2020 is just around the corner, which, aside from the political firestorm we’ll find ourselves in, is a perfect opportunity to take stock of the trends that have shaped digital marketing over the last 20 or so years and what changes to expect in the coming years. When I began my marketing career in the early 2000’s, I never could have imagined the impact that SaaS driven-technologies would have had on marketing practices and the broader industry landscape. imagined what I would be doing in 2020 as a marketing leader. Digital marketing looks fundamentally different than ever before and the tools we use to manage marketing campaigns and inform strategic decision making are now in their golden age. Here are some of my thoughts on what to expect as we look towards 2020 and beyond.
1. Optimizing for Zero-Click results
You may not know what this is by its name, but surely you have seen it in Google search results. A zero-click search result is when Google provides answers and recommendations automatically in the form of an automated snippet. If you type in a query such as, “What is the temperature in Honolulu, HI?” Google will return an automatically generated result at the top of the page without having to click a link. While this is convenient for users who no longer have to scroll, it also means that AdWords results are lower on the page and organic results even lower than that. This is a challenge for PPC and SEO specialists alike.
According to Jumpshot, more than 50% of Google search results return a zero-click search snippet. This means more and more keywords are becoming less important and less profitable and more costly. Marketers might find themselves cornered and confused as to how they may manipulate SERP results so that Google chooses their snippet over competitors. However, this is an important tactic that PPC specialists and marketers need to take a closer look at. Using your reporting dashboard or a Marketing Operations Platform such as TapClicks should help reveal if your keywords need to be reviewed or optimized accordingly.
2. Smart speakers and Voice Search Continue to Grow
Smart speakers have made a big splash in the market in recent years. Usage both in the home and on smartphones has skyrocketed. For example, Social Report estimated that 56 million smart speakers were sold to consumers in 2018 alone. Interestingly enough, opportunities for smart speaker advertising have been few and far between. But that is changing as ads placed before flash briefings and are growing in popularity. While early attempts at smart speaker and voice search marketing were considered invasive, we should expect to see less invasive and better targeted campaigns coming in 2020.
E-TRADE, who has a robust desktop and mobile trading platform, is a good example of voice search marketing done right. With the use of a “branded skill” users can ask Alexa “What is the stock market news for today,” Alexa will respond with the latest DOW or S+P 500 performance data, courtesy of E-TRADE, of course.
Even if developing your own branded skills seems far off, you can still explore ways to optimize voice search for your marketing purposes According to Google, 20 percent of Google search queries are done through voice search. Mobile usage is even higher - 71 percent between the ages of 18 and 29. Now is the time to figure out how to optimize these technologies.
3. Visual Search Captures Budgets
In addition to voice search, visual search has taken off thanks to the ubiquity of smartphone cameras. Google’s reverse image lookup is nothing news, but as camera technology keeps evolving, it is now possible to take a picture and find information about it instantly.
Early in 2019 Pinterest released a new Lens feature to leverage the power of image search. Pinterest claims their users conducted over 600 million monthly searches with this technology. The big takeaway here is that a site and the images on it should be optimized for image searchability. Using an SEO tool like Rave, for example, can help create an image search optimization strategy.
4. AI Personalization & Automation
The machines aren’t coming, they are already here. AI is quickly becoming a centerpiece of many day to day marketing functions. It can help make analysis more effective and efficient. It can help target leads based on behaviors and habits in addition to performing tasks that humans struggle with or just don’t want to do. While AI is coming in many different ideations, one of the most common right now is advanced machine learning. This technology will become increasingly prominent in marketing strategies and campaigns.
The question that remains is, how do we work with AI ethically? AI can be particularly helpful monitoring online patterns in real-time. While there are certainly good uses for this, that would benefit both the consumer and the company, the verdict is still out on whether or not this is a legitimate use of AI and if it's even ethical. Even if you are not using AI or are questioning its ethical foundation, it is smart to pay close attention to how consumers are reacting to it in other elements of business, particularly if you find that competitors are using it.
5. ABM Gets Actively Bigger, Marketer
Creative ABM campaigns have been widely driven by SaaS-based technologies. Sending socks to prospects to “Get a foot in the door” or beer made from the tears of competitors might be a fun way to attract new prospects who enjoy a touch of humor but that is just the beginning. With ABM reaching out from enterprise use cases to client success teams that leverage variation for upsells, cross-sells and retainment, ABM will have a greater role to play in 2020.
ABM demands a close, healthy, working relationship between marketing and sales, a disciplined integration, really. Defining a core set of “perfect-fit” clients and setting targeting priorities not only requires strong communication between teams, it can help shape the future of how a business operates and interacts with prospects. Without a single view of customers, a true account-based approach to marketing will be difficult to achieve. ABM also has a different set of KPIs to track. While ABM is a relatively new strategy, separate from traditional or SMA approaches, marketers should expect to see it play a bigger role in activities as metrics and objectives becomes better defined.
6. The Ethically-Personalized Marketing Experience
Marketers tend to talk a good talk about personalization: personalize the landing page, the customer journey, the customer experience, etc. But in reality, the industry is far from true personalization. If 2019 was the year where data was used to start the personalization journey, 2020 will be the year when those strategies mature and start to lead marketers down a real one-to-one marketing path.
With a unified, omnichannel view of customers, marketers are able to harness marketing data to the point where it becomes the core of a marketing strategy. With marketing operations platforms like TapClicks visualizing and organizing this data has become easier. But using that data in a responsible manner that navigates new data privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA is still a challenge. When working with data as a way to personalize a customer’s journey, it is critical to consider its ethical use.
The ethical use of data and respect of customer privacy needs to be accounted for in the decision making process. Privacy translates to respect and loyalty. If a company does not respect the privacy and power of data, what does that say about its respect for its customers.
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