We've officially entered the last quarter of 2019, which means it's time to start thinking ahead. Strategic marketing initiatives typically require a few months of planning and strategising, so now is the perfect time to lay out your strategy for 2020 (and beyond).
It can be difficult to know how to start. Simply continuing to roll with your current efforts is tempting, especially on a limited budget. However, technology doesn't stand still. Google alone releases countless algorithm updates every year. Virtual reality has entered the equation, and so has AI. With other organisations across industries adopting these new approaches, it's time for your business to think ahead as well.
Staying ahead of the curve doesn't have to be complex. You just have to know what movements to pay attention to, and how your business can adjust. Start with this list of 7 can't miss Inbound Marketing digital marketing trends for 2020, then build strategies that account for and embrace audience expectations and new technologies.
7 Can't Miss Digital Marketing Trends for 2020
1. Voice Search Becomes the New Normal
You might have heard about this trend. Around the globe, and especially in developed countries, millions of people are turning away from keyboards and towards their own voice when performing online searches.
Earlier this year, a study found Australia to have the 7th-deepest market penetration of smart speakers in the world. Almost 30% of Australian household own a speaker like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Those who don't tend to use phone-based assistants like Siri on a regular basis.
The results of this trend are clear. Why type when you can just talk? By 2020, some experts estimate that 50% of all online searches will be done via voice. That, in turn, requires a significant shift in your search engine optimisation strategy.
Go away from technical keywords and towards more natural, full-sentence phrases. Optimise your content to the way humans speak, not the way businesses historically write. Voice searches are more specific, and more often based on questions than simple statements or straightforward phrases.
2. Immersive Experiences Take Center Stage
As a society, we crave experiences. For decades, marketers have tried to leverage that simple fact through experiential marketing, based on events and other in-person tactics. As we move towards 2020, businesses of all sizes finally have the opportunity to take the same concept into their digital marketing strategy, as well.
Pay special attention to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The two are easy to confuse, but can be distinguished by definition:
- VR is a true virtual experience, which takes your audience out of the real world and into a fiction created around them.
- AR consists of inserting virtual objects into the real world. Think IKEA allowing users to see a piece of furniture in their home through the home store's app.
Combined, both are about to take marketing center stage. We're talking about a $150 billion industry, from which Australian companies are starting to take a bite. AR and VR offer immersive experiences that allow companies to more fully tell their brand story, draw in their audiences, and keep them engaged through conversion.
3. Content Starts to Turn Truly Personal
We've talked for years about the importance of personalisation, the process of making a mass-produced message like an email or web page seem like it speaks directly to one person. Previous years have only scratched the surface. Consumers are beginning to expect personalised messages, and make their buying decisions accordingly.
Research last year showed that 80% of potential customers are more likely to do business with companies who personalise their content towards them. Email blasts, web pages, and other digital marketing tactics all see significant improvements in analytics when personalisation comes into play.
Integration into your digital marketing efforts has to start with good data gathering. Personalisation is only as good as the lists you keep, so cleaning your data is a great start. Segmented messages and marketing automation both help to build more personalised, relevant, customised messaging for your audience.
4. The Rise of 1-to-1 Marketing Messages
When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that he expects the future of the internet to be private, he wasn't lying. He probably saw some statistics from Facebook's own Messenger app and WhatsApp. Audiences are gravitating towards more private channels by the millions, with the aforementioned two services combined reaching almost 3 billion users this year.
That trend won't stop anytime soon. As more users are gravitating towards these more private means of individual communication, businesses have to adjust and approach their audience in similar way. That requires a drastic shift from the common mass communications that networks like Facebook and LinkedIn bring with them.
Marketing through a one-to-one platform can be difficult and almost impossible to scale for small businesses with limited resources. Enter chatbots, AI-driven programs that can respond to simple messages and questions automatically. More complex requests get elevated for custom responses. With chatbots becoming more affordable and common even on small business websites, 2020 will continue the trend towards this ultimate customisation experience.
5. Micro-Moments are Taking Over
The age of the broad-stroke sales funnel are coming to an end. Consumers and business customers are acting in less linear ways than ever, jumping in and out of the funnel at various stages as they conduct their own research and make their own decisions.
Yes, lead and customer conversions still matter. But companies like Google have gone more granular, introducing the concept of micro-moments as better alternatives to track and adjust to audience intent. According to Google, a micro-moment
occurs when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.
Rising mobile use has only increased the importance of these moments. In 2020, tracking them and building marketing tactics specifically designed to satisfy them can become a core differentiation strategy. If you can focus on user intent, you can build marketing strategies designed to convince and convert your audience even in the noisiest environments.
6. Transparency Turns Essential
Some marketers consider the last few years a golden age, an era in which data gathering and usage was almost limitless. Any company could gather any information possible about their users, then build more targeted and relevant marketing campaigns for them. Of course, that was before major political data scandals and commercial data breaches that have dominated the headlines over the last 18 months.
Then came Europe's General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) last year. That was followed by similar data laws around the world, like amendments to the Australian Privacy Act in 2019. Today, the seemingly endless goldmine of data opportunities has begun to swing the other way.
Smart businesses, of course, see this pendulum swing as an opportunity. Being honest and transparent about the data you collect and use will be a key differentiator in 2020 and beyond. You have to be able to warn your users what data you collect, and how you'll use it in future efforts. But if you do, you can gain crucial trust that in turn increases your credibility and buyer intent over time.
7. Storytelling (Re-)Emerges in Digital Form
Let's be honest: some of the above trends get pretty technical. Smart marketers, of course, can still succeed in 2020 without a PhD in these technical details. That's because of a final, crucial trend emerging that has been a hidden giant in both traditional and digital marketing all along: storytelling.
Humans love stories. We respond to them, feel an emotional connection to them, and are more likely to remember them than simple fact. In fact, well-delivered marketing stories are up to 22 times more memorable than straight facts, no matter how impressive these facts are.
As we move into 2020, we're finally entering a stage in which storytelling is approachable and even natural in the digital world. Anyone can build a good marketing video or graphic. From blogs to YouTube accounts and eBooks, brands of all sizes can tell their stories effectively and in a way that's engaging for the audience. If you do nothing else next year, find a way to tell your business story through your digital channels.
Build Your Website to Prepare for the Digital Marketing of the Future
Marketing, especially digital marketing, is a constant evolution. New technological development enable the execution of both groundbreaking initiatives like VR and surprisingly simple concepts like storytelling. In the end, though, it all comes back to the channels through which you can integrate the above trends into your marketing strategy next year.
That's where we get to your website. That online presence remains the foundation of any effective digital marketing, a hub of content and 'next steps' that your audience seeks out and drives to from search, social media, and other channels. It's where you can build VR videos, tell stories on your blog, or disclose your data regulations. It's where your chatbot and personalised content can live.
To get to that point, though, you have to get your website right. That's a more complex task, but the best strategy is to look for partners. Pixel Fish has years of experience in building effective business website, and we'd love to partner with you in building or improving yours as well. Contact us today to start the conversation.
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