Digital marketing is evolving all the time, with new trends appearing in line with technological advances and changing consumer demands and preferences. As a business owner, it’s incredibly beneficial to be aware of the latest innovations and to understand the potential impact of modernizing and adopting a digital marketing strategy to create agile, targeted integrated digital marketing campaigns. If you don’t already work with a professional, results-driven digital marketing agency, you may wish to think about taking expert advice on board. 2020 has been a unique year, and the digital landscape looks very different from that of years gone by. This guide will cover some of the top trends, providing advice on how and when to use them to drive sales, raise brand awareness, and connect with customers.
Top digital marketing trends for 2020
Moving with the times is critical in business, with new digital marketing trends appearing year after year. If you’re keen to capitalize on the newest techniques and methods, here are some trends to look out for in 2020:
Video content: From optional to essential
In relative terms, video content is still a newcomer to the digital marketing scene. Despite the fact that marketing teams and innovative, forward-thinking businesses have been utilizing video clips to promote their brands for some time, there has been a major shift towards video marketing in the last 12 months. For marketers and companies hoping to engage with audiences and increase lead generation and sales, video is no longer optional. It is essential.
The brain processes visual data around 60,000 times faster than text. Videos are appealing to the eye, but they also serve an important purpose. Video clips can make complex information more digestible and accessible, they can showcase products in a more dynamic and effective way than images, and they have the potential to reach further than standard text posts. Statistics show that over 85% of US web users watch video content online at least once a month and the average person spends 88% more time on a page with a video. By 2022, it is estimated that over 80% of Internet traffic will originate from video downloads and streaming. Crucially, for brands looking to build their online following, 92% of users who watch videos on a mobile device will share that video.
Businesses across all sectors face tough competition and encouraging a consumer to take the final step and make a purchase can be challenging. Video is proven to influence buying decisions, and it can also make marketing materials and content more appealing and effective. Emails that contain video have a higher open rate and over 70% of consumers would rather learn about a product by watching a video. Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
The figures highlight the potential for video content to catalyze positive effects and the power of video across several platforms, including social media, email marketing, and content generation for websites and blogs. To achieve the best results, videos should be slick and professional-looking, they should serve a purpose, they should be interesting and engaging, and they should be relevant to your brand and your ideal buyer. Creating high-quality video content isn’t easy, and it’s worth looking for a marketing agency that specializes in this field to achieve optimum results.
A new take on influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is not a new addition to the digital marketing arsenal for 2020, but businesses and marketers have changed the way they employ this technique. This year, it will be more common to see companies working with micro-influencers and connecting with people who have a small-medium sized following, rather than celebrities with hundreds of millions of followers. Celebrity endorsements have clout, but consumers are also keen to see how ‘normal’ people use products. Working with micro-influencers helps to build trust, to provide a more genuine and more transparent interaction, and to facilitate engagement. A study conducted by AdWeek suggested that micro-influencers (categorized as individuals with around 30,000 followers) boasted a 60% higher engagement rate, while also being almost 7-times more cost-effective than influencers with larger followings.
One of the key requirements for a successful influencer campaign is defining a clear audience. Before you decide who to work with and how to create and share content, you need to ensure that you have a detailed picture of your ideal customer. Using market research, analyze how this group of people uses time online, how they buy products, how much they spend, and what kind of features or content they respond to positively. It is crucial to marry together the demands and desires of the consumer with the objectives of the campaign to select an influencer or a group of influencers that will appeal to buyers and represent your brand in the best light.
Interactive and audience-centered content
In years gone by, the vast majority of advertising campaigns featured celebrities or models. Today, it’s more common to see people who aren’t famous in digital marketing campaigns. More and more brands are keen to use their customers to tell their stories and to provide a more genuine connection with their client base. If you use platforms like Instagram, for example, you’ll often see brands posting images or stories featuring customers who have bought products. It’s also interesting to see businesses sharing customer experiences and tales. Human interest stories have been popular for many years because they resonate with audiences and they are relatable, but this angle is no longer just a feature of print media. Just as newspaper articles are designed to lure readers in and maintain their attention, audience-centered content can captivate followers and web users and encourage them not only to invest in the story but also to share it. Charities, clothing, and cosmetic brands and travel companies have all used real-life stories to engage with customers at the same time as subtly promoting products and showing the human side of the brand. One example is Southwest Airlines, which posted a series of updates on the journey of a bride who arrived in Costa Rica without her dress. The story went viral, and within days, thousands of people were waiting with bated breath to see if the gown arrived in time.
The rise of Gen Z
For many years, millennials have dominated the digital marketing headlines, but now, Gen Z is emerging as an increasingly popular target market. This is the generation of people born between 1997 and 2012. Understanding the buying habits and the demands and preferences of Gen Z is vital for businesses looking to connect with younger buyers. This generation has grown up with round-the-clock access to technology and information, and its members are hyper-connected. According to LinkedIn, the annual purchasing power of Gen Z stands at around $44 billion.
To target Gen Z customers, businesses must comprehend behavioral patterns and identify trends that set this generation apart from others. One of the most significant observations is Internet usage. More than 73% of people in this demographic spend their spare time online, and over 70% of that time is spent watching or streaming video content.
