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14 Digital Marketing Trends for 2020: Latest Forecasts to Watch Out For

Category: B2B News

It used to be simple to get digital mileage. Publish cute YouTube videos. Pay for advertising. Get bloggers to talk about you. Get a Facebook PPC. Boom, you go viral.

But the game has since changed. The platforms, technologies, user behavior, consumer expectations, business models … they all have evolved and have led us to today’s digital marketing trends.

In this article, you’ll get to check the latest B2B digital marketing trends. They will help you see with a clear lens where you should pour your money in to realize good returns. The bottom line: the trend is towards experience and away from simply exposure. 

digital marketing trends main web

A whopping 28% of US adults state that they are ‘almost constantly’ on the internet. This statistic is but a part of 81% of Americans who go online every day. Generally, it is pretty easy to reach someone nowadays. Of course, there are nuances like knowing what to say and when to say it through what channel. Yes, these are the classics for marketing communications. At least, in the level of principles, it hasn’t really changed.

However, users don’t use the internet in the same way. There are many devices, browsers, sites, and content where marketers have to fight for attention and positive sentiments. In a sense, this gets more complicated than marketing communications back then where it was mostly centered on tri-media: print, TV, and radio.

Also, it is hard to compete for attention when it seems that attention spans have shortened or, probably more correctly, we have the innate propensity to constantly transition from stimuli to stimuli quickly. This is touted as an evolutionary adaptation that allows us to pay attention to complex tasks while also keep some level of awareness of our surroundings. And, stimuli is something the internet is not at all short of. So, what do marketers do to deal with these today?

1. The Shift to Omnichannel Marketing

Consumers consume digital media differently. This is as clear as day. Some consumers surf the net to read articles close to their interests and jobs. Others use gaming apps to pass the time. However, there are some relations and intersections in these usages. Most still go on social media. While many consumers use search engines for news, videos, and researching products.

One way or the other if you are good at being visible in some channels, you get to bump into internet users. They can be customers, prospects, or staunch haters (for the lack of a better term). Once you do, this is the time to really qualify these leads–to know who, in reality, will most likely be converted to buyers and later to brand evangelists or just to stop hating your business. This is the normal way organizations function.

However, when you limit your interactions with your customers through just a single channel, you’ll lose much information. You wouldn’t know what they are doing on other channels. They may say thank you to your customer support on FaceBook but may have Tweeted how slow your representative was to respond hours earlier. Also, even if you use multiple channels separately, you’ll lose the continuity of information that you have. Thus, experts suggest that, instead of single-channel or multi-channel marketing, you should move on to what’s called omnichannel marketing.

The essence of omnichannel marketing is that it allows you to keep track of all customer interactions across channels without losing context. It gives you a chance to make sense of all interactions into a continuous story. Also, it helps customers maintain a strong sense of your brand identity across different digital channels. You become consistent so your audiences see you as being consistent. Just be sure to be consistently helpful and provide value for them.

It may sound time-consuming to continuously monitor all your channels, but today’s top help desk software solutions can consolidate all your channels’ activities in one dashboard as if you’re only managing one newsfeed.

customer retention rate

What kinds of issues does omnichannel marketing solve?

Omnichannel marketing is mainly a general approach that we will continue to circle back to in later sections. However, the approach also helps in many specific cases like when customers need technical support.

For example, a customer starts to contact you about a technical issue via a contact form on your site leaving you their mobile phone numbers. Then, to give a more personal response, you can proceed to text or call them (whichever they prefer) to help them resolve the issue. After that, you can even contact them after a week after resolution to make sure the problem did not come back over social media.

As for the customers, they get to contact you on whichever channel that is convenient for them at different times without repeating themselves over and over. Having a CRM platform is also a good way to introduce omnichannel marketing or complement it. It’ll help you jump from one channel to the other seamlessly without losing consistency and context.

Is omnichannel really new? Did it come out of left field?

Getting your customers engaged through a variety of channels isn’t really new. Omnichannel marketing in some ways is a descendant of integrated marketing campaigns. Great examples of such were when Old Spice integrated awesome videos with social media engagement and when Volkswagen launched their Kombi Last Wishes campaign. In the latter, Volkwagen leveraged user-generated content to turn around a seemingly unfortunate predicament of having one iconic vehicle’s production discontinued.

We’ll also circle back to these examples later as we can learn from them even though digital marketing has already progressed away from what it was during those campaigns. For now, it is good to note that these companies engaged customers across all available channels. Thus, these are greatly successful campaigns that most marketers and advertising professionals should aspire to achieve.

