What are the digital marketing trends of 2020? Marketing trends evolve constantly. They transform the way we attract, connect with and market to our audiences.
Which trends are most relevant to our businesses can make or break a marketing strategy. How do we take advantage of strengths and opportunities? How do we diminish weaknesses and threats?
While some of this year’s trends are related to technology and digitisation, there’s also a clear desire to make marketing more human. So the overarching focus needs to be on people and their needs.
- The continued move to mobile means marketers need to up their game in terms of mobile experience and voice search content optimisation. On the other hand, it also brings opportunities for more creative short-form video content and bite-sized educational content.
- Customers trust less than ever. Brands behaving ethically and responsibly tend to gain better loyalty. Tread carefully though. While the right message increases emotional connection and trust, faux pas can be very costly.
- Influencer marketing is here to stay, but not as we know it. Companies spread their influencer spending over more nano- and micro-influencers. These are more relevant and closer to customers. Transparency in terms of performance and disclaimers should also be on the rise.
1. Improving mobile experience
The number of mobile devices worldwide is set to reach 14 billion in 2020. It keeps increasing at a steady pace over the coming years. Yet mobile experiences still haven’t caught up with desktop experiences. This means that mobile conversion rates are suffering as a consequence.
While this is sometimes due to the limitations of a small screen. For example, shoppers might be happy to browse on a mobile device, but prefer to complete a purchase will sitting at a desktop computer.
It could also be down to the fact that companies did not optimize many websites for a smooth mobile experience in terms of UX or site speed. With consumers expectations higher than ever, poor mobiles experiences can be a deal-breaker.
Research from Google shows that, faced with a mobile-unfriendly site, 61% of consumers are likely to go to a competitor’s site instead, and 45% less likely to visit a website again if they had a poor experience.
To address the mobile challenge, Google Conversion Specialist Lina Hansson, recommends monitoring mobile website performance by reviewing the Relative Mobile Conversion Rate (Rel mCvR) – calculated by dividing the mobile conversion rate with the desktop conversion rate.
Optimising your site for mobile may take time, but tracking your Rel mCvR weekly helps you see if your improvements work.
Keep in mind too that Google will be using ‘mobile-first’ indexing as of September 2020. Responsive sites shouldn’t experience any problems. It’s still worth though to check out Google’s mobile-first best practices. Make sure the mobile version of your site is as good as it can be.
2. Optimising content for voice search
Back in 2018, Google reported that 28% of the global online population used voice search on mobile. With the number of mobile devices worldwide increasing steadily, voice search is most definitely here to stay. So, what does this mean for SEO … or rather VSEO?
Before the advent of voice search, the joke was that ‘the best place to hide a dead body was page 2 of Google’. With voice search, the joke is on any results that are not ‘position zero’ (aka the ‘featured snippet’).
On a screen, the top answer – which is often good enough to result in a so-called ‘zero-click’ search that directly answers the search query – is followed by a host of other results.
But with voice search, position zero is everything as it’s the only information returned. Currently, over 50% of Google searches are zero-click searches and with this trend sure to continue, it’s something marketers can’t afford to ignore.
To have a chance of claiming the zero spot, marketers need to: really know their customers. Understand the questions they’ll ask and the kind of language and terminology they’ll use to ask them. Make sure their content provides exactly the information they need.
Remember that content also needs to be concise – Google tends to answer voice queries with sentences that are an average of 29 words.
3. Short video content and live streaming
Social media, the rising popularity of ‘stories’ and the continued growth in video-sharing apps tell us that video is getting more important than ever. We’ll see brands increase their use of video in their digital marketing strategies.
Set to continue making waves throughout 2020 is short-form video-sharing app TikTok. It is currently the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide, with a staggering 104.7 million installs during January 2020 alone.
This hugely popular app gives us an insight into what young consumers. 66% of its users under the age of 30 enjoy watching short, creative content that is funny and raw.
The challenge for marketers will be to find new ways to engage and delight consumers with even the shortest attention spans!
