Top 2020 Digital Marketing Trends
Marketing has changed more in the last five years than in the last 50, and the rapid progress doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
As summer 2019 approaches, the digital marketing landscape that encompasses SEO, social media, PPC, content marketing and more is witnessing a dramatic shift.
There may have been a time when you could’ve dismissed artificial intelligence or visual search as gimmicks from the latest blockbuster science fiction film, but that time is long gone. AI is now significant in every aspect of digital marketing and in an integral part of most of the trends in this list.
Many new digital marketing trends and strategies are evolving in the current high-tech, Internet-connected era, which means that businesses need to use them to succeed in their efforts because what worked for you last year may not work (as well) this year.
Here are 20 key digital marketing trends for 2020 and beyond that you can no longer pretend aren’t important.
1) SEO A/B Split Testing
Marketing is all about testing, which is why SEO A/B split testing tops our list for 2019.
Search engine optimization A/B split testing — like all split testing — allows you to isolate the variables increasing traffic so you can take a targeted approach to content changes.
Platforms like Clickflow suggest pages with untapped SEO potential — a high-impression count but low click-through rate (CTR) — which can be improved to increase clicks and traffic:
Clickflow lets you choose your target CTR increase, then it serves up pages along with a keyword report that lists what your page is ranking for and which keywords will help you get more traffic. Inside the app, you make changes to title, meta description, title tag and body content, which are automatically reflected on your site:
Choose your target CTR:
Run the experiment for at least 15 days and Clickflow will show you how many more clicks you’re getting — and the revenue you’re gaining from the click increase.
SEO A/B split testing squeezes the most SEO juice out of your site and gives you insight into the variables that move the needle.
2) Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence will take over the world! Or at least the world’s simpler jobs.
For example, Microsoft and Uber are two companies – in addition to malls, sports arenas and campuses – that are using Knightscope K5 robots to “patrol parking lots and large outdoor areas to predict and prevent crime. The robots can read license plates, report suspicious activity and collect data to report to their owners.” You can rent these R2-D2-like robots for $7 an hour — which is less expensive than a human security guard's wage.
Just a couple years ago, Gartner analysts predicted that by 2020 (now a mere 6 months away!), AI technologies would be pervasive in almost every new software product and service – a prediction that Harvard Business Review seconded earlier this year.
As per 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.” An indisputable fact that means “AI latecomers will find themselves at a serious competitive disadvantage within the next several years.”
Here are the top reasons why organizations are adopting AI into their business:
AI can analyze consumer behavior and search patterns, and use data from social media platforms and blog posts to help businesses understand how customers find their products and services.
One exciting example of AI in practice is chatbots (more on that later). Mastercard created a Facebook messenger bot – that uses natural language processing software to decipher what the customer wants and respond as if it were a real person – to automate handling payments:
Artificial intelligence will soon be the driving force behind many services, and currently we’re already seeing it implemented in such areas as:
- Customer service chatbots (25% of customer service will use virtual assistant technology by 2020, up from 2% in 2017)
- Basic communication
- Product recommendations
- Content creation
- Email personalization
- E-commerce transactions
Businesses adopting AI in 2019 will be able to cut staffing costs and accelerate growth, getting an edge over their competitors.
3) Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising means using AI to automate ad buying so you can target more specific audiences. Real-time bidding, for example, is a type of programmatic ad buying. This automation is much more efficient and fast, which means higher conversions and lower customer acquisition costs.
It’s changing the face of digital advertising so swiftly that, according to eMarketer, 86.2% of digital display ads in the U.S. will be programmatic by 2020.
According to Irina Kovalenko of SmartyAds,
“Most search-driven manual advertising campaigns (even those performed with professional tools) take into account three or four targets: the keyword, time of day, and location. Such tools like programmatic demand-side platforms can use hundreds of targeting signals to individualize the advertisement and even target according to lifestyle or behavior habits when integrated with customer data platforms.”
To learn how to capitalize on this digital marketing trend, check out PPC Hero’s guide to get started.
Chatbots will continue to be an important part of digital marketing in 2019. This AI-based technology uses instant messaging to chat in real-time, day or night, with your customers or site visitors.