The Shift to Omnichannel Marketing Highlights

  • Omnichannel marketing allows you and your customers to keep in touch and never lose the current context of your relationships. Customers prefer to interact with brands that keep their personalities intact across channels.
  • The term omnichannel doesn’t just apply to customer service. It pertains to making products, services, and marketing communications available in all channels including brick-and-mortar shops and in-person events.
  • Marketers use CRM platforms and help desk solutions among other tools to monitor and interact seamlessly from digital one channel to another.

2. Artificial Intelligence and Analytics

It is not known to many but the term computers were once used to refer to people. Yes, there were people who worked as computers in the past. Thanks to theoretical and technological innovations, we have moved on from chaining people to a desk to perform arithmetic and analysis. We’ve got artificial computers now and we are happy to outsource much computing to them.

Since then, this computational outsourcing trend keeps growing stronger and stronger. There are so many uses and examples to list down. But or our purpose, it’s good to highlight that AI and machine learning inform search engines on which online content is the most informative and useful for users. This is something marketers are also doing.

According to a Blueshift report, 28% of marketers are using AI for product recommendations while 26% use it to optimize their campaigns already. Marketers use AI and analytics to collect and analyze data plus automate marketing-related processes. Yes, that is a general description. However, it is pretty much for general use. AI can help with your marketing management, strategic marketing planning, and automate digital marketing processes for you.

What it does is allow organizations to be more data-driven rather than being only steered by inaccurate intuitions, wishful thinking, and gut-feel. Not incorporating this in your organization in the near future is in some way would be like sweeping tons of data under the rug. You will lose both important data and insights.

How Businesses Use Artificial Intelligence, 2019

43%

Audience Expansion

39%

Audience Targeting

28%

Product Recommendations

26%

Campaign Optimization

Source: Blueshift

Designed by

Of course, adapting to this trend is not really a priority for all types of organizations. However, it is best to keep watch of relevant artificial intelligence reports and news to see how you may leverage it in the next few months or years. Moreover, you have to keep in mind that maybe some of your competitors are already using AI technologies and analytics. You don’t want them to be richer in data and insights more than you.

Artificial Intelligence and Analytics Highlights

  • Marketers are now using AI and analytics not just for data analysis and finding trends but also for digital marketing processes like content creation. As data-driven insights are given more and more priority, this digital marketing trend is not going anywhere soon or in the far feature.
  • You can use AI to help you automate business processes including marketing automation. Furthermore, you can even automate reports generation which is very important to acquiring actionable insights.
  • AI and analytics are used by search engines and digital marketplaces like Amazon to learn customer preferences to increase efficiency and profits. Keeping up with trends in these areas will help you design your digital marketing strategy better.

3. Going Mobile and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

There were those times when laptops were considered portable. Now, they are considered to be heavy and bulky compared to their mobile counterparts. Thus, we primarily go with our mobile devices to connect to the internet. They are lighter and they fit in your pockets. This is something that search engines (especially Google) have taken into account. Moreover, Google has also noticed that we prefer the usability of apps over some static or even dynamic websites.

Both mobile and app-like usability is becoming a rage nowadays when it comes to getting your brand not only visible but also engaging. Thus, they have made changes to the ranking algorithm to reflect these. So, you better adapt unless you want to get buried by your competitors. You should keep both of these things in mind moving forward especially that SEO is very important in today’s digital marketing arsenal.

consumers going mobile

Mobile-first Indexing

Google mobile-first indexing has rolled out for new websites on July 1, 2019. This means that new sites are going to get ranked according to factors that contribute to the usability of their mobile sites first. The effort is understandable as Google (as well as other search engines) want to connect their users with useful and relevant content that is easily accessible. Thus, you want to have this in your consideration when it comes to a critical digital touchpoint–your website. You will not rank well if you are not mobile-ready.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Now, there is this new rage when it comes to PWAs or progressive web apps. Put simply, PWAs are app-like browser-driven webpages that behave like an app. They give users an experience of a standalone application and sometimes, they can be installed, too. There are examples of PWAs out there. Twitter, Airbnb, Yummly, Facebook, Hulu, and Netflix would fit the bill. Three properties that define these PWAs are:

  • Reliable – loads instantly and don’t slow down even in poor network conditions
  • Fast – quick to respond to user interactions with smooth animations
  • Engaging – has immersive experience and feels like a natural app on a device

You also have to meet these three criteria.

