Start the New Year Right: 20 Marketing Trends to Know in 2020
Twenty trends to keep your marketing connected with consumers
Welcome to the new decade, and what some pundits are calling the post-truth era. Emotion and personal belief have more power in shaping our buying habits that demonstrable facts that Product A is better than Product B.
In his book, The Post-Truth Business: How to Rebuild Brand Authenticity in a Distrusting World, Sean Pillot de Chenecey writes that it used to be sufficient for a business to put advertising in newspapers or on television. These mediums were trusted. De Chenecey says, only 4% of ads are remembered positively, while another 7% are remembered negatively. Meanwhile, 89% are forgotten entirely. How do you push a signal through the noise?
Marketers have no choice but to rethink how they connect with consumers. How can they overcome mistrust and regain control of the dialog – especially when up to half of all transactions now happen because of word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted peers?
2020 may likely be the decade where marketers finally do regain that control – as they continue to develop the trust that results with the focus being on the customer experience. We’ve identified twenty trends that illustrate this effort, broken into four major areas.
1. Keep writing! With a nod to Mark Twain, the reports of the death of written content are greatly exaggerated. It’s still the preferred way consumers want to receive information to help them make purchasing decisions. Yes, even for younger folks.
The Pew Research Center reports that Millennials are more likely to have read a book in the past year than either the Gen X’ers or the Baby Boomers. Millennials also prefer to make decisions based on user-generated content (UGC) such as comments on social media or product reviews on shopping sites. And while you might not connect the dots, the preference for written content takes us to our next trend.
2. Bring on the chatbots. How do chatbots communicate? Their main output is text. Artificial intelligence is helping chatbots become more sophisticated, and their ability to answer common visitor questions is expected to increase sales by $112 billion while reducing costs by $439 billion over the next three years. For the time being, those interactions are text-based, but they are foundational to customer experience.
3. B2B + B2C = the same? You might end up empty-handed if you still think that whitepapers and case studies are the golden eggs of B2B content. More than half of B2B decision-makers turn to social media for initial research. Successful B2B marketers are using B2C tactics to reach decision-makers. You’ll see more social media content targeted at B2B as a result.
4. Content Creation. Prolific content creation is awesome if you have the resources to do it, but quality will always beat quantity. Smart marketers are getting better results by cultivating content, meaning that one idea will be communicated across multiple channels and using the most appropriate format for the channel. Once is not enough. It’s a lesson we need to learn from our traditional media brothers and sisters, even though we might grumble that we’re tired of seeing the same TV commercial over and over again.
5. Listen closely. Podcast audience growth is exploding. What excites marketers about podcast listeners is that these consumers have a high level of engagement. You might not have the resources to create a regular podcast. Consider being a guest on other podcasts that appeal to your target audience. Many popular podcasts are ad-supported. When was the last time you wrote a 30-second radio script?
6. Influencer marketing has not jumped the shark. You don’t need a mega-celebrity to see a monster ROI with influencer marketing. The new decade will see a growth of brands using micro-influencers – individuals with just 10,000 to 50,000 followers. It gets back to trust and the post-truth era. It turns out that these micro-influencers generate more than 41% higher engagement rates than macro-influencers who have 500,000 or more followers.
7. Shoppable posts. You can’t compete with the likes of Instagram and Facebook, so why should you try to get customers back to your website? The majority of Instagram users find new products and take action because of a brand’s post. Instagram reports that 80% of its users follow an active shopping business. A shoppable post gives them the ability to make a purchase directly from the Instagram app.
8. May I help you? Why dial an 800 number and be put on hold while being told that your call is important when you can do a direct shoutout to a brand on Twitter? It’s the logical progression: social media is moving from a discovery platform to a customer service channel. It gives the consumer a desirable upper hand. Brands can’t ignore your beef.
9. The rise of the niche social platform. We’ve already seen this on a small scale. Twitch is for gamers. Pinterest is for crafters. LinkedIn is for professionals. It’s human nature to want to find others who share our view. 2020 and beyond will see the growth in number – not necessarily in size – of other social media platforms.
