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How digital marketing will change in 2020 – SmartCompany.com.au

January 1, 2020

Staying on top of the speed of change in digital is one of the number-one things that in-house marketers and business owners worry about.

But the start of 2020 brings a moment to lift our heads above the fast-paced business of ‘getting things done’, allowing us to look ahead and plan for a successful year ahead.

To help this process along, I have outlined some of the changes that will shape the Australian digital marketing landscape in 2020.

1. We finally concede not everything in digital can be measured

The rise of digital brought with it a belief all marketing activities could be measured.

Gone was the sentiment ‘half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half’, and with this came an obsession with hard metrics such as cost per click, cost per lead and cost per sale.

Over recent years, however, this obsession with accurate metrics has started to change.

We now better recognise the complexity of the buyer journey in most industry segments, the channels available to target, the reality of multi-device usage, and the greater sophistication of remarketing and retargeting.

The reality is, it’s virtually impossible to measure with certainty the impact of all digital marketing activities. I believe 2020 will be the tipping point when marketers and business owners start to truly understand this. From this, rational decision-makers will see that long-term digital marketing should be undertaken without a dollar-in-dollar-out expectation.

This won’t just apply to traditional longer-term marketing such as SEO and content, but also paid channels such as Google, YouTube and Facebook, which have generally been viewed as pure performance channels.

Increased time and effort will be spent on activities introducing people to a brand and supporting them in the early and middle stages of their buyer journey, rather than obsessing over strict ROI at the bottom of the funnel. Essentially, this means aligning marketing efforts (and measurement) with the real-world buyer journey.

2. The rise of StoryBrand with stories at the core

In the words of American author and public speaker Don Miller, who is gaining notoriety in digital marketing agency boardrooms, brands need to stop playing the hero in the story, but instead, invite customers into the story.

With social media now a core pillar of digital marketing, Don’s StoryBrand Framework (and variations) is becoming ever important to help better explain a business’ offer and bring customers along for the journey with interactive and personalised content.

In 2020, successful businesses will be honing their message in a way that better explains their value as it is perceived by their prospects. There will be less focus on their brand and instead communications will tap into the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators driving not only purchasing decisions but also brand-to-consumer relationships.

3. Google comes to the party with Gallery Ads 

We know that images drive interest. It’s fundamental to our nature. More images can only mean good things for a business.

Thankfully, Google has upped the ante, and is planning to launch Gallery Ads in early-2020. They are Google’s equivalent of Facebook carousel ads and will only appear on mobile devices. They will allow you to marry the best bits of search and display into one ad.

If your business is in a sector where visually appealing imagery is a big part of getting prospects over the line, such as travel, food or fitness, then you will be able to showcase up to eight images along with your headline and description when somebody searches for your product or service.

Google has always pushed the idea of dedicated mobile campaigns and the benefits have not always been clear. But having a separate budget for mobile advertising and being prepared to bid high to get that coveted first spot and dominate the results page is looking like a good strategy as a result of this new feature.

4. Automation in media platforms

The big players, such as Google and Facebook, will continue to push us into using their suite of automation options when running paid campaigns. The challenge will be to determine when this works in your interests and when it doesn’t. There is no doubt that over the long-term, automation will bring many benefits to the lives of marketers and techs, but the question in the shorter term is when this will be the case and when it won’t.

We need to be judicious as to when machines can do things more efficiently and at a better level than humans, and when technology won’t understand the intricacies of a campaign and that human touch will still be needed.

5. Personalisation and marketing to segments of one

Never have we been able to access such an in-depth understanding of our target audiences. Much of this is down to the incredible targeting capabilities of ad platforms and the evolution of digital marketing tools.

This opens unexplored opportunities to be more meaningful and persuasive with nurture campaigns via EDM, marketing automation and through digital media buys. No longer does personalisation mean first-name customisation.

Businesses, even small ones, can no longer succeed without a highly tailored approach to audience segmentation, because audiences will no longer accept generic correspondence.

Obviously, privacy concerns will prevent platforms such as Google and Facebook allowing us to segment down to audiences of one, but the theme towards greater segmentation and personalisation will continue in 2020. The way successful brands market to customers will continue to narrow.

6. If it moves, use it

Video and animation in digital advertising drive results. As an agency, our campaigns are typically more effective when we introduce video and animation. We have seen this trend grow in the past two years, and in 2019, businesses that invested heavily in production saw dividends. This is a space where your competitors are likely paying, and you need to start considering this seriously.

It doesn’t have to be costly, it just must have an engaging quality with sound marketing thinking behind it.

7. Voice search becomes a ‘real thing’

Three to four years back, articles like this one spoke about the impending dominance of voice search. Fair to say that in Australia this hasn’t eventuated like many thought.

Yes, there has been a steady rise of voice-based searches, though it hasn’t upended the digital marketing landscape.

But that is changing.

With over 25% of US adults owning a voice-enabled device and likely similar numbers in Australia, 2020 will mark the point when marketers need to start considering voice seriously when devising digital campaigns.

8. Those without marketing automation won’t compete 

Marketing automation platforms have been around for over a decade. We are now past the tipping point in terms of adoption of these platforms.

By this, I mean if you are in a competitive space (most of us are) then not having a marketing automation platform effectively running in your business will mean you won’t be able to compete when it comes to marketing, sales and maximising value from customer goodwill.

In turn, this means needing to invest a higher percentage of revenue into sales and marketing efforts compared to your competition and so as not to be at a disadvantage.

Whether it’s larger platforms such as Marketo, Eloqua or Salesforce Marketing Cloud or platforms suited for smaller and mid-market businesses such as HubSpot, Autopilot or Infusionsoft, you need to assess the right platform for your business and commit to it.

Wrap it up

Next year will bring loads of change in digital marketing, as every year has for the past two decades. In saying this, loads will remain the same.

  • Well-done email marketing will continue to work.
  • Search efforts, both paid and organic, will be crucial for siphoning off traffic of high intent.
  • Social channels such as Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn will continue to allow you to build targeted audiences and prospect for high-quality traffic.

Good luck with 2020 marketing planning and have a great year!

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