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10 Current Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020 You Should Be Thinking About

Category: B2B News

Marketing used to be quite simple, really. Just hire the best ad agency money can hire, tell them what you want, and you’ll likely get the results you need. But that was then. The entire world has changed. Nowadays, marketing trends are changing so fast it’s never easy to tell which one still works and which doesn’t anymore.

New marketing strategies and trends emerge that practically change how we must draw, connect with, and sell to our customers. However, it’s not always enough to just keep pace with these transformations.

To succeed in today’s marketing world that travels at breakneck speed, the best approach is staying ahead of the game. That’s why we’ve created this compelling list of marketing trends so that you’ll know what’s still hot and what’s not in today’s marketing.

marketing trends main web

The emergence of digital, social and mobile technologies had made traditional marketing almost an anachronism today. It wasn’t that long ago when advertising ruled marketing and all channels, mainly due to its cost and efficiency.

For the first time, digital ad spending surpassed offline/traditional advertising as the main marketing channel. 51.5% of the US advertising market had gone digital, reaching a total value of $106.5 billion in spending.

Digital Advertising overtakes traditional advertising chart

Digital Advertising overtakes traditional advertising (Source: Magna Global & Statista)

Today, businesses are compelled to quickly respond to ever-changing customer expectations. The challenge now is how to provide the relevant content in the correct channel of your target audience.

This is why top-notch marketers are constantly searching for effective marketing channels that provide them higher degrees of control and efficiency. As the bar for marketing quality continues to rise to new levels, so must your marketing tactics reach the same levels, too.

Based on our annual marketing trends research, here are the 10 most important trends in marketing that you must know and act upon.

1. Content is King once again

It 1996 when Bill Gates predicted that the future will be one where content will impact market success. Fast forward to 2019, well, that “bold” prediction is clearer than broad daylight.

Content marketing is now the marketer’s main tool for attracting customers and boosting sales. The marketing landscape is likely to remain as such for years to come.

In fact, the content marketing industry is predicted to reach over $400 billion by 2021.

Businesses nowadays pay for content-related ads, invest to generate unique content or publish blogs. In fact, content marketing had helped 96% of top content marketers in building trust and credibility with their audience. Likewise, 90% of top B2B content marketers prioritize clients’ need for information over their sales/promotional message.

Content is everything

In today’s market environment, content should form the core of your marketing strategy. With so much information available everywhere, every business already knows how to attract its customers. What’s crucial are the actions they’ll take.

Marketing guru Seth Godin even said that “content marketing is the only marketing left.” The goal is not to just provide people with content and then hope for a positive reaction. Rather, it aims to encourage them to share and engage with it.

Whether it’s a blog post or a video product review, your content unlocks the key that connects your brand to your audience. This connection is important to generate rapport and trust with consumers. Always focus on which content produces the best outcomes.

To ensure you’re maximizing your content marketing results, only rely on the best content marketing solutions for your business.

Some Key B2B Content Marketing Trends 2019

Survey among B2B North America content marketers

96%

Their organizations have built credibility and trust with their audience

90%

They prioritize the audience's informational needs over their sales/promotional message

81%

Content marketing strategy rallies their team around common missions/goals

81%

Content marketing strategy makes it easier to know which content types to develop

Source: Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs

Designed by

Content marketing takeaways:

  • It remains as the key marketing tool for businesses.
  • The right content helps build trust and credibility.
  • Your content should prioritize what your audience really needs.

2. Goodbye Funnel, welcome Flywheel

After years of being the go-to marketing technique, the marketing funnel model was finally downgraded. Recently, it was discovered to be an approach that focuses more on getting one-time customers, rather than repeat ones.

In the marketing funnel world, customers become outdated once they make a purchase unless they want to repeat the transaction on their own.

On the other hand, the marketing flywheel model focuses more on keeping customers happy. It also concentrates on how to motivate them to come back for more. It leverages businesses to employ client marketing strategies. These include providing unique content, client blogs, in-person activities, and other ways to develop leads for the long term.

The action of the flywheel spinning perfectly captures how it works. This means that providing excellent customer service is by itself is its own marketing approach. It also exemplifies how marketing assumes a pivotal role in the whole customer life cycle.

Putting the customer at the heart of marketing

The flywheel framework centers on customer engagement by working on motivating customers to keep coming back. As a result, the pace and power of your flywheel intensify, along with the growth of your customer base. 

Up to now, word-of-mouth marketing remains the most effective marketing method. Flywheel also pushes the use of WOM. Marketers should design campaigns to transform customers as brand advocates.

Using Flywheel at our marketing core will compel marketers put a significant focus on providing great customer service. It also calls for the right type of training to adequately prepare customer service teams to provide quality service.

