6 Digital Marketing Trends Digital Marketers Can’t Ignore in 2020

Graphic that says "Marketing"

59% of the global population uses the internet, 67% owns a mobile device and 43% uses social media. It’s a digital world and digital marketing is here to stay.

Around 87% of marketing budgets will go towards digital marketing by 2022, according to CMO. This means that marketers need to do digital marketing right or businesses risk losing both money and customers.

The following are some important trends that digital marketers can leverage in 2020 to generate ROI and maintain a competitive edge.

1. AI Growth

AI is redefining the marketing function.

64% of B2B marketers consider it an integral part of their strategy and nearly 30% of top-performing businesses use it for marketing. What’s more, consumers expect brands to use AI to improve customer experiences. Savvy marketers need to capitalise on this.

Here are three ways AI can drive digital marketing success:

  • Hyper-relevant marketing

People are increasingly using ad blockers, but 48% of them only do so because brands are serving them irrelevant ads. Irrelevance makes the ads intrusive, but serve relevant ads and a significant number of people can put up with it.

AI can help marketers deliver hyper-relevant offers to targeted audiences. This is because AI algorithms can process large amounts of constantly changing historical data to predict what a consumer wants in the present moment.

Amazon’s algorithmic product recommendation advertising is an example of some good AI-powered, hyper-targeted marketing. From the “Recommended for you” products to “Frequently bought together” items, everything is targeted and relevant in the moment.

These recommendations rack in 35% of the company’s revenue and turn 56% of targeted customers into likely repeat buyers.

Screenshot of Amazon recommendations

Some top benefits of hyper-targeted marketing include:

-Higher customer retention and brand awareness.

-Better value for ad spend. Approaching consumers with relevant offers increases the likelihood of getting higher engagement, qualified leads and conversions.

  • Personalisation

Consumers want brands to understand and anticipate their needs, i.e. they want personalised experiences. But more than that, they want a balance between the personalised experiences and great service. 57% are even willing to share their personal information to help businesses do this.

It’s possible to create this balance with AI. AI predictive analytics can help marketers to provide personalised experiences and optimal interactions that enhance services. All this can be done at a significantly lower cost compared to traditional marketing methods.

  • Chatbots

80% of businesses are using chatbots or planning to use them by 2020. Chatbots not only enable convenient, real-time conversations, but they also increase customer satisfaction. The best part is that at no point do businesses have to worry about chatbots being in a bad mood or being biased.

The earliest chatbots were not so appealing or efficient, and sometimes, they were simply frustrating. AI has changed this.

Using AI-powered Natural Language Processing (NLP), chatbots can now mimic human conversation and deliver responses that align with user intent. Also, chatbots can now “learn” from past interactions to improve their future responses.

Businesses across various industries are rocking chatbots. Mastercard, Spotify, Pizza Hut, and Lyft are a few of the popular brands using this innovation. For instance, Pizza Hut’s chatbot allows customers to order and reorder pizza, view current deals and ask questions on Twitter and Facebook Messenger.

screenshot of Pizza Hut chatbot

Digital marketers can use chatbots to support customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. For instance, chatbots can support the marketing function when it comes to:

-gathering customer data and feedback

-giving customers a seamless experience as they move through the sales funnel

-sending relevant notifications

Acing digital marketing with AI

In the end, AI is only as good as the data that’s used. Quality data is a must if marketers are going to use AI for digital marketing.

2. Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel is the future of consumer interactions — 90% of consumers expect a consistent omnichannel experience across all channels. Marketers need to exploit this opportunity to create business value. This means moving away from traditional multi-channel marketing.

With multi-channel marketing, each marketing channel is independent of the others. While this strategy would have sufficed in the past, it is no longer enough. 70% of consumers now conduct product research using three or more channels and they want a seamless experience across all of them.

Omnichannel marketing modifies the multi-channel marketing approach to create a cohesive and integrated customer experience regardless of the channel a customer uses to reach out to a brand. This integration of various channels provides a unified experience that increases customer satisfaction.

Graphic showing difference between multi-channel and omnichannel marketing
Source: Emarsys

A practical example

Starbucks is excelling at omnichannel marketing with its rewards app, which is unlike traditional reward cards.

Starbucks omnichannel marketing

Starbucks customers can reload and check their cards on the app, but the app is also connected to any transactions that occur in-store, via website or via phone. Any card updates occur across all channels in real-time.

The app also allows users to locate nearby stores, view menu updates, send gift cards, order drinks in advance and even add songs playing in a specific store to their playlists. It’s all about a seamless user experience.

