20 Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2020

The ultimate guide to where digital marketing is headed and what you can do to adapt.

Digital marketing is constantly changing. What’s working one year may be obsolete the next. And what’s unheard of one year could be the norm for the next.

For 2020, these are the marketing trends that I see will be most important to pay attention to and adapt. Some have been slowly growing for years and are reaching a tipping point. Others came out of nowhere due to advancements in technology.

You may not be able to adopt all of them, but find the trends that will best match your brand’s growth strategy for 2020.

I’ve broken down the 20 trends into 4 categories:

  • Strategic Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Web Design

Strategic Marketing Trends of 2020

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

1) From Funnel to Flywheel

What’s the current state?

The funnel has been foundational to sales and marketing for decades. It’s created a framework for brands to bring prospects to leads to customers. But the funnel ends after a customer buys and ignores the most powerful marketing asset – customers.

What will be trending?

The flywheel model continues to engage with customers after the purchase. It focuses efforts on ensuring customers have good purchase experience, and are satisfied with their product. The next step is then to present customers with opportunities to share about their products. Happy customers become an essential step in bringing in new leads, and reduce the energy that needs to be put in at the top of the funnel to acquire new leads.

What can I do?

Find ways to engage your existing customers. Ask for testimonials, feature their stories, or send them extra perks. If they liked what they bought from you, they are not only likely to buy again, but will be more than happy to talk about you, exposing you to new customers.

2) Personalized Marketing

What’s the current state?

When communicating with a mass audience, it’s easier and more efficient to have a single message that’s broad enough to appeal to as many people as possible. But even if everyone is buying the same product, they’re all buying it for different reasons. In an ever-growing competitive market for attention, generic messaging won’t do.

What will be trending?

Personalized marketing involves sending segments of people customized messaging tailored to their specific needs. This data can be based on their online activity such as searches, pages visited, or purchase history. People will be more receptive if messaging is directed towards their specific needs.

What can I do?

Identify the different interests and subgroups of your potential customers. Segment them, and market to them accordingly. Use tracking codes, custom landing pages, and visitor behavior to understand what your customers are really after.

3) Conversational Marketing

What’s the current state?

To reduce customer support overhead, most brands try to have extremely thorough FAQ pages and templated email responses for inquiries. It keeps customer support and pre-sales inquiries efficient on the brand end. But people want instant answers and don’t like calling a phone number.

What will be trending?

One-to-one correspondence with chat boxes, text, and social messaging are becoming the norm. Some of these are semi-automated to populate answers based on common questions. More complex questions can connect customers directly to a customer service representative to handle.

What can I do?

Find one or a few solutions that work for you, and makes sure you or your team have availability to respond. Install a chat box feature on your website. Be available on social media for direct messaging. Set up a system for text messaging help.

4) Repurposing for Multichannel Marketing

What’s the current state?

Marketing channels have proliferated in recent years, along with the different ways to share content on those channels. With social media channels evolving so quickly, brands are overwhelmed by the amount of content that needs to be created. Larger companies can afford the staff or agencies to churn out marketing content, but smaller business ignore or abandon most platforms completely.

What will be trending?

As more social media platforms crop up and evolve, and as customers become more spread out over those channels, it’s no longer wise to focus on one platform and ignore the others. Brands are getting smart about repurposing content – such as creating a single blog post, and reformatting that into videos, podcasts, and numerous social media posts.

What can I do?

Look at your primary form of content creation, and look for some of the easiest ways you can repurpose that content for marketing in other channels. Here’s an article I wrote on ideas to repurpose a blog post for marketing.

5) Podcasting

What’s the current state?

Podcasting has been around for a while and has steadily grown, albeit very gradually. Brands have tended to avoid it as a part of their marketing plan because it was so undeveloped. For over a decade, Apple iTunes has been the default platform for podcasting, and the only platform for most of it. But it hadn’t really evolved at all. Search was horrible. Episodes were simple numerical with no way to organize a feed. Metrics were horrendous. There was just no way to really optimize your content or measure your engagement.

What will be trending?

Podcast audiences are reaching market saturation. Money follows wherever attention is found, so big companies are finally investing in podcasting. Apple is finally revamping their podcast platform (after having left it virtually unchanged for a decade). Spotify has added podcasts to their platform. Big celebrities and companies are also starting their own podcasts, bringing some major credibility to the content medium and along with them, many new listeners.

What can I do?