Having a very satisfied brand audience means that they’ll likely promote your products or services on their own. This, again, is WOM in action.

Flywheel marketing takeaways:

  • The funnel has been set aside for the flywheel marketing model.
  • At the heart of the flywheel is the urgent need to provide high-quality customer service at all times.
  • It focuses more on keeping customers happy, which is the best way to convert them into brand advocates and for repeat business.

3. AI grows further in scope

Artificial intelligence continues to grow in importance to businesses of any size. With AI, you can easily complete tasks people usually have trouble with and make data analysis more effective.

For marketing, AI can target potential leads fast and efficiently. It can also track consumer online habits and make sense of people’s behavior.

Whether you continue to have doubts and raise some ethical concerns about AI, it is a sound business strategy to explore how people respond to it. Likewise, it pays to know if your competitors are already utilizing it in their marketing campaigns.

Like it or not, AI is already everywhere and we experience it many times every day. When Google smartly predicts searches, Amazon recommends products or Spotify suggests a song, we’re using AI.

How can AI help your marketing campaigns?

So how does AI fit into the marketing world? As consumers increasingly use AI, businesses and marketers should react to this consumer behavior. 

One is to integrate AI to help your website visitors and brand consumers solve their problems precisely and fast. AI is deployed to enhance and extend our human capacity to connect and help other people better.

There’s also an increasing need for brands to be true and authentic. More than ever, truthfulness in marketing has become very important to today’s consumers. Aside from helping ensure quality customer service, AI can be used to build systems for protecting online reputation.

Another marketing application of AI is for gathering and evaluating consumer data and for supporting data-driven decisions. Deploying a reliable marketing automation software will make your efforts simpler and produce better results.

5 Ways AI is Transforming Marketing infographic

AI marketing takeaways:

  • As consumers increasingly use AI, businesses and marketers should react to this consumer behavior.
  • AI to help your website visitors and brand consumers solve their problems precisely and fast.
  • Brand management and market data tracking/analytics are best performed using AI.

4. Video continues to dominate the digital space

A picture paints a thousand words, a video produces millions! After unleashing its power in television and movies, video as a marketing strategy is now conquering the entire digital space. After being part of a marketing program, brands are now producing purely video marketing campaigns.

Every day, people everywhere watch countless amounts of video online. Most of them watch on YouTube.

For 2019, 80% of consumer online traffic will involve video watching.

Moreover, half of today’s consumers prefer seeing video content from brands. Whether it’s on a popular video site or a social media platform, video is a force to reckon with.

In fact, 83% of businesses suggest that video marketing provides positive ROI.

Which type of social marketing to employ?

Today, video is easier to create and is much more accessible. With an easier entry barrier to break, video marketing has become a user-friendly tool for any business, even for SMBs.

Marketers now have creative freedom–and even financial flexibility–to produce story-driven videos that fascinate target consumers.

There’s no need to seek the expensive services of an ad agency or a production team. All you need is a smartphone, a video editing software, and an internal creative team.

From the consumers’ side, an emerging trend is watching videos in vertical mode. It turns out many people dislike turning their smartphones to the side just to watch videos. This is why Instagram launched IGTV. This new service allows users to produce vertical, longer-form videos.Marketing Trends - Video Infographic

Video marketing takeaways:

  • Videos are now a major online marketing strategy for marketers.
  • Video marketing spend offers good returns.
  • Companies must take advantage of the low entry cost to produce their own videos.

5. Social Media remains en vogue

Today, there are over 3.7 billion social media users worldwide, while the average American who uses the Internet owns 7.1 social media accounts. The sheer number of this socially-connected netizens is more than enough to make the business case for this marketing approach.

Social media marketing empowers businesses to create genuine connections with their audiences. These connections are made on a personal level, which helps provide brands the missing human element.

Marketing campaigns run over social media continue to produce significant results. This is the reason why almost every business, from the smallest to the largest, use these social networking sites nowadays.

Which type of social marketing to employ?

Since not everything social media is made the same, marketers must identify which type is effective for a particular social network. For this year onward, experts suggest the use of multiple types of content on the different social platforms. 

This entails using social media content that is permanent (long-lasting) and ephemeral (fleeting). When used interchangeably at the right time, for the right audience, your social media content will draw more interest and effect.

Marketers should know when to use ephemeral content like Instagram Stories when sending simple,  short-term brand information. Conversely, permanent posts must be employed to communicate lasting concepts like core brand messages, etc.

Expect a further rise in social media ad spend, led by the increasing popularity of Instagram for this year. Still, it’s best not put all your eggs in one basket. It’s better to mix things up for your paid or organic social media growth.

