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2020 Digital Marketing Predictions: The Ultimate Round-Up

Table of Contents

It’s 2020, a year where we had expected flying cars. While that has not become mainstream, we have seen a tremendous change in how digital marketing has changed over the past decade.

While we did a look back on the transformation in the past 10 years, we want to just as importantly look forward to the future and understand what lies ahead.

To do so, we compiled a list of the top 25 digital marketing blogs (credited at the end of the article) and dug into their predictions for 2020. From there, we created a comprehensive spreadsheet to list every point raised, calculated the number of times they were brought up (with our internally assigned weights to the different blogs) and ranked them accordingly.

Yup, here’s a screenshot of the spreadsheet.

Here is a brief guide on what is going to be covered:

  1. Tech & AI
  2. Trust & Human Touch
  3. Personalization
  4. Data
  5. Voice
  6. Videos in Marketing
  7. Micro-moments
  8. Budget
  9. Privacy

With no further ado, here’s what the top blogs are saying:

 

1. Technology and Artificial Intelligence

Technology in Marketing is now ubiquitous, especially in marketing automation and expect more AI on the rise.

While the last 10 years saw many of us being introduced to the world of marketing technology for the first time and then getting familiar with marketing automation, leading blogs predict that 2020 may be the year that many people wake up to the dominance of artificial intelligence and other applications of technology.

In the year 2019, Scott Brinker came up with Martech supergraphic, a complex map of the potential categories of services that companies use — nicknamed as Martech 5000, one of the most infamous slides in the marketing.

To be fair, the whole basis of ‘digital’ marketing lies in technology, but what we are predicting here is a breakthrough in 2020.

The market for advertising technology is expected to record exponential growth between now and 2023. But predicting how the landscape will truly shake out, especially given shifting regulatory and market sands, could be a little tricky, analysts say.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation helps marketers understand the customer journey, automate repetitive tasks, generate qualified leads, nurture leads and finally convert them into sales. Automated tools also reduce the cost of human error in targeting the audience. They further help in analyzing customer data to scale up marketing activities and attract more business.

  • Gartner projects that 30% of businesses will incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) in their sales processes in 2020.
  • In one study, it was found that the use of automation tools for marketing processes can save you up to 80% of the time spent on repetitive tasks like workforce management and scheduling content distribution.

“Marketing will become a more even playing field and you’ll have no choice but to use automation.” – Neil Patel

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is one technology that has taken leaps and has already started assisting the workforce in various sectors.

The global AI market in 2018 was already at 9.5 bn USD, which increased by 154% in the year 2019.

At this pace, it is predicted that 2020 is going to be the year when AI will be imposing its dominance in the industry.

AI is making it easier for marketers to get accurate insights on reaching out to their target audience in a better way. It is giving machines a human touch and helping them generate appropriate responses. It is also tied to various other trends that are relevant for digital marketing like chatbots, voice search, personalization.

There are many rumours surfacing in the market about AI replacing the physical workforce. Instead, what AI does is it frees up the marketer’s time so that they can concentrate more on strategic tasks like optimizing campaigns and driving greater ROI rather than focusing on petty administrative tasks.

Peter Loibl of Content Marketing Institute says, “The year 2020 will see the digital marketers use the power of AI in assisting them in activities of content creation and content marketing rather than replacing their existing systems.”

In the year 2020, it is highly probable that automation can be an end to end solution for carrying out marketing campaigns. It is expected that the companies will be casting a wider yet targeted net across broader channels.

With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being generated every day, it has become vital for companies to take the assistance of AI and Machine learning to extract meaningful information from the raw data.

“We do not see traction on this just yet,” Fleisch told CMO by Adobe, “but in the next year, I think AI and ML will serve a wider purpose in making actionable recommendations for advertising agencies.”

Chatbots & Conversational Marketing

An oracle report revealed that the use of emerging technologies is set to take big leaps in the next five years.

According to the research, 80% of brands will be using chatbots for interacting with their customers by the year 2020. However, it is vital for companies to find a way to engage the customers and employees in a timely and personalized manner.

It is predicted that by the end of this year, chatbots will be more intuitive and will be able to mimic humans a lot more. The technology is expected to generate savings for business houses approximately $8 billion every year.

The best thing about chatbot is that they are available 24/7. They can give accurate and prompt answers to all the customer queries without losing patience.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising is an integration of artificial intelligence with ad-buying.

The concept helps businesses to attend more specifically to their target audience. The use of machines and algorithms in programmatic advertising also helps in monitoring the ad spending and optimize your investments at the same time.