  1. run under HTTPS
  2. include a Web App Manifest
  3. implement a service worker

Moreover, PWAs are deemed to be worthy to be on a user’s home screen when the criteria are met.  A prompt will inform users that they can add your progressive site. Thus, you will be one of the first choices users can go to when they first open their browsers. Sounds good? If you think so, it’s time to learn more about how to leverage PWAs then.

Going Mobile and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Highlights

  • Search engines are now prioritizing sites that are mobile-ready as users frequently access search engines and websites using their phones. Failing to optimize for mobile use will set your SEO back.
  • Customers are more engaged with websites that behave like their favorite apps. They have far better user experience and can become go-to sites. If you have this type of site called a PWA, you are likely to gain more direct traffic and dwell time.
  • Mobile-first indexing has been launched for newer sites by Google. We should expect a bigger deployment in the near future. Thus, be sure to keep up with this trend.

4. Keeping up with Voice Search

The global smart speaker market has reached 20.7 million units in the first quarter of this year. China received about 51% of all the world’s global speaker market shipments. The United States stayed at a respectable 24%. What these recent voice search data are telling us, we can expect voice search usage will continue to rise in the future. Smart speaker devices are quickly getting off the shelves and users are getting accustomed to voice search assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. Thus, if you want to get on this action, you need to be ready with a possible voice search surge in the near future.

However, there are experts out there that are not too high on voice search yet, even though Google’s AI recorded a very high 95% accuracy in recognition. This is especially so when there are great challenges for adoption.

Concerns of US Consumers about Voice Commerce

Sure, users may use it from time to time but it really depends if these users are your target customers. If you are a local business vying for attention to your brick-and-mortar locations, you’d most likely do well when your content is optimized for voice search. Furthermore, if you are approaching your SEO content in such a way where you want to offer useful information to your customers, you’d want to rank well in voice search results.

For the most part, organizations should keep this in mind as they go forward. This may not be a trend that affects every organization out there. However, it is better to be in the know rather than be in the dark with this one.

Keeping up with Voice Search Highlights

  • The smart speaker market is growing and the West is not the only place for digital marketing opportunities. China and the rest of Asia seem to be trending towards more adoption in the future. Thus, opportunities for digital marketing campaigns abound in these regions as well.
  • Customers use voice search often to locate shops and services near them. Therefore, companies need to optimize for voice search to rank well in local searches.
  • People are still concerned with the accuracy of voice search AIs. This is especially so when it comes to voice commerce. Thus, this may slow the adoption rate a bit. However, this doesn’t stop the overall trend as AIs will get “smarter” after more training.

5. Augmenting User Experience with Augmented Reality

Augmented reality allows users to insert digital objects into real-life video capture. This can work in many ways. You can even mix this up with your PWA or an app to augment user experience and content. Also, you can use it for cool stunts such as Pepsi Max’s AR bus stop. Check the video out below.

In the video, the brand leveraged technology not just to give cool user experience but also get them to generate chatter. We will delve more on this point later. However, in order to generate views and engagement, one must make sure that these stunts and AR-centric apps are part of their omnichannel offerings. Consider Pokemon Go for a second. The game is not just a standalone application on a silo. It is integrated with the whole shebang.

It is part of a series of touchpoints including a feature film, games, cartoon series, and merchandise among other things. The game encourages long-term engagement and also sports a freemium model where users can purchase inside the app. Thus, the company launched it not just as a promotional engine to get new audiences into the classic brand but also make money out of it as well.

Companies tend to veer towards integrating AR into their marketing to increase engagement and to help the customer journey towards their marketing funnel. However, successfully implementing it takes a whole lot of creativity, technical know-how, and resources. But, as technology progresses and new developer kits are being put out. You should continue to look into how you can incorporate AR into your omnichannel marketing approach.

Augmented Reality Highlights

  • Augmented reality can be used to engage customers more in your omnichannel marketing campaign. It is good for stunts to get customers talking about your brand online and keep engagement high.
  • Marketers also leverage the very immersive experience of augmented reality in games. These games serve as tools to keep their brand top of mind. Also, other marketers use them as income-generating platforms with a freemium model.
  • You can also use augmented reality to support your PWAs and digital content to engage your customers. New developer kits will likely be put out to the market and you may probably be able to develop an augmented reality feature without intensive technical know-how.

6. Native Advertising: Don’t Intrude

It is not really far out to think and accept that people hate ads. They are intrusive and can be a waste of time. This is especially true when the ones that appear have really nothing to do with what they are keeping you from consuming. Also, it is even safe to bet that marketers sometimes do too. We all hate them so much that 47% of all internet users worldwide have ad blockers.