Better yet, use a trusted social media management software to boost your social marketing campaigns.

Advertisers' Instagram Investments: Instagram % of Facebook Ad Spend

Q3 2017

Q4 2017

Q1 2018

Q2 2018

Q3 2018

Source: Marin Software / Marketing Charts

Designed by

Social Media marketing takeaways:

  • As more people use social media, so should you, if you’re an effective marketer.
  • Social media marketing offers a powerful way to connect with your audience.
  • It’s best to use both ephemeral and permanent social media content.

6. Chatbot enriches customer experience

No one can ever dispute the importance of customer service to any business. However, not every customer has the time to send emails to a company or likes talking to a rep over the phone.

These are among the reasons why more and more businesses are using chatbots.

These AI-powered virtual assistants have been improving immensely. They’re already providing fast, correct, and high-quality 24/7 customer service in numerous corporate websites.

With a projected annual growth rate of 24.3%, the global chatbot market will reach $1.25 billion by 2025.

Likewise, one industry survey found that 80% of businesses also use or are planning to deploy chatbots within a year or two.

What are the advantages that chatbots bring?

The current generation of chatbots are capable of providing fast, simple solutions to customer issues across the entire spectrum of probable scenarios. Their capability to continuously learn and adapt had removed the need for live chat.

Chatbots offer the impression and commitment necessary for a one-to-one customer service experience. This could be done easily and simultaneously to hundreds of clients. Such a sheer advantage is never possible when deploying a few reps or even marketing teams.

When implemented properly, chatbot technology can seamlessly manage conversations no matter the volume of site users is.

As long as you provide the complete data sources–from explainer videos to knowledge bases–chatbots can efficiently provide high-quality service that customers need.

Perceptions of Chatbots and VAs - Consumers vs Businesses 2019 infographic

Chatbot marketing takeaways:

  • Chatbots are providing immense help to the various facets of customer service.
  • They can constantly learn, easily and less the cost vs training people.
  • Businesses should ensure that they provide access to complete information sources to make chatbots more efficient.

7. Brands shift to Micro-Influencers

Influencer marketing has always been a major marketing method for the longest time.

Since the 1920s, for example, companies had been developing certain ads to emotionally appeal to consumers to initiate purchasing decisions.

Brands had been seeking the help of famous celebrities to capitalize on the power of this method. Some had even successfully created new realities–the most famous of which is Coca-Cola’s “invention” of Santa Clausmainly to drive sales.

That has been the status quo for almost a century now until technology and social media gave us micro-influencers. Gone are the days when hiring popular individuals is the only approach to influencer marketing.

The smaller, the fewer, the better

The changing consumer landscape had elevated average, ordinary people among us to become uncanny brand champions. Although with only a few tens of thousands of social media followers, micro-influencers are posting powerful content that elicits high levels of customer engagement and trust.

A major reason for the increased efficiency of micro-influencing are the millennials.

By 2019, they became the largest living adult generation in the US.

Studies indicate that the majority (70%) of millennial consumers make purchases based on peer recommendations.

To capitalize on this hot marketing trend, brands should drive social buzz by creating and posting personal influencer content across all marketing brands. To create authentic endorsements that will generate trust for the long-term, these content should be optimized.

You must use suitable metrics to nurture micro-influencer-follower relationships. These include CTR, cost per conversion from UGC content and conversion rate from influencer content.

It’s also recommended to measure this KPI using robust business intelligence tools. This will help boost your marketing campaigns through your micro-influencers.

The Biggest Challenge in Managing Influencer Campaigns are

From The State of Influencer Marketing 2019 : Benchmark Report

Finding Influencers to participate Managing the contracts or deadlines of the campaign Bandwidth/Time restraints Processing payment to influencers Others
Finding Influencers to participate (36%) Managing the contracts or deadlines of the campaign (24%) Bandwidth/Time restraints (15%) Processing payment to influencers (15%) Others (10%)

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Designed by

Micro-influencer marketing takeaways:

  • Most people today tend to trust a micro-influencer YouTube creator over a brand.
  • Influencers are genuine and trustworthy. People put more confidence in what they have to say.
  • Businesses must track and measure their micro-influencer marketing programs.

8. VR & AR-powered CX

Augmented reality and virtual reality, while providing different customer experiences, they’re both bringing in unparalleled excitement in today’s marketing world.

AR sees the real world augmented with visual and other sensory enhancements. VR sees digitally-generated scenarios that are life-like. 

Marketers are anticipating a great opportunity to cash in on this new channel that provides awesome potentials for interactive and creative advertisements. Valued at $428 million in 2018, the AR advertising industry is predicted to grow $2.6 billion by 2022.