It is a quicker, cheaper, and an efficient way to acquire customers. 

Augmented Reality (AR)

As the 5G internet revolution is on its way, businesses have a great opportunity to reach out to their users with the help of AR and VR.

With the rate at which the adoption of augmented reality is growing, it is soon expected to outpace Virtual reality. AR helps enhance the user experience in both online as well as offline stores.

It helps in blurring out the lines between digital and the physical world and gives the users a holistic experience via technologies powered by 5G.

Gaming, fashion, and tourism industries are ones that are expected to make the most from the increasing popularity of AR and VR.

 

2. Trust & Human Touch

The hyper-connected world has made it vital for brands to represent themselves honestly and transparently in delivering their messages to the customers.

Transparency and Authenticity are the key points to take note!

Transparency

According to Forbes contributor, Ashley Deibert “transparency and authenticity are going to be a major challenge for the marketers. They must find the most suitable means to meet the consumers where they are and ensure that the messages delivered are genuine and align with their brand’s principles.

The call for brand transparency has caused a rise in usage of tactics like content marketing and influencer marketing that have rightly delivered real value to the audiences.

“Transparency and authenticity are going to be a major challenge for the marketers. They must find the most suitable means to meet the consumers where they are and ensure that the messages delivered are genuine and align with their brand’s principles.

Brand

Even consumers are looking for lasting relationships from their favourite brand rather than being marketed by persuasive advertising tactics. They are ready to align themselves with the company they trust and believe in. Customers feel that if they are spending their time and money in the brand, they want the brand to engage them in a way that adds relevancy and value to their lives.

It’s true that advancements in technology have caused some major changes in the way businesses are reaching their customers.

However, these improved digital marketing ways of using complex algorithms, bots and software are not enough.

Human touch still holds a vital role in engaging customers. You will agree that technology cannot respond to individual emails, read feedback on social media or understand marketing campaigns for customers with different ethnic backgrounds.

This is where human touch plays an important part in bringing everything together. When a client knows that there is a human partner who is responding to their concerns, it gives them an assurance that someone is actually listening as well as taking steps to resolve their problems.

Human interaction helps in synchronizing the thinking of the customers and the businesses to bring out successful results for your business digitally.

Brand Safety

The Internet Advertising Bureau has coined the term “brand safety” which has growing importance in the digital marketing industry. Brand safety is defined as keeping the brand’s reputation safe when they advertise online. This would provide a safe environment for advertising online where advertisements are not placed beside inappropriate content.

The impact of brand safety being jeopardised are extensive, much more than we can imagine. In the example of Youtube, brands’ advertising was jeopardised and went wrong by appearing next to inappropriate content. These brand safety scandals that affected digital marketing activities which caused brands like Under Armour, Adidas and others to stop advertising altogether in 2018. Most recently in January 2020, big brands like Samsung, L’Oreal and Decathlon had ads running before and after videos on Youtube promoting climate misinformation.

The most ideal situation is that the brand does not have its reputation tainted as a result of ad misplacement. However, there are so many factors due to the complex digital marketing ecosystem as mentioned in this article by Wall Street Journal, where advertisers want access to as much as ad space possible, the scale of the content generated daily and automated targeting of advertisements today.

Nonetheless, there are steps identified to protect brands today as identified in this article by Bannerflow from using reputable publishers and heavily relying on blocklists to exclude publishers, keywords and more. Most recently, another approach to brand safety has emerged, ‘Brand Suitability”. In essence, Digiday has introduced “Brand Suitability” as a term for companies to have a deliberate focus on finding suitable places for advertising rather than avoiding inappropriate channels.

No matter what, Brand Safety should definitely on the minds of everyone in the digital marketing industry this year.

3. Personalization

The concept of mass marketing and one size fits all solutions don’t work anymore.

  • Research suggests that 63% of consumers hate being bombarded with generic advertisements.
  • 90% of viewers claim that personalization is a necessity.
  • When messages are more personal, 80% of people are more likely to engage with businesses.

2020 is going to be the year where personalized content, products, emails are going to make breakthroughs in the digital marketing world.

Some companies are already using personalization today.

  • EasyJet’s data-driven email campaign uses the customer’s travel history to predict their next trip. The 12.5 million unique emails were rewarded with a 25% higher click-through rate than non-personalized emails.
  • Cadbury’s personalized video campaign made after extracting data from the Facebook profile generated a 65% click-through rate and a 33% conversion rate.
  • The gamified mobile app used by Starbucks draws data like the purchase history and location of customers and allows them to customize drinks and encourage further use with the rewards system. It helped them skyrocket their revenue growth to $2.56 billion.

