No matter what’s on your list this season, success in 2020 means we can’t forget what’s really important.
It’s the end of the year, and the marketing blogosphere is abuzz with predictions about what digital marketing technologies and strategies are too hot not to adopt in 2020. There are some exciting tools coming to maturity and even more on the horizon over the next few years. There’s no doubt that looking at the digital marketing landscape through this kind of lens has been fruitful for businesses in the past. Tools like SEO and data analytics (with the power to give insight into individual customer behavior) are the building blocks of some of the most profitable and fastest growing businesses in the market today. So, what are some of these big trends for 2020, and should companies jump on the bandwagon?
Too Hot Not To Adopt
There is no shortage of “top trends” blogs this time of year outlining the emerging technologies companies should be looking at in the coming year. Here’s our digest version of those trends with our take on them.
Top Trend #1: Conversational Marketing
The appeal of this approach is high. It brings all of the might of traditional key message-driven marketing channels into the powerful context of word-of-mouth. Starting a personal conversation with prospects gives the impression that customers have a personal relationship with a firm with the potential to engender loyalty—an increasingly essential asset.
Conversational marketing is a concept built on several underlying technologies, to include chatbots, which are themselves built on technologies like artificial intelligence. Of course, the actual concept of engendering a personal relationship with customers and prospects is nothing new. What is significant, is the advances in the underlying technologies that are making the idea of widespread rollout a real possibility; bots sound increasingly human, AI is better able to sort out what customers are actually looking for, and machine learning allows both to get better with experience.
Top Trend #2: Personalization
Following our discussion of conversational marketing, the idea of personalization is nothing new. Everyone wants to feel like a company knows them and is tailoring an experience just for them. Even the most advertising adverse consumers among us are drawn in when we feel understood by a company trying to get our attention.
This approach has been the hallmark of luxury and high end brands forever. Again, the boon to marketers at this point in time is that underlying digital technologies are making this tried and true approach to customer engagement widely available.
Top Trend #3: The Frictionless Experience
Following the theme of offering to the masses, companies are increasingly focused on eliminating any barriers their customers face to accessing their offerings. Wrapped into this larger concept of the “frictionless” experience are a number of other consumer trends like voice search through smart speakers, which is widely predicted to shortly capture as much as half of all web search traffic.
Technical business-to-business products in particular are adopting the frictionless concept as it is deeply intertwined with product design and deployment. Customers are more tuned in than ever to ease of adoption. By specifying products that can be easily deployed within existing environments, marketing has the best opportunity to equip sales staff with the resources they need to appeal to the increasing customer expectation of a frictionless experience.
Should We Jump on the Bandwagon?
The shortcoming of list-based hot trend blog posts is that they are an inherently piecemeal way of looking at the emerging marketing toolbox. This was sufficient when we were looking at tools like SEO or data analytics, which the evidence seems to suggest offered early adopters a distinct edge over their competitors—but the landscape is changing. The theme of underlying technologies like AI getting better and better is mirrored by their also becoming more easily adoptable. Consequently, simply putting a new tool in the toolbox offers a decreasing marginal advantage over competitors.
Instead of looking at these individual tools discreetly, companies should take a deep look at how they connect to the common thread that makes each of them valuable today—loyalty. A more intimate, conversational, and frictionless relationship with a company offers the opportunity to build a personal relationship with customers.
It’s not a new concept that people want to do business with people they like and feel understood by, but in an environment characterized by thinner advantages gained on new tools alone, engendering loyalty is one of the best ways to stand out. As we approach the mid-winter holidays, it’s reassuring that the most compelling macro trend for 2020 is that of inspiring trust and loyalty.