As usual, the marketing landscape is changing fast. Staying on top of current marketing trends is tough, but not impossible. But first you’ve got to stop reading the same old articles that predict the same trends every year (e.g., voice search, chatbots, AI, video, etc., etc. ????).
In this article, I’m going to cover the real trends that other articles aren’t sharing with you. And it’s not because they’re selfish. I think they’re just lazy. It’s easier to keep reposting the same trends each year or to just paraphrase some other blog post than it is to actually research the industry.
But not at Advertoscope! I’m going to dig deep to share some real marketing trends with you.
Last year, Facebook alone was responsible for at least three seismic shifts in the digital marketing landscape. And Google made more than enough changes to keep SEOs on their toes (and/or drive them to drink).
2020 won’t be any different.
So I’m going to give you 20/20 vision into the 2020 marketing landscape with this guide to the top five marketing trends you need to follow.
Lead Form Extensions will make Google Ads much more powerful.
First up is my favorite of all the marketing trends we’ll see develop over the course of 2020. I love using paid search to generate leads at every stage of the funnel, and now Google is making it even easier.
Google Ads are about to get a lot more powerful thanks to the rollout of Lead Form Extensions. Sort of like a Facebook Lead Ad, but easier to set up, this new ad extension will allow you to collect contact information from your Google users from within your ad.
Check this out:
Here’s how it works (according to Google):
Users who are signed in to their Google account can tap a call-to-action such as “Get quote” or “Apply now” directly from your lead form extension. They’ll reach a Google-hosted form already pre-populated with their contact information, so they can submit the form with a single tap. From their initial search to form submission, it only takes a few seconds for customers to connect with your business.
Adam Hempenstall, CEO of Better Proposals, says that this new extension will be a gamechanger. “So far, marketers have relied on a variety of third-party apps to create lead forms and collect data and this will undoubtedly make the lead-gen process much easier,” he said. “I would also wager that the data pulled from Google Analytics will be more accurate and customers may be more likely to click through and leave their data once they see a form that is created in Google.”
What Should You Do?
Keep an eye out for them! Lead form extensions are in beta right now.
New data security laws will make ad targeting more difficult in the US.
Here’s one marketing trend I’m not excited about.
California’s new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) becomes law on Jan. 2, 2020. According to marketing consultant Nigel Ravenhill, every digital marketer working for a company with annual sales above $25M will be affected by this new legislation.
“CCPA gives consumers far more control over how their data can be used by companies that acquire it,” Nigel said, “and it requires those organizations to be much more transparent about how they handle it, notably in how they monetize it.”
Much like GDPR, CCPA will affect marketing well beyond its physical jurisdiction because maintaining two privacy frameworks, particularly for smaller companies, cost-prohibitive. Instead, Nigel predicts a new de-facto American national privacy protection standard with prominent opt-out links added to the homepage of every company that takes the threat of non-compliance penalties seriously.
Even marketers for smaller companies must contend with CCPA, particularly in demand and lead generation.
“It adds a whole layer of complexity to list segmentation!” Nigel said. “It’s easily foreseeable that even small companies may have to designate a compliance officer because consumers will suddenly have control over how companies can use that personal data up to and including requesting that those companies delete their profiles. A secondary issue for smaller companies is the financial boost they may no longer see from selling customer lists to other retailers or data brokers.”
What Should You Do?
IP targeting and geo-fencing will supplant cookie-based targeting.
As data security laws become more complicated and more web users begin blocking cookies, IP targeting will become more attractive to advertisers.
Marketing experts everywhere are writing obituaries for the tracking cookie. Here are a couple of the beneficiaries of this trend:
- Demand-side platforms like Choozle that allow advertisers to target specific addresses
- Direct mail retargeting services like PebblePost that send direct mail to their users’ anonymous website visitors
With IP targeting, you can target your ads to specific households or offices. It’s a useful tactic, especially for account-based marketing.
And Bob Bentz, president of mobile-first digital agency Purplegator, told me that GPS targeting will emerge as a formidable threat to the cookie. Cookie targeting is already hit or miss when it comes to mobile (primarily due to the fact that cookie targeting isn’t feasible on apps).
“There have been tremendous improvements with device detection at specific address locations,” Bob said. “With geo-fencing, a retailer can serve advertisements to its own customers that have visited the store in the past or, better yet, target mobile devices that have visited competing stores.”
What Should You Do?
Snapchat is making a comeback thanks to its self-serve ad platform.
Apparently, the reports of Snapchat’s death were greatly exaggerated. One of two marketing trends in social media in 2020, Snapchat’s stock is up 175% this year, thanks in large part to the adoption of a self-serve ad platform. Now it’s easier to buy ads on Snapchat. Additionally, users are watching more in-app content thanks to a redesign.
According to Quartz, “the company appears to have made a full recovery—and gained more new users to boot.” And TechCrunch reports that “Snapchat blew past earnings expectations for a big beat in Q3, as it added 7 million daily active users this quarter to hit 210 million, up 13% year-over-year.”
Additionally, Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds, told me that 2020 will be “the year of the shoppable social media post.”
“Snapchat and Instagram each rolled out shoppable eCommerce ads (Snapchat’s ‘Collection Ads’ and ‘Instagram Shopping Ads’) back in 2018,” Polly said. “Both options have taken a while to gain traction, but they are beginning to show real opportunities for growth.
Snap’s Collection Ad stats indicate increased engagement rates of 4-17 times higher than achieved by standard Snap ads. They’re poised to target impulse shoppers looking for instant fulfillment, whose attention span might not last the length of time it takes to follow an external link to find items, populate a cart, and check out.
What Should You Do?
TikTok is worth a look if you want to get ahead of the competition.
No survey of current marketing trends would be complete without mentioning TikTok.
