Businesses that move fast continue to gain more customers and profits as slow movers get left behind.
And if you’re reading this guide, you are probably ready to take your company’s inbound marketing to the next level. So here are some trends and innovations to pay attention to or start applying to go into the new year:
1. Artificial Intelligence Will Get a Little Too Good at Profiling Buyers
Artificial intelligence will be pulling its weight in the marketing world this year as AI is now powering customer segmentation, retargeting, push notifications, click tracking, you name it – in a limitless combination of possibilities. It’s even creating content now! How you put AI to work for your digital marketing portfolio depends on your goals and your channels. But if you’re not already working with digital marketing teams and partners who know and leverage AI in their marketing intelligence and delivery systems, you’re falling behind.
What are some ways you can become more comfortable with AI? One quick tip to prep for future AI-powered image-search shopping features is by using ample, high-quality images of as many of your products as possible and make sure they’re labelled with appropriate alt-text. This will give the online robots more to work with as AI and machine learning gets more popular.
Human beings are social animals. And part of that is interacting with other humans, having a voice and being heard. This is why social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn are so popular. However, constantly engaging in social media is not the end-all answer to becoming closer to your customers- you can install a chatbot on your website to interact with website visitors on their terms.
With the improvement in artificial intelligence over the years, chatbots have improved by having the ability to hold a basic conversation with visitors and answer most-asked questions like a live human customer support representative would. Even though many websites have been offering live chat support systems with live representatives on the other end for years, the system has still not been robust as people still experience long wait times. A chatbot is cheaper than a customer support person because it doesn’t have to be staffed and it can answer visitors’ questions almost immediately.
3. Omni-channel Marketing
Consumers are now more sophisticated than ever and find their information through many channels. Initially, multichannel marketing was introduced to allow prospects to communicate with businesses through various channels. For instance, prospects can be introduced to your business through Twitter, Facebook ads, or stopping into your brick and mortar store. Email subscribers can communicate through email and website visitors can communicate through chat or comments.
But even though multichannel marketing was a step up from single-channel marketing, it didn’t solve consumers’ problems. That’s why omni-channel marketing provides a better experience for your prospects because it provides a seamless and consistent communication process to prospects and customers across all channels. For instance, you may start interacting with a customer on a social media network and then it continues through your SEO rankings and eventually through email. Eventually, you get the prospect on the phone which turns into a sales qualified lead. The main aim of omni-channel marketing is for you to be able to keep track of the prospect’s interactions even though they’re interacting with you through different channels. In turn, your customers will be impressed that you’re paying attention to the details about your previous interactions and that you care.
4. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and PWA
Search engines drive a huge amount of traffic, especially on Google. And about 60% of search traffic on Google comes from mobile devices. As a website’s load time increases, its bounce rate increases which could negatively lead to a lower Google ranking.
This need for speed led to the AMP project initiated by Google. AMP pages load in less than 0.5 seconds creating a lower bounce rate for your page. Progressive Web Apps (PWA) exist as a middle ground between your normal responsive website and a native app.
More so, PWA offers the benefits of a mobile site and a native app without their downfalls. Advantages of PWA on your website include:
- Faster loading time: Website visitors want a fast website and PWA loads faster than your average mobile site. And faster than a traditional mobile native app. Faster load times are something Google loves to see, thus improving your SEO visibility.
- Better website experience: A PWA gives users a better experience than through a simplistic mobile site that may not have all of the features they’re looking for.
- No need for user download: Users can have all the features of your native app without having to download your app in the app store or competing with other apps.
- Eliminates app development costs: Building an app requires a lot of money and time. By building a single PWA, users on any kind of operating system can have the same view without you having to go through all the time and hassle of app development.
- Users can create a shortcut on their smartphone: Without downloading an app, users can create a shortcut through their mobile browser that allows them to access your website easily and efficiently. It also supports push notifications to keep visitors updated.
In this upcoming year, we’ll see more spending, optimised mobile video and graphic experiences, and great social media ad campaign management. Because like search ads, social media spending requires engagement and a lot of experimentation to become profitable. But once you get the mix right, it will become one of your most reliable growth channels.
