The demands of digital marketing, along with the ever-changing world of SEO, has seen huge pressure on brands and marketing departments in 2019. Digital trends go through an evolution every year, and that means that marketers and business owners need to stay one step ahead at all times. The first step is knowing what big changes were important in 2019 and having an awareness of the changes that are expected to make an impact in 2020.

If you want to maintain or develop your competitive edge, here are the big trends that landed in 2019, and what to expect as we move into a new decade.

The Rise of the Influencer

While influencer marketing is nothing new, it certainly exploded in 2019. More than simply hype, brands paid more than ever for their influencer connections. One of the big changes this year was the shift in popularity between YouTube and Instagram. Now Instagram is more popular than ever, and influencers are certainly taking advantage of that shift. In 2019, influencer marketing changed in a variety of ways, including:

  • More use of micro and nano-influencers
  • Long-term relationships between brands and their influencers
  • The growth of video production
  • Alignment of brands became more important than the number of followers

Video, and especially live video, is set to become the main focus of influencers and the brands that use them in 2020. This can be live videos hosted via YouTube or through to placements in TikTok and others.

Voice Search

Although there is a lot more to say about voice search and its impact on the future of digital marketing and SEO, there’s no disputing how much it affected brands in 2019. As Google, Amazon, and Microsoft continue to push AI-driven voice assistants, this is starting to have a major effect on digital marketing in general and SEO very specifically. As the drivers of voice technology continue to offer home hubs at low prices, voice search has already changed the way that content is designed.

Chat Apps

Facebook continues to be the most used social platform, with its messenger function being used to send up to 20 billion messages between brands and consumers every month. This year saw Facebook integrate its communication strategy so that users can now chat between the three major platforms under the Facebook umbrella (FB, Instagram, and WhatsApp). Even as Instagram continues to fight against its main competitor, TikTok, brands have started paying a lot more attention to marketing via chat apps. WhatsApp marketing alone has seen huge advances in 2019, and that looks set to continue. Whatsapp marketing could start becoming even more important as SEO starts to become more challenging due to voice search.

Predictions for 2020 – Top 5 things that we should all focus on and why

There are some big changes on the way, and brands that fail to integrate these evolving trends into their marketing strategy are going to be weaker and more vulnerable as a result. If you want to maintain your existing online visibility and profit generation, then here are the things that you’re going to need to focus on.

1. Voice Search (again)

If there’s one area to focus on, in 2020, it’s optimising for voice search. Most brands are looking at voice search as a reason to change the way that they design content. However, that is not going to be enough. Voice search on mobile devices certainly means shifting to a content creation strategy that focuses on how consumers search vocally over how they type queries. However, the importance of being a featured snippet is going to become critical. As home speakers become more dominant, spoken search results are going to be more prevalent. That means the benefit of being on the front page of SERPs is going to mean less. In 2020 and beyond, you’re either going to be a featured snippet or you’re going to be invisible.

2. Live Video and Storytelling

Live video is the fastest-growing segment of all online video content. Over the last three years, live content has become vital, and it comes with many benefits. It is free to use, production times are minimal, and it provides real-time engagement with audiences. Make sure that you are using live video to engage quickly, boost your relationships with your brand-loyal customers, and reach entirely new audiences.

3. Email Marketing

Smarter than ever, email marketing has seen subtle shifts in recent years. With the onus on personalisation, brands are making more use of their email analytics than ever before. Audience segmentation is crucial and can transform a lacklustre email strategy into one that drives conversions and boosts brand loyalty. In 2020, expect to see a lot more brands switching to plain text emails with high levels of customized content. Emails that rely on HTML and graphics are increasingly finding themselves landing in spam folders, and plain text emails are the simplest way to avoid that issue.

4. Personalisation

Digital marketing is about targeting the right people at the right time. By using a one-size-fits-all approach, you are more likely to create content that is relevant to only a few members of your audience. Brands need to make greater use of their data to define their customer demographics, create buyer personas, and segment their audiences so that more personalised content can be aimed directly where it will have the most impact. While personalisation has been a growing trend in recent years, it is set to become the new normal in 2020.

5: Influencers

They might have landed big in 2019, but influencers are going to be a dominant branch of digital marketing in 2020. As traditional adverts continue to have less impact, influencers encourage audience engagement. That means more tangible results in your marketing strategies. When the right influencers can boost your website traffic, this means that your SEO work will get a more organic boost. From backlinks to brand authority, using influencers in 2020 is going to be crucial. The challenge is finding the influences that are aligned with your brand so that you reap the rewards of improved brand awareness, lead generation, and SERP performance.

Final thought

If you want your business to survive through to 2021, then you need to adapt to trends as they emerge. Consumer behaviour, social shifts, and new technologies are evolving faster than ever before, and that means brands need to find the most effective ways to exploit those changes. If your business is relying on the digital marketing tactics that it has always relied on, then you may find that you quickly become outpaced and outperformed by your competitors.