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Happy winter to everyone! As we like to do every January, we bring you the most important trends affecting the world of marketing, digital and business in general.

The world continues to change rapidly and many of these changes directly affect the world of business. The good news is that most of the key developments that affect most of us are positive…..The economy is very strong, unemployment is low, the stock market is at a record high, we’ve got a partial trade deal with China, Brexit is under control, and Iran seems to be in check (for the moment)…and it’s a major election year! And of course, marketing continues to be transformed in more ways now than in the past 20 years put together.

So as we head into the 2020, let’s have a look into the ‘crystal ball’ to see where the marketing and business world is trending. I’m pleased to provide the 15 marketing trends and predictions I believe all businesspeople need to keep in mind, and to integrate into their 2020 planning and execution. In this issue, we’ll cover the first 8 of the 15 key predictions. After you read them, I’d love to get your feedback as to whether these do justice for what is really going on within the marketplace, so please feel free to connect via e-mail, Linked In or Twitter.

Yosi’s Crystal Ball – 15 Marketing & Digital Predictions for 2020!

And here they are….

  1. Smart Speakers, Chatbots, Voice Search and Voice Recognition Technology will become much more “normal” vs. novelty in 2020 – In fact, 50% of all online searches will be conducted via voice search in 2020…that’s because voice search is much easier than typing so it tends to do very well, especially with longer FAQ type questions.

    For marketers, voice search and chatbots are both starting to become such an opportunity because people are now using messaging apps more than they use social networks, so they’re becoming the new platform for sales, services, customer care and content/information. As chatbots take on more human-like personalities, they can take up a portion of customer communications and literally change the conversation for brands, and lower selling and customer care costs as well. For example, Domino’s Pizza uses voice technology allowing people to order pizzas through Alexa, helping to increase their sales. And another nice benefit…chatbots never lose patience with your customers!

    Juniper Research says that marketing spending within voice-powered digital assistants will reach $19 billion by 2022, and will be driven mainly by transactional voice such as ordering products and services. In fact, over 80% of businesses are already using or plan to use chatbots by 2020. So keep your pulse on this one….It’s potentially a big game-changer for all marketers and salespeople.

  2. Artificial Intelligence and Marketing Automation are becoming true necessities, not just passing fads – For business, AI is certain to be at the heart of global business and industry in the very near future. And for consumers, machine learning and artificial intelligence will penetrate further into our lives and impact a lot of processes that used to be manual, especially in digital and online. For example, with tools such as Intercom and Drift, marketers can use artificial intelligence powered live chat tools to communicate with customers. 

    Interesting that marketing used to be mainly a ‘creative’ pursuit. Today, it is much beyond that especially given the intricacies of content, social media and search data. So you need more of a digital platform to manage it all. Artificial intelligence and marketing automation make it much easier to segment contacts, capture and process new leads, schedule e-mail distribution based on consumer behaviors, automate social media postings, manage content flow, track a customer’s lifecycle, integrate cross channel programs, automate workflows, and measure the impact and ROI of specific programs!

    Businesses adopting AI technology will experience significant cost savings, and accelerate their revenue growth…giving them an edge over their competition. Does your 2020 plan have this technology in it yet?

  3. Video continues to be the most influential form of digital content for businesses –Per Forbes, this is because as our attention spans decrease, marketers are relying more on creating short video content to get people’s attention, boost search engine rankings, increase engagement, and website traffic. And no wonder…With 5x higher recall than the written word, video is the most engaging media format and the most effective in assisting conversations. In fact, 72% of businesses say that video has improved their conversion rate.

    And videos really deliver for marketers. For one, videos on landing pages increase conversion by 86% and shopping cart sizes by 125%! In fact, according to Forbes, YouTube has the best ROI of any social platform. Another hot trend right now is leveraging “live” video. 

    And don’t just think YouTube for video dissemination. You can also post videos or start a live broadcast on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook as well. So are you ready for this revolution yet?