Social media is more influential than any other digital platform when it comes to engaging with Gen Z, but some sites and networks are much more popular than others. The graph below demonstrates the differences in uptake:
To capitalize on the buying power of Gen Z and reach out to buyers within this demographic, businesses can utilize the findings of market research and adapt strategies to find effective ways of interacting with customers. The statistics underline the importance of social media, the power of video content, and the popularity of sharing posts. Tailoring campaigns to suit this market enables brands to connect with buyers in new ways, which might also be appealing to other clients, for example, millennials, and to develop strategies based on performance monitoring and analytics. Once campaigns are up and running, marketing teams can access real-time data to gauge results, but also, perhaps, more importantly, they can ask Gen Z buyers and shoppers for their insights and opinions. This is a generation that is used to reading and writing reviews and providing open, honest feedback.
Voice search optimization
We are now used to talking to our phones or asking a device to put a playlist on for us. The growing popularity of voice searches poses a challenge for businesses and marketing teams. When you type search terms and keywords into a box using a tablet, a phone, or a laptop, the process is very different from speaking to a search engine. Brands have to adapt to a way of marketing that doesn’t involve being supported by visual content and learn about the way in which people use voice-activated devices. Optimizing for voice searches is increasingly important for businesses of all sizes, with 20% of all Google searches now conducted by voice, and over 70% of 18-29-year-olds using smartphone voice assistants.
This is a rapidly evolving element of digital marketing, and there are lessons to be learned, but early indications underline the importance and value of conversational, accessible content. The way in which people talk is often less formal than writing, and most of us tend to use more casual and colloquial language. The chart below provides an insight into how people use voice search technology:
The continued rise of chatbots
Chatbots are not a new trend for 2020, but they are definitely becoming more commonplace. One of the most advantageous aspects of using chatbots is providing a better experience for customers. Customer service has never been more influential, with over 80% of web users now reading reviews before buying products. Service goes a long way to shaping perceptions and experiences, and it can make the difference between a 3-star and a 5-star rating. We have become accustomed to living in a world where it’s possible to find answers, source information, book tables and hotel rooms and buy products at the touch of a button. People don’t have the time or patience to wait for responses or to make phone calls when they could complete tasks through an app, for example. Chatbots provide businesses with the opportunity to engage with customers 24-hour-a-day and to free up human resources. They also make brands more accessible and they provide a quick, hassle-free means of communication. Research suggests that 43% of consumers would prefer to interact with a chatbot than to make a call to a customer service line.
Personalization has gone up a gear in 2020. When you’re trying to attract customers, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and this is why personalization makes such a difference to the efficacy of campaigns. Big businesses deal with thousands, even millions of clients, but that doesn’t stop each individual wanting to feel valued. The challenge lies in creating and crafting a VIP experience for every customer, no matter how large the client base. Personalization enables you to maximize the chances of converting leads at the same time as enhancing brand reputation and image. Consider an eCommerce marketplace. Compare the user experience of a site that offers a personalized welcome, tailored recommendations, tips for future purchases based on your previous orders and updates on new items to a website that doesn’t have any of these features and simply contains lists of available items. Think about the difference between an online clothing store that displays images of stock and a site that offers size recommendations, the option to create wishlists for different occasions and exclusive offers for VIP members. Even simple details like sending personalized emails can make a significant difference, but this technique is ramping up in 2020, and brands are going all-out to create a unique shopping experience for each customer.
Direct social messaging
Most consumers are used to seeing adverts pop up on social networks and promotional emails landing in their inbox. While these digital marketing techniques will continue to operate in 2020, businesses will be using social platforms to reach customers in a different way. This year, customers will be receiving direct messages through networks like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram. Rather than appearing on our news feeds and timelines, messages will be making their way to customers through private and direct chats and messenger applications. The key to success lies in connecting with potential buyers and prospects on their terms. It’s crucial to interact only with those who initiate conversations or ask questions via these channels first. Bombarding people with messages through portals they use only to keep in touch with friends and family may backfire. If you are keen to use direct messaging to engage with customers, you can actively promote this as a means of getting in touch or incentivize this method of communication over others. Social media handles and account names should be clearly visible on business websites and brands can also include links to direct messaging tools within their posts.
Shop the post
Large-scale businesses have been using social media to promote individual items and product lines for some time, but being able to shop directly through a post is a relatively new concept. Now, you can use posts to create a swift and seamless process that enables a customer to purchase the products they see in a photograph or a video by simply clicking on the post or following a link. Convenience and speed are integral parts of the modern-day shopping experience, and being able to shop the post eliminates the need to load pages through web browsers, to locate a series of items and to then add them to the basket and make payment. Whether you’re selling clothing, furniture or garden plants and accessories, you can benefit from up-selling specific products and making the process of buying them as rapid and stress-free as possible. If you have an online store, you can also provide links to all items featured in previous posts to offer easy access to featured items. This may increase the chances of multiple orders.
One of the most significant advantages of shoppable posts is the ability to solve problem brands have faced for many years. Social media interaction does not always lead to purchases, and many followers who see posts won’t actually visit the brand’s website. Interactive posts remove the barrier, facilitating seamless movement between a promotional post and the checkout.
Digital marketing is developing and evolving continuously, and it pays for businesses to be aware of innovations and changes in consumer trends and buying patterns. If your campaigns have not had the desired impact, or you’re looking for fresh and original ways to drive sales and connect with your target customer, hiring a digital marketing agency that utilizes cutting-edge techniques and boasts an excellent track record is a good place to start. By embracing new trends and giving customers what they want, you can maximize your chances of creating and converting leads, building a strong reputation for your brand and blazing a trail within your industry. If you’re searching for a Chicago digital agency, the Mabbly team would love to hear from you.