Surveys show that:
- 63% of respondents prefer messaging an online chatbot to communicate with a business or brand
- Chatbots will power 85% of customer service by 2020
- Top benefits of chatbots are 24-hour service (64%), instant responses to inquiries (55%) and answers to simple questions (55%).
- By 2022, chatbots will help businesses save over $8 billion per annum
- 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020
Many customers prefer interacting with chatbots as they are responsive 24/7, give answers promptly, accurately recall your entire buying history, and never lose patience. These virtual assistants offer outstanding customer service, meeting customers’ expectations and automating repetitive tasks – which means you can focus on more important work.
Many brands already use chatbot technology, including Uber, whose chatbot communicates with customers, making it easy for them to hire cars via their mobile app, Facebook Messenger, Slack or Google Maps:
Passengers can use the menu to choose the type of ride, make a request, track the location of the car, send friends a time estimate of their arrival, and even make payment.
Other brands who are successfully using chatbot technology include Whole Foods Market, Fandango, Sephora, Staples, The Wall Street Journal and Pizza Hut.
If you want to stand out in 2019, you need to personalize your marketing – and that means personalized content, products, emails, and more.
With the availability of data like purchase history, consumer behavior and links clicked, as well as sophisticated software to implement campaigns, custom content has never been easier.
Consider these personalization stats:
- 63% of consumers are highly annoyed with generic advertising blasts
- 80% say they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences
- 90% claim they find personalization appealing
As per EmailMonks, “Personalized, triggered e-mails based on behavior are 3x better than batch-and-blast e-mails.”
Top examples of businesses leveraging the power of personalization always include Netflix and Amazon, with their tailored recommended products or movie titles. But other companies successfully using personalization include:
- EasyJet launched a data-driven email campaign that used customers’ travel history with the airline to build personalized stories, which then suggested where they might like to travel next. About 12.5 million unique emails were sent, which had a 25% higher click-through rate than non-personalized emails.
- Cadbury’s created a personalized video campaign that matched a Dairy Milk flavor with users based on data from their Facebook profile, including age, interest and location. The campaign saw a 65% click-through rate and a 33.6% conversation rate, proving the personal touch works.
- Starbucks uses a gamified mobile app that draws on data like purchase history and location to get as personal as possible, allows customers to customize their drinks, and encourages further use with its rewards system – which skyrocketed their revenue to $2.56 billion.
6) Video Marketing
Video marketing is one of, if not the, most important marketing trend today and likely for the next 5-10 years. These numbers show the importance of incorporating video into your digital marketing strategy in 2019:
- 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video
- 72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate
- 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions
- 65% of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video
- Video is by far the most popular way customers want to learn about new products:
And don’t just think YouTube. To witness higher engagement with your video marketing, you can make a video post or start a live broadcast on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.
One of the issues that marketers have faced in recent years is the growing shift to mobile devices. Those long-form sales pages and emails of yesteryear are losing efficiency because on mobile screens, they’re simply too difficult to read. But video can present the same information in a format that works perfectly regardless of platform.
Google’s noticed this and is rewarding video producers: If your site includes video, it’s 53X more likely to get a first page spot in search results. Why? Because video improves SEO, which boosting a business’ ranking.
However, one of the most valuable benefits of implementing a video marketing campaign is how it allows you to easily reformat your content. Imagine that you’ve recorded a video for your YouTube channel. Instead of just publishing it to youtube you could also:
- Get it transcribed so you have a text version of the video
- Publish the transcription on your blog under an embedded YouTube video for better rankings
- Upload the raw video with the transcription as subtitles to Facebook (native Facebook videos get a much higher impression share and engagement than shared YouTube videos)
- Turn the transcription into a standalone blog article with a short rewrite and addition of relevant stats/images
- Rip the audio alone and use it as a podcast episode
- Use video thumbnails in your email marketing campaigns and the word “Video” in subject lines to increase email engagement
Here are some other video marketing trends that are gaining more and more traction:
- Live video is particularly popular with a large number of businesses who use it for interviews, product demos and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the brand, such as life in the office, how products are made, company events, etc.