While competition grows in the podcast realm, it’s still early on and relatively low in comparison to the market audience. To stand out, start a very niche podcast in your industry. Don’t worry about getting perfect intros or music or scripts. Just start broadcasting to get the momentum going and you’ll improve over time.


Social Media Trends of 2020

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

6) Info videos on YouTube

What’s the current state?

YouTube has been home to all kinds of videos, from home cat videos to polished mini-movies. The most successful videos on the platform do one of 2 things: educate or entertain, or both. However, brands continually get this wrong by putting up the types of videos that no one wants to watch – promos.

What will be trending?

YouTube is a rich platform for informational and educational videos, including products. There’s a growing number of product review and product how-to videos. It’s the new way for discovery and comparison shopping.

What can I do?

Create videos that educate your customers. You can create in-depth tutorials on your product, honest comparisons with other products, or general how-to videos in a topic related to your product. Just don’t post another commercial.

7) Vlogging on YouTube

What’s the current state?

YouTube really has its origins in vlogging. People documented their everyday lives and put them up for the world to see. Now vlogging’s gotten a lot more refined and is the staple video type of YouTube stars. But at its core, successful vlogging still is about self- documentation and authenticity.

What will be trending?

YouTube is the 2nd most popular social media platform, with 2 billion users. It’s social because people are connecting with other people. Audiences like seeing a raw and authentic story or journey of an individual on the other side of the camera.

What can I do?

Have someone prominent within your company do a vlog. Cover company updates, company culture, and maybe even personal details on the inner workings of running that brand. Interview other staff, or other interesting and knowledgeable people outside the organization. Humanize the brand. You will open yourself up to potential criticism, but it comes with the territory of authenticity and has the power to connect deeply with customers.

8) Videos on Instagram

What’s the current state?

Instagram started off as a photo-only platform, but quickly added video. It’s in the past few years that video has been getting more common in Instagram posts, with IG’s algorithm intentionally pushing videos to the forefront of the feed. However, brands don’t get into video as much because it’s extremely time-consuming to produce.

What will be trending?

Instagram already has 4 forms of video: video posts, stories, live videos, and IGTV. Their algorithm is promoting these more in feeds, the popular page, live video notifications and the stories lineup. In short, Instagram is quickly becoming a video platform.

What can I do?

If you don’t do any video creation, jumping on board may be overwhelming. You don’t want to invest too heavily into over polished videos, as they will only last a few hours to a few days. Just start making simple fun videos, even in raw, unpolished form. Photos can still make up the bulk of your Instagram content, but phase in video on a consistent basis if possible.

9) Micro Content

What’s the current state?

Micro content refers to short-form media that doesn’t last long. It started with the now dead Vine, which featured 6-second videos. Snapchat grew in popularity with 10-second videos that disappear after 24-hours. Instagram and Facebook copied that method with 15-second videos which also disappeared after 24-hours, but could be archived. This form of short and short-lived content is great for individuals and influencers giving raw sneak peaks into their everyday lives, but have been difficult for brands to adopt.

What will be trending?

People are used to polished videos. But what is less predictable and more engaging are behind-the-scenes videos, which are usually the style of micro content. There’s an appeal to something that appears unplanned, unconventional, and unedited. It’s almost the equivalent of a FaceTime video call, and that’s what social media audiences are gravitating towards.

What can I do?

Start by posting raw, unedited content daily, or as often as you can. Schedule it in because you’ll forget, but also do it when the opportunity rises. Give behind the scenes looks into projects you’re working, activities of your team, or just thoughts related to your brand’s topic. Avoid multiple takes to get it right – just shoot and post.

10) Social Commerce

What’s the current state?

Most transactions occur on a brand’s website, whether it’s a purchase or donation. The company gets access to a plethora of information, including payment info, emails, phone numbers, addresses, and with accounts created – buyer history. Yet if someone discovers the brand from social media, it’s a tedious process to buy. They have to go off the social media platform to a website, add items to a cart, enter their details and payment info, and in some cases create a username and password to register a store account.

What will be trending?

Social media is enabling on-platform purchasing. This was already existent on other platforms like Facebook and is newer to Instagram. The platform allows users to buy a product directly off of Facebook or Instagram without leaving the platform. It removes the extra step in purchasing and makes the experience more frictionless.

What can I do?

Though it may not be as beneficial for you in terms of capturing customer data or transaction fees, this is the direction that online shopping is headed in. You don’t have to add your entire product inventory, but start by experimenting with adding a few products directly to the social media platform.

