As the year draws to a close, many of us like to look ahead and make predictions for the coming year.
At Falcon.io, we’re no different.
For the past few weeks, we’ve spoken with several top digital marketing and social media professionals to get an insight into the biggest digital marketing trends that will impact marketers in 2020.
Here’s what they had to say about future trends in digital marketing:
1. Short-form video
Matt Navarra is a social media expert, speaker, and industry tipster. Matt is also an experienced and in-demand digital and social media consultant with over 10 years’ industry experience, working with some of the world’s biggest brands.
TikTok has had a hugely successful year, and we’re going to see even more success for short-form video with the emergence of a new app from the creators of Vine, called ‘Byte’. So, if social media short-form videos are not in your strategy yet and you’re yet to experiment with short-form video, now’s the time to have a play. It’s going to be a big year for this format.
In terms of brands that inspire me and brands that have had a great 2019, it’s got to be Netflix and Channel 4 News. Both of these brands share some similar traits that are really worth trying to imitate, copy and adapt for your own style and your own audiences, one of them being great storytelling, the second thing being that they make full use of all the engagement opportunities to drive a true relationship between themselves and their audience and their customers. And, more than anything else that’s been successful for them, they have a level of authenticity that is so much in demand in the current climate of social media. So, try and be authentic.
Twitter Marketing Expert
Madalyn Sklar is a serial entrepreneur, community builder and leading Twitter marketing expert with 23 years of digital marketing experience and 14 years social media marketing under her belt. She’s also the host of the weekly #Twittersmarter chat.
I’m a big fan of using custom GIFs in digital marketing. It’s a fun and easy way to connect and engage with our community on a much deeper level. GIFs are far more engaging and often more entertaining than static images. Tweets with GIFs get 167% more click-throughs than tweets with static images, and the engagement rate for a post with a GIF increases 20% for B2C brands. I’ve seen a huge increase in engagement since I started using my own custom GIFs on Twitter and my weekly newsletter. They’re fun, they stand out and it encourages conversation.
3. Real-time, relevant conversations
Gregory Maxson is the Senior Manager of Data Sales and Developer Partnerships for Twitter‘s Enterprise Solutions team. In his role, he spends most of his time working on the business strategy behind Twitter’s Enterprise API Platform and partnering with leading social media management, listening, and analytics companies to build strong relationships and software with Twitter Data. When Greg is not working (or traveling for work), you can find him playing tennis or on a run in his home of San Francisco.
I think the major trend for 2020 and beyond is going to be the increased need for real-timeness and relevancy in the content that brands are creating. So, being aware of what customers are talking about today, or predicting what they’re going to be talking about tomorrow, a week from now, or a month from now, and being able to directly engage and interact with relevancy into those conversations are going to be increasingly paramount for brands in the future. That’s something that we at Twitter are really excited about, as the public nature of the conversation and the honesty that Twitter users bring enables brands to understand what’s important to their audience, and immediately jump in and engage with their customers on the platform.
4. The rise of voice search
Jerri leads a Marketing Operations at HarperCollins team that exists to come alongside various publishing & marketing teams to provide strategic guidance on digital marketing efforts towards the achievement of business objectives. Some of those areas of support include: digital marketing & advertising strategy, analytics/KPI analysis, SEO strategy, metadata optimization, content marketing, e-commerce program development, eMail marketing, Amazon PPC and social media management.
I would say a key focus in the future is voice search. It’s a topic that us marketers need to pay a lot of attention to, as more and more people are utilizing Alexa, Google Home, and mobile devices to ask questions. It’s very interesting to look at the research around this showing that people speak to these devices as they would to a friend. Us as marketers need to make sure that the language that we’re using—whether it’s on our social, product descriptions, on our websites, blogs, etc. contain answers to those voice search type of questions. We need to make sure that they’re in human language, meaning that we’re answering questions using the words that people are actually using in voice search, as well as being helpful, human and intelligent. We all know that when we write a product description, we’re sometimes heavy towards the industrial side in the way we talk about things, but that’s not how we would explain it to our neighbor. We need to make sure we’re talking in a very conversational language.
5. Marketing automation with chatbots
Larry Kim is the Founder and CEO of MobileMonkey, the world’s best Facebook Messenger marketing platform. He’s been named Search Marketer of the Year from PPC Hero (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017), Search Engine Land, and the US Search Awards. Larry is ranked the #8 most popular author on Medium.
A massively underused digital marketing tactic is Facebook Messenger automation and marketing chatbots. These are two incredible Facebook tools that can help boost your engagement, save you money in your advertising and marketing budgets, and scale your agency, business, etc.
