A few major companies like Apple or Amazon carry enough weight to be trendsetters. For the rest of us left in their wake, though, the importance of recognizing trends and adapting to them is a critical element to surviving the digital marketplace. Not only is it lucrative to stay up to date, following digital marketing trends is also often the path of least resistance when it comes to finding and communicating with your target market.
With that in mind, here are ten important digital trends that should be on every online marketer’s radar entering 2020.
1. Immersive Experiences
Whether you’re attending a modern art exhibit, sitting down at a themed restaurant, or visiting a Renaissance fair, everyone loves an immersive experience. The online equivalent of the immersive experience is virtual reality, and the already-popular marketing trend is likely to reach new heights as companies continue to integrate it into their marketing strategies in 2020.
In addition — and in a certain sense, more importantly — VR’s cousin, augmented reality (AR), is also growing in popularity at breakneck speed. Companies are utilizing AR to simulate how furniture will fit in a room, what a construction project will look like when finished, and even how clothing and makeup will appear on a person’s body.
2. Interactive Experiences
Along with immersive experiences, 2020 looks set to build on the interactive experience as well. While VR and AR are obvious examples of interactive experiences, other interactive marketing trends include:
- 360-degree videos
- Polls, surveys, and assessments
- Mobile apps
Along with clearly human interactions, artificial intelligence promises to take many of these interactive possibilities to all-new levels as well as it continues to develop.
3. Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing has been a buzz word for a while now, but only a few companies have been able to truly pull it off. The modern Walmart experience is a great example. Someone might be on social media when they find a link to a review of a product on a blog. From there they would click over to walmart.com where they could read more details and place their order. At that point, they would head over to their local store where they can use the Walmart app to sign in and pick up their order without ever stepping foot in the store.
The entire process is seamlessly woven together (when done correctly) into one “omnichannel” experience. As user experience continues to remain the gold standard for most marketing efforts, providing an excellently incorporated omnichannel marketing experience remains a high-level priority for many companies going into 2020.
4. Customer Service
Of course, the importance of user experience (UX) combined with the challenge of a good omnichannel marketing strategy has made customer service more critical than ever before. Creating a customer service experience that is able to address the countless marketing channels often being utilized can be difficult.
However, the importance of providing a good follow up effort is becoming a major UX factor as customers look for long-term satisfaction in their interactions with companies. Good customer service can be a make-it-or-break-it scenario that can decide whether or not a one-time customer will become a repeat customer. The importance of providing good customer service as part of an overall omnichannel marketing strategy will likely remain center-stage going into 2020.
5. Pinpointed Local Search Results
While the world wide web is where most businesses find their clientele these days, it doesn’t change the fact that many of these businesses cater to very local demographics. 2020 should see the importance of pinpointed local search results continue to remain critical for many smaller local businesses.
The importance of providing accurate information for a locally-based business both on their website and on their Google My Business Listing looks to continue to be an essential marketing trend going forward.
6. Voice Search
Voice search has arrived, and in 2020 it will show that it’s here to stay. It’s estimated that 50% of searches made in 2020 will be done via voice command. In addition to that, 30% of the searches will likely be made without a screen — thanks in large part to the plethora of home and virtual assistants that have proliferated the market.
This shift to a more natural form of asking questions will dramatically impact the effectiveness of longtail keyword effectiveness and has the potential to significantly impact search engine optimization (SEO) at its core.
7. Mobile Remains King
Back in 2016 a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit asked marketers to forecast the biggest marketing trends for 2020. The results? An overwhelming focus on mobile devices and mobile networks. Now that we’ve arrived, it turns out that they were pretty accurate. 2020 looks to be more focused on mobile marketing trends than ever. Voice search will be a major contributor to this, as will things like in-app marketing, AI technology, social media, and chat bots.
Perhaps the biggest thing that is allowing the mobile device to continue to reign supreme is the ongoing unrolling of the 5G network. Verizon Wireless has set the bar, promising that 5G will focus on eight “currencies” that will set it apart from previous networks. These are:
- Service deployment
- Connected devices
- Energy efficiency
- Data volume
All of these factors will make 5G an “evolutionary step” in the words of PMX Agency’s chief technology officer Charles Hu. The blisteringly brilliant update in cellular capabilities doesn’t just have the potential to change the mobile marketing game, though. It’s also set to take place in 2020.
8. The IoT
The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has continued to attract attention through the last decade, and it shows no signs of slowing down as the next one begins. While the IoT impacts nearly all facets of life, marketing is certainly in the mix, as the ever-growing interconnected network of digital gadgets “provides endless opportunities for brands to listen and respond to the needs of their customers — with the right message, at the right time, on the right device.”
Drones, for example, are equipping (or have the potential to equip) marketers with an IoT device that is capable of:
- Collecting data
- Creating content
- Engaging with customers
As the IoT continues to blow up in 2020, digital marketers should have a fertile new marketing field to integrate into their marketing strategies.
9. Personalized Content
One of the most fascinating side effects of the use of technology and big data in modern marketing decisions is the fact that it’s led many marketers full circle to focus on personalizing content. Rather than simply aggregating the numbers and coming up with a marketing strategy that will satisfy the most customers, 2020 marketing looks primed to focus once again on the individual.
The concept of starting conversations and engaging with each customer on their terms is in vogue, and thanks to the voluminous amount of personalized data that companies can now track, it’s become more possible than ever. Studies have already shown that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with a brand that provides them with relevant, personalized content. With so much specific customer information on hand, 2020 promises to be an era of personalized content the likes of which have never been seen before.
10. Social Media
Social media has been a popular marketing option for years now. However, its use has slowly shifted away from its initial focus on reaching large amounts of new customers. More recently, social media marketing has begun to focus on cultivating customer loyalty, providing customer service and interactive experiences in the process.
In 2020, social media looks primed to continue its central role in many companies’ marketing strategies, although it may be with a bit of a new twist. While 2019 was dominated by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, some are predicting that the social media market may splinter and niche social platforms will become more common going forward. If that is the case, it may produce an even more personalized focus for each company that takes advantage of social media in its 2020 marketing strategy.
The 2020 Marketing Evolution
As you set about conducting your market research for the next year, remember that 2020 promises to perpetuate the marketing evolution that has been going on for years now. In fact, along with the items discussed here, there are many, many other trends on the radar at this point. Things like influencers and shoppable posts, for example, didn’t even get mentioned here.
Whatever your specific marketing strategy is going forward, any digital marketing manager worth their salt is going to want to keep their team trained on the trends at all times. Whether it’s voice search, personalized content, or a full-blown VR-experience, there’s no doubt that 2020 is going to see the digital marketing landscape significantly change, yet again, and any company that’s willing to move with those changes is going to maintain a serious edge over the competition.