Marketing Trends in the Year 2020

10 Years ago, iPhone apps, Facebook ads, Slack and Drip campaigns were just coming onto the marketer’s radar. Some of our favorite tools, Buffer, ActiveCampaign, AHrefs, Trello, Zapier and so many others, didn’t even exist. Today we need to contend with Influencer marketing, Business Manager, Augmented Reality and whatever comes out tomorrow. Shiny object syndrome used to be a manageable disorder. Today, it feels like it requires taking daily medication.

Where are we going this year? Without a functioning crystal ball, or a powerful AI, there’s not much use guessing. Instead, here are a few ideas, trends and questions that might help you drown out some of the noise, focus on mission-critical, and think about where the industry is headed.

With that in mind, here are a few marketing trends and ideas that should be on your radar in 2020:

When It Comes to Content – “Do Less and Obsess”

By the time you have finished reading this post, depending on your reading speed, 3000 hours of video will have been uploaded to Youtube

It could easily be argued that for a long time, less wasn’t more, a primary reason for this could be SEO. Hopefully 2020 is the year we downsize, and adopt a less-is-more approach to content. With the level of content being produced today, the marketing ROI on a single strong piece of content has the potential to produce many times the return of multiple pieces that don’t connect with a reader. As Ann Handley says “we don’t need more content, we need to ‘do less and obsess’ ”. 

Video is Ubiquitous

There’s never been more content produced on a minute by minute basis. In this Attention Economy, there’s intense competition for your audiences’ mindshare. The challenge is not only to cut through the noise, but to hold on long enough to communicate what makes your brand unique. 

Video is a great opportunity for these reasons and more. Users are accepting and trusting of video – in fact they often prefer and are demanding it. Phones with 4k video, cheap (high quality) microphones, gimbals, and easy to use video apps, will continue to place video high in the marketer’s stack. To truly establish brand differentiation in 2020, video is going to be an essential tool.

Community as a Moat (And Owning Your Distribution)

When your brand competes on a global scale, where barriers to entry can often be non-existent it becomes increasingly difficult to set yourself apart from a competitor. How do you build trust? How do you create a moat when competing on features is not enough? One important idea is that community can be critical to your success – even representing a moat. It provides social proof to potential customers, honest user feedback, and helps you deliver stronger product. On top of this your community can move with you – making platform dependencies (such as Facebook algorithm changes or email regulation) less of a risk.

The Print Experience

Print is an antidote to “fast and cheap” content. Print is slow, thoughtful and has to be very precise. It is more costly of course, and more than that – permanent (well, more at least). On the customer side, it’s consumed in a tactile manner, in a way a blog post never can be. There have certainly been casualties in the print industry, much like the retail industry, where new models are disrupting and reshaping the landscape. But where there are accessible distribution channels with a captive audience (think UBER), print is a great way to connect and create meaningful content experiences. 

Creativity in AI

AI already has a strong role working in support of creatives. There’ll be plenty more headlining experiments, but also many more practical tools coming out. In 2020 you’ll be able to get a first draft done, voiceover recorded or create AI generated video content.  

The Science of Marketing

As the adage goes, “50% of our advertising budget is wasted, I just don’t know which 50%,” it’s remarkably still relevant. With a combination of data science, automated systems, predictive analytics and the plethora of other data driven marketing systems, calculating the ROI on marketing spend can get pretty granular. However given the multitude of data silos being generated across an organization, building accurate snapshots on marketing ROI is still tricky. In 2020, expect major developments in reporting, tracking and visualizations – that will make it much easier to understand which 50% is working, and which isn’t. 

Google Ads…Becomes Even Harder to Prove ROI

In a very well written piece on attempting to gauge the ROI on Google Ads campaigns, one expert concluded that Google Ads was not working. For many companies there are specific plays that Ads can play a big role. For others, it is required for defensive purposes. 

What happens to your Google Ad budget in 2020? It could be a good year to shift to alternative channels, whether Quora, Reddit, Pinterest, Amazon or wherever you can talk to your audience.

Human-less Support – for Good and for Bad

Chatbots will advance at a fantastic clip this year. No surprise here. What will be interesting is to see how advanced they get. As chatbots become more intelligent, we can expect people to begin to seek them out on websites, Facebook Messenger and more. Everything from business intelligence, faster support, reservations, product recommendations, and even mental support (providing cognitive behavioural therapy) can benefit from advances in chatbots.  

For marketers out there looking to provide top notch support, cut costs, and develop a better client experience, keep an eye out for AI powered chatbots. 

The Triple Bottom Line

This probably has made every marketing trends piece over the past decade – for good reason. In an era where politicians can seem less accountable than brands, companies can and are setting the bar. When they are not, the backlash is swift and ruthless. It’s both a hanging guillotine and also a great opportunity to set a higher moral standard. 

It’s a win-win. From an investor’s perspective socially responsible investing (SRI) appears to have no downside, and tends to result in more stable portfolios. At the same time, SRI funds benefit everyone (besides non-SRI companies and stakeholders?).

The shift to sustainable business practices are happening on many levels. Gender roles in advertising have been getting an update. Equality, across gender, racial, and sexuality, is a big topic. Corporate Environmentalism is becoming the norm. Importance is being placed on work-life balance.

Gaby Barrios, in a great TED Talk focussed on gender, discussed how the delivery of growth using outdated (gender) models is still doable, but is not the future. We can opt for the ethical. The impact of your marketing has to be on the triple bottom line – people, the environment and yes, profits. 

To Great Marketing in 2020!

Here’s to a 2020 that builds on the triple bottom line. All that we produce, every tactic, idea we share can and should provide value to not only the end user, but to your investors, employees and any other stakeholders that might be impacted by your decisions. If you think about your approach in that lens, every ad, piece of content, video, chatbot or email funnel will all work in concert and create value for all your stakeholders and make 2020 your best year yet. 

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