Increased data collection and advancements in technology have already had a huge impact on the level of personalization that is possible.

If you are a Sci-Fi freak, you must have watched the movie Minority Report released in 2002, where Tom Cruise was bombarded with a series of personalized ads as he roamed in the city. While this was only science fiction, it’s about time that the reality is caught up with Stephen Spielberg’s imagination.

Improvements in technology such as AI combined with increased data collection and insights from social media and other sources have made it possible and easy to hyper-personalized everything from content to design to product recommendations and everything in-between.

Some popular ways that brands are expected to create a personal touch with their consumers in the year 2020 are as follows:

Social Messaging Apps

Messaging on social media platforms is expected to witness a surge in the year 2020.

Do you know?

The top three social media applications in Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, and WeChat have more users than Facebook and Youtube combined.

Businesses now have an excellent opportunity to channel their digital marketing efforts towards personalized marketing through these social messaging applications.

Messaging platforms can help in boosting sales, deliver information, send invitations for events, and provide customer support.

Interactive Content and Emails

It was seen that traditional emails and newsletters did not have a great conversion rate. They were unable to attract the audience and induce them to open the emails. It seemed as if it was the time for email marketing to make way for the new marketing trends.

Neil Patel, a digital marketing expert, said that he observed a drop in click-through rate of emails by 9.4% in the year 2019. He suggested business to start using alternative platforms.

However, this made several content marketing specialists brainstorm on the ways to make the emailers a bit more engaging and bring them into the scene again.

Liz Willits of accelerated mobile pages (AWP) suggested using interactive elements into the emailers. Some of the proposed ideas were,

  • Offering bookings through email.
  • Save “pins” on Pinterest without opening a new window.
  • Polls, Q&A buttons

Including these elements in the email can help the brands personalize the content and make it easy for the users to interact with them.

Shoppable Posts and Social Commerce

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Ecommerce businesses have, for a long time, focus on marketing activities that attract the customers to their websites. They are looking for ways to encourage the target audience to buy their products by simplifying their shopping experience.

The integration of shopping and e-commerce with social media channels has made it convenient for both buyers and sellers to make purchases online.

While the concept of shoppable media posts isn’t new, it has lately gained popularity after the introduction of “Instagram checkout” by Instagram.

In 2020, the introduction of platforms like Facebook Marketplace for Business will make it easier than ever for people to purchase from social sites directly.

Pinterest is another renowned social media platform ideal for retailers of fashion, electronics, and lifestyle.

Social Media Stories

Social media stories are a great way to connect to your fanbase, not seeing your organic posts in their feed.

Stories allow the content to stay on the top of the page and is the first thing that the user can see on logging in to the application.

Stories aid you in beating the constantly changing Google algorithms and push your product or the name of your brand at the top of the page.

Erin Ledbetter has predicted that “stories” format will overtake the popularity of social media posts. The year 2020 will be witnessing more and more brands using stories on social media platforms like Snapchat and Facebook to market their offerings.

2020 is expected to witness digital marketing integrate with online commerce, and in turn, provide quick solutions to the customers.

Conversational marketing

The main focus behind any marketing technique shall always be to strike healthy conversations with your audience.

Digital marketing differs from traditional marketing techniques in a way that enables 2-way communication. Social media instant messaging and chatbots have made it easier to establish a two-way dialogue between the marketer and the customer.

Conversations can take place through different platforms and that, too, in different ways. Automated replies, human interactions, and chatbots are going to make conversational marketing a booming trend in 2020.

User-generated content

User-generated content is set to make a comeback in the year 2020.

Though the concept died down for a while because of the rise of branded social media content and influencers, the popularity of user-generated content is on the rise again.

Engaging the audience by giving them incentives to create content about your brand is an excellent technique for building a sustained organic reach.

Platforms like Tik Tok

When TikTok was launched, it was never seen anything more than an application to share short videos. None of us would have thought that TikTok could ever be used by businesses as a social media channel to attract prospects.

According to Hubspot and Talkwalker, the video-sharing platform is going to be a big constituent of the social media marketing efforts in the year 2020. Talkwalker also found that mentions of the app have grown from 1.6 million mentions in January 2019 to 2.6 million mentions in June 2019.

The app is especially useful in reaching out to the audience under the age of 30. TikTok is combining the best performing digital content type (videos) with social networking, thus making it a hot-spot for the marketers.

4. Data

Machine Learning

Machine learning is a subset and an application of artificial intelligence.