“TikTok is the marketing platform to watch in 2020,” says Thomas Kutzman, Co-Founder of digital home buying platform Prevu. “Given how visual and animated TikTok is as a medium, it’s the perfect venue for consumer brands to create fun content that is even more engaging than Instagram stories. Plus, 80% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 34 years old – a sweet spot as far as audiences that marketers are trying to connect with.”
What Should You Do?
Keep an eye on it. If you’ve got some marketing budget to burn, run a test with TikTok ads for your brand.
Continuing Marketing Trends
If current marketing trends aren’t enough to slake your thirst for insider marketing knowledge, the following trends that began in 2019 are continuing to shape the way we approach marketing automation, SEO, and lead generation.
Continue to strengthen your efforts in these areas to get ahead of 80% of your competition.
According to HubSpot:
Marketing automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketing departments have to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions. The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier.
Funnel marketing has really picked up steam over the last year or two, and marketing automation makes it a lot easier. Marketing automation has been around for a while, and it hasn’t changed much— yet.
What You Should Know: The future of marketing automation and lead generation is artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Bet that doesn’t surprise you. Many marketing automation platforms, including HubSpot, have already begun entering the market with predictive lead scoring product offerings.
Lead scoring allows companies to determine how likely a lead is to convert based on their behavior on your website, emails, etc. Currently, most businesses have to determine scoring criteria on their own. (Or rely on iffy scores developed by inaccurate algorithms.)
In 2018, predictive lead scoring was hit or miss, but at the current rate of advances in AI and machine learning, we should see huge improvements that make predictive lead scoring the standard by 2020.
With machine learning, your marketing automation software will be able to analyze all the data to determine how to score different user behaviors. Right now, lead scoring can be a bit of a guessing game, especially for SMBs without the resources to really dig into the data. As marketing automation becomes even more automated through the use of machine learning, SMBs will reap the benefits.
What You Should Do About It: Prepare to take advantage.
Make sure you don’t get left behind by keeping up with the major players (e.g., HubSpot, Pardot, etc.), and make sure that your current software has a plan for taking advantage of machine learning. If it doesn’t, it might be time to switch. And since changing software always takes time, the sooner you start that process the better.
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Search Engine Optimization
SEO is getting more and more difficult. Google is giving more space to paid ads and to their on Knowledge Graph content. That means it’s harder to get on the front page (because there’s less space), and it’s harder to get clicks (because more people are getting the information they need from the Knowledge Graph).
Moving forward, there’s little room for error if you hope to continue to drive traffic through organic search. One of the things to be ready for is the rise of semantic SEO.
What You Should Know: The future of search engine optimization is Semantic SEO.
Voice is the new mobile. Thanks to Alexa, Siri, Cortana, et al., Google is learning how to understand similar phrases and identify the intent of a search. So when a user searches for something, Google isn’t just going to search for that keyword. It’s going to try to figure out exactly what they meant by what they searched.
What is Semantic SEO? Neil Patel explains it well:
For example, if someone typed in “laptop” do they mean: That they want to buy a laptop? Have one repaired? Upgraded? Are they even talking about a computer, but something entirely different?
According to ComScore, smart speakers are the #1 Internet of Things purchase for homes and half of all smartphone users are already using voice technology.
Angelo Frisina, Founder and CEO of Sunlight Media, told me that:
- 41% of adults (and 55% of teens) use voice search daily
- 20% of all Google mobile queries are voice searches
- Voice search has grown 35x since 2008
This is going to be huge. Think Mobilegeddon huge.
“Smart speakers are the next refrigerator,” Frisina said. “Every home will have one. And as more people search with smart speakers, SEOs will need to adapt.”
What You Should Do About It: Create cornerstone content.
To be ready for this marketing trend, you’ll need to target topics instead of keywords. If you haven’t already, start creating cornerstone content — also known as pillar pages — so that your content is optimized to rank for topics instead of keywords.
One way to do this is to search for the top content your competitors are creating (use a tool like Ahrefs). See what key phrases they’re ranking for and divide them into categories. Then you can include that language in your cornerstone content. (If you need more help figuring out how to take advantage of this trend, schedule a free consultation here.)
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By creating the content prescribed in my Lead Generation Guide, you’ll automatically be creating intent-focused content that search engines will love.
You can probably guess what a chatbot is (in fact, you’ve probably already interacted with quite a few of them). The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Chatbots describes a chatbot as
…a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface. The service could be any number of things, ranging from functional to fun, and it could live in any major chat product (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.).
What You Should Know: The future of lead generation is chatbots.
Chatbots can already “set medical appointments, call a taxi, send money to friends, check in for a flight and [much more].” But in 2019, chatbots will become a crucial tool in your lead generation toolkit.
Software like HubSpot, Chatfuel, and Botsify are making it easy for anyone to create bots that interact with potential customers on their websites and Facebook. The software behind these bots will continue to improve, and by 2019 you’ll have no excuse not to be taking full advantage.
What You Should Do About It: Experiment.
Instead of relying on your website to get visitors where they need to go, create chatbots that actively answer common questions and walk them through the process.
As Fran Conejos says, “No matter the sector or vertical you’re in, most of your customers probably spend a lot of their time chatting (and they are often better at it than they are using a web browser!)”
Begin leveraging chatbots now, so that you’ll be ahead of the game in 2019. Create your own bots on Chatfuel, ManyChat, or Botsify. That way, you can optimize your approach to using chatbots for lead generation. You’ll be miles ahead of the competition by the time they finally get on board.
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Chatbot Guide is full of case studies, best practices, and everything else you need to know to have success with your own chatbot. They cover various industries (finance, retail, travel, and more) and platforms from Alexa to Kik and beyond.