For marketers, this seems to be a big problem, especially for display advertising. However, there’s a workaround. We all likely encounter these types of ads every day. They are called “native ads”.

Basically, native ads are seamlessly embedded into content that they look and feel like just part of the content. You can think of it in the way product placement is in films. You know, those luxury watches around James Bond’s wrists or the iconic cities and landscapes used in the movies. They seem to be part of the story and are just there to move things along. These seem to be just incidental. However, a good deal of planning was done beforehand. Also, payments were most likely made.

Native advertising is not really new but on the internet, it’s something that companies need to learn how to do more. This circumvents the problem with ad blockers and, when done right, it is not really intrusive. It is something that can just move the story along yet leave a good impression on your target audiences. Have these in your omnichannel coverage can make you a bigger winner.

Why People Use Ad-Blockers (2019)

Too many ads

%

Annoying or irrelevant

%

Too intrusive

%

Ads have bugs or viruses

%

Take up screen space

%

Speed up page loading times

%

Avoid video ads on TV/Online

%

Avoid video ads before watching clips/shows

%

Might compromise privacy

%

Save data

%

Save battery power

%

Stop ads being personalized

%

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Designed by

Native Advertising Highlights

  • People hate ads and use adblockers to keep them away. Thus, marketers had to employ native advertising and embed marketing messages as an organic part of the content. This is a great strategy that is less intruding for users.
  • Native advertising had its roots in early PR and product placements in films. It is nothing new. However, it is a digital reincarnation of the same general idea.
  • You can mix native advertising up with other tactics and strategies in this list such as influencer marketing and podcast marketing.

7. B2B Digital Marketing Trend 2019: Becoming More B2C

Sure, there are differences when it comes to B2C and B2B digital marketing trends 2019. However, sellers and buyers share the same intent. Also, nowadays, many share the same platforms and processes for transactions. Thus, many preferences cross over from B2C to B2B and vice versa. In other words, B2B buyers and B2C buyers seem to want the same experiences.

Why? Well, whenever B2B buyers step out of their business suits, they become B2C buyers. Generally, before they were ever B2B buyers, they were already B2C buyers. And, B2C has always been easier and quicker than purchasing from B2B outlets in general. Thus, many desire to have B2C experiences crossover to B2B transactions. Lo and behold, this is pretty rampant in the SaaS industry.

In the B2C world, especially in real-life brick-and-mortar interactions, sellers usually give free samples to customers. We get to try a new product by actually consuming it. Think of pasta sauce samples, cheese samples, and free-returns policies. Now, in the SaaS industry, top brands give out free demos and trials so we can test drive their software before purchasing the full version. This is but just one case where the seams of B2B and B2C have been tied today.

b2b marketing strategies

What do customers want? Convenience

Moreover, B2B customers like B2C customers also want immediate responses and transactions completed with utmost convenience. Gone are the days where you have to wait for your supply orders to be shipped to your door to know that they really have been taken care of. You get to see where they are now in the delivery processes and exactly where they are now on your GPS map. It is the same thing with payment where B2B customers almost demand that they can pay in whatever most convenient way possible to them at the time where purchasing decision has been made.

The same goes when a B2B customer who wants to research your product. They don’t really want to call up a salesperson and let him or her explain the product or service for an hour in their offices. These sophisticated folks, just like you and me, are contented with reading about the product online. They want to see features, benefits, videos, and reviews. Only digital marketing can take care of these. However, this doesn’t mean that you get rid of your salespeople. What’s best, in our experts’ opinions, is that to get your top salespeople digital. Again, omnichannel is the name of the game now.

B2B Digital Marketing Trend Highlights

  • B2B customers are also B2C customers when they step out of their offices. Like many, they want fast and convenient processing and interactions that are traditionally provided for by B2C brands. Thus, B2B businesses should think of ways to accommodate this preference to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Today, both business and non-business customers research services and products online before contacting a salesperson for purchase. Thus, an omnichannel marketing approach is the right solution.
  • B2B marketers use a variety of digital tools to promote and sell their products and services. These tools include ebook downloads, in-person events, blogs, and email campaigns.

8. Create Experiences: events and promotions

We have mentioned AR, mobile, and PWAs. All of these, when pulled off right, give positive customer experiences. However, the digital world is not the only world out there. It, in essence, just augments the real world out there through curated stimuli and response with the hopes of affecting the real world out there positively.

In B2B terms, this is profit and competitive edge. For end consumers, this is the improvement in their quality of life. So, what’s best to round this out but with real-life experiences with the brand? Well, this is omnichannel as it gets.