Check out how the NBA uses TikTok to show a lighter side to basketball. Or how early adopter The Washington Post use it to share surprisingly comedic behind-the-scenes videos and skits about the newsroom.
Aside from pure entertainment, video is also becoming the preferred way of absorbing information. In statistics gathered by US company Wyzowl, 66% of people surveyed said they’d prefer to watch a short video. This was to learn about a product or service, compared to just 18% who’d prefer to read text.
A measly 2% said they would prefer to be contacted by a salesperson! 84% said that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.
On top of this, live-streamed content adds extra value, as it is perceived to be more authentic and personal than polished, pre-created content.
Generating user interaction when pushing live content will make your reach even greater. Time to get filming!
4. Socially responsible marketing
In a world of fake news and alternative facts, consumers have understandably become wary and sceptical.
More than ever, we want to buy from brands that we trust and respect. Brands that are friendly, sincere and that genuinely want to help us find the right solution for us.
We’re also interested in the brand’s perspective on topics that matter to us and how they positively contribute to society.
In 2020, a brand’s view on issues like diversity and inclusion, climate change, and sustainability are going to become more important than ever.
For example, brands like Dove and Gillette have already contributed to a shift in mindset on ‘toxic masculinity’, despite risking the wrath of some customers.
But making mistakes can be costly. Exercise equipment brand Peloton found out when an ad considered sexist, it wiped 10% off the company’s value at the end of 2019.
Today’s consumers are prepared to vote with their feet and by extension, their wallets.
Brands that behave ethically enjoy more customer loyalty with more positive word-of-mouth, customers commitment and perceived quality. While brands that fail to deliver or act in an unacceptable manner suffer the consequences.
5. Bite-sized educational content
There were times that consumers are happy to commit to reading a detailed blog post, watching a long video or listening to a 30-minute podcast. Our ‘on-the-go’ consumption habits and the fact that the global attention span is decreasing mean that bite-sized content is more popular than ever.
Grab your audience’s attention with short, educational content that they can consume while waiting in at the supermarket, on public transport or between meetings.
HubSpot is doing this well on LinkedIn, by uploading navigable documents, one-pagers, quotes from slides and more.
Marketing guru Neil Patel also builds on this on Instagram feed, where he uses multiple images per post to give easily digestible and actionable tips.
And while short-form blog content typically performs worse than longer pieces in terms of sharing, bite-sized content that’s visually appealing and useful is going to make the rounds!
6. Influencers: more transparency and a move away from mega to micro
Influencer marketing has been steadily growing in pace over the last five years. We expect the industry to grow to almost USD 10 billion by the end of 2020.
While 80% of companies say that they find influencer marketing effective, the industry will evolve in a way that works better for brands and customers alike.
In 2020, we’re likely to see changes related to transparency. This is both in terms of performance expectations and monitoring, as well as in terms of the legal framework. The move away from mega-influencers is also set to continue.
First let’s look at performance. In the past, we based success on metrics such as follower count, likes, and shares. Companies now start to look at metrics like engagement rate, CPE (Cost Per Engagement) and operational ROI. They affiliate link tracking to understand the real value that influencers are bringing.
Influencers are likely to start seeing themselves compensated based on measurable and reliable results like the number of conversions.
Next, influencers are also going to come under much more scrutiny in terms of legislation. Studies suggest that only a small proportion of influencer activity is actually in line with established guidelines.
Until now, national agencies have been warning and educating influencers. There’s a risk that agencies in some countries will start prosecuting, though, if guidelines are not respected.
It’s not only influencers who will be found in breach, all parties involved can be held responsible for their actions!
Finally, the rise in nano- and micro-influencers and corresponding decline in mega-influencers is also set to continue. With customers craving more authentic engagement and interaction with profiles that are more relatable and that they feel they can trust.
Since 2016, the use of micro-influencers (followers between 10,000 and 100,000) has increased 300%. With engagement rates up to seven times higher than with mega-influencers, it’s no wonder that brands keep moving in this direction.
