Top 20 Trends for 2020 Digital Marketing: Part 1

What the digital marketing landscape looks like today, and what your focus as a Toledo-area business should be for the rest of the year.

Every new year is a fresh start — a good time to reflect, reevaluate and make resolutions to do even better this time around. For businesses, it’s the perfect opportunity to make sure your marketing efforts are getting you a worthwhile return on investment. And there’s no better way to find that out than to see what search engine marketers, online advertisers, social media gurus and the like — the digital marketing experts — are saying should be your top priorities. We’ve pulled together a number of those trends to give you a good idea of where you should be focusing throughout the next 12 months. Want to make sure you’re on the path to marketing success this upcoming year? Check out the first half of our list of the top 20 digital marketing trends.

1. The Rise of Omnichannel Marketing

By now most businesses know that to succeed, you need to have certain marketing channels. For example:
  • A website where customers can find contact information (phone, email, location) and learn about your products and/or services
  • A Facebook page to connect with current and future customers
  • An email list to directly engage with customers who are interested in news, updates, information about products/services, special offers — basically value you can provide to them
This is multichannel marketing: different channels are working in parallel to promote customer engagement. But consider the increasing plethora of channels. Just for social media alone, there’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok — to name a few. Then with pay-per-click advertising (PPC), you can run ads on any of the aforementioned social media platforms, as well as on Google, Bing and Yahoo. And we haven’t even mentioned your in-store marketing, existing outside of your digital footprint. As you can see, multichannel marketing is now just the basic requirement to run a business. So what is omnichannel marketing?

Multichannel vs. Omnichannel

While the multichannel experience has your channels running simultaneously, omnichannel marketing goes one step further and ties them together for a seamless customer experience — no matter where they enter your funnel or how they shift between channels. In other words, your various marketing efforts don’t exist in a vacuum. It’s increasingly clear that the more channels you utilize, the more important it is that they are integrated. And then the more effective all of your marketing becomes. Here’s an example to illustrate:
  • You use Facebook to share your new blog to your followers (or maybe they find your blog on Google because of your search-engine optimized copy).
  • A popup, configured to appear when readers have scrolled through most of the blog, prompts your visitors to sign up to your newsletter.
  • Your email list subscribers receive a welcome autoresponder upon signup, which encourages them to schedule an appointment or take advantage of a sales offer.
  • Potential customers interested in your products or services find your location and come to your door.
No matter which platform potential consumers use to establish the initial connection with you, make sure you have a way to keep them engaged and help them continue on their customer journey through the omnichannel experience.

2. Original, Engaging Content Key to Success

A common digital marketing refrain for the past decade has been “Content is king.” That’s because businesses have had to develop all types of content — blogs, social media posts, podcasts, videos, you name it — to attract, engage, inform and assist new customers. Some of it will be evergreen, able to be used at any point from now on (think of an optimized long-form blog). And some of it will be ephemeral (like an Instagram story, gone after 24 hours).
For businesses to market themselves successfully today, they have to be content creators. This is just as true for small local businesses as it is for global corporations.
Either way, content is how many customers will connect with who you are and what you do. This isn’t changing any time soon. Content is still king in digital marketing. But how you package that content can make all the difference. We live in a world inundated with content. Think about it: fast-food chains are now expected to write comedy material for their audiences. Wendy’s and Burger King duke it out daily on Twitter, for example, referencing popular memes and entertaining their followers. For businesses to market themselves successfully today, they have to be content creators. This is just as true for small local businesses as it is for global corporations. So now consumers are much more selective about what content they consume, about how much time they’re willing to spend on a piece of content. Average consumers make a decision on your brand under 10 seconds of seeing your message. Does your content grip them from the get-go? If not, they’ll dismiss it and move on. Consumers aren’t becoming dumber or lazier. They’re becoming more discerning. Create accordingly. Create the kind of content they’ll love to see more of, to dig deeper into.

