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Case Study | Feb 26
Kiera Abbamonte on November 20, 2019 (last modified on November 21, 2019) • 20 minute read
For most marketers, planning for the new year starts well in advance of glittery, NYE parties.
But in order to plan for 2020, you have to know how the marketing and consumer landscape is likely to change next year.
Predicting future marketing trends requires a combination of experience and the foresight to be able to see where all of this is headed.
That’s a skillset today’s marketers need in order to keep up with the industry—to plan the tools you’ll need next year, the channels you’ll invest in, and the strategies you’ll rework from the ground up.
Around this time each year, we get a little curious about what marketing pros see coming around the bend, so we asked nearly 100 marketers to share the tools, channels, and trends they’re preparing for.
As for tools, we heard a myriad of answers—but overall, marketers expect HubSpot, Ahrefs, and Google Analytics to be the most valuable (in terms of ROI) in 2020. And that makes sense when you consider that they ranked content marketing as, far and away, the channel they plan to devote the most time and budget to next year.
Our conversation led to some interesting places and trend predictions we didn’t expect. So without further ado, here are the 24 marketing trends our friends are gearing up for in 2020.
Austin Rogers of minisocial.io predicts we’ll see more user-generated content next year—but not just in contests and influencer review videos. Rogers expects to see more brands follow the lead of big industry players like Target and “move away from the overly-polished high production value content in content marketing.”
As Rogers explained, “The shift toward leveraging content produced by real people allows brands to both have a dialog with their customers and put forward a less polished, more real side of themselves.”
“This trend is true,” Rogers added, “both on organic and paid as companies begin to leverage user-generated content on ads everywhere from Instagram to Hulu.”
Garrett Sussman of Grade.us expects to see a similar trend when it comes to other kinds of user-generated content, like customer reviews. “It’s essential for us to continue to generate 5-star reviews across the review sites that are important to our business. And when it comes to the ‘Yelpification’ of B2B, online reviews are an increasingly essential part of the buyer’s journey.”
“It’s is the most important tool for creating meaningful human connections—and those genuine connections are crucial to growing your business in our ever-increasing digital, automated world.” – Amber Vilhauer, NGNG Enterprises
“With so many channels accommodating video, 2020 is an ideal time to give this content format a refresh.” – Luke Wester, Miva Inc.
As some marketers pointed out, we (as an industry) have been talking about video for years. But our friends offered some compelling reasons why they expect 2020 to be the year video marketing really arrives in full.
As Syed M. Rizvi of REV MED sees it, “video has been ignored by so many content creators and it’s creeping up behind everyone to be the most important tool in developing reach and visibility on social media.”
For one, as Nathan Hall of Simple Story noted, “Many companies were experimenting with video in previous years. Now they’re looking to double down on their investment, allocating money for larger scale projects.”
Amanda Stewart of EPOCH Clemson echoed Hall, saying, “We’ve seen how well video marketing has worked for us this year—now it’s time to really dive into the strategy and optimize it. From organic Instagram stories to paid Facebook Ads, video gets the most engagement.”
Editor’s note: Need a way to keep track of how all your new video content performs? Download this free YouTube + Facebook dashboard to view engagement, top videos, and other metrics across both Facebook and YouTube.
“Video content that tells your brand’s story is the top way to engage your audience while guiding them to the next step in your marketing funnel, so that’s what we plan to focus on more in 2020,” Morgan Lathaen of Thumbprint told us.
Another common thread we heard was that the barriers to creating great video content (i.e. budget and know-how) have mostly fallen away—so there’s no reason for marketers not to invest in video. “The bar to producing great video has lowered. Additionally, we’ve seen that video content in almost any form is better than none,” said Ruthie Bowles of Defy The Status Quo.
According to AJ Alonzo of demandDrive, video is uniquely primed to take off in 2020: “It’s a great way of showing off personality and authenticity—two of the bigger movements we had in the marketing space in 2019 (and I think will continue into 2020).”
Not to mention, Alonzo added, a new focus on repurposing content flows well with the ease of repurposing video. “You can cut a longer video into multiple segments for promotional purposes. You can take just the audio file and turn it into a podcast. You can change the thoughts into a blog post or other form of written media.”
Be it Pinterest or LinkedIn, several marketers told us they’re turning their focus toward social media platforms that aren’t as often used for marketing purposes. Lesa Banks of Pajama Marketer said they’re focusing on Pinterest in 2020: “People are researching purchase decisions on that platform and it is underutilized by marketers so a huge opportunity for paid and organic reach.”
Banks wasn’t alone. In fact, nearly 40% of those we spoke with said they’re planning to devote the most time and budget to LinkedIn next year.
“The energy level is high on LinkedIn right now,” Yaniv Masjedi of Nextiva explained. “I predict that as we round into the holiday season and new year, multiple new personal & corporate branding campaigns will roll out on LinkedIn.”