Market signs are becoming favorable

Aside from bringing a higher recall rate, VR ads are considered to be less intrusive than conventional display ads. The reason for this is because people still don’t feel ad fatigue from these relatively new marketing channels.

But if marketers can do things right, VR/AR can do more wonders than earlier anticipated.

AR and VR had been with us for years now, but only to support things like events and online experience of brand users. The slow adoption is mainly due to the overall costliness and non-user friendly devices.

But as both hardware and software costs continue to plummet down, you can expect more businesses to integrate AR and VR into their marketing arsenal.

A number of global brands are already using AR to create awesome things. A perfect example is the Pepsi Max AR experiment. Here’s what it did at a London bus stop:

AR/VR marketing takeaways:

  • Use VR and AR to enhance your user experience, both online and in person.
  • Although VR/AR marketing is still young, it’s perfect to start early to better explore your alternatives and to take advantage of being an early adopter.
  • Using VR/AR marketing enhances your brand communication innovatively.

9. Voice search pumps up the volume

Speaking comes more natural and relatively effortless versus typing. Which is why voice search makes perfect sense. In fact, it’s a very brilliant technological innovation that it’s already altering how we communicate digitally.

Who doesn’t like to just talk and be able to do what you want, like buying something on Amazon or exploring gifts for a friend online? 

Voice search doesn’t only simplify looking for information online by removing the need to use a device. Most people instantly embraced this new technology since it drastically cuts their screen time. 

Brands should make the right adjustments on how they frame data to properly respond to this emerging consumer behavior. Rather than adhering to the manual search rules of Google, you should optimize your content by constructing it around questions.

How do I write content for voice search? 

Using direct, conversational queries is the best way to do your voice search strategies. This approach enables your audience to receive better, more accurate answers to the question they raised. 

When you ask a question using voice search, you won’t receive a dozen of links. You’ll only receive one direct answer.

Voice search is already taking the digital world by storm. In 2017, the U.S. total voice-based commerce sales were $1.8 billion in 2017 and by 2022, it will be $40 billion! If there’s one sure thing this trend is telling what every business should do is this: use 2019 to make your brand optimized for voice searches.

This technology is still young, but experts already offer some best practices for you to implement to take full advantage of its benefits.

These include using natural language over keywords, framing simple, everyday sentences with less technical words, etc.

If you’re a local business, it’s time for you to get listed online. Voice search algorithm prioritizes local companies.

us voice-based ecommerce

Voice Search marketing takeaways:

  • Businesses should start implementing voice search for their brand TODAY.
  • Use more natural, conversational language, and fewer keywords.
  • Get list online, especially for local businesses

10. SEO remains essential

Some might think that because of the rise of video, AI, and AR/VR as prime marketing tools, SEO has been relegated to the sidelines.

Yes, content and other digital marketing strategies are key to engaging with your audience. However, good SEO practices still do the groundworks in connecting your brand with your target audience. This is especially true when they use a search engine to find your brand online. 

Why should I optimize my website?

More than half (61%) of marketers report that their number one inbound marketing priority is to develop their organic presence online. 

Although it entails more time, organic marketing is way cheaper than resorting to paid ads that tend to provide short-term results. Building an organic presence online generates more precise SEO and more authentic customer engagement.

Marketers are increasingly pushing for voice and mobile search. However, SEO continues to be dominant in as far as “ordinary” online usage is concerned. 

These two new search engines still have so much work to be done, which provides the mature SEO its distinct advantage, such as a robust SERP with meta descriptions. This is the area that you’ll want to keep an eye on, at least for now and the immediate future.

5 SEO Trends 2019 infographic

SEO marketing takeaways:

  • Marketers should continue its focus on delivering good SEO for their content.
  • SEO-powered organic online presence stands for the longer-term than paid ads.
  • Businesses should adjust to using a multi-online search approach.

What should you do with these marketing trends?

As every fabric of today’s marketing world continues to evolve, businesses must also adjust to survive. Brands must have no other option but stay on top of these revolutionary shifts to successfully connect with their audience.

The challenge is more pressing when your audience is smarter and suspicious of advertising nowadays.

These top 10 marketing trends will keep you at pace with the ever-accelerating change. As a brand, you must integrate these trends to help you really connect with your audience and know what their real needs are.

You must also provide quick solutions and reach them through the various channels that they use. When you are able to share their actual needs and wants, your relationship becomes meaningful to them.

No one knows the future, but we can always prepare for whatever the future brings. The best way to do so is by deploying an efficient marketing solution that can always have your back.

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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