Another year is coming, and in the digital marketing environment, probably 2020 as the start of a new decade will be one of the most significant years in the past half-decade or so.
Google’s SERP has significantly changed in the past couple of years or so: more people are using mobile searches, and yet the mobile search environment has significantly changed, especially due to the rising popularity of voice search.
What about social media? The organic and paid reach of Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin, three of the most popular social media platforms, have gone down throughout 2019, and we can expect them to continue going down in 2020.
In short, 2020 will almost certainly mark a major change in the digital marketing environment. How so? Here are our top predictions, and how we should handle them.
1. Changes In Content Marketing
For the past decade and especially in the past five years, we can safely say that content marketing as a part of inbound marketing, has been the most important marketing channel: content is king.
So, what about 2020 and the next decade? There are several key facts we’ll need to pay attention to:
- Video Marketing
Since 2017, video has risen to be the most popular content medium and is in general, a very powerful medium to engage your audience.
In the next decade, it’s fairly obvious that video content will continue to grow bigger than it is today. It is expected that in 2020, video streaming will make up at least 80% of total internet traffic all over the world. However, more players are entering the game, and seemingly everyone today has their own YouTube channel and video marketing campaigns.
In short, video reach will dramatically drop as the pie is now shared with people.
So, what’s the solution to this issue? Simply put, put your videos on as many streaming platforms as possible.
Duplicate content is not (yet) at issue in video marketing compared to textual content, and there are ways to stream live videos on different platforms at once using various available platforms. The main idea is to allow one video to be published on as many different platforms as possible, maximizing the cost-efficiency of each video while at the same time.
Also, live videos tend to get more engagement. Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and other video platforms are continuously pushing the live videos within their network to compete with TV channels.
Capitalize on this opportunity: do live videos once a month—and stream to as many platforms as possible—, and engage with the live audience. Doing this will also help your recorded (non-live) videos as you’ll increase the audience’s awareness of your videos.
- Snackable Content
A study by the Technical University of Denmark in April 2019 suggested that the global attention span is narrowing down, resulting in shorter attention span and shorter trends.
Snackable, bite-size content has been an emerging trend throughout 2019, and it will continue to be a very important content form throughout 2020 and onwards. Diversify your content with snackable informative and interactive content like infographics, bite-size articles, and short educational videos, among other snackable and engaging content.
We can, for example, package infographics as a carousel on Instagram, or short animation educational videos on YouTube.
- Importance of Long-Form Content
With the shorter average attention span and the rising importance of shorter, bite-size content, is long-form content no longer important?
Not at all. Long-form content still generate more traffic and sales conversions—when done correctly—. That is, don’t create long-form content for the sake of length, but because you are actually covering important, in-depth information that can provide value for your audience.
So, diversify between snackable and long-form content. Use the shorter, bite-size content to attract, and use the long-form content to educate and convert (of course this is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and you can try your own strategy).
2. Changes in Search Marketing
One of the biggest factors that will drive all the changes in digital marketing in 2020 is how Google search has changed and will continue to change in this new decade. This is not only limited to the changes in Google search algorithms but also its overall functionality.
- Adapting With Zero-Click Search
Obviously one of the biggest changes in recent years is the inclusion of featured snippets in the Google SERP. This has dramatically the overall function of Google as a search engine, creating the phenomenon we call ‘zero-click searches’.
As the name suggests, a zero-click search is when the user’s search intent is satisfied without having to click on any links on the search results, resulting in zero organic traffic for the sites featured on the SERP for the keyword.
In June 2019, for the very first time in Google’s history, more than 50% of all search queries are now zero-click searches. What about 2020? We can almost certainly expect a continuation of this trend, and more search queries will result in zero-click for both mobile and desktop searches.
We have to understand that Google’s mission is to provide users with the most relevant and reliable information with as little efforts as possible. So, although this trend might be very frustrating for marketers and content creators, there’s not much we can do to change Google’s direction.
Instead, we have to adapt to this phenomenon, and in general, there are several approaches we can try:
- Get featured as a rich snippet, mainly by implementing structured data markup on your site and other required optimizations. Even then, being ranked as a featured snippet might not produce organic traffic to your site, so we have to find ways to extract value from zero-click search.
- There are still keywords with high potential organic CTR, these should be your priorities.
- Google prioritizes its own properties (YouTube, AMP, Google Maps, etc.), so make sure your content is optimized for the appropriate platform according to your objective. For example, if you are targeting a local audience, you should aim to rank in Google Maps.