“As a B2B company,” Helen Lona of VRProPix added, “this is where our audience is, and the platform keeps evolving to include helpful tools to get noticed, such as writing articles and the Elevate feature where employees can advocate on behalf of the company.”
Piggybacking off of the video content trend, Tom Augenthaler of 551 Media told us LinkedIn is well-suited for video’s growth. “The organic reach for video there is very good right now and better than other social platforms at the moment. I plan to use it to advantage for as long as it lasts,” Augenthaler added.
For Anand Iyer, taking advantage of underutilized social media means YouTube remarketing ads.
As Iyer explained, “Compared to other channels, the quality of audience that you can target using YouTube ads will be much better because users are more engaged with the video. You can target your audience based on how users engage with your YouTube channel, video engagement, subscribers, likes, and much more.”
Speaking of underutilized marketing tactics, Chris Barr of Taradel highlighted one tactic of old that’s seeing renewed efficacy in the digital age: direct mail.
“I’m going all-in on direct mail in 2020,” Barr said. “According to multiple reports, direct mail response rates are at the highest levels in recorded history. Mailboxes are empty these days and the return on investment is too good to pass up—even if most industry hype is all about digital.”
Mordecai Holtz of Blue Thread Marketing told us they’re focused on Facebook and Instagram Stories content for 2020.
Harriman Group’s Jason Harriman echoed Holtz, saying, “The number one tactic we’ll be focused on is Instagram Stories.”
“With other platforms creating their own version of this,” Harriman explained, “micro-content is becoming even more important. Build the audience excitement and link to your specific site or product is an easy way to drive traffic. Since we started to do that with our various businesses, our website traffic has nearly tripled in the past 4 months.”
So far, influencer marketing has been broadly used only by larger brands. However, some of the marketers we spoke with predict this tactic will see more widespread use in the upcoming year.
“One tactic that I predict will be more standard across every industry,” prophesied Osiris Parikh of Summit Mindfulness, “will be the use of influencer marketing.”
“We have already seen the power of influencers in the industry, who are able to convince people to buy products, generate interest in people or topics, and even participate in local and national elections,” Parikh explained.
Julia Martin of UnboundB2B agreed, saying, “A report from Influencer Marketing Hub shows steady growth of the influencer marketing industry between 2016 to 2019, so in 2020, there will be a strong emphasis in working with influencers. ”
Content marketing has been a big deal for a while now, but for many brands, getting production down was a vital, if time-consuming, first step. Many of the marketers we spoke with explained that they’re honing in and focusing on optimizing their content in 2020.
“The variety of content forms is extensive—so for us, 2020 will be a year of deep diving and evaluating what works out well and what doesn’t,” said Olga Lashkevich of Brief.
“When it comes to content,” explained Oksana Chyketa of Albacross, “there’s always room for improvement. Content marketing will continue evolving in 2020 and creating the result-oriented content will be one of the tactics worthy to try.
Just what that optimization looks like varied quite a lot from one marketer to the next.
Cierra Flythe of BoardActive said, “We focused mostly on content production in 2019, but we plan on redirecting our content distribution methods for 2020. There is no point in creating quality content if no one is viewing it.”
Farasat Khan of IsItWP told us, “We’ll be looking forward for content syndication, as this is the most overlooked technique which can drive tons of targeted traffic for free.”
Annika Helendi of ContentFly is planning to focus on longer-form content—working toward 2000-3000 word articles.
Lexi Grafe of Elementive said they’ll be focusing on technical SEO. “Google has indicated time and time again that having good content isn’t always enough to perform well organically. It’s through the optimization of technical factors of SEO, such as website infrastructure and speed, that allows search engines to crawl websites and index them correctly.”
“Connected TV is one tactic or channel we plan to focus more on in 2020 than we did in 2019,” said Andrew Becks of 301 Digital Media.
As Becks explained, “Over the course of 2019, CTV inventory has continued to see increases in availability through an uptick in streaming services coming to market and user adoption, coupled with more sophisticated targeting and attribution reporting finally becoming available across platforms including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and Apple TV.”
“I believe the channel of podcasting deserves more time, focus and creativity in 2020,” said Dan Moyle of Impulse Creative. “Podcasts help with brand awareness, personal branding for thought leaders within the company, lead generation, content marketing, and SEO.”
Ramey Miller of Text Request also highlighted podcasts as a new way to provide customers with content passively. “A podcast is a great way to add value that can be consumed passively. By adding value to customers and potential customers in a way they can absorb it without disrupting their day, you are positioning yourself in the best place possible.”
“Podcasts and webinars are definitely trending upwards. More people are watching and listening than ever before,” added Stephanie Edwards of Flawless Inbound. “As users change the types of content they consume, marketing also has to adjust to remain relevant.”
