The Internet has revolutionized how consumers shop for goods and services, and businesses have had to make sweeping changes to keep up with the times. The era of brick-and-mortar stores is rapidly giving way to online marketplaces, where buyers consult Google and search local directories to find what they are looking for.
In the wake of the Internet revolution, digital marketing has become a thriving industry, offering SEO, SMM, content marketing, PPC and other services to businesses who want to successfully compete online. Whether you are an entrepreneur promoting your products and services on the web or a user wanting to quickly find the best offers, you are tapping into a unique ecosystem built by digital marketers.
The web environment will continue to change and evolve well into the coming decade. Search engines and large media platforms are constantly improving their brainchildren to make them more convenient and relevant to users’ needs by regularly introducing advanced features and algorithms.
Although progress is generally a good thing, it challenges brands and their marketers to constantly adapt. To maintain a high position in SERPs, you need to be flexible and constantly keep on top of changes, ready to deftly revamp your promotional strategies as needed.
To prepare for upcoming changes in the next decade and help you tailor your advertising campaign accordingly, the Clever team has compiled a list of 10 future marketing trends to expect in the 2020s.
Augmented & Virtual Reality
AR and VR are trending with lightning speed. These advanced technologies enliven the buyer experience and make it an exciting adventure. Although VR has enjoyed immense popularity in recent years, AR is quickly surpassing it, with lower costs and easier implementation. In 2020-2021, AR promises to dominate and become even more popular.
Some large companies have already given us notable examples of how AR can be used for marketing purposes:
- Lacoste has placed special foot scanners in their stores so clients can try on virtual versions of Lacoste shoes, choose the right size and get useful information about the models they like without asking for help from a salesperson.
- The PEZ candy company has an engaging Play app with child-friendly games that can be accessed with a special code found in candy packaging. Children are able to explore a foreign planet, have a jungle adventure, participate in a fashion show and play other fun and engaging games that stimulate creativity and imagination.
- Zenni Optical allows users to enter their eyeglass prescription, create an avatar, try on a vast inventory of fashion frames and order glasses online.
- Online stores that sell cosmetics and jewelry enable customers to try on makeup and accessories in branded mobile apps.
- AR and VR can benefit your business in numerous ways. You simply need to be creative and come up with original ideas to enliven and energize your products.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and visual search is one of the most promising marketing trends of 2020.
Conveying your intent to search engines with written text can be hit-or-miss, but showing them what you want leads to more specific search results. Visual search is becoming a common feature as search giants like Google and Bing become increasingly intuitive.
For example, if you see someone wearing a great pair of boots or toting a stunning handbag, you don’t have to approach them to ask where they got it. Just take a photo, upload it to visual search, and the search engine will tell you where you can purchase similar accessories. Simple and convenient!
Here are some of the virtual search tools available today:
- Google Lens lets you can scan surrounding objects with your camera and find information about them on the web. Also, if you scan an unknown QR code or text in a foreign language, the app can help you understand their meaning.
- Pinterest Lens is another service that allows users to run an online search by capturing surrounding objects.
- Bixby Vision by Samsung has a similar purpose. Apart from finding items and ideas on the web, it helps you calculate the energy value of meals, interpret road signs, sample makeup in augmented reality, and much more.
- CamFind, like the aforementioned tools, helps you find information about real objects on the web. For example, take a photo of a movie poster and upload it to CamFind to get detailed information on the movie’s plot, show times and locations, ticket prices, and other useful information.
Take advantage of visual search to help your business thrive and profit. To ensure your images float up in Google, Bing, and other large search engines, observe the following practices:
- Place all your images in XML image sitemaps.
- Assign keyword-based names, titles, and alt-tags to your files.
- Surrounded your images by relevant text.
- Bring your data markup into order.
- Compress files to ensure quicker loading time.
- Optimize your content for mobile search.
Web users are constantly inundated with advertising, and people are becoming increasingly skeptical of the ambitious mottos, loud promises and self-praise of online businesses. Users are more inclined to believe the reviews and opinions of satisfied customers who have faced similar problems and successfully resolved them by using your products.
Urge your customers to write product reviews and share positive impressions about your brand. Abundant organic feedback from satisfied customers is a more powerful form of advertising than paid promotions. Personal testimonials foster an active brand-centered community, adding stars to your reputation and increasing your leads and conversions.
User-generated content goes beyond reviews on product pages. It can also take the form of blog comments and contributor articles, posts on social media, photos and videos featuring your products, and more.
Offering incentives in exchange for testimonials is acceptable, but don’t be too intrusive. For example, online stores and food delivery services can ask customers to take a video of themselves unpacking and using purchased items in exchange for a bonus or a discount on their next purchase.
