If you are a business leader, you know how competitive the market can be. To stay on top, you need to have your finger on the pulse of emerging trends and tactical considerations to keep up with the latest.
With the velocity at which markets are evolving, it is not a shock that everything that relies on marketing must move at a similarly breakneck speed. 2020 brings no exception. More —as in, more content, more video, more influencers, and more of what will get digital consumers engaged with your brand.
With that in mind, here are nine strategic considerations for 2020 that we expect to drive marketing strategy in the coming year.
(1) eCOMMERCE EXPANDS EVERYWHERE
In the coming years, global e-commerce is expected to reach around $5 trillion, causing many retailers to review their business portfolios. By 2020, interactive content and shoppable posts, are all expected to be the new norm.
Social media channels offer you the ability to reach new consumers quickly and easily, shortening the sales funnel and making it easier for consumers to shop. Given its omnipresent nature, social media has naturally become an integral part of the marketing strategy. Shoppable posts represent a tremendous opportunity for businesses, given that in the U.S., more than 70% of Instagram consumers have purchased a product on the app. It will continue to be relevant in 2020 and likely beyond that.
The reason interactive content like shoppable posts will be one of 2020's top marketing trends, is that this level of connectivity in retail is new and original. When tapping on the price in a shoppable post, the consumer is taken to a screen with more information and the option to view it on the brand’s website. This type of ad can cut through the noise and gives visitors a reason to stay and engage. And it's incredibly shareable, expanding an ad's reach even further.
(2) CONTENT FOR MICRO-MOMENTS EXPERIENCES
For years, "Content is Queen" (and yes, Data, is still King) has been the axiom of marketing strategy. As we move into a new year, this continues to be true. High-quality branded content allows you to show your expertise and communicate with your consumers from a place of authority and relevance. Your content is also what search engines scout and provide to searchers online, and on what consumers decide the new whirling funnel at an instant, so continuing to produce high-quality content is a must.
Based on syndicated surveys, 91% of buyers are looking for more interactive content, and video is what people are responding to most. People respond better to visual content, making video the essential marketing tool. Images represent 19% of searches on Google, and 62% of the younger population say they are more interested in visual search than any other innovation. But, in 2020, a content strategy will shift its focus to give audiences more of what they want, including more AR/VR, content experiences, and shoppable posts, as we previously discussed. The right content also feeds micro-moments.
Micro-moments are moments that trigger us to use our smartphones to take action on whatever we need, want, or desire, now. People generally make instant decisions on where to go, which restaurant to visit, what to purchase, or what to eat. To take advantage of micro-moments experiences as part of a marketing strategy in 2020, you need to be where consumers are looking for information at the moment they need it, usefully, and quickly.
We must rethink the linear buyer's journey because today, the consumer journey is becoming more of a spinning funnel wherein people think, see or talk about something, and then want to act on it instantly. We need to identify the consumer's potential "have to buy" moments, and be ready to deliver relevant content in those moments of need through mobile devices, making it easier for consumers to make the final decision quickly.
Another implication of micro-moments is the use of the concept "My Story," introduced by Snapchat but evolved by Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and now even more so with TikTok. Since these types of content disappear after a set time, this is an excellent opportunity for marketers to make good use of the FOMO (fear of missing out) factor, making FOMO become a dominant part of the content experience.
In the end, the content you deliver should be an experience. Content experiences will be the new face of content strategy - a combination of subject, design, and context. The content experience puts control back into the hands of the marketer, while also focusing on the brand experience holistically.
Content experiences, shoppable posts, and micro-moments are all part of the overall brand experience and are crucial elements to consider in 2020.
(3) SEARCH OPTIMIZATION BUT NOT TO BE NO. 1
Being number one is no longer the goal. Position-zero is the first, and sometimes, only, result that some consumers will read. As such, it is highly desired and should be the focus of your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
SEO will continue to be an essential aspect of marketing strategy as we move into the new year, but we're now seeing one of the most significant shifts. The new top spot in SERP is now position-zero, a featured snippet of text appearing above the search results. Over 60% of the search results returned by Google are now from position-zero. This prime spot often provides information relating to the search query while also including a link to the source.
Companies are still analyzing and trying to figure out how to achieve the position zero, as it requires new and different search optimization techniques than those employed for a regular listing. If you get to be the first in your market to get there, you'll have a massive advantage over your competitors.
(4) INSTITUTIONAL INNOVATION STRATEGY
Digital transformation is the global currency pushing technology all over the world. That is why many companies are prioritizing innovation as a strategy for growth and differentiation. Even locally established companies are moving from ad hoc approaches to scalable approaches. So, marketers need to adapt to support intentional innovation.
In a company, digital transformation is a series of deep and coordinated culture, workforce, and technology shifts that enable new operating models to transform the institution's operations, strategic directions, and value proposition. Digital transformation is mostly being driven by technology trends and changes that are enabling a new approach to everything, including the evolution of business models. Truly effective digital transformation requires agile and flexible leaders who can connect untapped customer needs with scalable digital solutions.
(5) MORE CULTURE-CONSCIOUS COMPANIES
A theme I hear over and over again, and wholeheartedly agree with is that employees are what makes a business thrive. Now more than ever, business leaders want to learn about bringing out the best in their teams and creating the sort of work culture that makes the best talents want to stay. Especially with population mobility being at a record high, many executives are struggling to find the right talent. The solution that I and others have found is to invest in corporate culture, employee relations, and employer brand. That means providing a relevant offering in the work environment, incentives, growth opportunities, and even compensation to maintain motivation.