Remember the Pepsi Max AR stunt and Pokemon Go? These are only two stellar examples of going omnichannel with both digital and real-world experience in tow. Of course, these are hard to pull off not to mention very expensive. However, if you are small to medium business, you can create events and experiences that can work for you on your own scale and budget. Think promos, live games, events, seminars, conferences, and the like. Tie this all up with corresponding digital channels and you can get ahead with your lead generation.

With these, you can get information from target audiences during live events and add them later on to your online newsletter subscription. You can share photos of them from your events and engage with them using social media. Also, you can create promos where they send videos to you like a contest to win a prize. You can get creative with these and just remember to tie it up with all of your channels. Create a seamless brand experience and identity. Experiential marketing pays well when done well. This is both for B2B and B2C organizations.

Create Experiences Highlights

  • Smart marketers augment their digital marketing activities with in-person events and experiences.
  • In-person events and experiences create buzz around the brand and lead to spikes in engagement.
  • These events and experiences are quite expensive to pull off. Also, they require specific skills. Thus, you should consider hiring local experts like ad agencies or PR firms if you want smoother event management.

9. More Video Content Marketing

Internet traffic research results point to the fact that 82% of content will be video by 2022. A whopping $90 billion were spent just this 2019 by businesses on video content. The trend has been going on for about fifteen years now and it is not about to slow down. Why? This is because, many times, we don’t really need to read a book about something or a long-form article to understand what it is. Most of the time, we only need a general idea. Videos do this well (the well-made ones). They go straight to the gist, supplement the story with visuals and audio, and are more engaging than reading words and convert them to images in your mind.

For most people, it is way easier to watch a how-to video for changing a tire than to read a manual. It is the same way how it’s intuitively easier to understand diagrams than symbols and numbers. Audio-visual stimuli induce a sense of spatial and temporal understanding of things that are closer to our everyday experience of the real world than words and symbols.  Thus, when applicable, use it.

Top Social Media Platforms for Video Marketing

With 52% of marketers using Facebook Ads Manager

Facebook

%

Instagram

%

YouTube

%

Source: 2018 State of Social Video: Marketer Trends by Animoto

Designed by

However, there are many ways to use videos to be visible online, generate leads, support customers, and maintain rapport. But, the next two trends will give you an idea of how to make use of video. This is pretty much related to experience creation and the omnichannel approach. One way to keep it omnichannel is to divert your video audience to where they can interact with you more. Thus, having call-to-actions (CTAs) is good practice.

Video Content Marketing Highlights

  • 82% of internet content will be accounted for by videos in 2022. This trend is caused by customer preference for quick and digestible contents.
  • You should leverage video content sites like YouTube to increase customer engagement and develop rapport. You can use this to generate leads and support customers.
  • Popular video content comes in the form of Q&As, how-to’s, reviews, and many more. Just remember to divert your customers to channels where you can convert them.  Thus, always place CTAs on your video and video description.

10. Leveraging user-generated content

We have discussed that AR and experiences can create chatter. Yes, this is part of the user-generated content wave. However, social media chatter and engagement is not the only use of user-generated content. There are other uses like creating a knowledge database and listening for inputs for your product development (and other business processes).

As LEGO’s Peter Esperson stated in his wonderful TEDx talk, businesses don’t really have complete control of user-generated content.  However, it is a good way to measure where your business is with customers, how they use it, and how your marketing efforts are. Of course, there are more “traditional” uses like getting users to submit videos to increase engagement. But, you can do so much more with these. Some ideas are outlined below:

  • Forums to create a knowledge base for users and employees like for customer support etc.
  • Maintaining a blog and link-building with influencers
  • Monitoring sentiments and managing relationships
  • Creating testimonials and referrals pages online

What’s great about the user-generate content is that they are mostly free (of course you spend manhours to engage with them). Also, it is organic and authentic–these properties shine through. When using these for referrals and the likes, positive remarks can greatly influence purchasing decisions. Thus, it is highly recommended that you leverage this today.

Moreover, remember that there is user-created content across multiple social media platforms. Therefore, having a social media monitoring tool can help you navigate and use your user-generated content.

User-Generated Content Highlights

  • Users may discover new uses or problems with your product and services. Thus, it is important to listen to your users in all digital channels. Marketers can get ideas mighty easily by keeping up with user-generated content and when they follow through with them and give what the customers want, they’d get to enjoy greater success.
  • User-generated content are seen to be much authentic than company-created ones. Thus, when you see positive ones like comments and referrals, be sure to showcase these on your touchpoints. Just be sure to ask for permission.
  • Social media monitoring platforms allow you to scour the internet and determine customer sentiments.

