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Top Digital Marketing Trends in 2020 (aka 10 Ways to Drive Your Customers Totally Wild)

See the top digital marketing trends for 2020, and get a jump on your competitors, with a few ways to make your customers feel so touched they’ll never want to let you go. We may not be Cosmo, but we know the marketing best practices to make your customers crave more, more, more!

1. @ your customer on every single social media channel. Tell them their dog is dead. They won’t know what hit them! Especially if they have a cat.

JK.

1. Brands should be selectively social.

Brands will start to take a stand when it comes to social platforms by selectively participating in only the ones that are right for engaging with their customers in 2020.

Here’s why:

Ubiquity: Now that there are so many social channels: Pinterest, Twitter, TikTok, SnapChat, just to name a few – brands are struggling to maintain a presence across them all. It’s too expensive and time-consuming to be on every single outlet, and to do it well (timely responses and relevant content).

Harm & Disengagement: In addition, many networks are seeing decreased engagement, and more and more studies reveal the potential harm of spending time consuming social media (versus actively participating).

Values: Plus, as more networks such as Facebook grapple with disinformation, brands can take a moral stand to appeal to value-based millennials, by removing their presence from select channels.

Social media recommendation for 2020:

  • Take the time to understand all the social channels out there – and map the audiences they reach.
  • Align with only certain channels that match your brand values.
  • Pick only one or two.
  • Be incredibly responsive – meaning ideally less than an hour turn-around.
  • Create rich-context appropriate content – invest in custom photography, or people who speak multiple languages, or whatever experts you need to really stand apart on the channel and deliver a unique experience.

2. During every Live Chat interaction with a customer, speak only in quotes from Chandler Bing of Friends. Could your customer be any hornier?!

JK.

2. Google will penalize sites for Live Chat pop-ups.

Brands will look for ways to more natively incorporate the Live Chat experience into their websites to have conversations with their customers in 2020. And, they’ll build chat bots with personality.

Here’s why:

User-experience: While chat bots are predicted to power about 80% of customer service in 2020, they provide a disruptive experience for visitors hitting a site. The experience is as though the Walmart greeter met you right as you entered the door (their face to your face!).

Google’s history: Google could begin penalizing sites for live chat that opens as the visitor lands, as they have done with other pop-ups. Google also continues to surface more and more of websites’ content into its results. Chat transcripts hide helpful content from Google.

Time on page: When done well, Live Chat can help customers navigate to customer support or sales, within the the time they’re most likely to want to learn more (literally the moment they’re on the website). When done poorly, customers are sent through a program of spiraling, unhelpful answers like cable TV phone support, leading to more frustration. Live Chat might skew Google’s impression of your page by keeping visitors on it longer, even though the exact page’s content itself isn’t any good. Google will look to rectify this.

Experience: A chatbot with personality can endear customers. By using the metaphor of a personality, users can more easily understand the way the bot works, and build a relationship. A bad example of this is Microsoft’s Clippy who persistently got in your way with unhelpful tips; a good example is the Capital One chat bot, Eno, who’s personality is so secrecy-shrouded it’s patented.

Live chat recommendation for 2020:

  • Monitor chat with real live humans
  • Create brand guidelines for how your bot can respond in helpful ways, that build a expressive personality
  • Only pop chat up when the visitor shows exit intent
  • Add the option to talk to someone via video embedded within the app because it could lead to less miscommunication & more relationship building which will ultimately save more time
  • Use a tool like Zapier to automate pushing someone from chat to your sales team/CS as quickly as possible

3. Send direct mail to all your customer’s family, friends, and first-grade teacher letting them know s/he is addicted to prescription pain medicine. Invite them all to participate in an intervention. Your customer will be so touched, s/he’ll tell everyone else he knows about it!

JK.

3. Direct mail will make a come back.

Brands will harness the new new (the old!) by using good ol’ fashioned snail mail to engage customers in 2020.

Here’s why:

Online is crowded: For the first time in 2019, companies were slated to spend more on digital ads than they will for those appearing on more traditional formats, like TV and print. If everyone’s online, one way to stand out is to be offline.

Cost: Because spend has moved online, the cost of offline has fallen. Direct mail can cost anywhere from 10 cents to $10, depending upon your creative and which company you go with. There are options as sophisticated as PebblePost and as classic as USPS.

Personalization: Direct mail such as handwritten thank you notes or holiday cards offer a way to personalize the customer experience, and form a relationship that seems more real and lasting.

Direct mail recommendation for 2020:

  • Send useful content, such as a check list, stickers, or a calendar to your leads
  • Send to contacts already in your database
  • Just include your website URL, not a custom one because they’re too hard to remember, and watch Google Analytics for a direct traffic boost
  • Get the direct mail revolution book for more ideas

4. Use images of very very skinny people throughout your website. Your customer will think s/he’s gained weight and work out extra hard at the gym. Nothing says long-lasting love and romance like sweat.