3. Increased Consumer Demand for Video Content

In a 2019 report from Hubspot, over 54% of users polled wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support, and that number is only projected to go up in the near future. More so than text and images, videos are more engaging to users and can get more information across faster to potential customers. Especially on digital channels, where you get less than 5 seconds to grab someone’s attention, video can do a lot more than long-form written content. SocialMediaToday has found that
Helpful hint: Make sure your videos have captions as well, since 85% of Facebook users watch without sound!

4. Mobile is More Important than Desktop

Google let us know way back in 2018 that more than 50% of searches by users were performed on a mobile device. Then in 2019 they rolled out mobile-first indexing. This means that sites are being ranked based on how they look and function on your cell phone rather than your laptop computer screen. This changes what kind of content you should develop and how your website should be designed.
  • Instead of text-only or text-heavy blogs, write for the thumb-scroller in mind — lots of headings, subheadings and line breaks, plus videos, images and infographics visible between each scroll.
  • As much as it was maligned for years, vertical video has outlasted its detractors. Record video content that is easy to consume and delivers a quick win to viewers.
  • Does your contact page have a clickable phone number? An address linked to a maps app? Does your home page have a clear call-to-action (CTA) and a corresponding button to capture leads via an uncomplicated form?
Is your site designed for mobile? If not, it won’t be responsive — adapting to the screen’s size no matter what mobile screen it is — and this will affect user experience on your site. A poor user experience will lead to a higher bounce rate, which will mean you are losing Google ranking and potential traffic. Make sure mobile is top of mind as you develop your new website and content.

5. Website and Data Security

In 2019, Google began to roll out their revised search indexing, and one of the big new factors was an emphasis on website security. What does that mean for your business? If your website doesn’t have an SSL or is using outdated WordPress plugins, for example, your website would be docked in search results. That’s because you’re putting visitors at risk. The same goes for if your site has a form and is collecting any personal data from consumers. The more secure your site is, the more likely Google will offer you up in the search results as a worthwhile and reliable answer to their query. Having a secure site, alongside a customer data management and security plan, are must-haves as we move forward into 2020.

6. Voice Search Is Taking Over

Two years ago, voice search was all the rage in the SEO community. It was predicted that by 2020 half of all searches would be through voice. Even though we’re not quite there yet, voice search is becoming more and more common. Consider the increased usage of smart devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, as well as the more frequent input of searches into engines via microphone. Questions are asked and commands are spoken — not typed — so they follow our verbal speech patterns more so than typing ever has. Instead of writing coffee shop Toledo, we might say: Siri/Alexa, what’s the best coffee shop in Toledo, Ohio?

Creating Conversational Content for Voice Search

But how do businesses adapt to this change in search patterns? For starters, as you can see in the coffee example above, your website content will need to target keywords differently. Copy will still need to be written with SEO in mind, but what it means to be optimized for search engines is undergoing a fundamental change. So the keywords and keyphrases you use have to be written to match how users are speaking. You also want to write subheadings as questions rather than phrases. You’re essentially listing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to capture how your potential customers are looking for answers. Let’s say you have something like “What is the best time of year to remodel your kitchen?” on your website. And then let’s say someone asks a very similarly worded question to Siri. Two things will happen:
  1. Your page will more likely rank as a better match.
  2. Your content will more likely be given as the answer.
The more your site’s copy reflects how your audience actually speaks, the better you will be served up to them on a search engine. Content written from the users’ perspective, utilizing their language and answering their question directly is critical in 2020 digital marketing. Focus more on local searches and conversational keywords that people might be using when speaking rather than typing.

