With the change of each year, new trends emerge or old ones change and evolve in the marketing industry. The changes that occur may be blatant, but more often, they are subtle, and you need to be looking for them to notice what they are.
Determining what is trending is in a company’s best interests since it gives it the ability to focus on the big issues. With social media competing with mass media, a trend could explode in a matter of hours, making it even more critical to predict the eventuality before it happens. To help, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council weigh in on the trends they expect to show up throughout 2020, to better inform marketers where they should be putting their focus.
1. Conversational Marketing
I think 2020 is the year conversational marketing will become the industry standard across the digital marketing spectrum. Conversational marketing is the practice of engaging with customers in real time, rather than requiring them to wait for a response. This is commonly seen in phone and live chat support, but I’m anticipating conversational marketing will move in the direction of more AI in 2020. - Adam Binder, Creative Click Media
2. Voice Search Optimization
Voice search is on the rise and users are using voice search assistants like Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa and Bixby to answer their questions. No matter which industry you are in, optimizing your website for voice search in 2020 will be critical. - Chelimar Miranda, iHealthSpot Interactive
3. Over-The-Top Advertising
I believe 2020 will be the year that over-the-top (OTT) advertising starts to dramatically accelerate, as more brands realize that the hypertargeting and ability to integrate connected TV into their overall digital strategy can supplant more of the traditional ad buys. Adding on the fact that OTT campaign attribution versus traditional TV will provide a much clearer ROI, will mark 2020 as the beginning of a dramatic shift. - Mike Rowan, KPItarget
4. Technical Fluency
Google's BERT update in late 2019 set a fire under SEO professionals to learn more about natural language processing, neural networks and machine learning. The importance of technical fluency will grow, and digital marketers will be looking to arm themselves with SERP data. You can't optimize for the BERT update, but you can make sure your content is optimized to answer searchers' most important questions. - Sarah Bird, Moz
5. More Direct Communication
The industry is backpedaling a bit and shifting focus toward direct and personal customer connections versus the broad and impersonal connections that most social platforms offer. Old tools like text messaging platforms are resurfacing and offering customers that personal and direct connection that they're looking for with their favorite brands. I see this as a big 2020 focal point for brands and agencies. - Travis Peters, Ranksharks, Inc.
6. Deep Dive Into Research
The best in the PR industry know that clients expect campaigns informed and backed by research, yet in the past this has been expensive and time intensive. For 2020, research that can be done efficiently using AI, including pulling natural language trends combined with incredible content writers, will be the most impactful and valued trend. - Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
7. More Demand For Facebook Ads
When I started 15 years ago, I saw a storm of demand for Google ads. It was searched all day everyday. Today I feel the same exact thing for Facebook ads. The demand has never been greater. As Facebook becomes more of a mature ad platform, I see budgets shifting from existing digital campaigns flowing to Facebook. As long as the return on ad spend (ROAS) can support the hypothesis, this will continue to be the trend. - Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
8. Growth Of TikTok
TikTok is moving at lightning speed, with users already gathering millions of followers and advertisers scrambling to spend money on the platform. I reckon they'll release ad bidding for agencies and the platform will go to the next level in 2020. Yes, we're already on it, plus building channels, too! - Michael Simonetti, Andmine.com
9. Intent Data
Intent data will rise in importance, offering marketers the ability to reach the right prospect with the right message at exactly the right time in the buying journey. We see great potential in combining intent data with high-quality, targeted business contact data to empower marketers to truly take their data-based marketing campaigns to the next level and drive stronger impact and ROI. - Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
10. Data-Driven Storytelling
Data-driven storytelling will be key. Big data isn’t just changing our clients’ business; it’s changing ours, too. Using big data to help understand trends and hot topics, identify white space and create engaging content will accelerate in 2020 and beyond. - Robert Finlayson, Zeno Group
11. Marketing Silos Finally Breaking
Marketers will start breaking down the silos between channels and begin using the multichannel strategies to complement each other. TV will complement web traffic and sales, social will complement retail transactions, direct mail will complement email and display. Who knows -- maybe even Amazon will begin using direct mail. - Lori Paikin, NaviStone®
12. Increased Accessibility Across Channels
Across multiple channels, brands must optimize their touch points to be accessible for all. This can be subtle but essential -- one cannot assume everyone accesses their content in the same way. This is now table stakes versus an upgraded best practice for any modern marketer. - Simms Jenkins, BrightWave - North America’s Leading Email Marketing Agency
13. Flexible Talent Strategies
With the rise of premium marketing talent migrating to independent work (for more flexibility and autonomy), brand marketers and agencies slow to adopting an open workforce not only miss out on quality talent, but also miss out on a competitive advantage of leveraging talent beyond the physical walls of their offices. Teams that adopt remote and flexible talent will have the competitive advantage. - Stephanie Olson, We Are Rosie
14. Sensory Immersion
Consumers are officially saturated with content. In a world where everyone has a personal computer attached to their hip at all times, capturing attention requires going beyond engaging just one touch point. To create memorable impact, brands are building interactive marketing experiences that engage and delight each of the five senses, deepening impact beyond what’s possible from only a screen. - Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing
15. Brands As Executive Producers
One of the top trends that I am anticipating this year within the branded content world is that brands are now looking to become the executive producers of premium content, including television and film. As executive producers, they help fund content that connects with their brand values, not their products. Brands are bringing back the "brought to you by..." custom. - Kaaren Whitney-Vernon, Shaftesbury