Where does the time go? It seems like just a year ago we were making predictions about 2019 digital marketing trends, yet here we are. For the past 15 years, the Anvil team has put on thinking caps, gazed into the crystal ball and read tea leaves to predict digital marketing trends that will alter the landscape for marketers and brands alike in the coming year. Check out our self-assessment of our 2019 digital marketing predictions. This year, we maintained the tradition, sharing our 2020 digital marketing predictions.
Advertising: Amazon Will Eat Google and Facebook’s Lunch
You may be aware that many product searches start on Amazon. Amazon, smart agencies and brands are already well-aware (that includes Anvil of course). What we see changing most in 2020 is Amazon’s ability to improve its advertising options for brands and sellers alike, especially in the voice search realm (we’ve been wrong about this in the past, but we really feel it this year!). Amazon Advertising is one of the few high growth areas of its business lines and will make greater strides in 2020, taking more market share from Google and even Facebook. Make sure you have an Amazon marketing strategy for your product business in 2020 or get left in the dust.
Display Ads: Animated GIFs, Video and Interactivity will Replace Image Ads
Static image ads on social platforms will start to fall away and videos, animated GIFs and interactive ads will supplant the 25-year-old ad format on popular platforms like Google and Facebook. This trend is already starting to occur, with video becoming increasingly prevalent. The reason is obvious: interactive and motion-oriented ad formats are more engaging, memorable and tend to convert better. While static imagery is still a majority of ad format inventory, that will change by the end of 2020. Brands and agencies designing ads in animated, interactive and video formats will take a leadership role and stand out in a crowded marketplace.
SEO: Structured Data Strategy will be More Important than Ever Before
In 2019, “0” or ‘no-click’ searches surpassed regular clicks on organic and paid links in search results. As a result, brands will need to become intimate with structured data, most commonly powered by schema markup. As more searches move to mobile devices, users are not scrolling down the page, as they expect the first result they see to answer their query. Similarly, with voice search, users expect the first search result to be the best answer to their query. Marking up content with multiple types of structured data to secure the featured snippet real estate will be more important than ever. Sites who do not take advantage of structured data will see their site slip down the results page and will ultimately lose traffic to competitors with strong structured markup strategies. Google wants to be able to provide an answer to a user query as fast as possible, and with structured data on a page Google can more easily understand and compartmentalize the information on you site. With that better understanding, Google will be able and more likely to serve your content as a result when it is applicable to a query. Routinely making sure the structured data implemented on your site is error-free and up-to-date should be a required part of every ongoing SEO strategy.
SEO: Google Will Mandate That All Websites Be Voice Search Compliant
Anticipating the continued proliferation of smart speakers and digital voice assistants through 2020, Google will proactively mandate that all websites be voice search compliant by the end of 2020. Currently, over 40 percent of searches are voice-activated and that will continue to increase, likely becoming most searches by 2021. Website copy and content will have to be voice search friendly to rank well in Google searches. Brands will need to utilize structured data (aka schema markup or rich snippets) to power the ‘best answer’ on smart speakers or position 0 on screens. Site structure and content will also need to be altered to better answer questions commonly asked via voice assistants and smart speakers. Websites that lack structured data will be penalized by Google. This prediction expands on the previous structured data trend.
SEO: Augmented Reality Will Play a Bigger Role
Imagine virtually trying out clothes from your favorite brands without leaving your home. Augmented Reality (AR) can make this a reality. AR provides brands an opportunity to overlay information in video, text, or image format onto everyday surroundings, objects and real-world locations. Nearly 80 percent of the information the brain takes in is visual. By providing information in a visual medium, that also has the spatial nature of augmented reality, brands are giving the brain a very intuitive way of accessing and understanding information. ECommerce will benefit the most from AR implementation, as will destinations, automotive and other complex sales. Brands like adidas and Converse have already implemented AR, earning higher conversion rates with fewer product returns.
Email Marketing: The Flywheel Will Displace the Traditional Sales Funnel
More companies will be moving away from the traditional sales/marketing ‘funnel’ to the Flywheel model in 2020 in order to focus on creating experiences that engage and empower customers. Originally created in 1898, the AIDA (Awareness/Interest/Desire/Action) funnel model is a linear approach that focuses on attracting new customers and engaging them in a business or service to turn them into a quantifiable lead. The flywheel approach takes an innovative view of the buyer journey and uses all client-facing roles such as customer service, marketing, and sales to interact with customers at every stage. Attracting, engaging, and delighting customers even past the point of purchase – so companies continue to interact with customers instead of treating them as one-time-only prospects. The customer is the lynchpin, with the flywheel itself divided into three equal segments, each representing stages along the customer journey: attract, engage, and delight. Each area creates energy and passes it along to the next, with the delight phase feeding back into attract. Note: Anvil was not paid by HubSpot to endorse its model, we just agree with the methodology and hope for greater awareness and adoption.