JK.

4. Brands should make an investment in better visuals.

Brands will spend mega money on better graphics, images, and photographs as visual search becomes more popular.

Here’s why:

Stronger search engines: Bing, Google, and Pinterest have all been developing their visual search algorithms.

Evergreen: Because images can be surfaced more easily, their value as evergreen content increases. And, getting them right and on-brand matters even more because they can be found forever.

Better tech: The iPhone 11 pro makes the capability for great photos even more accessible, at a cost that’s more reasonable for a business. And, tools such as Canva and Upwork are making all sorts of designs and designers more accessible.

Images recommendation for 2020:

  • Develop brand guidelines (get the book on building a brand story) if you don’t already have them
  • Hire experts to bring your look to life
  • Name image files using helpful sentence strings & provide alt text for each image
  • Keep image size light to help with quick loading making search engines more likely to display it first

5. Talk the talk. Tease them with tantalizing mixed messages. You’re giving it all away. Now, you’re not giving it all away. They’ll surely be salivating.

JK.

5. Harness SEO A/B testing to grow organic sessions.

Brands will try to harness even more organic traffic by testing the page title variables that can lead to increased click through from search engines.

Here’s why:

More human: In November 2019 Google updated its algorithm to include the new BERT system, designed to help Google understand the natural language that people use in their search queries. Google’s John Mueller says that “rather than chase the latest SEO trends, it’s more important to ensure a site has fast speeds, useful links, and well-written content.”

Easier implementation: Tools such as RankScience make it easy to from title tags, CTR and on-page changes. You just put one line of custom JavaScript onto your website, and then you can see which HTML changes result in an uplift in traffic from Google.

SEO recommendation for 2020:

  • If organic is one of your top 3 channels, get a jump on competitors by making an investment in this area early
  • Test title tags by taking cues from what’s working well on the SEM side, play with format to stand apart
  • Try adding the year to the title tag

6. Set the mood with music. Put on the right tunes when they visit you. “Skin” by Rihanna is a sure way to make them remember you.

JK.

6. Interest in podcasts will ramp up. Video production will ramp down.

Brands will invest more in sharing unique stories through their own podcasting to engage younger audiences or by placing ads across others’ podcasts. Meanwhile, that investment, will mean less spending in video because it’s a more expensive format to produce.

Here’s why:

Compounding: The earlier brands get a jump on the listening space the better. Episodes they produce today can still get listens years from now.

Growing & younger audience: Spotify said it planned to spend as much as $500 million on podcast-related acquisitions this year. 38% of millennials aged 18-34 listen to podcasts according to Edison Research. 

Efficiency: Adobe Analytics said 60% of listeners look up products or services they hear about through a podcast ad, with nearly a quarter of them making a purchase.

Podcasting recommendation for 2020:

  • Start by testing paid podcast placements (mention your website url)
  • Bundle your top performing blog content into a podcast series
  • Take your time to find the right person to be the voice, as you want them to enunciate clearly while feeling like your brand (sites such as voices.com can be helpful).

7. Move every piece of copy on your website to the left by exactly three pixels. It will drive them to the ends of sanity. Welcome to orgasm town: Population, you.

JK.

7. There will be increased use of and education in digital psychology.

Brands will harness the science behind human decision making to present more compelling offers and more intuitive user-flows. Brands that succeed will focus on just three elements: “create a motivation, a trigger (that lets a user sate that motivation), and ability (make it easy to act upon)” as shared by Cliff Kuang in User Friendly.

Here’s why:

Need to complete: Users don’t like to leave things incomplete. We are motivated to finish a set of tasks, even with no further reward other than the satisfaction of completing them. Everything from sign-up flows, to cart check out can harness this principle.

Social proof: People are pack animals, more likely to do something when presented with evidence that others have done it. This applies in particular when we are unsure of what to do.

Loss aversion: Users feel losses more deeply than gains of the same value. It’s more painful to lose something than to get that same thing.

Digital psychology recommendation in 2020:

  • Focus on loss in offers: “Don’t lose $ every month on Y. Buy X.”
  • Show reviews, testimonials, or social share counts.
  • Show a progress bar during the sign-up process.

8. Be attentive to their every need. Ask again and again how they’re feeling and how you can help. Don’t hesitate to follow them around everywhere they go.

JK.

8. Instant customer support (or CX).

As brands focus on delighting their customers, they’ll continue to put more of a priority on providing helpful and instant customer service.

Here’s why:

New communication standards: Now that WhatsApp is used personally, and Slack is used at work, people are used to instant response. So that type of interaction has become the expectation.

