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New Year, New Trends: 2020

by Jen Williams & Taylor McFerran

2020 arrived and gave us an excuse to break the old marketing crystal ball out of the supply closet. Here’s a look at what it showed.

Don’t Sleep on Gen Z (as the kids say)

By 2020, Gen Z will account for 40% of all consumers. These individuals grew up with the internet and social media. And they value authenticity above all else. With shortened attention spans, they’re making more decisions, quicker. This can definitely be beneficial for brands if they take the time to understand this audience and meet them where they are.

One place to meet them? Podcasts. 75% of students have a podcast subscription. Podcasts give Gen Z control over what they’re consuming and also feed a desire to multitask. It’s a great way for brands to be a part of the audience’s day — when they’re driving to work, walking to class, making dinner. Now that you know where to target them, here are 4 tips to do so successfully.

Predictive Marketing is Advancing

Predictive marketing searches for patterns in existing customer datasets to anticipate trends, customer behaviors, and outcomes. Collecting customer data is not a new practice, but modern artificial intelligence algorithms make processing that high volume of information possible. Instead of looking at linear data, predictive marketing tracks customer journeys across channels. The data helps brands detect which leads are most likely to convert to customers. 

Predictive marketing leads to optimization and more personalized messages—two things all marketers hope to achieve. 58% of companies that have invested in predictive marketing have seen a 10-25% increase in ROI. We see this trend rising in the next year as these algorithms get fed more data, making them smarter and more accurate.

Email Will Become More Interactive

GIFs and videos and interactives, oh my! The tried and true channel of email marketing is evolving with the digital industry. Dynamic emails are leading to 3X the number of conversions and text is slowly disappearing to make way for videos. In fact, 30% of people are more likely to open emails with videos, and using GIFs increases click rates by up to 38%

We are firm believers in change and evolving to stay relevant—and with inboxes inundated with emails, the way to rise above the clutter this year will be harnessing an interactive component.

Voice-Related Searches Continue to Rise

Hey Siri, where’s the nearest coffee shop? A question that used to be typed into a search engine is now audibly asked. Voice-activated searches are particularly popular with mobile devices. Clicking is quieting as questions to Google Home, Siri, Alexa, and other voice assistants are beginning to account for half of all searches. In order to optimize their answers, brands must recognize the difference between spoken and written language. The way people verbally format a question is not the same as they would type it. 

We talked about this trend last year, but we see the SEO strategy behind it becoming even more significant. It’s no longer just about keywords, but it’s about quality over quantity. It’s the best answer, not the longest answer, that will become the rich snippet shown right in the search results.

UGC—As Trustworthy as Ever 

What do consumers want? User generated-content! When do they want it? Now! In fact, influencer marketing is on the decline as consumers’ preferences continue to shift toward more authentic recommendations and reviews. In fact, according to bazaarvoice, one-third of shoppers stress the importance of visual UGC in particular during their shopping process. With this trend, we see user-generated content becoming a more prominent feature of product pages, rather than being supplemental.

People are Craving Personalization 

Brands that use personalized marketing are more likely to appeal to their desired audience. 80% of people admitted that they would be more likely to purchase from companies that personalize their marketing. Keeping the individual in mind will help your brand stand out from the 4,000 other brands consumers interact with daily. However, personalization is not just limited to B2C. Account-Based Marketing strategies are on the rise as B2B companies harness the power of personalization. Because who doesn’t like to feel like the center of attention?

Conversational Marketing Will Make a Comeback

How can I help you? It’s an age-old question, but one that we are seeing pop-up on consumer computer screens across the nation. Conversational marketing is back and better than ever. The real-time conversations with consumers are powered by artificial intelligence through chatbots. Chatbots harness high levels of data, allowing them to provide personalized responses to consumers. These individualized, immediate responses are important (82% of consumers say so). Chatbots provide one more brick in the relationship you need to build with your customers. It might be time your brand chats about bots. 

Data-Driven Storytelling is Key 

Your consumers have a pain-point—how can you  help them solve it? Data-driven storytelling begins by identifying this pain-point using analytical and narrative skills. According to Paul Petrone, an editor in chief of the LinkedIn Learning blog, “storytelling without data is fluff. Data without storytelling is forgettable. Data with storytelling is epic.” Data-driven storytelling grabs attention, engages consumers, and builds brand recognition. 

As data becomes more readily available and storytelling continues to be an outlet for that data, the way to stand out will be to ensure your message resonates with your audience. Don’t know where to start? A journey map will allow you to get in the mind of your consumers and understand how their lives unfold. Then you can craft your story.

Micro-Content is Going Mainstream

Micro-moments are when we turn to a device—often a smartphone—to take action on whatever we need or want now. What is the most-liked pie? Where can I buy the ingredients? How do I make the pie? How to salvage a burnt pie? Where’s the nearest bakery?

The trick for providing answers to these questions is all in the timing. Brands must show relevant content at the right place, at the right time. From understanding the trend to the ins and outs of 4 different types of micro-content, here is an overview we put together to help you better understand how to start leveraging little moments since we only see them getting shorter and shorter.

Brands Will Continue Venturing Cross-Industry 

Watch out! Brands are no longer staying in their lanes. We have been seeing more and more brands crossing over to new industries. We saw it when Capital One Bank partnered with Peet’s Coffee to open up cafés complete with online banking assistance. And more recently we saw it when MasterCard released the pop-single, “Merry Go Round” featuring their sonic logo. Brands are letting go of the traditional way people interact consume their content, and we love it. It aligns quite nicely with our affinity for growth and disruption. How can you infuse your brand into the lives of your customers? Don’t wait for them to come to you, meet them where they are—or invent the next stop on their list.

There they are, the 10 trends we see jumping onto the scene or continuing to rise as we head out into 2020. While their trajectory, impact, and execution are all unique, the common thread is change or die — both on a micro level as each trend requires its own new thinking and approach, as well as a macro level as these trends help us all become more creative and innovative marketers.


Special thanks to contributor Becca Robbins.

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