10. Going private. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge, “the future is private.” No doubt he was looking at Facebook and Instagram statistics, which showed him that the average consumer was looking for a more intimate social experience. Public Facebook Pages have been joined by private Facebook Groups, as well as Secret Facebook Groups. They are opportunities for, as Hootsuite puts it, “engaging one-to-one.”
11. Your post can be in any format you want, as long as it’s video. Video remains the preferred type of content on social media, but the Facebooks and Instagrams of the world still let you choose what type of post you want to make. Video-driven apps like TikTok are taking us to a new arena. Your only posting choice is video. Sure, it’s fair to say YouTube has been that way since launch. Try posting to TikTok from your computer. The challenge for marketers is that format-exclusive platforms will cause them to rethink the approach to content creation. But maybe that’s also the beauty of this trend. It encourages transparency.
12. Long-form videos. Your video should last as long as it needs to, and no longer. It turns out that butter is not bad for you, and your attention span probably has not decreased to a point shorter than a goldfish. Short videos are easy to consume but difficult to use to create the emotional connection that makes them memorable. Why would you want to create a forgettable video? Videos that are 15 minutes or longer result in higher engagement – up to 50%.
13. And we’re live in 3...2...1. It didn’t work out for Facebook Live, but live video on social media is growing. The most popular format is often a question-and-answer format or a demonstration. It’s a powerful way to connect with people who want to know more about your brand – so powerful that even LinkedIn has joined the live streaming game.
14. Video for training and education. How do you use that new Photoshop tool function? Head over to YouTube and take your pick from a wide variety of how-to-videos. Free is always good, but platforms such as Skillshare and Masterclass are generating serious revenue streams with their subscription-based video courses. Here’s the thing. If you aren’t doing a tutorial video on how to use your product or service, somebody else will do it for you.
15. And the winning video dimension is…. Facebook and YouTube have followed suit. They joined Instagram and Snapchat and support vertical video. Does this mean 9:16 vertical video is the preferred format? Instagram thought so when it rolled out IGTV, but now they’ll support horizontal, too. If there’s a trend to be seen here, it’s that mobile devices view the majority of video. Where is your target audience watching video? This should be your ultimate video dimension decision guide.
16. Position Zero: On-SERP SEO. If you ask Siri or Alexa what the temperature is outside, neither will tell you they’ve found a webpage for you. You’ll get the current temperature. Likewise, up to a third of desktop Google searches and more than 60% of mobile searches provide zero-click search results. Or, you might be presented with a featured snippet.
Google gets those snippets from you. Meta descriptions that provide short, practical answers to specific questions get Google’s attention. Optimizing your content to win these featured snippet spots should be your priority.
17. Optimization for voice search. “Alexa, pay for the gas and then find the nearest Starbucks.” Voice search is now the preferred way to find things by consumers between the ages of 18 and 29, and brands from LG to Lamborghini are paying attention.
It’s time to make sure – if you haven’t already – to optimize your content for voice search. The best part about this effort is that it’s not rocket science. Start making your content more conversational. Your high school English teacher may not approve, but she’s not handing out your end-of-the-year bonus.
18. Where’s the little padlock icon? What do HTTPS and SEO have to do with each other? Perhaps more than you think. A user quickly leaves your website because it’s not secure – or because they’re presented with a “Not Secure” warning. Google is watching. Websites with high bounce rates don’t get preferable search listings. Enough said.
19. Mobile first. Even if 5G wasn’t on the horizon, mobile devices are the way we consume website content. You must optimize your website and content for mobile devices. Why? From an SEO perspective, Google crawls and indexes your webpages based on how it renders on a mobile device.
20. Quality vs. quantity. High-quality content remains the primary foundation of an effective SEO strategy. It must be timely, helpful, and relevant. Search engines reward content based on its quality. It’s all about the experience content offers.
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