11. Podcast Marketing

For the past few years, podcasting has been a big marketing hit. They are easily-accessible content that users can listen to while they drive or watch during downtimes. Current podcast statistics indicate that 70% of the US population is familiar with the term podcasting. Also, 51% have listened to a podcast. A respectable 22% listen to podcasts weekly while 6% consider themselves to be ‘avid podcast fans’. These listen-only or video-supplemented shows are often consumed at home with 49% of podcast listening done there. 22% of podcast listening is done by driving. Also, 11% of it is being done at work. Also, 63% of percent of listeners bought or researched products and services that they heard on podcasts.

top 5 podcasts

What’s wonderful about podcasting in relation to digital marketing is that it is highly targeted at preferred audiences. Audiences can even listen to it at their own pace and time. Also, podcasts cater to their very own niche and usually have a community following. Thus, it’s a good way for brands to reach the right people at their preferred times. It can spark engagement and just increase your brand visibility. There are three general ways to leverage this trend.

  1. Create your own podcast
  2. Be a guest at other popular (or targeted) podcasts
  3. Place your products as sponsors or as native advertising on podcasts

Things to consider about podcasts and marketing

Not everyone is built to be the face or voice of a brand. Many successful podcasts are personality-based. Examples of them would be Crime Junkie, The Joe Rogan Experience, Tigerbelly with comedian Bobby Lee, and Neil Patel’s podcast Marketing School. All of these are getting pull because of the gravity of the personalities. They are good communicators, funny, have great topics, have awesome guests, and are helpful to their own niches. It is pretty hard and time-consuming to get one started and be able to continue doing it.  It is not for everyone to do.

If you don’t possess the necessary skills and time to make our own, you can consider the workarounds mentioned in the previous section.

First, you can just have a guest from your company–an influencer, a leader, a good speaker–on other people’s podcasts. In this way, you can tap your desired audiences without really investing anything into podcasting yourself. Preferably, this should be done in some regularity. Secondly, if you are a company that sells straightforward products that don’t really need much time to expound on what you offer, then you can just place your products or sponsor the podcasts your target audiences are listening to.

You can really engage more customers with this type of effort. It’s like radio but online and, many times, with video. Moreover, you should leverage the fact that podcast listeners are 94% more active on every social media channel than the entire population. Thus, you should get into this trend now more than later. The future may be now when it comes to podcast marketing.

podcasting trends

Podcast Marketing Highlights

  • Americans are very familiar with podcasts and many listen almost every week. Thus, you can leverage this fact by getting your products and services on them. You can use native advertising such as product placements or you can go traditional by sponsoring segments or episodes.
  • Your company can start a podcast of your own. Also, you can do this with other non-competing brands to claim thought leadership in your niche. However, it is a big commitment and you may need to hire new staff to fulfill production requirements.
  • Many podcast listeners are avid fans and they are likely to post about their favorite podcasts on social media. Thus, this channel can help you be more visible in other digital channels.

12. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is, in essence, the same as podcast marketing because podcasts are pretty much influencers. However, not all influencers are podcasts. For example, there are micro-influencers who marketers define to be social media users with a thousand to a million followers/audience members. No, they are not your Beyonce’s or Kardashians. However, many of these have targeted and loyal audiences much like podcasts.

In fact, influencers with 1,000 followers generate 85% more engagement than those with 100,000 followers! As IMPACT noted, micro-influencers with small audiences tend to have more peers than fans. Thus, the engagement is hands-on and personal. Add the statistical fact that 84% of consumers trust recommendations from peers more than advertising, this is where the action is at for brands. You need to get into contact with these influencers give them great user experiences and induce them to share these with their target followers!

Again, you should follow an omnichannel approach from video content to real-world experiences. Creativity is key here and be sure to jump on this trend now more than later. In fact, everyone should have been on this five years ago.

micro-influencers

Influencer Marketing Highlights

  • Micro-influencers are entities that have a thousand to a million followers. Many of their followers are peers thus engagement and chatter from them are seen to be more authentic. Getting your brand out there with them will likely help increase your brand’s reputation and can help your bottom-line.
  • Also, native advertising or sponsoring micro-influencers are cheaper than going for big ones. Thus, marketers need to identify and engage with many high-value micro-influencers than running campaigns with few macro-influencers.
  • Podcast personalities can also be micro-influencers.