Corey Trojanowski of Valve+Meter Performance Marketing predicted that local search will come to dominate for local and brick and mortar brands in 2020, saying, “We plan to produce more activity on our client’s Google My Business listing.”
“Everyone knows how important it is to claim your business listing and make sure your contact information or business hours are correct, but that’s not how marketers need to look at GMB,” Trojanowski added.
“Our data analytics team has proven a correlation between publishing activity on a GMB listing (adding a post, new offer, product information, etc.) and an increase in engagement (website visits, phone calls, chats initiated). Google notices this type of activity, and will be more likely to serve your company’s business listing in a map pack or other local search result.”
“Your listing can be one of the largest local SEO ranking factors if you give it the attention it deserves,” Trojanowski concluded.
“We find it harder and harder to talk to customers directly and tired of fighting with algorithms on social media,” said Pavel Gertsberg of Disciple Media.
Instead, Gertsberg told us, they’re focusing on building their own community of customers. “We see that people increasingly want to belong to a smaller community of those who are like-minded. We want to focus on building a niche community around our brand to create a sense of belonging for our customers.”
“Security, privacy and high touch community building are, and will continue to be prevalent issues in 2020,” predicted Kristy Hartman of Ariad Partners. “We plan to look to platforms such as MeWe that help us build our community in an ad-friendly, secure environment.”
Josh Krakauer of Sculpt took a different approach to combating the fall of organic reach. “Organic reach isn’t dead, it’s changing. That’s why we’re focusing more social media investment in proactive social media commenting versus feed publishing—because it works.”
“The feed algorithms incentivize content that generates relevant, quality conversation,” added Krakauer. “On LinkedIn, this means posts that drive back-and-forth discussion reach more people. On Twitter, this means bold replies to viral tweets can earn millions in reach.”
“To adapt, we’re swapping out time dedicated to social content publishing towards community management and proactive commenting—especially on LinkedIn and Facebook Groups.”
Instagram is far from new, but many of the marketers we spoke with noted that it takes most brands a while to really nail new marketing channels. “Instagram has been around for quite a long time at this point, but as usual, it still takes businesses some time to learn how to properly use new platforms,” said Mark Krenn of Coastal Creative.
Several of them predict 2020 will be the year the average brand goes pro on Instagram.
“Because its basic function is to share images, it’s naturally a visual medium anyway, meaning brands are able to share detailed photos of products, showcasing the true USPs and beauty of what they offer,” explained James Nuttall of Orlando Villa Holidays.
“Instagram has become increasingly more popular as of late,” said Stephanie Conway of Symphony, “which when done correctly can create even stronger relationships with potential clients. More than half a billion people use Instagram Stories every day, so tapping into this channel is a no-brainer for anyone looking to market their business.”
Another way marketers are looking to combat the drop in organic reach is by blending more paid advertising into the mix. “As the social media platforms further restrain the reach of businesses,” Henry McIntosh of Twenty One Twelve Marketing reflected, “we’ll be looking to expand our reach using paid alongside content techniques.”
Kaylee Anchulis of Tittle & Perlmuter doesn’t mind the shift toward more paid ads. “Throughout 2019,” Anchulis told us, “we realized the value of paid ads on popular platforms, specifically Facebook, to reach our target market. It’s arguably the most affordable advertising and allows you to specifically target certain areas, behaviors, and interests of users.”
Jitendra Vaswani Bloggersideas.com had a similar mindset about Google Ads—because of the competitive costs and sales oriented nature of paid search ads.
Editor’s note: Want a better way to track your expanding paid search and social efforts? Download this free Facebook Ads & Google Ads template to see performance for all your paid ads in one dashboard.
“According to Google, 20% of queries in the search engine are voiced by users, and 71% of smartphone owners aged 18 to 29 use voice assistants. This means that websites will have to be optimized for voice search queries.” – Ross Kernez
With GM announcing that new vehicles will include Amazon’s Alexa platform, the voice search industry is poised to really take off in 2020—at least from a marketing perspective.
That’s one of the reasons why Mike Gunderson of Respond Fast says they plan to focus on voice-enabled technology and smart speakers. As Gunderson explained, “This is a game-changer for radio and podcast advertisers trying to engage audiences and achieve clear attribution, which can be accomplished through a voice-activated call to action. It shows that big brands are finally investing in voice long term.”
“Are you prepared when customers ask your specific brand for help?” asked Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls. “Being able to optimize for voice search will be key to maximize the marketing and advertising opportunities on Siri, Alexa, Google Home, etc.”
Irena Zobniów of Insightland agreed with Arnof-Fenn and Gunderson, saying, “Voice search is getting more and more popular among users, and marketers need to introduce it into their strategies so the competition will not get ahead of them.”
