At the end of 2019 I was asked by Content Marketing Institute to share my take on what marketing will bring in 2020. My answer included niche channels, personalized content and letting go. Unique ways of distributing content also played into my answer.
Whether these are things that marketers will implement in 2020 (or just my wish list of what I hope brands will embrace) here is a run down of what marketers can expect in 2020.
Personalized content for niche audiences
Personas. Target audiences. Customer needs. These are not new phrases but in 2020, marketers need to hone in on these areas more than they already do. And in doing so, the brands that create personalized content that speaks to and resonates with their audiences will remain on top. It doesn’t matter what your sales team, marketing team or leadership team wants. If you aren’t creating content personalized to your customers’ needs you have no brand. Without them, you don’t grow. Figure out where your customers are, what they want and craft messages that support those needs, distributed in formats and on channels they frequent.
New channels of distribution
I’m not going to pretend to know what the next “hot” channel will be in 2020, but here is what I do know: marketing channels continue to change and marketers will need solid plans for distribution. With Instagram removing likes and Facebook introducing apps to compete with TikTok (Lasso), everyone is vying for a piece of the engagement pie. While it may be easy to strategize for and talk about the “big 4” (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) it’s the niche audiences that will drive your distribution.
Think about how you can target local audiences through distribution. How might print play a role? What about using community groups or apps such as Mighty Networks? Is there a way to broadcast your content through Twitch or Caffeine? In 2020, don’t just think content development and creation, think through a solid distribution plan.
The ability to say no
As we become mindful of our chosen channels for content distribution, marketers will be confident in letting go of the channels and tactics that don’t make sense for their brands. It’s time to buckle down and explain to the powers that be that just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t mean it’s good for your brand. No engagement on Facebook? Drop it. Not a single follower on Instagram no matter how hard you try? Get rid of it. What works for you may not work for someone else and vice versa. Be OK with that.
Heightened customer service
While some may be sticking more budgets into chatbots and automated systems, I’m going out on a limb here to say that the brands and companies that take customer services to a higher level (with personal contact) will win out. While we all crave technology to help us scale, there is nothing that can replace true customer service in the sense of responding to your audiences in real-time, with real people. Pick up the phone. Send an email from your personal address. Check in to see what else you can help them with. Follow-up with negative (and positive) surveys. Handwrite a letter (gasp!) Let your customers know that you’re there (not just a bot on the backend). The power of personal connection is important.
A craving for larger budgets
At first, my prediction was just straight up that marketers would employ additional funds to support digital marketing efforts in order to remain top-of-mind and outpace the noise. However, the current economic state may have something to say about that. My advice: Plan for additional digital marketing dollars in your 2020 budgets, but also have a contingency plan when/if those dollars aren’t approved or go away. While ad spend and investing in additional tools (including creatives to implement projects) are key to staying on top, 2020 may not be the year to do it. Which brings me to my next prediction of the year…
Outsourced and contracted projects
The U.S. labor shortage will continue to affect our industry. While we may have ongoing needs to bring on new team members (or, have more work than we have the budget to hire for) it may not be in the cards for companies to have full-time teams at their disposal. Whether it be that brands/clients/companies are pulling work in-house, cutting budgets, experiencing layoffs or a combination of these, the gig economy may see an uptick as individuals are brought on to execute portions of a whole. It’s the “do more with less” mentality; watch for it and see how you can swing it to your advantage.
Bonus prediction: Voice-friendly content
I have to admit that I did not think of this one, but after reading several articles that mentioned it, it makes sense. Ash Roy, CEO of Productive Insights, does a great job of explaining this in his prediction for Digital Marketer. Think about how you use voice-activated CarPlay, questions to Alexa and Google voice search. Your customers are doing the same; prepare your content in more conversational tones, provide answers in context and be concise. Ash also suggests less focus on keywords and more on semantic search.
What marketing predictions do you have for the new year? Digital Marketer and Forbes had some interesting takes in addition to the great post from Content Marketing Institute and I’m curious to know your thoughts. Share your marketing predictions for 2020 in the comments, below.