- Voice Search to Combat Decreasing Mobile Organic Traffic
Above, we have discussed how organic search traffic will continue to drop throughout 2020 and onwards, but mobile search traffic is hit the hardest. The latest Merkle digital marketing report for Q2 2019 shows that organic search visits from Google, Bing, and Yahoo have declined by 8%, 26%, and 11% —respectively— compared to Q2 2018.
However, the growth of mobile search visitors has gone down from 13% in Q1 2019 to just 5% in Q2 2019, followed by another 9% decline in Q3 2019.
Traffic from mobile search has been the primary source of website traffic for so many businesses in the past few years, so when it declines, it is a very important issue for 2020 and onwards.
Fortunately, traffic voice search is increasing, and one of the key strategic focuses we can do to combat this issue is to optimize our content to be featured as the voice search result. Almost all of voice search results are featured snippet, so again, implementing structured data markup and optimizing your content for featured snippets will be the keys.
- Future Consolidations
Also, we should be prepared for other updates that might further change how Google search will function in this new decade.
For example, Google is now heavily pushing Google Shopping and the Buy Now on Google button to compete with Amazon, which has eaten Google’s share as the top search engine for transactional intent. Google Shopping essentially allows us to make a purchase without even going to an eCommerce site.
So, what can we do with this situation? In general, we should take the wait and see approach. Be prepared to adapt to the changes, and find opportunities to generate more traffic, leads, and sales.
Find ways to generate leads from Google without driving people back to your site or landing page, for example by using Google Lead Form (an extension of Google Ads), optimize your presence Google Shopping if you want to generate eCommerce sales, and so on.
Again, be creative, adapt to the changes, and find opportunities.
3. Changes in Social Media Marketing
The primary change in social media marketing is similar to video marketing—which we have discussed above—: social media as a platform and marketing channel will grow even bigger than today, but more players will enter the game, making the competition even tighter than ever.
So, although more people are using social media, with more than 3.5 billion daily active users today, organic social media reach across the major social media platforms is declining rapidly in the past few years (again, because the pie is now shared with more players).
Social media marketing is always divided into three major categories: organic, paid, and influencer marketing, and here are some of the major changes we should pay attention to:
- Cheaper, More Diversified Influencer Marketing
As we have established above, social engagement is declining steadily over the years. This is also true with influencer marketing: engagement rate for both sponsored (influencer) posts and non-sponsored posts are nearing all-time lows.
On the one hand, this will translate to a lower overall influencer marketing budget, as the costs of these sponsored posts will go lower than 2019. So, we can use this to our advantage, and find more influencers with essentially the same budget. The idea is to achieve the same objective (lead, sales) from influencer marketing by working with more influencers.
- The decline of Instagram Stories Marketing
2018 and 2019 saw an increase in Instagram Stories as a marketing channel, as 51% of surveyed brands achieved better engagement and shares with Stories.
What about 2020? As before, many people and brands have caught on the effectiveness of Stories as a marketing platform, and as a result, everyone is doing Stories, lowering reach and engagement rate as more players are entering the game.
Also, people (probably even you) now tend to unfollow Stories that are not really interesting and engaging.
So, what can we do about this? Admittedly, not much: make sure your Stories are attractive and engaging and can provide value according to your audience’s needs. Second, balance out between Stories and traditional posts.
Changes in Interactive Shoppable Experiences
Now that you’ve come this far, you might have realized that most of the changes above are focused on one idea: making the internet a more ‘instant’ place where we can make commitments and convert without needing to visit a website.
Will this render website as an obsolete thing? In our opinion, not exactly. Website and blogs will still be important in providing information and to educate your audience, and will still have its place as lead generation device.
However, shoppable content will get more and more adaptive with more interactive forms:
- Above, we have mentioned Google is now heavily pushing Google Shopping so users can directly buy on Google.
- Shoppable pins in Pinterest is getting more popular and is a good example of interactive, instant-converting content
- Tools like TaggShop allow us to embed shoppable images, encouraging instant conversion
- Various companies have worked and currently working in developing shoppable platforms with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies.
In 2020 and onwards, we can expect various new platforms and technologies allowing shoppable tags, and at the same time, people’s familiarity with the concept will also increase.
Interactive content with the ability to instantly convert users—not only sales conversions but also newsletter sign-up, free-trial sign-up, etc. — without asking the users to visit a website will be the norm in this new decade.
Various major changes are coming to the digital marketing world in 2020 as the start of the new decade. As digital marketers and entrepreneurs, we only have two choices: adapt, or get stuck with the past.
Although these major changes might provide various challenges in how we’ll do digital marketing in the future: from SEO to social media marketing to content marketing, but at the same time will also open up new opportunities and in some cases, ‘reset’ the already saturated playing field.