13. Chatbots

Many are excited about the influx of chatbots in digital marketing. However, 38% of people are not willing to deal with chatbots in relation to customer service issues. We all understand why. One, they are not that conversational yet. Two, we’d like to talk to real people. Three, they may be wrong about certain things exacerbating the issues we have. Of course, these are sentiments. It may or may not reflect reality. But, sentiments matter in the marketing world.

Despite all of these, many companies use chatbots nowadays. Also, experts believe that waves of adoption will come in the next few years. Why? Chatbots answer most questions almost immediately. Thus, you can cut wait times when you are using live agents. However, as mentioned, they are not as “intelligent” as they should be or as we want them to be. But, this doesn’t stop companies from using them especially those with international operations that don’t have domestic live agents available to respond during night time in their respective locations. Thus, chatbots are a legitimate option for them.

Of course, AI is trainable and machine learning has gone a long way. Surely, we can expect better chatbots but there is however a good workaround if you want to use them now.

How would people feel if all customer service interactions were done by bots in the future?

Extremely unhappy

%

Unhappy

%

Neutral

%

Happy

%

Very Happy

%

Source: GetVoIP

Designed by

Hybrid Chatbots

Hybrid chatbots are actually just humans and chatbots working together. Chatbots may suggest responses and actions yet humans can override these in favor of better ones or more personalized ones. What these does, is keep typing and response times low while not compromising personalization and accuracy at the same time. Simple transactions like ordering food may be taken care of chatbots. However, complex problems usually regarding customer and technical support may need humans. Thus, if you think your business needs to keep up with the chatbot trend, be sure to consider a hybrid approach.

Chatbots Highlights

  • There is a good amount of the population that are not comfortable dealing with chatbots. However, you can increase efficiency with the right use chatbots. Thus, choosing a good chatbot software is key in this regard.
  • Hybrid chatbots are one of the best options for companies that want a balance between personalization and efficiency.
  • AI chatbot technology will improve as they learn and are being developed. Thus, do not rule out having to use pure chatbots in the future.

14. Mind your Local SEO

This bit focuses more on businesses with brick-and-mortar facilities like restaurants, malls, boutique shops, and the likes. If you are one of these or similar to these, it is time to make sure that you do local SEO right in order to be visible to your target audiences.  Of course, it is a mix of things to get this right. Also, many of the mentioned trends, insights, and tips above would work pretty well. However, there are a few nuances that make local SEO a bit special.

Firstly, there are explicit guidelines for how you can represent your business on Google by Google.

This is especially important as marketers noticed that the proximity of the searcher to the facility affects the local ranking factor deeply.

Secondly, there are some best practices such as getting your business into veritable local listings. For example, if you are a health-related organization, you can have your doctors listed on Zocdoc, Wellness.com, and Zocdoc to improve your ranking. Furthermore, you have your name, address and phone number (NAP) consistency across or your channels and your listings. Also, you should add your website URL. Call it NAP+W to make it easier to remember. Be sure to keep up with this ever-changing and very competitive aspect of digital marketing.

key local search trends

Mind your Local SEO Highlights

  • Optimize your local search to funnel customers to your brick and mortar stores. It really doesn’t matter much if your content ranks internationally when your products and services are not visible in local searches.
  • One trick to help your local search pick up is to do more online listings. Also, be sure to optimize for voice search if you have brick-and-mortar locations.
  • Also, be sure to have your business name, address, phone number, and website consistent across listings. This will make it easier for customers to reach you.

Mixing it all up: How to approach digital marketing in the next few years?

Your digital marketing approach in form depends upon the requirements of your business. However, in principle, you have to provide value to your target customers as all businesses should do. Remember, ranking is not everything. Continuously profiting from products and services better than your competitors is the real goal here. Therefore, all your digital marketing effort is to direct customers to your marketing funnel for conversion towards brand evangelism if possible.

The best thing for you to do this is to use a mix of everything we have mentioned above. And, you have to couch this all into an omnichannel approach. You have to use a mix of tools to gain competitive advantages and to take market shares. Of course, you have to have an overall marketing strategy. You can use these free marketing plan templates to help you along the way.

Earlier, we promised that we are going to discuss two campaigns more. As mentioned, these are from Old Spice and Volkswagen. Let’s learn a bit about how they integrate various channels during their time. Maybe, you can recreate something like these for your own company as well.

Lessons from Old Spice

Let’s first start with the Old Spice campaign. What this classic integrated marketing push was that it made a coordinated effort using social media and traditional media to get attention and engagement. The marketers opted to start their campaign via a viral push on YouTube and later followed it up on TV. The company managed to capture 75% of all conversations in the category through video content marketing. They ran Twitter and Facebook during its heyday. Moreover, if you watched the video above or remember the campaign well, Old Spice actually targeted women in a sense by starting with “Hello, ladies.” It was a little risky but it did its job by speaking to both sexes.