- 1:1 video is when businesses or marketers create personalized video messages rather than make phone calls or send emails. With the decreasing cost of film equipment and increasingly high-quality smartphone cameras, this is easier than ever.
- Shoppable video content has become a super easy way to shorten the customer journey by allowing people to buy products directly from a video or image. When someone hovers their cursor over the image, a “shop now” button pops up and takes you to the product page:
- Video SEO. YouTube and other videos are displayed in the SERPs, so video optimization is becoming much more important – like using text overlays and closed captions, in addition to your description, title and file names. Check out this guide to learn more about YouTube SEO.
- 360-degree video content, which allows for a more interactive experience, is on the rise – just look for the circular symbol in the top left corner to start sliding the moving image left or right as it’s playing:
Rome: A Guided City Tour is a great example of a 360-degree video
7) Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a type of word-of-mouth marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Influencers can be well-known celebrities, but more often they are Instagram or YouTube personalities with a huge following who can help spread the word about your business or product through their social channels.
Because influencer marketing is generally more authentic, 92% of people trust other consumer recommendations over corporate advertising. For this reason, Iceland, a popular British supermarket chain, switched from TV ads to a campaign that featured real-life moms.
Teaming up with YouTube community, Channel Mum, it now works with a number of vloggers to promote its products in a more ‘authentic’ fashion, which resulted in approval ratings that increased from 10% to 80%.
Influencer marketing is another tactic that is not going away anytime soon: A mediakix study predicts that the ad spend for influencer marketing could reach $10 billion by next year:
Influencer marketing is also going to be influenced by artificial intelligence. With each year, AI is making the process of finding the right influencers to partner with easier and faster. It’s helping identify those with better engagement, fewer fake followers, and a higher chance at generating a positive ROI. In addition, artificial intelligence is transforming influencer marketing in the following ways:
- Image recognition with ANN
- Determining influencer performance with NLP
- Predicting incentives with ANN
- Determining an influencer's influence
- Flagging posts that don’t follow disclosure guidelines
- Elimination of fake engagements and spam bots
8) Social Messaging Apps
If you think social messaging apps are just for sending emojis to your friends, take a look at these numbers:
- 1.3 billion monthly users are active on Facebook Messenger
- 10 billion messages are sent between people and businesses on Facebook Messenger every month
- WhatsApp has 1.6 billion active users and 55 billion messages are sent via every day
- The top three social messaging apps – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat – have more combined users than Facebook or YouTube (not by much, but still…)
These statistics show the popularity of social messaging apps and since people are spending more time messaging each other, it makes sense to market your company’s products and services where your potential customers are hanging out.
Social messaging apps can be very useful in sending messages to customers directly, as they allow personalization (see #4 above) and add value to users’ experience. In addition, people expect businesses to have a presence on messaging apps because it’s a direct and easy way to interact with them. In fact, 50% of people say they are willing to shop at a company that communicates through messaging apps.
Reasons for your brand to use messaging apps include:
- Cultivate contact
- Deliver information
- Boost sales
- Involve people in events
- Regain potential customers
- Provide support and assistance
9) Visual Search
Visual search can take the user experience to a totally new level: people can upload an image to conduct a search and get more specific results.
Not surprisingly, Pinterest has jumped on the visual search bandwagon – they came out with Lens, a visual search tool that allows users to take a photo of an item to find out where to buy it online, search for similar products or view pinboards of related items. As Marketing Land puts it, it turns your phone’s camera into a search bar:
In the year and a half since the launch of Lens, Pinterest has continued to update its functionality:
- They introduced Pincodes, a QR code-type technology that enables you to find inspiration while you're out shopping or flipping through your favorite magazines.
- They launched Lens Your Look to take the guesswork out of outfit planning.
- They partnered with brands like Target to allow people to search their catalog using related products from the real world.
Make sure you are optimizing for visual search, because (not surprisingly) the top search categories for Lens are:
- Home decor
And Pinterest is not the only one with visual search.
Google Lens is a visual search engine by Google, which recognizes objects and landmarks through a camera app. If you take a photo of a:
- Business card: You can save the phone number or address to a contact.
