As one decade draws to a close and another one begins, one thing we can count on is that digital marketing will continue to evolve at a breakneck pace. Innovations in technology, digital media, and platforms will be the drivers throughout 2020. In addition to new technologies, tweaks in Google and Facebook algorithms will also have a strong impact as the year wears on. For anyone involved in this space, the challenge will be to keep pace with all of the changes, so that their efforts continue to pay dividends.
Included below are some of the digital marketing trends we expect to thrive in 2020.
Chatbots Become Mainstream
Chatbots are software programs designed to interact with website visitors and customers. Their main advantage is that they can communicate with site visitors and answer their questions in real-time. Companies usually use chat windows to answer frequently asked questions or to help users find what they need on their site.
Instead of paying someone to monitor and communicate with customers, e-commerce sites can employ a chatbot. Because of advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, they can now handle increasingly complex requests. As a result, chatbots save both money and time by working faster and more efficiently than humans. They also operate both day and night and will never get upset or impatient with a customer. All of these factors add up to better customer service, which translates to higher conversion rates.
Social Messaging Apps Expand Their Reach
With apps like Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger growing in popularity, more companies are using private messaging groups instead of email as their primary means of communication. Some major brands are already trying to monetize these apps by enabling people to pay for products directly through the apps.
Indeed, we’ve already seen significant progress with apps like WeChat Pay and Venmo making it much easier to do things such as pay online or transfer money to peers. For this reason, more companies will adopt these channels as marketing tools in the coming year.
As traditional advertising and generic ads lose their effectiveness, targeted, personalized marketing will continue to pick up steam. Nearly 80% of people in a survey said they were more likely to patronize a company that offered a personalized experience. At this point, many consumers have grown to expect some degree of personalization from a business.
Big retailers like Amazon have built most of their business by looking at customer behavior and purchasing history and subsequently showcasing similar products through a recommendations tab. Other companies like Netflix have followed their example by suggesting movies and TV shows that echo customers’ recent viewing history.
In addition, personalized email campaigns tend to have higher email open rates and higher click through rates than traditional emails.
Personalization also has the unique advantage of being able to zero in on a specific group of customers. Once you know a customer’s buying habits and preferences, you can create a much more relevant and effective user experience. And raising customer engagement and loyalty is one of the best ways to increase conversions.
Social Media Shopping
If you thought there were no new avenues for online shopping, think again. Now you can keep up with your social media and do some shopping at the same time.
With 60% of Instagram users and 70% of Pinterest users saying they discover new products on these platforms, e-commerce sites are taking advantage by creating shoppable posts that also link to their product pages. In addition to uploading your latest photos, you can also enter your credit card information and make purchases on Instagram.
Because social media sites such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook have made it easier to sell products on their platforms, having another way to drive traffic to their sites represents a huge win for merchants.
Through social commerce, online retailers not only reach new customers, but they cut down on barriers to purchasing by reducing the sales funnel. For this reason, look for shoppable posts to become an integral part of marketing strategies in 2020.
It’s no longer novel for people to use voice assistants on their smartphones to search for things or to dictate text messages to remain hands-free at the wheel. Indeed, recent studies show that nearly a third of all smartphone users around the world use voice-powered search at least once a week. Essentially, voice-powered search has changed the face of local SEO by making it that much easier and more natural to search for businesses near you.
As a result, marketers need to include voice search terms within their content. Although the text still has to be grammatically correct, the content should have a more conversational tone to reflect the way people naturally speak when using voice search. In other words, it’s time to focus on long tail keywords such as “how to make gluten-free chocolate chip cookies” instead of shorter keywords like “gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.”
Immersive Content: VR and AR Gain Traction
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) will keep picking up speed in the new year to remain one of the top marketing trends. Although VR got out to an early head start in the popularity race, experts predict that AR will overtake VR very soon. Luckily for both technologies, 5G will give them the bandwidth to go mainstream.
From a marketing standpoint, AR and VR can raise the user experience to new and exciting levels. For example, major companies like Zara are already using AR at some of their stores instead of window displays. After downloading Zara’s mobile app, visitors can point their phones at empty store windows to see models come to life as holograms wearing Zara products, which they can order from within the app.
Since the only constant in digital marketing is change, keep an eye out for these trends and more to gain a foothold in the next decade as marketers adjust their strategies to remain competitive and to keep their high-profile customers while attracting new ones.