Effective marketing reaches your prospects where, when, and how they want to be reached. The challenge is that prospect behavior changes with time, and marketers need to adapt to match the evolving consumer. Similar to investing, marketers can generate tremendous returns from accurately predicting future trends. As we enter the new decade, it is essential that we recognize these upcoming changes.

In the 2010’s, we witnessed the rise of influencer marketing, social media marketing, and brand messaging focused on mission and emotion. We also saw the fruition of marketing automation platforms (MAPs) such as HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo, and niche software like SEMrush and Meltwater. Marketing over the last decade has become more targeted and focused within the digital space. This is largely due to the mass accumulation of data and the increasing capabilities of marketing software. We expect automation and targeting to continue to improve, but we also expect buyers to prefer more humanized interactions. This applies to both B2B and B2C marketing tactics. The predominant trends we expect to see based on popular expert opinion include:

  • More authentic one-to-one brand-customer interactions 
  • Better segmentation of prospects and customers for more personalized messaging
  • Utilization of voice search for consumer brands
  • Increased use of video and multimedia in an informal, authentic fashion
  • Greater competition for SEO with a move towards quality rather than quantity when creating content. 
  • Rise of zero-click SEO (ranking for the snippet that shows an answer in google search)

Human-Centric Marketing 

The most prevalent theme that marketing experts discuss is the need for more one-on-one and human connections between brands and their customers. When asked what companies need to focus their marketing on in 2020, according to a recent Forbes article, 11 of the 13 responding quotes mention brand authenticity and relationship-building. It makes sense that consumers would want to make a purchase from a brand that they feel a connection to, but the important question is: how do you create that connection?

Employee Brand Ambassadors

We predict that more employees will serve as brand messengers on top of the use of influencers. Nothing speaks more to the authenticity of a brand than the personalities of the employees that work there. After all, a brand or company is essentially the collective effort of its employees, and there is a growing population of workers who feel comfortable behind the camera. The challenge will be finding the balance between professionalism and authenticity as well as the level of freedom senior executives are willing to admit. The concept of employee brand ambassadors is not new; but the opportunities are growing, and it provides a tremendous opportunity for differentiation. 

Prospect-Side Advertising Preferences

Advertising is mutually beneficial for both the brand and the customer when done correctly. Marketing and advertising only become intrusive when advertising is based on website tracking rather than actual preferences. For this reason, consumers should be able to choose the types of advertising they receive. As an example, if I am looking to purchase a car, I should receive more car advertisements than someone who’s not. This currently happens because of website tracking and cookies, but that in of itself can feel intrusive and be misleading. What if I happen to research a car without any intention of making a purchase? If that is the case, any ad impressions I receive as a result are less valuable compared to someone who is actually looking to buy. Consumers should be able to choose what products and services they’re interested in on behalf of the advertising platforms. This makes each impression more valuable for the advertiser and can end up leading to fewer ads and more purchases: a win-win for both sides. 

Non-Organic Content Advertising

Content marketing is king. That is an expression I’ve heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times as a digital marketer. Nevertheless, we also know that content has become very saturated and overly competitive. Without a strong domain authority, it is nearly impossible to rank on google for high-traffic keywords. Brands have already shifted towards quality over quantity but that in of itself may not be enough. We expect that businesses and brands will advertise their content instead of relying solely on organic search. If providing value is the key to a purchase, then businesses should be willing to pay in order to provide that value. Expect high-quality, entertaining, and informative content to emerge as paid search and social. The competition for attention continues to increase, and brands may need to pay for that attention. 

Summary

Digital marketing in the 2020s will likely emphasize authentic brand-consumer interactions, paid content promotion, and more control from the receiving side of advertising. There is more competition within the digital space than ever before, and brands will need to find new ways to differentiate themselves and generate traffic. Human-centric marketing can help brands build more trust with their prospects while emphasizing their valuable content as well. After all, pre-purchase value builds trust, trust leads to purchases, and recurring purchases generate the most revenue. 

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