As we head into a new decade, here are 10 channels and technology trends to explore – or at the very least keep an eye on. Hopefully some of these will provide valuable digital marketing opportunities and inspiration for 2020 and beyond.
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology field that holds amazing potential for creative marketing campaigns. Social media platforms like Snapchat and Facebook are investing substantially in AR, which will hopefully reduce the barriers to entry for businesses big and small in the near future. Snapchat, for example, has launched several AR-enabled filters, such as an age-modifying lens and a gender-swap lens, which proved to be extremely popular among users in 2018. In the US, brands such as Taco Bell and Gatorade created sponsored Snapchat lenses which use AR technology to modify photos – with great success. As AR tools grow more accessible, this is definitely an area to watch!
While there’s no doubt that AI has captured the imagination of the marketing community in recent years – few companies know how to leverage intelligent technologies in their day-to-day digital marketing activities. One area where AI can be used is to process and make sense of vast volumes of customer data. For example, tools powered by machine learning and advanced analytics can help marketers crunch their customer data in exciting new ways, to access insights that help personalise customer interactions and predict future customer behaviour. Another common use case for AI is programmatic advertising, where automated advert delivery systems place digital display adverts in front of the right people, on the most relevant channels, based on complex algorithms. It’s important to tread with caution in this field, however, given the increase in data protection regulation, including the GDPR.
Many of today’s customers expect personalised brand experiences and instant service at any hour of the day or night. Thanks to the increasing availability of chatbot technologies, you can access digital assistants that are able to have conversations with your customers using a text- or voice-based interface. Modern chatbots are also getting smarter, thanks to the increasing accessibility of AI capabilities like machine learning, natural language understanding and sentiment analysis. As a result, some chatbots are able to answer questions more naturally, recommend relevant products and deliver a range of other customer services. And these versatile tools can be deployed on the channels your customers prefer, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Slack and so forth.
4. WhatsApp Business
This is a valuable tool for small businesses and – currently – it is free to download. This platform allows companies to create a profile and set up a catalogue for showcasing products. It also makes engaging with customers easy, by providing tools such as Quick Replies, which allows you to save and re-use answers to common questions, so you can quickly respond to customer queries. There are additional automated message features, which allow you to respond to customer requests when you’re not online.
We expect this platform to offer substantial value for our B2B clients in 2020. It is a versatile and increasingly popular channel that is not only ideal for professional online networking but can also be used to share content that adds value and positions your brand as a thought leader or expert in your particular area of focus. Setting up a well-managed and active LinkedIn company page is a superb platform for building an engaged and loyal customer community – and generating leads.
6. Influencer marketing
As people grow wary of overt marketing tactics and crave more authenticity from brands, influencer marketing is expected to continue growing in the year ahead. Research shows that 59% of marketers plan on increasing their influencer budget in 2020. For those brands that do not have the spending power to invest in well-known influencers, micro-influencer marketing is a key focus area. This relates to influencers who focus on a specific niche interest area and have a smaller numbers of followers, yet audiences who are extremely engaged. The value here is that micro-influencers often have more targeted user bases, offering a great return on your marketing investment.
This platform continues to grow and currently, more than 1 billion Instagram accounts are active every month, worldwide. Additionally, 90% of Instagram accounts follow a business on Instagram. Opportunities to explore during 2020 include Instagram Stories, which offers interactive elements such as polls and questions, encouraging customers to engage with your business beyond just enjoying your content. Additionally, Instagram has been rolling out a new feature which allows influencers to tag the exact products they’re wearing or using, to drive sales.
Over the past two years, micro video app TikTok has achieved downloads that exceed 1 billion – making it clear that this platform is one to watch in 2020. Going forward, it’s expected that visionary brands will begin to establish their own TikTok accounts as a channel for expressing their brand personalities and engaging with the younger segments of their markets.
Digital video will continue to be a key focus area for marketers in 2020. According to IAB’s 2019 Video Advertising Spend Report, 41% of U.S. consumers 13 years and older watch streaming or online video daily. And, interestingly, online video viewers pay closer attention to both content and ads when watching educational videos. Clearly, this remains an exceptional platform for driving education and awareness.
However, keep an ear to the ground for rule changes regarding privacy of personal information and how advertisers will be able to collect and use customer data, particularly when it comes to content created for children. These changes are being made in line with YouTube’s compliance obligations under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
While the Cambridge Analytica scandal has rocked the foundations of this social media platform, don’t give up on Facebook yet. It still has more than 2.3 billion monthly active users (as of Q3 2018) – an audience that is impossible to ignore! Going forward, the brands that will be most successful on Facebook are those that strive to create authentic and meaningful connections with their audiences.
We hope this has given you some food for thought as you put your digital marketing plans together for next year. As always, Kri8it is here to help if you have any questions or need strategic guidance.