Engaging and establishing a relationship of trust with consumers but also with employees, presenting ourselves as a competent and reliable source in our sector; interactive content enriched by augmented reality; the exponential growth of visual content and voice search; rich snippet and featured snippet; the key role of micro and nano influencers. Here are the most important 2020 marketing trends to follow up-close.
Seeing how fast technologies, platforms, ways of communicating and available formats change, keeping up with digital marketing trends is always a challenge.
It is not easy not to get overwhelmed, but certainly a greater degree of awareness of what is happening and what lies ahead could help us play our cards better.
2020 confirms many of the trends identified in previous years, but gives them new connotations: the situation that has arisen in these first months of the year and that will probably accompany us for a long time, will contribute to giving a new meaning to the concepts of engagement, brand trust, online reputation, competence and authority, influencing the way people approach the digital world and interact both with individuals and brands. A process which is already underway.
#1 Direct engagement with interactive and personalized contents
Engagement is undoubtedly one of the fundamental pillars of marketing. Brands have always tried to build a relationship with their fans and consumers, communicating and trying to involve them in order to convert them into customers or to establish a relationship of trust in such a way as to encourage word of mouth.
In a digital world saturated with content, where companies compete with each other to be recognized, customer experience is still the most important element for establishing a relationship of real trust, because it is through it that we respond directly to the needs of our audience. To create an organic and complete journey, you must not only take into account the purchase phase, but also all the interactions with the brand and with the touch points (both digital and physical) and the sales support phase. The personalization of the content based on everyone’s behaviour and interests is the real key to future communication. Artificial intelligence and marketing automation help us in this regard.
It should also be noted that more and more companies have adopted a less corporate and more informal tone of voice online. An example is the acclaimed Ceres case, a famous Danish beer brand that has made irony and attention to current issues its distinctive feature online, generating a very high engagement. All this is part of the humanization of the brand, a trend that has developed over the years and is increasingly reflected online. Humanizing a brand does not mean putting aside one’s professional image, but rather promoting direct recognition of the corporate values and also of the people who represent them. Showing our face, allowing people who follow us to see who is hiding behind the brand, to witness daily life in the company, to know our stance with respect to a certain topic are all factors that have a greater impact on the memory of people, promote empathy, sometimes identification, and therefore favour a stronger bond with the brand.
The relationship with a brand is not only passive, it also entails the direct engagement of people. Just think that social channels such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIN use the number of user comments as a metric to establish the virality of a post. Quizzes, surveys, requests for feedback, launch of a branded hashtags, photo sharing initiatives, contests are just a few examples to promote direct interaction. It’s no surprise that it is often put into practice especially on social media.
Interactive content takes on an even more important role when it comes to selling products online. Instagram has introduced the so-called shoppable posts, i.e. posts from which users can make a direct purchase of the product, and Google is also implementing Shoppable Image Ads, a new advertising format that offers brands the opportunity to tag multiple products in one lifestyle image.
Furthermore, thanks to augmented reality, more and more brands – from clothing, to cosmetics, to furnishings – allow to “try” on ourselves, directly from our device, a certain item of clothing, a shade of lipstick or to furnish our home.
Not just customers: the importance of motivating and engaging employees
Very often we are so busy rethinking all the touchpoints of the customer journey that we forget one of the most important resources for a company: employees.
Engaging, motivating employees and promoting a sense of belonging in the corporate culture is one of the main 2020 trends in the marketing field and we are sure it will continue to be so for some time.
In a world where distrust of traditional institutions increases exponentially, 75% of people indicate their employer as the institution they trust the most and a study by Deloitte reveals that brands that earn employees trust through a genuine commitment obtain a significant competitive advantage, greater market share and an average growth three times faster than the competition.
How can we promote the sense of belonging in the workplace? Certainly by implementing a leadership aligned with corporate values and culture, by educating employees on these points, and by favouring initiatives and contributions that go beyond the simple role in the company.
Training employees, promoting solidarity, environmental, social and integration policies, providing family support are other choices that can motivate workers and promote their sense of belonging. For example, through a post on her LinkedIN profile, a Patagonia employee publicly thanked the brand for its family support policies. The post went viral on the social network and was reported by several online sources as an exemplary behaviour to safeguard working mothers.
When it comes to corporate responsibility, the Coronavirus pandemic has certainly brought up some excellent examples, such as the case of Luxottica, an Italian eyewear conglomerate and the world’s largest company in the eyewear industry, which has announced the integration of the unemployment insurance (Cassa Integrazione) for its 12,000 employees, while cutting management salaries up to 50% and giving a € 500 bonus to those workers engaged in essential services. All initiatives praised both by the press and by employees themselves, through social media.
#2 EAT – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
A few years ago, Google released the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which are useful guidelines for Google analyzers but equally fundamental for those who create content, as they provide a good picture of what Google likes and what not.