11) User-Generated Content

What’s the current state?

Brands want to provide the perfect image of their product, so they’ll shoot the photos and videos, and have models for fake “lifestyle” visuals. It looks clean and professional, but lacks authenticity which is glaringly noticeable.

What will be trending?

When customers love a product, they’ll naturally share it on social media, especially if it fits in with the whole image they want to portray as their lifestyle. These real customer stories are marketing gold for brands, and smart brands will source those stories to share.

What can I do?

Search through social media and review sites to see who is already posting about your product or brand. Reach out to those customers to feature them in your own marketing channels. Encourage new customers to do the same thing by asking for a review or creating a hashtag to use.

12) Influencer Marketing

What’s the current state?

Marketing often involves assets created by the brand or contracted out. From actors and models to environments and props, an ad campaign was fully handled by the brand or an agency. Bigger brands could hire high profile celebrities to boost their credibility.

What will be trending?

The ride of social media influencers on sites like YouTube and Instagram have created online celebrities out of regular people. Within their niche, these individuals have massive credibility with their audiences. Brands are starting to work directly with multiple influencers to promote their product, which often has a much higher ROI than traditional celebrity promotions.

What can I do?

Look for influencers who fit the lifestyle and image of your brand, and who’s followers would match the demographic of your customers. Reach out to them and offer a sponsorship deal.

13) Natural Ads

What’s the current state?

Brands want to control their messaging. It makes sense to an extent. They invest a lot of money in advertising, from web banners to video commercials. Even when hiring actors for their reach and reputation, it’s all very scripted. But in the context of content being consumed, whether it’s a TV show, YouTube video, podcast episode, or social media, a polished ad can feel very out of place and look like, well, a commercial.

What will be trending?

Influencers promoting products for brands are doing it their own way, free from a brand’s script or direction. Rather than taking on the role of actors for a commercial, influencers fit the product promotion into their existing content. These ads fit so naturally into what the influencer is doing that they are often very entertaining, informational, and engaging.

What can I do?

When reaching out to influencers to promote your product, send basic bullet points you want them to cover, but leave the creative direction completely up to them. They know what will resonate best with their audience, so you need to let go of control. Depending on the influencer, sometimes sending free samples will be enough for them to take a look and do a mention for free in their content.

14) Online Groups

What’s the current state?

Communication is often single-direction and single-channel. Brands talk to customers through marketing. Customers talk to brands through reviews or customer support. But when brands don’t have the capacity to adequately address customer issues, there can be brewing frustration among customers, and subsequently, a negative reputation for the brand.

What will be trending?

Social media groups already exist where people talk about specific brands, and even specific products. It often results from people needing more information about a product before buying, or from existing customers needing troubleshooting or tips, but not getting the help they need from brands. Facebook has recently started pushing its groups, and will be more prominent in the social media experience.

What can I do?

Create specific groups, starting on Facebook, for your brand, or even for individual products. Allow customers and prospects to interact with each other and answer questions, thus reducing your need to be involved for basic questions. But step in and help address unique questions that go unanswered. This allows you to be helpful to customers, frame the conversation about your brand, monitor customer sentiment towards your brand, and fix issues you didn’t know existed.

15) New Platforms

What’s the current state?

Most brands tend to adopt social media platforms when they reach market saturation. This is the safe play and helps reduce the risk of investing time into a platform that might not have an ROI or be around later on (think Vine or Google+). But when businesses do jump in, they’re already behind in a competitive market at have a lot to catch up to do.

What will be trending?

As businesses realize the advantages of adapting early to social media platforms and features, they’re adjusting their strategies to test the waters and get a competitive advantage. Even smaller brands can do these by utilizing the earlier strategy of repurposing existing content for other channels. In 2020, LinkedIn will start being more relevant for organic reach as all the other platforms have been overcome by pay-to-play ads, while LinkedIn hasn’t introduced paid advertising yet. TikTok is also a growing trend among Gen Z, as brands are still learning how to best fit it into their content marketing.

What can I do?

Start by simply understanding the platforms. Use them as an individual to get a feel for what’s engaging and expected. Then allot a minimal amount of time into experimenting on those platforms with content you already have.


Email Marketing Trends of 2020

16) Further Segmentation and Personalization

What’s the current state?

