28 Jan 2020 Marketing Trends for a Smart & Successful Year
As the calendar rolled over to a bright, shiny new year, it ushered in an opportunity to reflect on commitments and approaches to getting things done—in life and in strategic marketing communications. Some of the biggest 2020 marketing trends reflect a collective urge to use technology to better connect on a human level, rather than hide behind it.
Authenticity and transparency were key in 2019, and that trend continues in 2020 as demographic and technological changes join forces with human aspirations to be better, do better and hold one another accountable. Customers of all ages research products before purchase, expecting transparency about where products come from, who makes them, and how a product’s lifecycle impacts the environment. Companies that focus on the triple bottom line and demonstrate equal concern for people, planet and profits will win greater trust and loyalty. At the same time, attention is a shrinking commodity, so your message needs to be quick and clear.
What shifts are driving the biggest 2020 marketing trends?
- Gen Z is joining the adult population. They have always lived on the internet.
- As of 2019, 81% of Americans carry smartphones.
- Smart speakers, in a quarter of American homes and counting, are changing the language of search.
Consider a few simple, actionable ways to make the most of a shifting landscape when developing your strategic marketing communications.
- Choose smart over more.
The digital transformation has opened a world of tactics for content marketing. Nearly any vision can be created and delivered digitally, and one major result is more noise. In 2020, the most effective marketing strategies will focus on delivering quality content using targeted channels. Show your audience how well you understand them.
You don’t need to churn out an outrageous number of social media and blog posts, but the content you create needs to be targeted and valuable. As old-school platforms like trade pubs have gone digital, so should your PR game. Develop useful, relevant marketing content and multiply its value: repurpose it across carefully selected platforms to expand frequency and reach. Those smaller, smarter efforts could deliver big ROI.
- Show, don’t tell.
The power of your message increases when you add visual design. Experts say we remember about 10% of what we hear and about 65% of what we learn when it’s accompanied by visuals—and people follow instructions three times better when they’re illustrated. Infographics, animations and video content all qualify here. Aim to engage within the first 10 seconds. Keep content bite-sized and appropriate for the platform.
- Capture the micro moment. And the Google snippet.
In 2020, zero is the new number one, as marketers compete for the coveted SERP snippet. How to get there? According to Google, it’s crucial to identify how you can deliver at that moment when consumers pick up their devices in order to achieve one of these goals:
- Satisfy their curiosity
- Solve a problem
- Find a business
- Buy something
How can you capture the zero-click spot? First, find your niche. Then anticipate users’ needs, provide valuable and relevant content, and deliver without extra clicks or long loading time.
- Speak their language. Echo their voices.
While Boolean search has its uses, most consumers interact with search engines using natural language. Now, ever-alert voice assistants are further increasing the conversational tone of search. Consumers ask aloud or type whole phrases in the search bar, when just a few years ago they used clunky, robotic shorthand. Well, the robots are catching up, and folks are getting comfortable talking to them. Write and design for the humans you need to reach.
- Make social media your 2020 word of mouth.
Social media has been a key factor in revolutionary uprisings around the world; its power is clear. The average American internet user (and over 90% of Americans use the internet) has seven to eight social media accounts. While information overload, propaganda and privacy concerns have driven some consumers to rethink their participation, 72% of Americans are on social media.
What do they look for? Engaging, compelling stories and ideas for living the lives they want. Influencers built an industry on those desires, though not all brands need Instagram spokesmodels. Brands that know their audiences also know where they’re talking. Well-focused paid advertising—say, on appropriate subreddit communities—can be bolstered by free, valuable content you provide those same users within community forums. The key to success here is savvy use of the platform and respect for your audience.
Transcend trends in your strategic marketing communications.
As 2020 marketing trends shift and evolve to become 2021’s big ideas, it’s important to keep in mind the fundamentals that won’t change. No matter how clever your tactical execution, there is still no substitute for valuable content delivered in a relevant way. Whether you create an Alexa skill, a blog infographic, a promoted post in a subreddit or a thousand other technological possibilities, your goal is to create that moment where your brand values and your target audience’s values truly connect.
With experience in publishing, advertising, marketing and higher education, Jo brings two decades’ worth of expertise in marketing communications and client service to Writing by Design. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and German and an M.F.A. in creative writing. She has lived and worked across four continents and most recently taught Professional Communications for Business Majors, Writing Content for the Web and English Composition at the postsecondary level—both in the classroom and online.