Machine Learning in marketing technology has made digital marketing more relevant in delivering relevant advertisements to consumers and drive down costs. When you pair key metrics like Return of Investment (ROI) bidding strategies that are powered by machine learning algorithms, monitoring performances of campaigns becomes the new role of a digital marketer today. This can only be supported by correct support of pixel setups and analytics tools like Google Tag Manager and Analytics.

Moving forward to 2020, machine learning applications and platforms received funding of US$28.5 billion and US$14.4 billion respectively, much more than any other artificial intelligent systems combined as quoted by Statista. Not only are top dollars invested to improve machine learning both technologically and ethically. Big technological companies like Google and IBM are implementing transparency efforts in order for the responsible development of such technology and to set a precedent for future use.

For digital marketers today, machine learning can help to further reduce company costs, generate customer insights and improve customer experiences by understanding the pattern of existing user data and potential users. It would be unwise to underestimate the importance of machine learning in 2020.

Cloud Computing

Since the early 2000s, cloud computing has existed but it was only recently that there was a rapid adoption of using cloud computing as it has become easier to use and provided scalable options to consumers and business alike.

For marketers in the past, it was common to collect the metrics and data before reporting in a spreadsheet. Thereafter, the marketer had to sit with an analyst to uncover insights that can fuel their future plans. With cloud-based marketing platforms, digital marketing has evolved into integrated systems that have simplified the execution and management of multi-channel campaigns today. With the ease of accessing data and the increased processing power, digital marketers are able to develop great marketing strategies from start to end.

Equinix, a global interconnection and data centre company believes that businesses will continue to use public cloud service providers and pair that with Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning capabilities to improve their processes. This would clearly indicate the growing reliance on cloud computing where the future of marketing technology will continue to develop from here.

Moving Away from Cookies to Device Identifiers

In January 2020, Google had announced that support for third-party cookies on Google Chrome browsers will be phased out within 2 years and indicating the growing importance of the “Privacy Sandbox” initiative. As part of the growing data privacy movements around the world, Google has joined Firefox and Safari in the large scale abandonment of using cookies as a tracking method. Advertising technology today relies heavily on cookies in order to make the advertisement more relevant to consumers.

With cookies primed to be obsolete in a couple of years, companies with huge databases of first-party data like Facebook and Google are in the lead of their ability to track users. Here are some examples of what companies are doing to prepare for life after cookies:

  1. Google have in place Unique Device Identifier (UDID) for iOS devices and Google Advertising ID (AAID) for Android devices to target mobile devices. In addition, Google is developing its own tracking tool to identify users across different devices.
  2. Xaxis, an agency trading desk, is proposing a new industry standard in a “statistical” ID, where it will identify users by device and other anonymous attributes. These will be used by advertisements to target users by these attributes.
  3. Microsoft also holds the power to develop a tracking technology to track users on Windows operating systems along with Xbox game consoles, Internet Explorer and Bing.

As summarised by Marketing Dive, smaller firms that depend on third-party data, like Criteo would suffer whereas companies like Google and Facebook with an immense amount of first-party data would threaten to create a monopoly. We can only wait for a solution in the near cookie-less future.

5. Voice, A relatively Untapped and Growing Market

Audio marketing and Voice Search are amongst the most discussed topics today.

Siri in iPhones and Amazon Echo’s “Alexa” are great examples that have made breakthroughs in the technological space.

If you are sad and want to lighten your mood, ask Alexa to play your favourite song or instruct Siri to tell you a joke. They are like your 24/7 personal assistants.

Here are some interesting statistics that tell us about the popularity of this untapped market:

  • By 2020, 50% of the searches will be made via voice.
  • 55% of American homes will own a smart speaker by 2022
  • 72% of people owning voice-activated speakers will use their devices in their daily routine.
  • Voice shopping will witness the growth and is set to reach $40 billion by 2022 from the present figure of $2 billion.

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The increasing use of voice search has made it vital for companies to modify their digital marketing strategies to include the following considerations.

  • How to remain relevant with voice search?
  • Ways to foster relationships and build loyalty.
  • Ways to convert the traffic into sales.

Several brands have already included voice search in their digital marketing strategies and are looking for value-based content for their customers.

  • Patron Tequila gives its customers access to personalized cocktail recipes.
  • Users of PayPal can involve Siri to transfer money to their friends and families.
  • Nestle’s skill that gives voice instructions while cooking.

Google Voice Assistants can specifically react to commands and queries as they are skilled with 2000 actions and 30000 skills.

There are high chances of companies producing more audio content in the hopes of gaining brand awareness in the year 2020.