Cheaper and easier-to-use email marketing platforms have enabled businesses of all sizes to run email campaigns. Most brands will send the same email to their entire list – it’s faster and easier. But that usually results in people not connecting and engaging with the emails.

What will be trending?

Email marketing platforms have also made it easier to segment your lists, from customer-selected interest to customer actions. Automated but custom messages are being sent based on browsing activity, purchase activity, email clicks, customer demographics, or even simply birthdays.

What can I do?

Begin by segmenting your lists by customer interest. It doesn’t have to be complicated at first. Segmentation can be created by what offer a customer is initially signing up for, or options that enable them to select their interests when opting in. Instead of sending the same email to your entire list, send different emails based on people’s interests.

17) Send Value, Not Promos

What’s the current state?

The majority of emails people get go into the spam folder – even emails they may have intentionally opted into. Email services are getting smarter – when people don’t read your emails, they start being flagged as junk. This is because most businesses send junk – promotions and deals on their products and nothing else.

What will be trending?

Many freelancers and brands have built up massive and highly engaged email lists by sending emails of value. They send daily or weekly emails that simply offer useful information that’s interesting to the subscriber. Recipients know exactly what they’re signing up for and look forward to receiving and reading emails. Occasionally, there is a natural reference to a product.

What can I do?

Send emails that are useful. Help address and solve customer problems within your industry without needing to buy your products. Customers will begin to like and trust your emails, and will be more inclined to buy when you present them with your products.


Web Design Trends of 2020

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

18) Layered Elements in Web Design

What’s the current state?

From agencies that use the same templates to DIY web builders that all have the same theme, most business websites look pretty similar. They all have clean boxy layouts that are sectioned and organized. It looks good and professional, but also feels like every other website.

What will be trending?

Web design elements will start breaking out of the box. Text and images will be off-center rather than aligned. Text will partially overlap images, and sections will overlap other sections. It creates a unique, layered, and slightly 3-dimensional aesthetic that shows off a websites trendy style, while still keeping things simple.

What can I do?

This may require the eye of a skilled designer. Randomly shifting elements will look accidental. But intentional element placement can actually create a visual guide and flow to the website, while also emphasizing specific elements to focus on.

19) Hand-drawn fonts & graphics

What’s the current state?

Modern and professional aesthetics have dominated web design. Fonts are usually serif or sans-serif for clean and easy reading. Icons have a very simple and recognizable design, with many of them coming from popular icon libraries. Clean and flat design is great for user interface, but can look stale and cookie-cutter when commonly used on the majority of websites.

What will be trending?

As brands try to break away from the mold of “corporate” website theme, they’ll introduce more character and style into their web design elements. This can look like fonts that have a more hand-written look, icons that look hand-drawn, or illustrations instead of photos. This adds a unique style to websites that make them feel more organic.

What can I do?

Businesses with larger budgets can contract for custom fonts and graphics designed just for them. However, there are still plenty of free font and icon libraries that have this style. Before overhauling your entire website, start by adding handwritten fonts and hand-drawn graphics to parts of your website for emphasis.

20) Minimalist Design

What’s the current state?

With the explosion of DIY website builders, advancements in web coding, and an emphasis on conversions from customer data, websites have gotten bloated. Flashy banners and popups try to capitalize on that instant lead or sale in the moment. An over abundance of links everywhere made navigating a website exhausting. And new CSS visual effects produce flashy, swipy, and swirly graphics all over the place. Websites have just become too much.

What will be trending?

Minimal web design came out several years ago, but a new wave is hitting websites. This round will not only focus on design, but will double down user interface. Mega menus will consolidate down to small hamburger menu icons that only show a few primary page links. Web pages will take on a more narrative feel of scrolling and guided reading, rather presenting multiple options to click on. Sidebars will also fade in favor of single focus web content.

What can I do?

Think of each page of your website as communicating a single story with a single action. Don’t present a plethora of options for visitors to choose from. Remove distractions and only keep the content that tells a single message. The only calls-to-action should be the buttons that lead your visitor to what’s next after reading that message.


Trends Are Just Trends

Don’t get caught up in putting all your time and effort to keep up. Trends may give you some competitive advantage, but it’s short-lived.

Adapt to the trends that are easy to implement, fit within your marketing strategy, and will deliver results. What’s trendy in 2020 may be bland in 2021. But if it’s easily adaptable and can leverage your business in significant ways, by all means jump on that wagon.

What marketing trends will you implement in 2020? What other trends do your foresee that were not listed?

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