Also, do not ignore well-argued criticism. Respond to it in a polite and respectful manner, to show your clients that you are genuinely interested in their opinions.
Growing competition in almost every industry makes it increasingly challenging to become a market leader. Advertising your services to everyone on the web can be very costly while yielding unsatisfactory results. To get the best results with minimal expenses, small and middle-sized companies should limit the reach of their promotional campaigns to the local arena.
Geo-fencing technology lets you target prospective clients based on their location. Simply set a virtual border around a certain area, and everyone within it will receive your messages. This tactic is especially helpful for brick-and-mortar stores that want more visibility among people living or spending time nearby.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
The world is becoming increasingly mobile, with people using their smartphones for work, fun, entertainment and communication. With mobile searches doubling each year, this trend should not be ignored. It is critical to make your website mobile-friendly, ensuring that it won’t lose its functionality when accessed from mobile gadgets.
Progressive Mobile App (PWA) is an advanced format for creating websites whose functionality meets the requirements of mobile apps. PWA provides great user experience, fast loading time and convenient notifications. It enables work in offline mode and interacts with hardware on both iOS and Android platforms.
PWA saves developers from spending time creating mobile versions of desktop websites, since a single PWA operates perfectly on all devices. More companies are expected to utilize this technology in 2020 and beyond.
In the past the buyer’s journey began and ended with a single visit to a brick-and-mortar store. Today, the journey can take days or weeks, and encompass multiple channels. For example, a consumer may see an ad online and visit a mall the following day to make a purchase. Or they may visit a bank to get a debit card and then make all their transactions via a mobile app.
This approach is called omni-channel marketing.
Underpinned by artificial intelligence and big data, it allows brands to sync all their promotional and trading platforms, to provide seamless customer experience. The principle of synergy applies here, where the performance of a well-synced system is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Syncing your systems to provide an uninterrupted buying process at any moment on any device will greatly increase your conversions.
Omni-channel marketing leverages all available channels, both virtual and physical, and links them to a single data management system. Whenever a client accesses a new channel, their data will be extracted from the system, eliminating the need to re-enter their details.
An omni-channel approach can help you establish personalized communication with your customers, treating them as loyal friends rather than unknown strangers each time they turn to your brand, making them feel special and cared for.
Social media platforms dominate the web, with users of all ages and walks of life using at least one or more social media accounts to communicate with friends and family, share photos and ideas, and shop online.
Branded accounts on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and others are a must for successful promotional campaigns. However, it is not necessary to advertise on all of them. Select two or three platforms that are most relevant to your business and most likely to be used by your prospects.
Leverage special tools to create interactive, traffic-grabbing posts. For example, the screenshot below depicts a photo with clickable links. Users can select different jewelry types from the image and be directed to product pages on the seller’s branded website to get more details and make a purchase.
Placing clickable links directly on your post’s image is a great way to get attention, since people rarely stop scrolling to read descriptions beneath an image.
Another reason to promote your products and services on social media is that users are often in a positive mindset when enjoying family photos, communicating with loved ones, or viewing entertaining memes and videos. Their relaxed and happy state makes them less likely to react negatively to your ad, and more likely to click on it.
Google is becoming increasingly human. It not only scans keywords on your pages but also analyzes the uniqueness and relevance of your content. This trend is inspiring brands to deliver greater value to consumers, steering them away from shady SEO practices.
To maintain high rankings and ensure a stable flow of new clients in the long run, it is best to focus on content value and quality.
Private Messaging Apps
Instant messengers have been enjoying great popularity in recent years. People like their convenient interfaces, pleasant designs, interesting features, and their accessibility via apps on their favorite mobile gadgets.
Large brands are already reaching customers via ads on instant messengers, but in the next decade some will start using IM apps as platforms for sales and transactions. In the near future, people will be able to buy and sell goods via WhatsApp, Viber, or WeChat.
Customer engagement turns prospects from passive spectators into main characters in your brand’s story. Invite them onto the stage to play and express themselves via online polls, contests, quizzes, augmented and virtual reality and other activities, to increase brand loyalty and win the affection of your target audience.
Some benefits of interactive content are:
- A fresh and original image against the backdrop of boring competitors sharing dull and impersonal content.
- Engaged customers who are eager to interact with your brand.
- Personal referrals from customers sharing your ads on social media and other channels.
Digital marketing is a dynamic and rapidly-growing industry. Changing trends and updates in search algorithms mean you cannot set up a one-time campaign and expect it to bear fruit forever.
Maintaining a high-end online presence requires constant work and attention to evolving trends. Our list of marketing trends provides you with a useful toolkit for successful web promotion in 2020. Use our tips, and stay up to date with digital marketing news to remain competitive in today’s evolving online market.