Employees are the living, breathing face of your brand, so concentrating on interactions between them and your consumers should be a crucial part of your marketing strategy. When you're turning the responsibility of creating an excellent consumer service over to your employees, you need to make sure that they want your company to succeed as much as you do. The answer to this is building a solid foundation of employee engagement and taking the right steps to ensure all employees understand and are aligned with your brand values. You can't expect your employees to deliver a great experience and care about your customers if they're not happy at work, or don't believe in what the company is doing. So, achieving high levels of employee engagement is the most crucial step in improving customer experiences.
(6) INFLUENCERS AS MEDIA VEHICLES
Influencers used to be huge celebrities or "digital personalities" with thousands of followers. Now, companies are turning more to people with a much smaller social media following to leverage as influencers and reach a niche audience with a relevant voice that they can trust.
Influencer marketing has evolved to increase relevance and become more personalized. As the shotgun approach becomes less authentic, a significant majority of people are moving to trust other consumer recommendations over corporate advertising through influencers. Still, this marketing tactic should be planned and managed as media buying with the right mix of reach and frequency to achieve the desired objective. Media indicators like affinity and relevancy should be taken into account when planning an active influencer marketing effort. If not, your message can quickly become noise.
(7) CUSTOMER RETENTION IS THE KEY TO PROFITABILITY
Greater access to data and better analytics are helping businesses focus on identifying and focusing efforts on profitable customers. Recurring customers are more valuable than new consumers. In general, it costs five times as much to attract a new consumer as it does to keep an old one, so it's definitely worth putting in the effort to analyze, identify and retain your profitable clients and keeping them happy.
Happy customers also help to increase the reputation and awareness of your brand as they'll talk about your company with their friends and family. Satisfied customers make great brand ambassadors and are free influencers.
Many of the trends and tactical considerations mentioned above can help increase consumer retention rates. Invest in better understanding your customers and focus on retaining the best ones to improve overall profitability.
(8) DATA DEMOCRATIZATION
Data is still King. We live in a new digital world, and the overarching theme among all trends is still Data. In 2020, data will be democratized, and augmented analytics will be a dominant driver from business intelligence, data science, and machine learning.
Augmented analytics automates finding and surfacing the most critical insights or changes in the business to optimize decision making. It does this in a fraction of the time compared to manual approaches. It makes insights available to all business roles, reducing the reliance on analytics, data science, and machine learning experts. Even vendors are adding machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to make data management processes self-configuring and self-tuning so that highly skilled technical staff can focus on higher-value tasks.
Augmented analytics are also making organizations move to real-time intelligence and systems. It is finally practical to implement these continuous intelligence systems on a much broader scale. Experts predict that by 2022, more than half of major systems will incorporate continuous intelligence that uses real-time context data to improve business decisions.
(9) THE RISE OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH
The Constitution guarantees free speech, and last summer, we all witnessed the rise of freedom of speech. Regardless of your posture on what happened during the Summer of 2019 (#Veranodel2019), we can all agree that we all saw the awakening of a new Puerto Rico. This new awakening will have an impact on the way the market responds to anything, even brands and marketing practices.
With the new digital world, and the increasing influence of social media in our culture, social impact is becoming ever more influential on the decision to speak freely. Increasingly, our younger generations are growing unafraid of conflict and are bolder and more provocative than other older generations in claiming their rights.
The new reality is that consumers are asking their brand to take a stand on social issues as a way to differentiate itself from other companies in the market. Younger generations only want to engage with brands that share similar values. But, how can we be transparent and show our posture on social issues genuinely and openly without affecting the brand reputation or disengaging with older generations? How can we manage the political and social stance of our executives and employees in a digital age where everything is public? Just in case, remember that there is a difference between freedom of speech and politicizing your brand.
Now more than ever, transparency from brands to consumers is crucial, not only in social issues but in more general terms of the use of data, ingredients, product description, and development processes. Adding transparency as part of the mix in a sound Company Social Responsibility (CSR) model is crucial. CSR is rising-up to become a significant part of the brand value proposition, and it is critical to contextualize CSR with the new public demands.
We are living in a new world, full of data and digital tools to improve customer engagement, but it all comes back to basic brand strategy and reputational management. The rise of freedom of speech is going to impact our plans, whether we want it to or not, so let's listen and be prepared.
Get Ready for 2020
If you haven't already, it's time to start planning your 2020 growth strategy. Make sure you start this new year with a clear roadmap of your goals and how you're going to achieve them.
While many entrepreneurs appreciate the fact that marketing continues to evolve at a fast pace, those who are willing to adapt will continue to attract high-quality consumers in a digital world. Most of these trends rely on data and are digital tools. To succeed, you'll need to have a solid strategic foundation as part of an everchanging marketing roadmap.
Trends do not always pan out as predicted, but I'm convinced that we need to seriously evaluate these strategic considerations to upgrade our plans for 2020. With the new year so close, I myself will be investing in tools like company culture and technology that provide scale and protection without putting a damper on growth. Bring it on, 2020.
DuartePino is a management advisory firm that combines in-depth customer knowledge with practical expertise in marketing and communications to help clients create sustainable business growth. We can provide your organization with a fresh perspective, a proven process that invests in the outcome, and the tools for successful execution. From Fractional CMOs to business advisory services, contact us to learn how our team can help with growth strategies for your organization.