Benefits of omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel marketing is a great way to generate business as consumers become more aware of and expect integrated experiences. Brands with robust omnichannel engagement enjoy an average customer retention rate of 89%. Will yours be one of them in 2020?

3. Adoption of Immersive Technology

On its own, static content is no longer enough to attract and re-engage consumers.

A huge appetite for quality interactions is emerging and 91% of consumers want more interactive content. Immersive tech (virtual, mixed and augmented reality) is not only interactive, but it also has the potential to create positive consumer experiences.

Although immersive tech is not yet mainstream, it’s a far cry from the far-fetched concept it was several years ago. A look at the projected market revenue figures shows the explosive growth that the technology is forecast to experience.

Graph showing immersive tech consumer market revenue from 2018 to 2022
Source: Statista

But despite the expected growth, brands are somewhat slow in adopting immersive tech. For example, virtual reality (VR) is the most popular of the immersive technologies, however, only 6% of brands are using it in their marketing campaigns.

Perhaps the biggest challenge affecting many marketers is not knowing how to integrate the technology into marketing strategies. The following tips can serve as a good starting point.

  • Increasing brand visibility and awareness

Immersive tech can put the spotlight on a business’ products or services. In other words, the technology can play a big role in creating memorable messages that increase product or service awareness.

For example, Pepsi used augmented reality (AR) to create the Out-of-home (OOH) campaign which involved augmenting unbelievable scenarios into the real world. Commuters were surprised with interesting things including asteroids, snakes, and laser-shooting robots.

Screenshot of the immersive tech

These realistic visuals were created using depth mapping to project 2D and 3D assets onto a live feed. The result — Pepsi Max sales shot up by 35% year-over-year.

  • Providing out-of-this-world customer support

Chatbots make for a great marketing channel but why not make them more interesting with immersive tech?

DigaliX has created the XHolo Virtual Assistant which can support customers across many industries. The assistant is a great way to give customers a unique interactive and immersive experience. Another plus is that businesses can customise the assistant to suit their brand personality and voice.

Screenshot of XHolo virtual assistant
  • Amplifying live experiences

Many consumers feel that live events connect them more to other people, their community, and the world. However, our lives are becoming busier and sometimes it’s impossible to attend live events. Businesses can choose to lose customers over this or they can use immersive tech to their advantage.

Shopping app, China’s Tmall chose not to lose customers. The brand leveraged immersive tech to give its online audience access to the “See Now, Buy Now” event.

The event’s live stream was broadcast across immersive channels that allowed viewers to rank outfits, send feedback to designers and make purchases in real-time. During the event, over 8 million users made purchases using their VR headsets.

  • Driving engagement and sales

Does 550million installs and $470 million in revenue just 80 days after launch sound a bit implausible?

It’s not.

When AR-powered mobile game Pokémon GO landed, people spent so much time catching and training tiny animated monsters to battle with other users. The interactive, engaging and entertaining nature of the game made it a hit and the results speak volumes about the power of AR.

Screenshot of Pokemon

Getting started with immersive tech

Integrating immersive tech into marketing campaigns doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It can be as simple as adopting ready-made solutions (e.g., the XHolo virtual assistant). A bit of research should give marketers an idea of the immersive tech solutions available to them based on their needs and budget.

4. Next-Gen Social Media

Gone are the days when social media was all about connecting with friends.

Social behaviours are now more purpose-driven and consumers are using social platforms to access a wide range of services and information. For example, 63% of consumers now expect companies to provide customer service via social media channels.

It’s important to keep up with this new and dynamic social media.

The changes

People’s mobile consumption and connectivity are both increasing.

Graph showing how much time people spend online

The increased connectivity is exposing consumers to omnipresent brand messaging. Marketers need to adopt strategies that will allow their campaigns to stand out and not drown in the sea of different messages.

Worry over privacy erosion is increasing. Consequently, social media users are rethinking what they share and they are selective of the people they share content with. According to data from GlobalWebIndex, 42% of people are choosing to share information privately using channels like Instagram Direct Message and Facebook Messenger.

There’s increasing concern over the negative effects of social media on people’s wellbeing. As such, people are moderating the time they spend on social media. Marketers need to create hyper-relevant and memorable campaigns to make the most of the remaining time people are spending on social media.

Graph showing how people are moderating their time spent on social media
Source: GlobalWebIndex

Changing algorithms are affecting the social media game. In a bid to remain profitable while staying relevant to social media users, social networks are giving their platforms regular updates.

For example, organic reach is dropping on Facebook and other social networks. This means that marketers must know how to use paid reach effectively. Also, clickbait techniques are no longer acceptable. For instance, Facebook rolled out an algorithm update that encourages marketers to create quality content.