- Book: You can get reviews and other details about it.
- Landmark or building: You can get more details about it.
- Painting in a museum: You can get details about it.
As CNet says, “Google Lens is turning into what Google Glass never was” when it comes to real-time augmented reality.
CamFind is another visual search mobile app which enables you to search for anything from your mobile phone simply by snapping a picture.
Instead of typing queries into a search engine, you can directly search through images to find similar images, price comparisons, local shopping results, etc. You can also take a picture of a movie poster and CamFind will show you movie information, trailers, showtimes and local theaters.
And with Bing Visual Search, you can search for a specific element within an image without having to go through all the current hoops. For example, let’s say you’re looking for kitchen decoration images. You click on a thumbnail result to get to the “Detail View”, decide you like the chandelier in the image, and then can easily discover where to purchase it.
As per Social Media Today:
- 62% of Millennials are more interested in visual search capabilities than any other new technology
- Images are returned for 19% of search queries on Google
- There are over 600 million visual searches on Pinterest each month
Marketers can get the edge on competitors by jumping on the visual search trend in 2019 to draw customers and serve them the perfect product.
Micro-Moments are “moments when we turn to a device – often a smartphone – to take action on whatever we need or want right now.”
People generally make instant decisions on what to eat, which restaurant to choose, what to purchase or where to go, so the Micro-Moments that every marketer should know about are:
To take advantage of micro-moments in 2019, you need to be where consumers are searching for information in the moment – or, as Google puts it, marketers have to “be there, be useful, be quick.”
The growing popularity of micro-moments means that marketers must rethink the linear buyer funnel that follows a set path: awareness, consideration and decision. In 2019 and beyond, the customer journey is becoming more of a whirling dervish type of funnel wherein people think of, see or talk about something and presto! they need to learn about it, watch it, buy it, etc. right NOW. Our almost complete dependence on our smartphones aids and encourages this.
As per Mention, “When we act on our needs in the moment, our expectations are high and our patience is low. This makes the quality, relevance and usefulness of marketing more important than ever.” To get the most out of micro-moments, you should:
- Identify your consumers’ “I-want-to-buy” moments
- Be there in these moments of need
- Deliver relevant content
- Make it easy for them to make a purchase
- Measure every moment that matters
11) Voice Search & Smart Speakers
The increasing use of voice search has made it important for companies to rethink their digital marketing strategies in 2019. Consider these numbers:
- 50% of all searches will be via voice by 2020
- 13% of all American homes owned a smart speaker in 2017, and is expected to increase to 55% by 2022
- As of January 2018, there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month
- 25% of shoppers used voice assistants during their holiday shopping in 2017
- 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that their devices are used as part of their daily routines
- Voice shopping is set to jump to $40 billion in 2022, up from $2 billion today
- Global smart speaker shipments grew nearly 200% year-over-year in Q3 2018 reaching 22.7 million units in the quarter
Overall, people are expecting to be using voice search far more in the future:
Voice search plays an important role in providing all the relevant information people are searching for through audio content. AI is getting smarter and the number of errors made by voice assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google has reduced.
As Digital Marketing Institute puts it: “Adopting a voice search strategy isn't just about remaining relevant – it’s also about creating a unique and optimized customer experience that will foster relationships and build brand loyalty.”
Many brands have included voice search in their digital marketing strategies to deliver value-based content effectively to their customers, such as:
- Patron tequila helps consumers access personalized cocktail recipes
- Domino’s allows pizza-lovers to order from the comfort of their couch without having to pick up the phone or even place an online order
- PayPal users can engage Siri to send money to friends, family or businesses
- Nestlé created a skill that provides voice cooking instructions as you cook
- Tide provides advice about removing stains caused by over 200 different substances
- Campbell’s has a skill that helps hungry consumers to choose and cook recipes
Google Assistant has 2,000 “actions” and Alexa has 30,000 “skills,” which are functions that allow these voice assistants to react very specifically to user commands and queries.
And keep in mind that not only will more companies produce audio content in the hopes of gaining brand awareness (so you should, too), but ads are likely on their way next. That means that Alexa will tell you the answer to your question along with a “word from her sponsor”.