7. Google is Making Us E-A-T Our Words

Ever since the August 2018 Google algorithm update, “E-A-T” has settled into the spotlight, an acronym for “Expertise-Authority-Trustworthiness” — the three features of well-ranked content on Google. In other words, if your content doesn’t indicate that you can be trusted as an authority and expert on your topic, then you won’t see top rankings. That change to Google’s algorithm a year and a half ago was dubbed “the medic update,” since it seemed to have particularly affected health and medical sites. But later it was discovered that it also affected Y-M-Y-L websites — another acronym, this time for “Your Money or Your Life” — sites that need both relevant and correct information. If content had “huge potential to negatively impact users’ ‘happiness, health or wealth’” … it would be considered ”low quality. In 2020 E-A-T is no longer an industry-insider tip. It’s a basic component of content development. In addition to putting out overall good content, things you can do to help support or substantiate your claims include…
  • Listing your sources
  • Backlinking
  • Including educational or professional qualifications
  • Or even just signing your name to your blog post
… and doing these things can help prove your value and encourage Google to rank your content higher.

8. Traditional Marketing Is Surpassed by Digital

Flyers, print ads, billboards. Radio, newspaper, TV. Traditional marketing: how businesses once connected to the masses of potential customers. And it worked for a century. But as the Internet grew in popularity and increasingly became a feature of daily life, businesses have had to reckon with the shift in the marketing landscape. Digital marketing, like traditional marketing, is designed to connect with potential customers, except now on digital devices — YouTube videos, Facebook ads, websites, etc. An undeniable difference between the old and new forms of marketing, however, is that digital can target those already looking for your type of business. Rather than hoping somebody sees your commercial on TV and calls, you can utilize the keywords potential customers are searching for within your site’s copy, attracting them to your site from their search engine and prompting them to give you their information and contact you. Even local small to midsize businesses are shifting away from traditional marketing in favor of the flexibility and precise targeting that digital allows for — not to mention the considerable ease of measuring success through Google Analytics and other data analysis features on the various digital platforms. According to a report from Emarketer, 2019 was the first year that digital advertising spending surpassed traditional ad spend, and it’s not going to slow down. By 2021, the research firm projects that $172 billion will be spent on digital, with only $104 billion on traditional.
Even small to midsize businesses are shifting away from traditional marketing in favor of the flexibility and precise targeting that digital allows for.
Don’t get left behind. Digital offers higher value and return, audience targeting tools and better scalability than traditional media ever will.

9. Local Searchers Require Local Solutions

You use a search engine to find something, right? Well, it’s a little more nuanced than that. According to Yoast, there are actually 4 types of search intent: informational, navigational, transactional and commercial investigation. You can think of them like this:
  • Informational — to learn
  • Navigational — to go
  • Transactional — to buy
  • Commercial Investigation — to research
Knowing how potential customers use language can give you a huge advantage over your local competitors because people searching online today are often looking for immediate, local solutions to a particular problem:
  • Fix my windshield Perrysburg
  • Good Thai in Toledo
  • Fun downtown events this weekend
What would potential customers type to find your kind of business? When you write your content to answer these queries directly and succinctly, you’ll improve your ranking and see a better conversion rate almost immediately. Including your geographical area, as well as local landmarks or features, will tell Google that you know your area and you are worth searchers’ time. The more hyper-local you can be, the more likely people in your immediate area will find you. Cast a small and focused net, and catch more fish.
When you write content to answer search queries directly and succinctly, you’ll improve rankings and see better conversion rates almost immediately.

10. Outsource and Upgrade Your Marketing

In today’s digital marketing realm, marketing is a full-time job. Most small- and medium-sized businesses can’t afford the time or the energy required to keep up with web, social, online ads, blogs and video, along with all the other channels available to them. Instead of trying to wear more hats, more companies are seeing the value in outsourcing critical marketing functions to more flexible and capable marketing firms. Find one that matches your needs and meets your demands in a timely and cost-effective manner, and reap the benefits.

Get the Right Marketing Team on Your Side

Marketing on your own as a local small to midsize business is increasingly difficult. But with the help of a qualified team of experts in digital marketing and advertising — like we’ve got here at Mass Media Designs — you’ll have less stress and more time to focus on your customers. Give us a call at (419) 605-0202, or message us here, to get on track for an even better 2020.