2020 is here and with that comes the typical, bold claims of what marketing trends and tech “deserve your attention” this year. But, let’s be realistic. There are many new, and exciting developments in the world of marketing that simply can’t be boiled down to one trend or a single buzzword.
Marketing is multifaceted, yet one thing remains true—every year is the “year of the customer.” Marketing is no longer about convincing consumers to work with, or buy from, your company. It’s about providing a valuable customer experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Many companies are already using the tech below, but that shouldn’t stop your business from exploring it too. You may notice that a few of the topics below are a repeat of 2019’s ‘top trends to look out for.’ This is because these trends grew in consumption or significance based on factors such as adoption rates, consumer preference(s), or advances in the underlying technology.
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1. Online reputation management
Online reviews have become so important in swaying purchase decisions that 93% of consumers read online reviews, 89% of consumers read local businesses’ responses to reviews, and 80% of customers will not buy from a business with negative reviews1. Your customers and potential customers are actively watching, reading, and leaving reviews all based on their experience with your company.
Why is this important? One negative review travels farther than one positive review. The customer experience with a brand, or its products and services, is too important to ignore in the digital age where content spreads with the click of a button. Luckily, there are many ways to stay on top of your online reputation that you can implement today.
Social media monitoring tools (social listening): did you know you can digitally ‘eavesdrop’ on what people have to say about your brand across social media? Followers may not always tag you, but they expect you to respond to their posts. Social listening alerts you to each mention–with and without tags. You can set up your social listening to alert you when certain keywords are used and respond as needed (track your company’s name, your products or services, competitor’s names and products, etc.).
2. AI in personalization and automation
With technology, there’s always advancement and it’s usually rapid. AI is quickly taking over many simple jobs such as automated phone operators that help route calls or answer simple questions and online chat bots.
Throughout 2020, AI will drive many services and enhance the customer experience via product recommendations, email personalization, e-commerce transactions, content creation, digital marketing, and much more.
According to Techgrabyte, “Artificial intelligence is the biggest commercial opportunity for companies, industries, and nations over the next few decades” and “will increase global GDP by up to 14% between now and 2030.” This means “AI latecomers will find themselves at a serious competitive disadvantage within the next several years.”
Why is AI catching on? It’s simple. AI dramatically increases efficiencies and cuts costs allowing companies to have a faster order fulfillment, reduce customer wait times, increase output/production, expand into new markets, and ultimately make business smarter and easier.
Both Gartner and Harvard Business Review predicted that by 2020, AI technologies would be present in almost every new software product and service. However, it will be several years before AI has a significant impact on most industries. In time, devices with embedded AI will be everywhere in commercial settings and consumers’ daily lives, allowing for a whole new level of accuracy and efficiency.
Data, Content & Other Trends
3. Data Privacy
2019 was the year of data security highs and lows. Last year was the worst year on record for data security breaches, creating an all-time low in consumers’ trust in the business sector’s ability to handle consumer data. However, two recent privacy laws bring more protection to consumer data (GDPR in May 2018 & CCPA in January 2020), sparking global attention and reform.
Formally documented data handling processes and increased data security measures are no longer a ‘nice to have’ they are a must have in 2020. Even companies that do not have business relations in the European Union (GDPR) or California (CCPA), are ensuring they are compliant with both laws to strengthen trust with customers and business partners.
With the enactment of the California Consumer Privacy Act on January 1, 2020, many US businesses will start working toward CCPA compliance and you should too. 2019’s large data breaches, like Facebook’s that sparked the “#DeleteFacebook” movement, prove that consumers demand data security. Becoming CCPA and/or GDPR compliant in 2020 can only help your business protect itself and its customers while also building trust.
4. Interactive Content
In 1996, Bill Gates famously declared “CONTENT IS KING,” and of course, he was right. Content gives online viewers a reason to stay and engage with a brand. Further advances in technologies like 5G, AI, connected TVs, and OTT will also enable consumers to interact with ads or content from their TV and mobile devices.
Why does content deserve a lot of attention? Easy! It focuses on the customer’s wants and needs, rather than the sale. It attracts consumers rather than interrupts them, and more importantly, it’s more about them than it is about you. The best content always puts the customer first.
Below we have outlined what we believe to be 2020’s most promising interactive content trends:
- Influencer marketing: Influencers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon considering 92% of people trust other consumer recommendations over corporate advertising2. 2019 saw a lot of growth in this area, with some influencers making it to the red carpet and achieving a ‘celebrity-like’ status. Paid partnerships with influencers and micro influencers will continue to help brands get discovered or grow sales through the trust consumers place in the influencers they follow.
- Live video & 360-degree videos: Live video has exploded across the internet and 360-degree videos are climbing the ranks. For auto dealers, this is a great opportunity to show off a new make and model by offering consumers the most engaging view of a car from the comfort of their own home.
- Video ads using 360-degree technology drive 7% higher purchase intent3
- 85% completion rate (viewed the whole video), which is 46% higher than traditional video’s completion rate4
- Shoppable posts: Social media and interactive content is helping consumers discover new brands and new products with its ability to display pricing, link to a company’s website, or to purchase item(s) directly through a post. Most recently, Instagram added “Checkout” and a personalized shopping tab, allowing users to sort by brands, product category, and more.
Zero is the new number One
SERP Position 0 refers to the information Google offers at the above the search results. It is also called the featured snippet, or a zero-click search because it displays a snippet of content that directly answers a search query. This information is placed above the top-ranking search result and is displayed differently to get a user’s attention.
As with the previous top-ranking spot, position one on page one, position zero brings the same benefits: increased website visits, click-throughs, and ultimately, conversions. And, for the first time ever, zero-click searches outpaced organic-click searches since Google’s launch 20 years ago. In June 2019, zero-click searches comprised just under 55% of all searches on Google3.
Below is an automotive example of a featured snippet, displayed as a numbered list:
Currently, there are three position 0 formats which include:
- Paragraph: typically, a 40- to 60-word block that explains the search query
- Table: a chart of data, such as a conversion chart showing miles to meters
- List: a numbered or bulleted list of steps explaining how to do the search query
So, there you have it—GSM’s thoughts on what to expect from the marketing landscape in 2020. Don’t be afraid for your business to try new technology or platforms. Sometimes the only way to grow is to change!
1 BrightLocal, 2018: Local Consumer Review Survey
2 Nielsen, Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages
3 IPG Magna; IPG Media Lab; YuMe
4 OmniVert, 2019
5 Jumpshot & SparkToro, 2019