For all voice technology, remember to write in a conversational tone, focus on getting featured snippets on Google, and think about keywords that people will speak rather than type.
12) Social Media Stories
First Snapchat came out with the concept of “My Story,” then Instagram and Facebook stories were introduced, and then YouTube unveiled their own story format: Reels. Here’s a social media stories timeline:
Since these types of stories disappear after a set period of time, this is a great opportunity for marketers to make good use of FOMO (fear of missing out).
The benefits of using social media stories include:
- Increased brand awareness
- Constant engagement with followers
- Increased traffic to your web page
- Opportunity to reach younger audiences
Get inspired by some of these brands using social media stories.
13) Browser Push Notifications
Because email has been running into all sorts of issues with tighter controls, including GDPR and stricter filters, and with the younger audience favoring other methods of communication, push notifications are on the rise.
Statistics show that 33% of 18-34 year olds always opt in to web push notifications:
As part of the bid to engage users on multiple channels, browser push notifications are something you will see more and more brands adopting in 2019 – and they are getting more and more sophisticated and personalized. In fact, using personalized push notifications increases conversions:
- 7% open rate for segmented push messaging compared to a 3% open rate for generic, broadcast messages (a 2x improvement)
- 54% of users convert from a segmented push notification, compared to only 15% for broadcast messages (a 3x improvement)
Notifications triggered by behavior are being used to re-engage users who have shown interest but failed to convert, and in recovering revenue from abandoned shopping carts.
Notifications can even include images and CTAs to maximize conversion rates from such efforts:
14) Content Marketing Continues to Dominate SEO
The effects of Google’s latest search algorithm update in March 2019 are still being analyzed, but early indications show that regularly updated complete content is again being heavily favored.
Content marketing is so important that 88% of B2B content marketers agree that creating content makes their audience view their organization as a credible and trusted resource:
Stats from Content Marketing Institute:
- Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing & generates 3x as many leads
- Content marketing has lower up-front costs & deeper long-term benefits than paid search
- 615 million devices now use ad blockers, which means your ads are not being seen by as many people
- Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than those without
- Content marketing rakes in conversion rates 6x higher than other methods
With Google continuing to value well-researched, regularly updated articles, content marketing is something that marketers are going to continue to invest in. In short, content marketing is a great way to attract new customers to your site and build relationships with them in real, quantifiable ways over a period of time.
15) Social Commerce
With e-commerce and social media both growing at alarming rates, it’s no wonder clever people are pulling the two together to maximize opportunities for sales.
Instagram introduced shoppable posts last year, allowing brands to link to their store from Instagram posts with ‘Buy Now’ buttons.
In March of this year, Instagram unveiled Instagram Checkout, which lets users complete their purchase from within Instagram:
E-commerce brands hope this will reduce the risk that customers will abandon their purchase because they have to switch apps or sign in to an unknown store.
The feature is currently limited to a small number of high-profile brands (but is sure to be rolled out to everyone else soon enough), including:
- MAC Cosmetics
- Michael Kors
- Oscar de la Renta
16) Omni-Channel Marketing
If multi-channel marketing was 2018’s buzzword, omni-channel promises to be all the rage in the second half of 2019.
Omni-channel marketing is the process of using multiple platforms (such as social media, apps or blog content) to give your audience a multi-channel experience.
To stay ahead, brands must present a seamless, consistent voice and message across all available mediums, including physical storefronts, social media channels, online, in catalogs and anywhere else you can imagine. All channels should be linked in one all-encompassing strategy for the best results.
Stats show that brands using three or more channels in an automation workflow can see these results:
- Engagement rate: 18.96% on omnichannel vs 5.4% on single-channel
- Purchase frequency: 250% higher on omnichannel vs single-channel
- Average order value: 13% more per order on omnichannel vs single-channel
- Customer retention rates: 90% higher for omnichannel vs single-channel
With ever-more sophisticated SaaS companies providing the tools to manage multiple channels more efficiently, it’s becoming easier to manage an omni-channel strategy, although it remains a huge challenge.
Users demand personalization and want to be able to browse a physical store, view products on social media, and purchase online. If you’re not keeping up with the tide, someone else will get that business.