RIdgeway’s Nick Maynard says they’ve found clients eager to take a bite out of the v-commerce market, too.
Max Falb of Fueled pointed out the voice search optimization likely won’t be optional for long, saying, “It’s really important to optimize for these types of searches because normal SEO and voice search optimization go hand-in-hand but are not always the same.”
In today’s marketing landscape, there are a lot of reasons to turn away from relying on other people or company’s platforms. As Marcin Nieweglowski of Digital Now pointed out, social media platforms are facing a crisis of credibility. Not to mention the squeezing of organic reach and the lack of control brand’s face on most social media sites.
For that reason, Nieweglowski predicted an about-face toward owned media. “Brands realize how their digital operations are dependent on the platform’s algorithms, which aren’t transparent.”
Instead, Nieweglowski expects to see brands return to an email-first strategy. “We’re just at the beginning of email marketing renaissance,” Nieweglowski added.
“We are hyper focused on providing the right information at the right time to ensure a customer experience that connects clients with the digital expertise they need,” said Jay Atcheson of R2i. “That means leveraging UX testing and evolving best practices, to ensure incoming traffic can easily capture what they are looking for all the way through to campaign conversions and paid search experience.”
Atcheson wasn’t the only marketer planning to bet high on personalization. As Brooks Manley of Engenius observed, “With inboxes become more and more crowded, being able to send the perfect message at the right time will continue to be the thing that sets brands apart.”
Danielle Dellos of Dellos Marketing, on the other hand, plans to add more personalization to a less common medium: video.
“Customers are overwhelmed with generic messages and spam email sent to the masses. Personalized videos that show each customer how to solve a problem in their business or life allow you to stand out from the crowd and connect on a personal level,” Dellos explained.
“Mobile messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger, Whats App, Instagram Direct, Telegram etc., are the number one apps on our smartphones,” Aoife O’Connell of Yarnly.ai said. “Businesses need to optimise for this now to navigate the future. ”
Mitch Hills of Mastered Marketing added that “Messenger is exploding with over 1.3 billion users, and people are often using messenger instead of the actual Facebook app—making it a great opportunity for marketers and business owners.”
As Hills also pointed out, “Emails get around 15% open rates. Messenger is more like 80% or more. They’re fast, interactive, personalised, much more efficient than email for many industries.”
McCall Robison of Best Company says they’ve already started testing out messaging options for reviewers. “As text messages become the preferred method of communication for consumers, we have since started a text message campaign where we let customers opt for text messages. Instead of them having to call us or reply by email, they can just text us their review.”
As Melanie Balke of Melanie Balke Consulting explained, SMS marketing isn’t new, but it is “here to stay and will rapidly grow in 2020.”
“SMS marketing gets up to 200% higher response rates than Facebook, email, and phone calls,” Balke added. “On top of that, Gen Z, which has a spending power of 44billion is best reached via mobile and responds very positively to text communication.”
While the field of marketing changes near-daily, it seems that the B2B side of marketing has seen even more changes over the last few years. According to Emily Vale of The Lead Agency, more B2B companies will pivot to account-based marketing strategy as a result.
“Account based marketing is becoming an increasingly important component of our marketing strategy, as it allows for more advanced, personalised targeting,” Vale explained. “With account based marketing, organisations can optimise their campaigns, sharing targeted, value-driven messages that directly resonate with the distinctive audiences who view them.”
“In 2020 this will be crucial,” Vale added.
According to Alexander Porter of Search It Local they plan to spend more time and resources on link-building in the new year. “With Google’s algorithm becoming more advanced and capable of discerning user intent, rather than broad keyword matching, we believe the age of traditional content marketing is coming to a close,” Porter explained.
“As SEOs and marketers become increasingly savvy, so too is Google. Links remain one of the key indicators of ranking value that brands remain (for the most part) in control of.”
Tim Sims of Kansas Sleep said, “You may have noticed that Google’s algorithm updates have been recently changing toward an increased influence of backlinks from trusted domains.”
“To get such links,” Sims explained, “you need to have connections with influencers in your niche. So, in 2020, we are planning to extend our network and try out some new techniques.”
Lilia Manibo of Anthrodesk predicts more businesses will begin to view customer service as a value-add, rather than just a necessary cost of doing business.
“I believe customer service can be referred to as the heart of every business offering products and services,” Manibo said. “We aim to provide not only high-end products to our customers, but also top-notch level customer support/service to them.”
Why focus more on customer service? As Manibo explained, “It can also help us build engagement and better relationships with customers and attract more possible leads.”
No one can predict exactly what will happen in the field of marketing next year. But with the combination of experience and know-how our marketers shared above, these are some trends all marketers should keep in mind heading into 2020.
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