CX as an opportunity: Customers are giving you feedback across all sorts of channels now – from responding to emails to tweeting at you at all hours of the day. By developing a way to harness their ideas and respond immediately, your brand can stand apart.

Customer marketing recommendation in 2020:

  • Power your customer support with real-time data (such as ways to personalize each experience with notes about preferences, etc) to make smart decisions
  • Set up the tools to get support agents connected to the right people via Live Chat quickly
  • Create at least one engineering squad that solely troubleshoots customers’ issues and works on their ideas in real-time (similar to Wieden & Kennedy’s hugely successful Old Spice Man campaign)

9. Use your voice to take control of the situation. Prepare to experience a new level of passion.

JK.

9. Voice search results will matter.

Brands will invest in using the markup and more conversational writing styles, to ensure their content appears in Google’s snippets, so as to land valuable voice search traffic.

Here’s why:

Increased use: In 2020, at least 30% of all Internet searches will be conducted without a screen, and since 40.7% of all voice search answers come from a featured snippet, if your marketing is strong enough, you could be the one hitting that coveted spot.

How:How” searches account for 9% of all voice searches. So creating content that helps answer “how to” questions could earn a brand more exposure.

Conversations: Voice search makes search inquiries way more conversational in nature. That means you should write like a human talks: shifting from short and stiff keywords to more specific, and longer-tail search terms.

Voice search recommendation in 2020:

  • Add micro-data like location, phone number, pricing, and operating hours, which helps search engines understand what is on any given page which is key for Voice Search. Do this by having an organized and easily readable site map. Test your microdata with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
  • Use Answer the Public to find the specific questions your customers might be asking so you can use those words and respond to them.
  • Mark up your text with an easy, automatic schema mark up tool.

10. Show warmth, an interest in their well-being, and a desire to connect by retargeting them with ads everywhere they go on the Internet. Nothing says love like stalking, and you’re going to be the best stalker there ever was.

JK.

10. Data sets as content.

As larger sets of data get created with our growing online footprint, brands will get craftier in their use of tools such as Tableau, Google Analytics, and Looker to create consumable content. And, tools will emerge to hold those statisticians more accountable, because as Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” And those data sets will be transformed into beautiful visuals that will be devoured.

Here’s why:

The right data: There’s more recognition that data can be used in harmful ways, so there will be a focus on showcasing data correct. Omitting baselines, or the axis of a graph, is one of the most common ways data is manipulated in graphs. This misleading tactic is frequently used to make one group look better than another. In the data visualization world, this is known as a truncated graph.

The right format: The simplest and most common solution for creating charts and graphs is spreadsheet platforms such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Both offer visualization options, including bar and line graphs, piecharts, and scatter plots. Google Sheets also includes maps and timelines.

Bite-size content: More people are consuming content on their mobile devices, and they spend 60 percent of their time on social media. As screens become smaller and attention spans get shorter, brands must focus on feeding their audience the bite-sized content they crave. Share patterns and trends, using tools such as Canva to design easily consumable final images.

Data visualization recommendations for 2020:

  • Start with a free solution such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets paired with Canva or Beautiful.ai
  • Create a goal for number of data visualizations to share each month
  • Create visualizations to answer your customers’ most common questions (as found in your CS tickets) or about your customers (people love themselves!) Spotify’s year-in-review lists are similar to this!

Need even more digital marketing trends for 2020?

What will be trends in 2020?

1. Live chat
2. Visual search
3. Voice search
4. Podcasting
5. SEO A/B testing
6. Digital psychology design
7. Social media selectivity
8. Instant CX
9. Stronger visuals
10. Direct mail

What is the fastest growing digital marketing platform?

Social media networks. Though, when it comes to search, DuckDuckGo is growing at the highest rate.

What is a digital marketing plan?

A document that outlines a digital marketing program including: 1. Organizational goal alignment (business strategy that the marketing strategy nests under)
2. Market segmentation – who are you targeting?
3. Product description – what is it? what’s the price point?
4. Value proposition – problems you solve (needs), why YOU can deliver (features), how (confirm app experience) and differentiators (should include competitive audit)
5. Messaging – what is the consistent way you’re talking about the company to your audience?
6. Channel strategy (earned, owned & paid buckets) – where are you going to find them?
7. Marketing calendar – inclusive of evergreen campaigns and defined promos / campaign pushes. Should also feed an editorial calendar.
8. Metrics to measure success & defined owners
9. Bottom up forecast (use your channel strategy)
10. Staffing plan to support (internal & outsourced)
11. Budget to execute the plan

Learn about the latest 2020 digital marketing trends:

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Digital #marketing trends to get ahead of for 2020: Live chat; Visual search; Voice search; Podcasting; SEO A/B testing; Digital psychology design & more! Click To Tweet

By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.