This is another area where AI and big data are playing a role by helping brands to understand consumer behavior better and personalize at an individual level at scale. Getting inside the head of your ideal customer’s buying journey is key to actioning an effective omni-channel approach.
17) Augmented Reality (AR) & Immersive Technologies
Gartner predicts that by 2022, 70% of enterprises will be experimenting with immersive technologies, and 25% will have deployed to production.
While virtual reality (VR) makes a lot of noise and gets everyone excited with grand sci-fi ideas, AR is much more implementable from a marketing standpoint. Experts predict that AR will continue to outpace VR in terms of market share:
Brands are increasingly using the technology to enhance the consumer experience and increase sales.
ModiFace, which has recently been acquired by L’Oreal, produces AR applications for brands. Sephora Virtual Artist, an impressive example of ModiFace’s technology, allows you to see how the different colors of various forms of make-up will look on your face, without having to physically apply it:
And IKEA has their own AR app called IKEA Place which allows you to take a picture of a room in your home with your smartphone camera (with just iOS 11.0.1 for now) in order to “test drive” IKEA’s furniture in it. You can move the furniture around and check out how it looks from different angles:
With AR improving rapidly, we will see a huge uptake in brands finding useful applications for the technology in the future.
18) Predictive & Augmented Analytics
Predictive analytics is the practice of using data mining, predictive modelling and machine learning to identify patterns and attempt to predict the future. It is becoming more and more sophisticated and widespread in many industries.
One example where it is already commonplace is credit scoring, where individuals are given a score based on their financial behavior, which is used to predict their future behavior.
In digital marketing, we will see a lot more of this, as it is being used in advanced lead scoring, improved segmentation and individual personalization, in order to reduce churn and improve customer loyalty, just to name a few of the applications.
An example that we’re all familiar with is Amazon’s product recommendations, which have been estimated to account for as much as 30% of total sales. And now with Amazon Assistant, a Chrome extension, this retail giant’s product recommendations extends beyond their own website to the entire Internet:
Augmented Analytics, on the other hand, “automates data insight by utilizing Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing to automate data preparation and enable data sharing.”
As per Bonnie D. Graham: “Where predictive analytics uses machine learning to predict what will happen, augmented analytics uses machine intelligence to boost human intelligence with the why, so we can work faster and smarter on ever-larger datasets.”
Gartner predicts by 2020, over 40% of data science tasks will be automated, which means that insight into the enormous amounts of big data that businesses are collecting will allow for better and more personalized decision-making and thus increased productivity.
19) Growth of Geo-Fencing
While the idea of marketing to people based on their location is nothing new, we do expect an increase in the use of geo-fencing – this market is set to grow to $2.2 billion by 2023 – along with the rise of mobile use:
Geo-fencing allows real-time targeting based on a user’s location. A target area is defined as , say, within a mile of a restaurant, and when a user enters or leaves this area, they receive a push notification, text message or other form of marketing communication.
Research shows that of people who open a push notification, 54% of users convert from segmented push compared to only 15% for broadcast messages. And 52% of users enable push messaging on their apps.
76, an American fuel company, used Waze to mark their gas stations on a map throughout California. As drivers approached, a logo would pop up on their map showing them where to stop for gas and offering entry to a competition if they filled up. Their “Tank 5” campaign resulted in a 6.5% navigation rate to fuel stations.
For industries that need to convert digital users into brick-and-mortar customers, geo-fencing is going to become more and more important in their marketing strategy.
20) Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
Progressive Web Apps are essentially websites that work like mobile apps. They offer the functionality of a native mobile app – fast load times, push notifications, working offline, utilizing device hardware, etc. – without being limited to one platform (which in reality means Android or iOS).
This allows dev teams to develop web apps for any device that work just like a mobile app.
By 2020, the number of smartphone users is expected to reach 2.87 billion, so with total page views on mobile increasing year-over-year at almost 50% worldwide, mobile is more crucial than ever to your digital strategy:
PWAs are going to become ever-more prevalent as the mobile revolution continues at pace.
Utilize as many of these trends as you can in 2020 and watch your business change.