Marketers need to keep up with all the changes; the success of their campaigns depends on it.

Some ways to turn up social media marketing strategies

The following are some ways to create winning social media marketing strategies:

  • Using private communication. As more people make their conversations private, 50% of consumers will do business with brands that use private messaging.
    Note: Marketers can use chatbots to improve their customers’ private messaging experience.
  • Increasing video content. Consumption of video content is surpassing that of any other content type. In fact, 50% of consumers expect more video content from brands.
    McDonald’s is showing the power of video content. On average, the brand’s Instagram videos get 5x more engagement than photos.
Screenshot of a McDonalds Instagram video
Screenshot of a McDonalds Instagram photo
  • Providing interactive content. Not only do 91% of consumers want interactive content, but the content converts almost twice as much as other content types.
    In addition to video content, consumers are also interested in other types of interactive content such as quizzes, surveys, polls, interactive infographics and 360-degree photos.

5. The Rise of Gen Z

Many businesses have been targeting millennials with their marketing campaigns, and for good reason. Millennials are arguably the most powerful consumers. However, this won’t be for long because Generation Z is on the rise.

Gen Zers’ annual spending already tops $143 billion and the generation is set to become a significant portion of the consumer base. Marketers must understand what Gen Zers want to start creating campaigns that tap into their spending power.

Google, Amazon and YouTube are among Gen Zers’ most-loved brands. These big brands are already winning over this influential generation and other brands need to follow suit.

Key Gen Z takeaways:

  • There never was a world without internet for Gen Zers. The generation boasts of 97% mobile device ownership. Nonetheless, despite the ultra-connectivity, this generation still values face-to-face interaction and so a balanced marketing approach is necessary.
  • Video content is very important to this generation. Over 70% of Gen Zers watch at least two hours of YouTube daily. According to a Google Survey, YouTube is the go-to platform when Gen Zers want entertainment or some cheering. Also, 80% use the platform to gain more knowledge and 68% to acquire or improve a skill.
  • When it comes to social media, the generation is all about Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.
  • Gen Zers want relatable and more authentic influencer campaigns. When targeting this generation, it’s probably wise to forgo mega-influencers for micro- or nano-influencers.
  • The generation wants to interact with brands that value privacy.
  • Transparency affects Gen Zers’ purchasing decisions. Additionally, it builds trust and makes the generation more comfortable with sharing personal information.
    Many Gen Zers are uncomfortable with sharing their personal information online but 61% feel better about sharing the information with brands they feel will secure their information.

6. SERP ‘Zero Position’

Just like social media, SEO is also evolving. Position 1 is no longer the top rank for search engine results because featured snippets now occupy the top spot known as ‘position zero’.

Featured snippets give the user a direct and succinct answer to a search query. The answer is given directly on the search engine results page (SERP) without the user having to click to another site for the answer. This is why featured snippets are also known as no-click results.

Screenshot of a featured snippet

No-click results are decreasing click-through rates for normal search results and they are also reducing some keywords’ profitability. Marketers wishing to generate traffic and leads using content that ranks need to create the content with position zero in mind.

How to increase the chances of ranking on position zero

  • Create quality content. A quick look at featured snippets shows that they are all about quality content. There’s no substitute for good, valuable, and in-depth content.
  • Provide a direct answer. The snippet ideally provides a direct answer to a specific search query (e.g. how to tie a tie). As such, providing 40–50 words of a concise answer to a specific query is a good strategy.
  • Keep up with strong SEO practices. Content must include elements such as keyword-focused meta descriptions, alt tags, and internal and external links (the links must have proper anchor text and they must redirect to reputable sites).
  • Use keywords that rank well. Zero position is still an SEO game and one of the essentials with SEO is using the right keywords.
  • Go with an evergreen topic. Creating content that will fade into oblivion in a few weeks or months is not worth it. Choosing an evergreen topic increases the chances of ranking at the top.
  • Try other content types. Paragraphs are not the only type of featured snippets.
List of the different types of featured snippets

For example, video featured snippets, which are also known as suggested clips, are becoming popular. They hold a lot of potential for marketers who are unafraid of making quality video content.

Google suggested video

Competition for zero position ranking is rife. Focusing on other types of snippets is especially a good idea for increasing the likelihood of ranking in that position.

The Future of Digital Marketing

It took some time, but a big proportion of businesses have caught on to the power of digital marketing. But while this is true, many digital marketers are still struggling with creating effective digital marketing strategies that help sustain business growth and profitability. The trends and developments highlighted in this article should help simplify the creation of sound digital marketing strategies in 2020.


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