The lesson that can be drawn from these guidelines is that Google promotes reliable quality content, written by competent people and hosted by authoritative sites. In other words, Google is unlikely to trust a medical text written by someone other than a doctor.
Therefore, it is confirmed the importance (already mentioned when we talked about some SEO best practices to rank better in SERPs) to create comprehensive quality contents, able to meet users search intent and that offer relevant information, in line with our skills.
Our obligation is not only towards Google, it is above all towards users, who must be able to count on the truthfulness, on the reliability of what we write and on the skills we have acquired to do so. So, let’s provide bios and credentials of the writer, quote reliable sources, update our contents and make sure we have quality backlinks.
#3 Visual content
A study published by the MIT in Boston showed that the human brain only needs to see an image for 13 milliseconds to be able to process it.
It is therefore not surprising that another trend already mentioned in 2019 finds further confirmation in 2020: visual contents are the future, for their ability to adapt to the generational changes, to the new tools and uses that emerge over time.
Images, infographics but above all videos get the lion’s share of content marketing and it is on social media that they find their maximum expression today.
Facebook Watch, IGTV, YouTube, not to mention the exponential growth of TikTok and the Stories on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp: short but impactful videos are confirmed to be one of the preferred forms of communication by brands and people, capable to involve entire generations.
And let’s not underestimate live broadcasts on Instagram Live or Facebook Live, which are already widely exploited by many brands and which recently, because of the isolation due to Coronavirus, recorded an even wider use for sharing recipes, workouts, jam sessions or DJ sets.
Companies can also take advantage of these means to communicate their brand and values. The important thing is to choose the right format and the right platform to do so: unless our audience belongs to Gen Z, it is better to avoid spending time and resources to make content on TikTok.
Another tool that companies can take advantage of is visual storytelling, i.e. the creation of video-narrations capable of sparking emotions in our audience, and through which it is possible to communicate values, initiatives or the history of a company.
#4 Voice search
Since Apple launched Siri in 2011, voice search has been able to carve out a leading role.
Google reports that 27% of the world’s population uses voice search on their smartphones and a Comscore study shows that in 2020 more than half of all smartphone users will use voice technology on their device. And again, according to Google 62% of those who regularly use a smart speaker said they are likely to purchase something through the voice-activated speaker in the next month. In fact, in addition to streaming music and videos, and searching for information, Voice Shopping is becoming increasingly popular among consumers.
What do all these data tell us? Certainly that voice search is destined to grow exponentially and that the way we create content online must adapt accordingly to provide precise and detailed information to Alexa & co.
Therefore, contents must be optimized for voice search, through the use of conversational keywords, that is words closer to the colloquial language. Another great trick is to create a FAQ page, grouping the most common questions on the same page, through which we will have to provide exhaustive and thorough answers.
Although they are not a direct ranking factor, to optimize our site for voice search it is also important to use structured data, through the mark-up provided by schema.org. Structured data is the meta information in the structure of our site that helps search engines to better understand our content. It is possible to test if our structured data is correct or if there are any errors through the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.
#5 Rich snippets and the coveted position zero
All the aforementioned tips, especially structured data, can also help us placing our content in two highly coveted positions on Google, which are becoming increasingly important in the results pages: the Rich Snippets and the Featured Snippets.
Rich Snippets are organic results enriched with graphic elements and additional information that attract the user’s attention. For example, the “stars” for reviews/ratings, the price, the preparation time of a recipe. All these data are read by the search engines through the structured data of our site and shown directly in the SERP, offering much more complete information to the user.
Featured Snippets are also known as position zero precisely because they are placed in a dedicated box above the first organic result in the SERP. In this box, extracts of the content of our page with the most pertinent information to answer the user query are usually shown. Very often featured snippets respond to requests for information (how, what, when, why, how much, where), which are also typical queries of voice searches.
We expect a lot of effort from many to get to these positions. Maybe we could even set it as our next goal, what do you say?
#6 The rise of micro e nano influencers
We all know influencer marketing. We are likely among the followers of some of these influencers.
Brand wise, we have been seeing for some time now a shift in the focus from celebrities and macro influencers to micro and nano influencers, i.e. those people who count (generally) between 10 and 100 thousand followers (the former) and between 1000 and 10,000 followers the latter.
This tendency of brands not to choose one or two bigger influencers but to collaborate instead with a few niche influencers derives from the fact that not only the economic investment is lower, but also from the ability of micro and nano influencers to generate a greater return on the investment.
That’s because micro and nano influencers can generally count on higher audience engagement rates, given by the personal contact with followers and by the direct management of their account, which is therefore not delegated to third parties as it often happens when it comes to macro influencers and celebrities. Micro and nano influencers generally create posts and stories themselves, and often answer to messages and comments. They are perceived as “real people” and their followers are therefore more receptive to their content, even when it comes to sponsored posts.
What about you? What do you think of these trends? How will you face 2020 digitally speaking? Tell us. Together we can find the right strategy to grow your online business.