2020 Vision: 5 Key Marketing Trends To Dominate This Year

We’re even more excited about 2020 than we have been about past New Years, partly because it’s a new decade, but mostly because in the world of digital marketing we’re keenly aware of how change accelerates.  So if today we look back on the digital marketing innovations of the past decade and marvel at how antiquated they seem, we can only imagine how we’ll feel about these new developments 10 years from now!  But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.  Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

Digital Marketing Trends From 2010-2019:

Over the past decade, here are some of the trends we were dealing with in the world of digital marketing:

  • Hashtags taking hold
  • SEO becoming a core brand strategy
  • Facebook killing business page organic reach in its newsfeed
  • Instagram blocking pages for engaging with follow/unfollow bots, which also dramatically dropped the reach of many pages and posts
  • Google putting businesses into digital jail for changing location info, and not recognizing virtual offices as local
  • Instagram stories (2016)
  • IGTV (2018)
  • TikTok goes viral
  • LinkedIn evolves from a job to a content platform
  • Shoppable posts from product tags
  • Micro-influencers
  • Instagram starts killing post likes (see cyber bullying below…)
  • Cyber bullying calls into question the value we place on social media popularity
  • Cambridge Analytica and the subsequent crackdown on security, bots and data availability for ads

How Have The Last Decade Impacted 2020 Digital Marketing Priorities?

Refreshingly, we believe that while the 2010s attempted to insert bots and big data analytics into how we interact socially online, the scandals and public backlash are pushing social back to being more, well, human.  As the old saying goes, “content is king”, and similar to businesses looking for get rich quick schemes rather than building on business fundamentals, we’re seeing the same things happening online.

Platforms may change, but as humans we still value things that are visually appealing and trigger an emotional response, be it humor, cool things we didn’t know, or a bit of shock and  “awww” (the latter of which explains why cute puppies, babies and pics of your delicious dinner continue to dominate).   Basically you can’t go wrong by creating lots of great content, but if you’re a business, you really need a paid component to your strategy for visibility.

Our Marketing Crystal Ball For the 2020s:

Not all of these trends will happen right away, but we expect that by the end of the next decade, if not sooner, we’ll reflect on the following trends:

  • Privacy meets spam: 
    This is a tough one.  We all say that we value our privacy, and yet we hate spam.  Spam is only spam when the message isn’t relevant to us.  The more personal information we reveal, the more targeted and interesting the messages that hit our feeds and inboxes will become.  The 2020s will need to resolve the issue of revealing enough personal info to let in relevant content, while still protecting our personal data such that advertisers are not able to overstep.  Your brand can take a step in the right direction by making sure everyone on your list has opted in, by encrypting any data you collect, and by going beyond templates for your privacy and security policies and actually training your team on how to respect the privacy and security of your contacts.
  • AI meets voice assistant:
    If Alexa and Siri were human, their IQ would likely be in the 50s.  While we can appreciate the complexity of the technology that goes into creating these voice bots, they certainly have a long way to go.  Or perhaps the fact that we’re willing to spend 5 minutes yelling at Alexa to turn on the light rather than just flipping a switch makes us the dumb ones!  But the artificial intelligence behind voice assistant technology is about to get real, and when it does, it will completely rock our world.  Now here’s where as marketers we really need to pay attention, especially when these digital assistants are in everyone’s pocket.  Today when someone does a Google search, they will see several results, and if ours is at least on the first page and is well written, we have a pretty decent chance of getting a click.  But as you may have noticed, when you ask your digital assistant a question, they don’t give you 5 answers, they respond with 1.  How they will determine that single answer over the next decade may be some combination of popularity and paid search but one thing is for certain.  If someone asks for your brand by name, you’ll be found.  So what are you doing today to gain brand recognition?  We hope that you’re highly active on video, social media, engaging via opt in emails and on your podcast.
  • We’ll finally drive fast on the information superhighway:
    Internet searches have become frustratingly slow.  We ask questions that require complex searches and are annoyed when the result isn’t returned in a split second.  There is much talk about 5G, and the jury is still out on when we will start to actually experience those blinding speeds in our homes and offices (despite the marketing messages), but when we do it will change everything.  Apps today are designed with bottlenecks in mind.  Searches must be programmed efficiently, as if we’re merging a car onto a highway at rush hour.  We really want to avoid taking an extra trip if we can help it.  But what if rather than merging our car onto a 4-lane highway, we were entering a 40-lane highway?  How might we think differently about those trips?  How many more requests might we feel confident in making?  With seemingly limitless questions and data searches, how much more quickly will knowledge spread?  We hypothesize that this will open up real time searches and trends in ways that allow us to make minute by minute adjustments to our strategy and content.  Keep an eye on your tech stack to see where AI starts to become available to your business.  Chat bots, CRM and lead generation are only the beginning.
  • Big brands go digital:
    At some point over the next decade, big brands are going to question the ROI of billboards and TV ads.  Last year, TV viewing declined 20% over the previous 5 years.  To put this into perspective, according to Nielson, today’s top buying demographic of 18-34 year olds spend 1 hour more per day looking at apps and smartphones than watching TV, and it’s even less for teens.  In total, Fortune 500 companies earn 13.7 trillion in revenue and spend on average 10% on marketing.  That’s $1.37 trillion dollars in total spend.  In 2019, the total digital marketing spend was estimated at $129 billion.  So what happens when those $1.241 trillion get diverted to digital when big brands finally embrace the higher ROI?  What will that do to the cost-per-click in your industry and what are you doing to dominate in your niche today?  We hope you’re engaging in an aggressive pay-per-click strategy today in order to generate top-of-mind awareness before the big boys jump into the market.
  • The continued rise of the micro-influencer (aka “you”):
    While we all wish we had as many followers as Kylie Jenner and could snap our fingers to start any successful business we’d like, people being the face of their brands is a trend we see definitely continuing.  Great content never goes out of style, whether you’re going for SEO or social media popularity.  As a leader, regardless of your industry, you need to be out networking and at speaking events and making sure that each time you speak, whether it’s for 5 minutes or an hour, you’re being captured on video.  This video content can be turned into your YouTube channel, blogs, social media captions and posts, a podcast (you MUST have a podcast in 2020 to jump on this trend!), white papers and articles, and ultimately (set this as your 2020 intention), your book!

This next decade is no time to dabble when it comes to digital marketing.  You must produce content at scale.  This is not only a strategy for growth, but it is one for survival.

As marketers, we’re incredibly excited to experience this next decade.  The 2020s are the dawning of the age of Gen Z.  They live and interact socially on their smartphones, receiving an average of 3000 text messages per month.  They don’t watch that much regular TV as they prefer streaming (are you doing video pre-roll ads yet?).  They’re big on Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube (70% watch 2 hours of YouTube per day), and the younger teens are embracing TikTok.  They prefer cool products over cool experiences.  They like edgy and visually impressive campaigns, especially video, and brands that tell a story.  They’re heavily into video games.  They seem to be incredibly busy and will buy vs. make.  They follow celebrities, including micro-influencers like YouTube stars and Indie bands.  They think being an entrepreneur is cool.  They want to balance work and personal life.  Oh and in case you’re still not taking them seriously, they’re already spending $200 billion per year, not including the close to 10% of adults who say that their kids influence 100% of what they buy (still thinking TikTok is just a fad?).  Over 60% want to change the world so keep your message positive and uplifting.

One more thing…none of them would have had the patience to read to the bottom of this article as 11% have ADHD and they all have an average attention span of 8 seconds.  So blog long for SEO but keep your marketing messages brief and to the point!  Happy 2020 marketing!!!