Chatbots can be used to automate a number of your business practices, from customer service, to sales, to product recommendation, and more. It’s incredibly easy to build a bot for business and it will make a massive difference in your business results.
There are too many inspirations to list out, but here’s a couple: Neil Patel is an incredibly talented entrepreneur who excels at LinkedIn and video marketing, while I admire Brian Dean for his prowess with SEO and YouTube marketing, and Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan of Hubspot for their ability to build great software.
6. AI-powered natural language generation
Martin Waxman, MCM, APR, leads digital and social media workshops, is a digital communications strategist and conducts AI research. He’s a LinkedIn Learning author, senior advisor to Spin Sucks, and one of the hosts of the Inside PR podcast. Martin teaches social media at McMaster University, The Schulich School of Business, UToronto SCS, and Seneca College and regularly speaks at conferences and events across North America. He has a Master of Communications Management from McMaster-Syracuse Universities.
I believe marketers should pay attention to natural language generation, the ability of an AI agent to write text and content after being given a prompt like a phrase or other data.
Right now, we’re still in the early stages of that. But if you have a data scientist on your team, you could test out something like OpenAI’s GPT-2 natural language processor. There’s a great article in the New Yorker, where one writer got the NLP to finish the end of each section he wrote. And while the text is a bit wonky in places, the AI got the New Yorker tone to a T.
Once machines are able to generate good headlines and text, they’ll be able to provide writers and marketers with lots more options to choose from and test. And then a human can review and edit these, test them, revise, and add creativity. This could take away the anxiety of staring at that blank screen, waiting for inspiration and give us lots to consider at the beginning of a project.
Of course, the flip side of this is that machines will get so good, humans will no longer be needed to write. I hope that is not the case!
These days, I’m doing research on how human AI agent relationships could affect communications and trust. And some of my go-to sources are MIT Technology’s newsletter, The Algorithm by Karen Hao, for a weekly summary of AI developments from a more humanistic perspective, Trust Insight’s co-founder Christopher S. Penn’s blog, and data scientists’s Cassie Kozyrkov’s articles on AI, machine learning, decision intelligence, statistics and analytics on Medium.
7. Twitch live-streams
McKenna Taylor is the Global Brand Manager at Skullcandy, overseeing integrated marketing campaigns and music strategy. Throughout her nine years with the company, she’s worked on multiple teams within the organization including Creative, Digital, Social, and now the Brand team. Currently, McKenna works on Skullcandy’s 2019 Brand Campaign, 12 Moods. Each month, Skullcandy celebrates a different way music makes us feel by bringing a mood to life through musical performances, athlete perspectives, and limited-edition product releases.
An emerging trend that I see for 2020 would be Twitch. It’s really interesting that Twitch is bigger than YouTube, and a lot of people don’t notice it because they’re not young, didn’t grow up with it, and they’re not used to live-stream. All of Gen Z watch live-stream content, and they grew up in a time when everything is interactive: their phone, their iPad, their storybooks… they want TV to be interactive, and Twitch does a remarkable job at it.
8. Data & authentic, helpful content
I joined LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network – in 2015. As Partner Account Director I was responsible for managing a book of business in partner markets across EMEA. I am now responsible for driving growth, strategic partnerships and revenue across LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions business in EMEA – focusing on Scandinavia and Sub-Saharan Africa, helping marketers to identify, target and engage with the world’s most influential professionals. Before joining LinkedIn, I managed my own business, contracting with the British Civil Service to build strategic partnerships for Her Majesty’s Government’s Business is GREAT campaign. Prior to this, I worked for two leading brands in commercial sponsorship. I account managed the iShares Cup, a professional sailing series and then the Clipper Round The World Race. I live in the countryside between London and the south coast in order to follow my outdoor passions of dinghy racing and mountain biking. Above all else, a devoted husband and dad.
Data, data, and more data. There’s an overwhelming focus on data, and alongside that comes using the tools available in the products suite to actually address the right audiences build and on the data in the most authentic and helpful way possible. I think a lot of brands are finally waking up to that just publishing self-serving content is not doing to hit it – authentic, helpful content is the way to go.
9. Employee engagement
Marketing Insider Group
Michael Brenner is a Motivational Speaker, the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, and author of the best-selling book Mean People Suck.
The most exciting aspect of digital marketing in 2020 is the digital activation of employees. Smart marketers are realizing they need to reach across silos and find the storytellers and content sharers. We’ve talked about employee advocacy, and influencer marketing, and customer references before. Now we’re seeing brands co-create content on branded digital platforms and communities.
Cleveland Clinic is really an organization I look to as setting the example in marketing. They use empathy as a core mission: to create content that improves people’s health and wellness whether they could become patients of their or not. They have fun and add humanity to the content they create, and in the end, they see massive ROI and results from their marketing efforts.
