular product, and then follow up with a promotional price or demo video in a personalized email, this can be very effective. Email is often the final trigger to motivate an action, especially when combined with your remarketing techniques.
That leads us to one of the most exciting digital marketing trends in recent times…
7. Interactive Content Will Become Mainstream
Interactive content is anything that people can click on, swipe, or interact with online. According to Outgrow, 93% marketers rate interactive content as highly effective at educating the buyer.
In 2020, more companies will experiment with interactive content types, such as:
- Quizzes and polls
- Augmented reality ads
- 360-degree videos
These formats leverage cutting-edge marketing technology, such as augmented reality and video content, to offer people a more immersive, engaging experience. Nowadays, consumers want this type of memorable, fun content from brands, as it helps them feel more connected to the company.
8. Voice Interaction Continues Upward
Thanks to Siri, Google, Alexa, and a host of other ‘smart’ devices, verbal interaction with devices is continuing to rise. The real lesson for us is that people like to talk and that is a preferred way of interacting. And now, machines are finally catching up to the way people want to search, shop and discover new things.
However, this presents some interesting challenges. Conducting a voice search, for example, is very different from typing a query, particularly in the results. When a person performs a text-based search, the screen displays the results one page at a time. But when someone asks a device to conduct a search and the device replies verbally, it may only give a few choices at most, and frequently supplies just one choice.
We’ve said it once about voice search, and we’ll say it again:
Adopting a voice search strategy isn’t just about remaining relevant – it’s also about creating a unique and optimized customer experience that will foster relationships and build brand loyalty.
Marketers targeting voice search users should remember to write in a conversational tone, using keywords that people will speak rather than type. Doing this will help you get the coveted position zero or featured snippets on Google.
9. Marketing in Messaging Apps Will Level-Up
Social messaging apps aren’t just for staying in touch with friends and family. Businesses in all industries have taken a significant interest in apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp in recent times, and it’s no surprise when you consider the opportunities:
While traditional channels like email and social media are far from dead, there’s no denying that people are more active on instant messaging apps. In the next 5-7 years, messenger marketing is expected to be the number one marketing channel in the world. Therefore, it’s a logical step for brands to start connecting with people on these platforms. Marketing through Facebook Messenger generates 10 to 80 times more engagement than organic posts on the Facebook News Feed.
Messaging apps allow companies to reach a broad audience with short, personalized texts. 63% of online consumers are more likely to return to a company website if it has a live chat option, hammering home the need for companies to take this channel seriously.
In 2020, you can expect to see much more marketing in messaging apps, with many companies, including video and interactive content to engage users.
10. Omnichannel Marketing is Now Vital
Omnichannel marketing is the practice of marketing across multiple platforms, including email, apps, social media, and your website blog. This approach enables businesses to connect with customers on more digital touchpoints, effectively offering a better user experience.
By delivering a seamless, consistent voice and cohesive brand message across all channels, you can generate much better results. ClickZ reports that omnichannel marketing drives over three times as much engagement than a single-channel approach. Better yet, customer retention, average order value, and purchase frequency are all higher when you have multiple channels.
As AI technology improves, companies can leverage data insights and machine learning to get a better understanding of customer behaviors, and then personalize it at the highest-level. Ultimately, a focus on omnichannel marketing is the road to an enhanced customer journey that keeps people coming back for more.
Get Involved, or Get Left Behind
So, as you can see, things are moving fast in the digital marketing world. In 2020, AI technology, video, voice search, and interactive content will be among the most prominent trends. This is no time for a business to stand still, as the younger demographics and more tech-savvy consumers of today want brands to connect with them in new and exciting ways…