Email Marketing: Push Notifications Will Replace Email
Email is going the way of the dinosaur, maybe not next year, but in the coming years. Starting in 2020, however, there will be a notable shift to push notifications and chatbots as viable replacements, especially for brands targeting Gen Y/Z, consumers and retail environments. Push notifications are alert style messages that can be sent to a user via desktop or mobile web, depending on context. At least twice as many people today sign up for web push notifications, compared to newsletter registrations. Only the top 10 percent of the email marketers can achieve a newsletter sign-up rate that matches the performance of push notifications. The average time that passes before the recipient opens a newsletter is 6.4 hours. With push notifications, the recipient will see the message immediately. The updates to the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) and stricter filters have dented the potency of email marketing, which will be further compromised by the CCPA legislation. As alluded to earlier, younger, digital-native audiences favor fewer touchpoints and other methods of communication than email, when engaging brands.
Social Media: Performance Metrics Will Replace ‘Likes’
Those following social media closely are likely familiar with Instagram’s recent decision to hide “Likes” from followers. With the proposed change, only account owners and select third-party platforms will have access to that data. While influencers and marketers alike have voiced concerns about the change, it does provide an opportunity for everyone to be smarter about social media strategies, especially evaluating influencer marketing programs. For example, influencers will need to up their game to become more professional about how they represent their potential impact, focusing on reach and engagement rates over Likes. This trend will also push brands to adopt performance models based on transactional goals. The social platforms, especially Instagram and Pinterest, are making buying product easier than ever, so the timing is ripe for change.
Social Media: Consumers will Drive Alignment and Transparency in Influencer Marketing
Moving forward, look for brands and influencers to create better alignment and transparency. According to research, 84 percent of consumers believe authenticity is important when choosing influencers to follow. More compelling: only 11 percent of influencers are CMA and FTC-compliant when disclosing relationships with sponsoring brands. Millennials are increasingly skeptical of businesses’ motives and impact on society, according to Deloitte. As a result, brands looking to target Gens X, Y and Z will need to be more intentional about how they select and engage influencers based on core values and fit vs reach. Another trend that will go together with transparency and alignment is a shift to “always-on” instead of project-based influencer campaigns. The writing is on the wall for brands and agencies, especially for brands targeting younger consumers, to plan accordingly.
Social Media: TikTok Will Lose Momentum – Relegating It to a Snapchat Knockoff
While we’ve seen a good deal of hype and momentum built around TikTok this year, marketers are still trying to figure out how they can use it to their advantage. It is true that TikTok saw incredible growth this year (over 500 million active users in Fall 2019), which earned it the title “social platform of 2019.” But’s also true that signups are coming to a near grinding halt. As a result, parallels can be made with Snapchat’s adoption history – incredible growth, everyone joins, signups slow, users leave/become less engaged. We believe TikTok will figure out how to utilize ads more effectively in 2020, but we don’t think user engagement will sustain and the platform will end up in the same purgatory as Snapchat. It will become an afterthought as brands evaluate platforms on which to target and invest. The one exception to this prediction, is if you’re looking to reach a very, very broad audience within a certain *cough* young demographic (and China as a growth marketplace).
We hope to get good grades when we review our 2020 digital marketing predictions at the end of the year. Let us know what you think of our 2020 digital marketing trends in the comments section or add your own predictions. May your 2020 be full of fulfilled predictions!
Lewis is currently Chief Marketing Officer for Deksia, where he is responsible for the overall strategic direction of marketing. After 22 years running Anvil Media, he sold to the Midwest systematic marketing agency. He is a co-founder of SEMpdx and its first President. He speaks internationally, writes for industry publications like SmartBrief and Portland Business Journal and has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University since 2000. He’s founded or co-founded four agencies and two organizations since 1999, including pdxMindShare. Lewis volunteers his time with SCORE, teaching a social media workshop and has been a board member, marketing committee chair and is a volunteer reader for SMART Reading. He’s been named a Top 40 Under 40, Marketer of the Year by AMA Oregon and a Top 100 Digital Marketing Influencer by BuzzSumo.