7. Ephemeral content
The concept of ephemeral content, short-lived content that only exists for a limited time, began back in 2011 with the creation of Snapchat. Ephemeral Facebook/Messenger and Instagram ‘stories’ are now used by over 500 million users a day.
We may soon even see LinkedIn and Twitter jump on the ‘stories’ bandwagon soon!
What is it about this form of content that makes it so popular? Ephemeral content feeds into two emotional tools: FOMO (fear of missing out) and YOLO (you only live once).
On the one hand, short-lived content sparks curiosity and urges consumers to check back regularly for new content. It also gives companies a chance to flash limited time offers and customised products, without the worry of having to manage old and out-dated content.
On the other hand, short, authentic content such as celebration of a store opening or a new product launch can contribute to a feeling of being present in the moment and part of a community.
When used well, ephemeral content can boost brand awareness and help create instant engagement with customers. Because it disappears after 24 hours, you can experiment with the content and have fun, without worrying about your early attempts hanging around to haunt you.
8. From rule-based personalisation to machine learning
Consumers expect messages to cater to their personal needs and are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences. In recent years, easier access to powerful, rule-based automation tools levelled the playing field somewhat in terms of personalisation.
We’ve come to a point where this approach is working less and less well. With ever-more-complex buyer behaviour and journeys, marketers need to look to artificial intelligence and machine learning to take personalisation to the next level.
Machine learning algorithms can identify more refined segments than a marketing team can hope to come up with.
For example, that 50 to 60-year old women who live in Antwerp, have a relatively low income. She visits a website on Monday and the website persuaded her with scarcity.
Or that 20 to 30-year-old women who lives in Uccle, have a high income and interest in fashion a website can persuade her with exclusivity. The more specific the targeting, the better the results.
Rule-based automation ofcourse still has its place for predictable patterns, e.g. not offering ads about winter tyres during the summer, but to drill down to less predictable patterns, let algorithms do the heavy lifting.
9. Translation, translation, translation
While in real estate, the three most important factors when buying or selling property are location, location and location. In marketing, we are seeing the increasing value of translating content (and ideally localising it, i.e. adapting it to the local culture. Think Belgian French vs French French).
Studies showed for years that people prefer to find information and shop in their own language. It makes sense that translating your content can help drive more traffic to your site.
As marketing guru Neil Patel says, “If you aren’t optimizing for different languages across the world, you are missing out on traffic.”
In fact, when Patel surveyed companies in advance of a recent talk about marketing trends for 2020, and asked what led to their biggest traffic gains, translating content performed best of all, and had a bigger impact than creating new content.
As well as offering a better user experience, translated content can help companies rank well in voice searches for ‘near me’ queries for local businesses. Searches that are on the rise due to the increase in mobile use.
10. Keep learning and experimenting!
It goes without saying that the marketing landscape is always changing. No matter how good you get at one tactic, never stop learning. Be willing to listen to both the golden oldies and the new kids on the block. Fresh insights can come from all angles!
To make sure you keep up with trends, find trusted sources and follow their to podcasts and blogs. There’s a lot of highly valuable content available for free with mountains of content produced all the time.
To avoid overload, use an RSS tool like Feedly to ‘keep up with the topics and trends you care about, without the overwhelm’.
Keeping up-to-date is one thing, but how do you decide what to put in practice? New trends, channels and tactics will always be emerging. That doesn’t mean you need to go full in on every one, don’t be afraid to experiment.
If you can afford to spend 10% of your resources on something a little crazy, then have a go! This is especially valid for new social media. Getting in early can give you a big advantage and let you build large audiences at low cost and with little competition.
If resources are tight or if you’re overwhelmed by all that’s going on, pick some ‘low hanging fruit’. Try one thing you know will make a difference to your marketing efforts.
What do YOU think the future holds?
In this post we gave you our take on 10 of the marketing trends to keep in mind in 2020. But where does the industry go from here? What can we expect to see in the coming years?
To really understand future trends and how we take advantage of them, we need to pool our knowledge and share insights.
Which is why 4P square has joined forces with EHSAL Management School and many industry leaders to conduct a qualitative study on the future of marketing.