An additional note about push notifications, expect to see it as the new re-marketing tool in 2020. GDPR may have shaken email out of its hot seat, but push notifications were waiting in the wings to pick up the slack for re-marketing. Push has been rising in the ranks of marketing power tools since 2014 and in recent months, due to a new burst of AI-based push platforms, the push has become an unbeatable way to engage, re-engage, and retain customers. But uses this comes with a huge caveat – your push notifications MUST add value for the user, otherwise push becomes a negative force in your marketing efforts by prompting unsubscribes.
You need the right number of notifications, yes, but more importantly, you need to be sending them at the right time, with the right content, for the right user. AI is making that easier and easier to achieve. And the click-through rates are irresistible.
5. Email and Marketing Automation
Emails have been a popular tool for a long time, but email 15 years ago is different from what it is now. What’s the main difference? Personalisation – the key to making customers spend more. Now, businesses can send different emails to different subscribers based on their interests, which is usually determined by the content they engage with. Personalisation makes email more effective. However, personalisation is not only applicable to email- it applies to all your marketing efforts.
To improve your email communications, start repurposing it as lead nurture and customer engagement tool. Use it to encourage learning and behaviours most closely associated with the big buyers in your database.
Marketing automation has been a trend for a few years now. But it’s a trend that will continue to grow in 2020 because of its many benefits including:
- It eliminates time wastage: If your marketing representatives have to manually copy lead information, then they’re spending precious time they could have used to contact more leads- wasting man-hours and money.
- It minimises error: Your marketing reps are humans that can forget to copy a lead’s contact details or call them. Marketing automation software has all the records and can send alerts to help your people stay on track.
- Marketing automation increases collaboration: One of the main issues with businesses today is a lack of collaboration between the marketing and sales department. Lack of collaboration means the sales department don’t get all the details they need about a lead from marketing and vice versa. Marketing automation software makes all the information about a lead or customer available to any department that needs it, eliminating silos.
With platforms like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook Live, video is a big trend online that will continue to grow. Traditional content that people had to watch on their TV in the past is now available through their smartphones at the touch of their fingertips.
Here are some reasons why live video so attractive and expected to grow:
- It is authentic: In some cases, editing may take the originality out of it and smart consumers know that they are only being shown what the business wants you to see. But with live video, viewers can see events as they occur and there’s no feeling of a “doctored” video.
- It is cheaper: Editing videos and other production costs can eat into your marketing budget through time and labour. With a live video, you only need is a camera and internet connection.
- It activates FOMO: With an uploaded video, social media users can always come back to view it. For a live video though, there’s some thrill in watching it live.
There are many ways you can apply live videos for your business. Some are:
- Hosting an industry event: When your business hosts an industry event, it can be an opportunity to establish your reputation in your industry to prospects and customers by recording it as it happens.
- Product launch: This is one way to add glamour to your product launch. You can create more awareness for your product and viewers can see the demonstration of how to use it.
Apart from live videos, there are many other ways to use video for your business. Many website visitors today prefer watching videos to reading a text because it’s easier to visualise the concepts.
Having video versions of your written content allows you to reach a wider audience and when you consider that YouTube is the second largest search engine, then it creates a lot of opportunities you can generate for your business.
7. Voice Search
With the improvement in voice recognition, voice searches have been increasingly getting more popular. Smart speakers can be used to order items and control smart devices your home solely through verbal command.
There are many reasons why voice command leads to profits. Some of them are:
- Voice search is easier: It’s easier and safer for people who are on the move to talk to their phone rather than type. With voice command, you can still type while walking without breaking your stride.
- Voice search is faster: People can talk faster than they can type, which means they can also perform a voice search faster.
Now, you may be wondering how these affect your business. Here are a few reasons why you should optimise your website for voice searches:
- Voice search usage is increasing on mobile: in 2016, voice searches accounted for 20% of searches on Android devices and it’s only getting higher.
- Smart Speakers are becoming more popular: with the introduction of Amazon Echo a few years ago, followed by the Google Assistant and Apple Home pod, smart speakers are becoming popular household items. According to research by NPR and Edison Research, 39 million Americans currently own a smart speaker. The same study found that 31% of smart speaker owners have added an item to their cart to review it later to purchase and 29% have researched an item they are interested in.
- Majority of people using voice search are performing a local search: When people perform a voice search, they’re usually looking to buy from a local business.
To optimise your website for local SEO rankings and voice search, you need to note the following:
- Voice searches are usually longer than typed searches: Since they’re way easier, voice searches tend to be longer than typed searches. Therefore, optimising your content for long-tail keywords is important if you’re targeting voice search.