  4. Shoppable Posts are a nice new twist in the world of social media – With e-commerce and social media both growing very quickly, it makes sense that brands are marrying the two together to maximize opportunities for e-commerce selling. In March, 2019 Instagram introduced “Instagram Checkout” with allows users to view items online and actually complete the purchase of these items within the Instagram app. E-commerce brands hope that this will reduce cart abandonment. 

    Since 72% of Instagram users have already purchased a product on their app, this represents a new and tremendous opportunity for businesses…whether on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, as shoppable posts make it easy to shorten the sales funnel and shop directly from a business’ online post.

  5. Amazon continues to dominate e-commerce and “change the game” in so many ways and in so many categories – E-Marketer reported that with an incredible 49.1% market share of online shopping, Amazon is bigger in e-commerce than eBay, Apple, Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy and Macy’s combined! (And those retailers are all ranked in the Top 10 online!)

    One of the hottest questions clients are posing to me these days is…“People are selling my products on Amazon at prices lower than we sell them for. How do they do this and how can we protect ourselves?” If you’re not at least tracking your category on Amazon, you’d better start as there may be sudden seismic shifts occurring right in your blind spot! In fact, Amazon keeps moving into new categories every year…In 2020, be on the lookout for Amazon’s expansion into healthcare, beauty products, food and other categories.

    On the flip side, I have a number of clients who have grown their revenue base so fast through Amazon, that it is today one of their top couple of distribution channels! Think Amazon paid search, sponsored product ads, value bundles, dynamic pricing and “Buy Box” features. The payoff here can be enormous…Are you taking advantage of this new source of revenue yet?

  6. Linked In is seeing new life as a potent sales lead generation/marketing tool, especially with B2B enterprises – Almost all of us have a profile on Linked In and we use it to link up and socialize with business colleagues and associates. But Linked In has added major new lead generation and selling power to its platforms.

    For example (and especially if you’re in B2B), you can now very effectively micro target potential leads by geography, job title, seniority, closeness to your inner circle and much more. In addition, it’s becoming popular for people to post videos to their Linked In feed as a way to spice up their participation and social optimization. I’m working with numerous clients on this right now and it is an amazingly new and effective lead generation medium.  If you’re looking to drive powerful new sales lead generation avenues for your business, you should certainly look into these features for your sales team in 2020. Call us if you need help!

  7. Personalization and “One to One” Relationship Marketing are dominating the landscape – Mass marketing is continuing to slowly decline in favor of more targeted approaches. A recent study by Marketo shows that personalized and “triggered” e-mails based on behavior perform 3x better than traditional blast e-mails. 

    First, try and map out your “customer journeys”, and then reimagine and digitize them. Then test and learn various experiments to optimize, and then segment customers into silos. Finally, use artificial intelligence to deliver an individual experience to each customer. 

    A key goal is to focus on developing programs that build long term engagement and loyalty, rather than just a quick sale. I always tell clients that leveraging e-mail and social media to cross sell related products and line extensions is always a big win as it’s so much cheaper to sell more products to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. And to the extent you can personalize these communications, the better…as mentioned above.

    Since long term relationships are built on trust, it fosters not only long term loyalty, but brand advocates who spread the good word about you to their friends. Does your 2020 plan do this?

  8. Messaging Mobile App usage will continue to grow dramatically – Whereas messaging apps have in the past traditionally been used only to send text messages, the explosive growth of mobile has allowed them to become more adaptable and integrated with many other digital “slice of life” tasks such as mobile payments, scheduling appointments, money transfers, dialing phone numbers, social networking, hailing Uber/taxi rides, and instant customer service rectification.

    Messaging apps are now used more often than social media is, and the big players are WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat. In fact, 55 Billion messages are sent every day via just WhatsApp! (I love it for its “group” messaging.) Marketers are starting to take advantage of these apps for marketing “monetization” as well via advertising, customer acquisition, exclusive deals, and in-app transactions. Are you capitalizing on this marketing technology opportunity?