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2020 Digital Marketing Predictions from a VP of Marketing

..2019 Digital Marketing In The Rear View

As we look back and marvel at our digital marketing accomplishments for 2019, I believe we can say comfortably that it was the year of retargeting. Marketers came out in droves to take 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances at getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time. The resulting data from all of this effort is very good. In fact, it’s so good that conversion rates on retargeted ads have blown by less-expensive display ads. We also saw incredible advancements in Artificial 2020 digital marketing predictions Intelligence, which is making digital marketing as a whole much more effective. 

What’s interesting is that we saw all of this retargeting success in 2019 despite increased challenges in our ability to segment Facebook’s immensely valuable audience. The Facebook limitations won’t be changing anytime soon. But the good news is, 2020 promises to pick up right where 2019 left off. I also believe that 2020 will see significant forward progress in a few other areas of digital marketing that promise to be very exciting. 


The Opportunity 

This positive outlook leads into the opportunity for marketers in the coming year. But first, we have to address the elephant in the room. There has been quite a bit of chatter on the verge of Q4 2019 about an impending downturn in the economy forecasted for the coming year. We can’t ignore the impact that this would have on ad spending in the marketplace.

Having said that, I don’t believe this concern is going to slow down the  innovation that’s leading to some really cool advancements in digital marketing for 2020. It’s also important to note that digital marketing has become such a complex umbrella term that it can be easy to forget how many elements of marketing are a part of it. Taken all together, it provides us with a huge opportunity to successfully navigate the forecasted economic trouble using our knowledge of martech in this rapidly changing landscape. In that vein I’ll make my big prediction (which isn’t much of a surprise if you’ve listened to any industry blogs this year) – I believe 2020 will be the year of personalization. 

Personalization huh? Do tell…

There’s always a buzzword in the marketing game. Engagement. Customer journey. Analytics. And my personal favorite, omni-channel. Industry veterans like to joke about how these buzzwords are all rooted in our eternal quest to sell more stuff. Personalization, however, is one of the more interesting industry buzzwords I’ve come across in some time.  Not because it’s something new and revolutionary, but because it’s common sense! I absolutely love common sense marketing and creating a more personalized experience for consumers is a home run in my book. 

The notion that we can create a unique and personal shopping experience for each person to whom we cater is incredible, if not a little hard to believe, but believe it because we have everything we need to accomplish this. We have massive amounts of data from a multitude of sources on consumer habits, traffic patterns, shopping history, and soon enough we’ll have large-scale proliferation of the IoT (Internet of things) – a borderline terrifying reality where everything, literally everything in your life is connected to the internet and sharing information. Ahhh the IoT, can’t wait for my toilet to update my shopping list when I’m running low on toilet paper. Seems ridiculous, but it’s on the short-term horizon and all of this data will just make a personalized buyer’s journey so much more realistic.

For the other movie nerds out there (like me) you’re probably saying…well, yeah but Minority Report already predicted this type of personalized shopping experience!

 Spielberg was definitely ahead of his time, but not by much. While we’re not quite at retina scanning yet, we are certainly positioned to start deploying (and in some ways have already started) very similar solutions. Ones that leverage our not-so-personal internet/shopping data to custom tailor the advertising that we see. Marketers are piecing together the data from our geography (thanks Apple), our shopping habits (thanks Amazon), our search habits (thanks Google), our travel habits (thanks Uber), and so many other data points. That’s a lot of sarcastic thank yous to issue…

Personalization is deeper than that

As a consumer, our experience is in fact getting easier. More to the point, our experience is becoming more cultivated to each of us as individuals. Truth be told, the jury is still out on whether this level of cultivation is a good thing or a bad thing–but we can’t avoid the convenience of it all. The simplest and easiest examples are the recommendations that Amazon makes based on your recent purchases and interactions with the platform. 

I’ve been searching for podcast gear lately…oh and motorcycle parts for my project bike. And of course, Amazon is well aware of this…

Amazon Personalization Amazon Personalization

While these recommendations are cool, they are less “cultivated” then they are merely “reactive” as a result of data. However, to the shopper it’s one in the same. Amazon has just made their buyer’s journey a little easier. Or perhaps, they stumbled upon something they wouldn’t have known to look for on their own: Personalization at work. 

Personalization by choice

There is also a whole different type of personalization. But it’s not data driven. Instead, it’s driven by choice. The type of personalization where the consumers themselves create their journey based on chosen inputs and not historical data. I’ll draw similarity from a process that I’ve experienced myself. I’ve always been into men’s fashion, and the thought of having a suit made specifically for me is super appealing. The process involved some things you’d expect – measurements, fabric/button selection, and plenty of standing around while a dude puts a tape measure in places that will surprise you!

However, at my particular tailor we then had a conversation about what I will do in this suit. Will I dance (hell yeah)? Would I be getting on the floor with my kids in this suit (highly probable)? Do I always wear a watch on my left wrist (yes, Apple watch)? What impression do you want to give when you walk into a room with this suit (boooom)?  YES!

These are the types of things I’ve always wanted to be asked when buying a suit. But chances are, I would never be asked things like this at a department store. As a result, my journey felt much more about me. And the end result was a unique product that literally fit me perfectly. This is where retailers/marketers have a HUGE opportunity to improve in 2020. 

To qualify someone’s needs upfront we can create a truly bespoke experience that will surely mitigate common pushbacks through a buyer’s journey. Add to this an amazing array of digital technologies that can bolt onto a website and bingo! We can create interactive experiences that capture these inputs. Then we can combine this with other data to produce a unique experience. My digital prediction for 2020 is that we’ll see much more of BOTH types of personalization. As a result businesses will improve so many metrics associated with the buyer’s journey. 

What else will be hot in 2020?

As a quick side note, while I believe we’ll see more personalization than ever before. I would also forecast significant improvements in content marketing and SEO. Voice search will only continue to grow and improve. I’m particularly excited to see what the year ahead will look like for VR and AR. Costs are coming down on the technologies associated with these mediums. That’s good news for marketers looking to take advantage of these cool platforms. The reality is that we were a little overwhelmed previously by all this data that we were producing. As we move into 2020, I’m confident that we’ll continue to get better at filtering through the mess. This should lead to some really exciting and successful digital marketing activities in the near future! As always, let me know what you think.



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