10. User-generated content
Jon is VP of Marketing at HubSpot, helping companies grow better. Prior to this, Jon led Marketing at Trunk Club, the personalized shopping service, and was the Head of Marketing for Klout, the social media influence measurement company. Jon has a background in improvised comedy and earned his MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Word of mouth goes from age-old adage to new-age advantage:
Getting your customers to advocate for you has always been important, but with buyers increasingly looking to the crowd for advice, the dominance of review sites in search rankings, and the diminishing efficacy of traditional communication channels in reaching buyers, a customer advocacy strategy at scale is absolutely crucial in 2020. Invest in delighting your customers. Invest in getting your customers to participate in all the review sites that appear on page one of Google for your category. Invest more in content for your customers than content for your prospects.
As a B2B marketer, I look to B2C for inspiration. I think B2C companies define the experience that buyers come to expect in B2B. On that note, I’m most inspired right now by brands that deliver incredible experiences via personalization – Spotify and Netflix are top on my list.
11. Dynamic interactive email
Matthew Dunn is the Founder of Campaign-Genius, the image automation platform for email, and Chief Explainer at Say It Visually. In additional to serial entrepreneur, he’s a former Fortune-1000 SVP & CIO, Microsoft veteran, professor and teacher. He is also an award-winning writer, speaker, designer, director, and inventor.
Dynamic Email Content. That sleepy old inbox is waking up; email is turning visual, personal and dynamic. While email has long been the ROI leader in marketing (38:1), it’s been used the same way for decades – batch & blast text, weak “Dear Firstname” personalization and feeble stock-image visuals. Vendors like Movable Ink and Campaign-Genius are, as expert Ryan Phelan said, “stretching email in new directions that we couldn’t have anticipated”. Image automation, mass personalization, and dynamic in-the-inbox updates are making email sexy, relevant and attention-competitive.
Google is making a long-term play for ‘interactive email’ with their AMP for Email standard, but only a handful of email service providers have jumped on the bandwagon and users are ambivalent about scripts running in their inbox. Browsers do enough surveillance already.
Inspiring brands….REI! Their email has transformed into a glossy, personalized visual adventure – while their email production workload has dropped dramatically.
12. Influencer marketing
Joe is the CEO of Intellifluence, the largest warm contact influencer marketing network. With over 20 years of digital marketing experience, he’s been diving deep into the world of influencers over the last 4 years.
One digital marketing channel that has been growing rapidly in the last couple of years that I wish more marketers were paying attention to is influencer marketing. It’s not the vapid model posing with a product that early critics write it off as; influence is simply the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth, and done correctly can be achieved by determining media and persona connections that all of us have. For instance, to influence me specifically to purchase a new pair of weightlifting shoes a brand might look at my Twitter feed to determine who among my peers is also an active weightlifter with a large enough audience and give that individual a pair — without a doubt I would see that and be influenced towards a purchasing decision. This throwaway example is happening with an increasing speed and regularity that is now also starting to bubble up in B2B markets. I believe 2020 is going to be a breakout year for the industry as marketers realize the ROI that can be gained for their clients by including it in their proverbial toolbox.
There are quite a few brands doing a great job incorporating influencers, but for my money, I think GhostBed is doing it right. Every time a new category of product is being launched, they manage to get it into the hands of a growing base of sleep experts (signifying authority) and everyday users (peer influence) in a way that highlights all the new product features in a non-salesy way. Then, they take the initial success influencer content such as a YouTube video and get it embedded elsewhere such as mom bloggers looking for a restful night, which both extend their reach and support the initial influencers that helped share the love. We’re honored to work with GhostBed to make this happen and its no surprise they’ve been as successful as they have been, spending a fraction of money as their competition.
13. Online reputation management
Nandini Jammi is a founding organizer at Sleeping Giants, the social media campaign making bigotry and hate unprofitable. The campaign began in 2016 to alert advertisers of their presence on Breitbart News, which has since blacklisted by over 4000 advertisers and has lost 90% of its ad revenues. Since then, Sleeping Giants has made headlines around the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fast Company and Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed. Through her work, she has been named by Business Insider as one of 23 industry leaders “fixing” digital advertising in 2018 and a DigiDay Changemaker.
I think the biggest digital marketing trend that all marketers should be aware of going into 2020 is that your next crisis could come from corners of your business that you never thought possible. We’re living in a post-2016 world and that means that your next crisis ould come from your ‘acceptable use’ policies (are you letting the wrong kinds of people use your platform?), from your investments (are you investing in the wrong kind of areas? Are you partnering with the wrong kind of people?)—these kinds of associations really matter. In the future, brands need to think more about where their money is coming from, and where it is going.