- Voice searches are conversational: Most people perform voice searches like they’re talking to someone else so it’s important to make your website content conversational.
8. Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality
How powerful will your marketing be if your prospects can test your product right now before making any commitment? You can eliminate most of the risk that prospects take when they decide to buy your product for the first time. Using augmented/virtual reality to release your product ensures that there’s no risk on your prospect’s part and shows that you are ahead of the game.
Here’s a breakdown between the two:
Augmented reality inserts objects into a real-life setting. This allows people to add an item to an environment and see how it will look like when the object is included in it.
Virtual reality creates a completely new environment that an individual can experience and besides using it in games, businesses can also use it for marketing purposes.
One of the most popular applications of augmented reality is from IKEA. With IKEA’s augmented reality app, individuals about to buy a piece of furniture can see how it will fit into space they want to put it in. The app got 8.5 million downloads and many potential buyers.
9. Native Advertising
People are exposed to many ads daily. However, most prospects don’t want blatant selling or feel like a product is pushed down their throats. In some cases, website visitors get pop up ads that interfere with their user experience. It frustrates the user when ads make it difficult to view a web page in peace which is one of the reasons the number of installed ad blockers have been increasing over the years. In 2016, 24.4% of U.S. internet users blocked ads. Since prospects are already using ad blockers, one way to get your message across is through native advertising. The main essence of native ads is that they’re not supposed to look like ads. And in most cases, a native ad would be mistaken as normal content on a page if it’s not labelled as an ad. The most popular way that native ads are used is on social media where users are most receptive. Apart from social media, Amazon is also playing a major role in the growth of native ads.
10. User-Generated Content
One of the best ways to market your product is to show your prospects how your current customers are using it.
There are 2 advantages that user-generated content has over most of the other marketing channels available to business:
- It convinces prospects: With user-generated content, your current customers are marketing your products for you. It’s like a word-of-mouth campaign. Your customers have nothing to gain, but a sense of belonging.
- It’s free: You don’t have to spend on this type of marketing. And it’s more effective than most of the marketing channels you use. Its biggest appeal is that it’s free.
Prospects are persuaded because a consumer who understands their needs is marketing your product.
Tourism Queensland wanted to build more awareness for its brand. It told people to apply for the best job in the world. And it went viral as 35,000 people created video applications. This led to an estimated $368m in media coverage, 8.4 million unique website visits, and 55 million page views.
11. Events and Experiences
They might seem like one-off blips on your marketing radar, but real-life events where people can network, celebrate, and hang out together are fuel for your digital marketing efforts.
Millennials, who now own big-time Fortune 500 buying power, have resurrected record players creating 12 times the growth in sales. This generation grew up in a virtual world, yet as adults, they spend their dollars inordinately on physical objects and real-life experiences.
So when brands decide to appeal to a younger, cooler market, they branch out into the real world, not just the virtual one. Pop-up brand experiences, festival appearances, local events small and large – any unique, colourful, tangible, memorable way customers can interact with your people and your products is the wave of the future.
12. A Rise in Adwords
If you’re like everybody else in the digital marketing universe, you’ll be spending more marketing dollars on Adwords in 2020 than you did in 2018. Search advertising revenue has been marching up and to the right since 2016 and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Why? To put it plainly, search ads work when you manage them well. If that surprises you, it’s time to get a PPC agency to reevaluate your Adwords strategy. A mismanaged suite of PPC ads can drain your budget, but with the right planning, oversight, and optimisation, your Adwords spend will become an ROI machine, and investing even more in 2020 will be a given.
2020 is a digital marketing year to look forward to. With these new trends, there are enough ways to attract more customers to your business and satisfy them. However, there’s a lot of work to be done to stay ahead of the marketing curve in 2020. Lots of content work to stay afloat amid Google’s algorithm changes, planning and set up to make great use of AI for marketing, reimagining and repurposing email as a nurturing tool, thoughtful positioning to take advantage of the potential in push notifications…the list goes on and on.
Even with great teams in place, it’s good to have an expert SEO company in your corner keeping an eye on the big picture. If you need a trusted crew of experts to help you audit your 2020 marketing plans, Boxclever can help.
So knowing what’s to come in 2020, which strategies are you planning to implement in the coming year?