Visual Search

No rocket science is needed to see that Visual displays and designs are more engaging than written content.

While voice search is certainly influencing the way content is being created, visual searches are not far behind either.

All these visual searches seem interesting, and it’s vital to understand their implications on digital marketing.

Visual search is what fancy and Pinterest are doing. You can directly upload the image and do a reverse search in finding the location of the product from where you can buy it from.

According to the statistics released by Social Media Today, 62% Millenials prefer visual search over other technologies.

Visual search gives users an ability to act upon what they actually like and gives businesses a higher chance of a conversion.

6. Videos in Marketing

Video marketing is a booming concept and has now become a vital element in gaining a customer’s attention.

Integrating videos in your marketing strategies can aid in business growth and drive greater views and engagement.

As per the statistics,

  • 78% of people watch online videos every week.
  • 55% are those who watch videos every single day.
  • 72% of people are those who prefer videos over any written text.
  • It is seen that viewers retain 95% of messages delivered through videos.
  • 54% of customers are looking for video content.

Staggering numbers, right?

And that’s not all,

Studies have shown that video content is directly linked to higher revenue, performance, and better brand recall. Varied content types on which you can invest this year are-

  • Live Streaming
  • Video SEO
  • 360degree video content
  • Shoppable video content
  • One to One video content

It is estimated that an average viewer will consume 100 minutes of online video every day by 2021.

Platforms like Netflix that curate personal experience of every account have made the consumers lookout for beautiful, and relevant advertising that evokes an emotional response.

Digital marketers that start experimenting with new formats early on are expected to see better success in the long term and get ahead of their competitors.

7. Micro-Moments

Micro-Influencer Marketing

The last few years have seen brands establish connections with the influencers having a large social following.

However, it is seen that a large part of the following that many influencers have are mainly fake. This has made the brands move towards the concept of micro-influencer marketing, where engagement is with the influencers with lesser but more valuable followers.

The year 2020 is set to see the brands build a vast network of micro-influencers, with 5000-10000 followers who are more likely to purchase their offerings compared to fake ones on social media.

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Influencer marketing focusing on microbloggers can help the brands target a specific audience and devise strategies that cater to the needs of that particular segment. According to industry leaders, people are more likely to buy products if they see the people they see understand and believe in.

Trust-building is the most important thing that occurs by collaborating with influencers.

8. Budget

All being said, these innovative technologies and changing dynamics in the digital marketing space are highly going to impact your marketing budget.

While the marketing techniques involving Email, social media, content marketing, search engine optimization are essential for business success in 2020, they will be of less use if they do not fit your marketing budget.

It’s seen that 95% of the organizations have already increased their digital marketing spending estimate in recent years and 9 out of ten marketers expect the same for 2020.

As the consumers are expecting omnichannel experiences and want to reach the brands on all the preferred channels, the budget will be proving a major challenge for the companies in the upcoming year.

9. Privacy

You must be aware of Facebook’s infamous data leaks that saw millions of people showing their anger on social media platforms.

A fine of £183m imposed on British Airways for breach of customer data and a £99 million fine on hotel chain Marriott for failing to protect approximately 339 million guest records are some other instances of the data breach that have bothered the customers.

Such security breaches show the need for marketers to include data privacy as a focus area in their digital marketing efforts and work towards restoring the customer’s faith.

Nicole Perrin, the principal analyst for eMarketer says “the trend in causing a big shift towards more reliance in first-party data and less on the third-part data.” This has made the data analytics solutions that help companies gain single views of their customers that are built around first-party data more prevalent.

The marketing departments can play a significant role in maintaining data security by developing better KYC methods, using biometric recognition and digital footprint analysis, and letting go of traditional methods of using cookies to track information.

Other emerging technologies can also help counter the challenges related to data privacy. Identity management solutions like UK startup’s Hooyu claim to improve security, reduce fraud and improve customer insights across multiple devices.

Conclusion?

The change in marketing trends is inevitable.

The increase in usage of first-party data, using creative content, engaging advertising professionals on projects, creating a central repository of customer data, and expanding the usage of AI & ML for influencing customers are some primary predictions that are surely going to impact the digital marketing world this year.

As a business owner and marketer, monitor these changes closely and tap into the world of possibilities to pump up your leads, sales, and revenue statistics.

The increasing customer concerns and legislations like EUePrivacy legislation about to be launched, the accuracy of tracking the online restrictions are bound to get limited.

This means that the year 2020 will force businesses to consider other alternatives to strengthen their digital marketing strategies if they aren’t already with them.

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