It is known that they filed over 185 videos in just two days and strategically selected videos to post across social media channels to control and influence the conversation. They had pretty good results with 105+ million views on YouTube, 1.2 billion media impressions, with a 300% increase to their website, and a 2700% increase in followers on Twitter. Thanks to interacting with other influencers like Ellen Degeneres and other firms like Taco Bell, they created a phenomenon that will forever be remembered in the annals of digital marketing.

The takeaway? It pays to have an omnichannel approach to your marketing efforts. Old Spice was ahead of its time then (when it comes to digital marketing). They had all the right ideas. Their campaign was very innovative and very targeted. However, why isn’t the company making a bang today? According to Gary Vaynerchuck of VaynerMedia, Old Spice did not continue to engage with their followers thus the wave died down. If this is true and it seems like it is, there’s another takeaway from this. It is to never let up with your omnichannel approach. You have to keep it going. Always follow up on your leads and keep updating your goals, objectives, and data.

Learning from Volkswagen Kombi

Volkswagen started creating Kombis way back in the 1950s. It has become a symbol in the 60s. Sadly, in 2013, it was nearing its end. The next year, the iconic Volkswagen Kombi bus was to be phased out. Why? It didn’t reach the regulatory standards like airbags and other safety features. Its last production market in Brazil was about to cease production. It looked like to be the end. Sad isn’t it? Well, the great marketers behind this campaign thought to turn the laments into a celebration. The celebration was worldwide.

What Volkswagen did was a little counter-intuitive at face value. However, it worked. They began to solicit user-generated content focusing on saying goodbye to the car via sending them video content. Videos from fans flooded and stories were told. Naturally, traffic and engagement were up. There was even a short film created just to highlight user experiences with the iconic Kombi. During the campaign period, Kombi sales went up by 12%. The production of the Last Edition was sold out twice.

The takeaway? The company turned a seemingly unfortunate situation into a winning situation. They waved goodbye to an iconic model yet they improved customer sentiments about the whole brand portfolio (not to mention the sales which are pretty important). Also, we can really say that content is king. The idea of an advertising message is still powerful; a message that induces a sense of positive association between great personal experiences and a brand.

Thus, when going about your omnichannel campaign in the future. You should try and see different angles. Also, consider the viewpoints of your customers. If you are very confident about your product, you can allow them to join in or even create the conversation.

An important note on Old Spice and Volkswagen cases

Sure, these campaigns were quite old and digital marketing has since evolved from when these took the world by storm. However, the marketers behind these integrated marketing campaigns had the right idea. They focused on user-generated content and organic interactions. The companies created and nurtured personas that they make consistent across all channels. These are lessons that you can take and apply using more modern digital marketing techniques.

A simple rendition of such would be to create a stunt or an event that is interesting and engaging. Then, you film this and get user-generated content. This can be a contest to win prizes. You can tap micro-influencers to participate and promote these events. Also, do the same with targeted podcast appearances or sponsorship. Well, that’s a bit oversimplified but you get the point. Additionally, you can always do something similar to this even if you are a B2B business.

It is quite hard and daunting to replicate or translate what these companies had done for your scale of operations. Also, it is difficult to execute well-integrated campaigns across all channels seamlessly. This is why many companies partner with digital marketing agencies and SEO companies complement their in-house marketing team. You should consider this when you don’t think you have the expertise and manpower to run these sorts of complex campaigns.

How do you keep up with digital marketing trends?

Well, you are doing one thing right by reading this article. And, to answer the question simply, you just have to do what you are doing now with more seriousness and consistency. With that, we mean that you continue to scour the interwebs for valuable resources from gurus and marketing practitioners that blog or are in forums.

Furthermore, don’t forget to browse books on Amazon or your local bookstores. Videos and blog posts can give you general ideas about digital marketing trends but books can give you more detailed information. Also, don’t forget about podcasts. There are many podcasts out there that have digital marketing as their main topic. One of which is Neil Patel’s Marketing School with Eric Sui. It is a goldmine that marketers should exploit.

Moreover, you can actually leverage marketplaces with user reviews to generate leads. These organic reviews are very trustworthy when it comes to gauging user experience. Thus, you’ll have more chances of getting the pulse or sentiments of the market there. Additionally, you can amplify positive mentions of your brand and use them as testimonials. In this way, you don’t only get to keep up with what other marketers do but also with what trends among users and their sentiments towards your product or the competitors.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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