If you were a digital marketer trying to build a yearly marketing plan back in 2010, you should remember it vividly.
It was a fascinating time to promote online, wasn’t it?
Apple released the iPad, smartphones reached 1 in 4 mobile subscribers, and businesses worldwide were in a frenzy to optimize their websites to smaller devices.
Social media soared to new levels, with 9 out of every 10 US internet users socially networking online.
And the word “viral” went—well—viral.
This was only 10 years ago!
So what will the year 2020 bring?
Let’s look at the 6 big changes that will dominate the new marketing decade, and how you should adjust your marketing plan accordingly.
Change #1 – Go Multi-Channel or Go Home
If you’re still stuck to a single channel, then it’s time to get with the program.
A multi-channel marketing plan is now an essential part of doing business. In fact, this has been the case for a while. Harvard Business Review conducted a study of 46,000 shoppers back in 2015-16 and found that only 7% were online-only shoppers and 20% store-only shoppers. The remaining 73% used multiple channels during their shopping journey, making them what has come to be known as omnichannel customers.
It is often said that you should go where your customers are. Well, in 2020 your customers can be anywhere.
They can browse around in your store, fill their virtual cart on their computer, or tap “Buy Now” on their mobile.
You might convert them while they’re checking their inbox, scrolling through their social feed, or (most likely) searching on Google.
Heck, you can even convert them while they watch the new Marvel trailer on YouTube or listen to their favorite podcast.
However, if you promote your startups, you may want to tread more carefully than larger businesses. As Dave Gerhardt (former Chief Marketing Officer at Drift) says:
Change #2 – Beware Google!
For years, Google has been the #1 place to direct traffic to your website. But at the dawn of the 2020s, Google is becoming as much of a competitor to your business as an ally.
Lior Wiznitzer, Director of SEO & Content at Natural Intelligence notes that Google is gradually transforming from a search engine into a portal.
Google is disrupting more verticals—such as flights and hotels—and effectively competing against the businesses that appear on the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
And why should your potential customer go to your website if they get this:
With Google’s increasing use of featured snippets (those “People also ask” boxes that answer informational queries), more than 50% of Google searches now end without a click to a website.
Basically, the user types in a query, gets an answer, then leaves the page without taking any further action.
Gerhardt recently addressed this issue, and his conclusion was that there is no better time to build a brand. “A brand = direct traffic. There’s no Google in the way there,” he claims.
I know what you think:
“Being at the top of the Google SERPs is one of the most effective ways of building my brand.”
And you’re 100% right.
That’s why strong content can play an important role in your marketing plan. Write answers to common user queries to get the eyes of Google users on your brand—even if there’s no click.
Change #3 – Micro-Influencers Will Saturate the Market
If the 2010s were the decade of the influencers with social media numbers in the tens of millions, then the 2020s will be the decade of the micro-influencer.
What is a micro-influencer, you ask?
Simply put, they are people with fewer than 1 million followers that are considered experts in their respective verticals.
You probably follow that celeb vet that travels the world and cures dogs, or your friend’s personal trainer who posts wicked ab exercises, right?
If these people also occasionally share their toothbrush choice or go live from the new restaurant that just opened in Soho—they are micro-influencers.
Things have actually been heading this way for a while: a 2018 Fullscreen survey found that millennials were 25% more likely to try something recommended by a micro-influencer than by a celebrity with 20 million+ followers.
Sorry, Kim and Kourtney…
But now for the real zinger:
Another thing to look out for during the 2020s is the CGI influencer: computer-generated influencers who mimic real human influencers.
Check out this famous CGI influencer, Lil Miquela, making her Coachella debut :
Fullscreen recently asked a group of Gen Z and millennial consumers how they felt about CGI influencers. What it found was that 23% see CGI influencers as authentic, compared to 41% for human influencers, and 15% see CGI as credible, compared to 30% for humans.
So, CGI is still lagging behind. But as it becomes more sophisticated its approval ratings will likely grow.
Change #4 – Everyone Will Optimize for Voice Search (or Will They?)
Exact figures are hard to come by, but the general consensus is that voice search is growing.
Google reported, back in 2016, that 20% of search queries on Android were done using voice search. Other surveys at the time found that users mostly used voice search when they needed to find specific businesses in their area. So that’s not considered a full-on market disruption.
But wait! Don’t completely disregard text search just yet.
There is one way to optimize for voice search that you should already be doing anyway—and that is producing high-quality content with language that flows just like a normal human conversation. One of the notable aspects of Google text queries is that they don’t typically sound like how a person would speak.
Here’s an example:
When a person wants to find something—let’s say mortgage—they usually type in a 2-3-word query like “best mortgages 2020” or “lowest mortgage rates.”
But when the same person is using voice search, it tends to come out more naturally, like “Which are the best mortgage lenders?” or “Who offers the lowest mortgage rates?”
So it’s worth experimenting with both short-tail and long-tail keywords in your marketing.
Change #5 – Chatbots Will Conquer Instagram and WhatsApp
If you don’t use them in your own business, you are probably familiar with chatbots as a consumer.
Chatbots are those virtual assistants that pop up when you land on a website. Recently, Facebook has allowed developers to build chatbots into Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
Granted, in order to go down that bot route, you need a developer. But Udemy has a 4.9-star rated course that promises to teach you how to make a Facebook Messenger Chat Bot in 1 hour.
In a recent interview we conducted with Intercom’s Senior Growth Marketing Manager, Graham Ó Maonaigh, he said:
“I would say that almost every company can get value out of using live chat and chatbots. It can provide a seamless experience and can be much easier to manage. It allows that seamless switching between automation and live agent experience, which you don’t obviously get from email, or a [support] ticket.”
You can listen to the full interview here:
Change #6: Micro-campaigns
First, there was the drip campaign, designed to acquire customers through repeated sending of marketing materials. Now, we have the micro-campaign—small, hyper-targeted preview campaigns that run before the big campaign begins.
The micro-campaign is kind of like a minimum viable product for marketers. So instead of going in all guns blazing with a full-blown marketing campaign, micro-campaigns let you get the word out to the market with a small, cheaper campaign. It’s the best way to re-establish customer contact, scrub your database, generate revenue, ad expand your active customer list.
It can be a 30-second YouTube video or a one-off email you send to selected customers. This not only builds initial awareness; it also lets you test the market, create additional iterations, and adjust any loose ends before the bigger campaign kicks off.
Get with the Change – Today!
Being in digital marketing means moving with the times, and the times are certainly a-changin’ as we head into 2020.
I’m not saying you need to change all the above-mentioned aspects of your marketing plan. It depends on your product/service, budgets, scalability, etc.
But when preparing for the new year, make sure to consider these changes and think about how to adapt and plan for them.
For more tips on how to build a strong marketing plan that can withstand 2020’s changing trends—contact our marketing specialists.Update your marketing plan