Over the last 20 years, the digital marketing industry has seen advance, adjustment, revision, and transformation. I wouldn’t call it upheaval, or even metamorphosis, because it is changing so regularly, we seem to be living and working in this limbo of continual transition. When you feel ready to give an opinion on Google’s algorithm, a month later you may as well destroy that thought. As soon as you feel comfortable with Facebook, you had better be reading up on creating Stories on Instagram and indeed wondering what might be released any minute on WhatsApp. I personally am of an age to have lived through it all. I have survived this torrent of variance which has battered digital agencies and the restless advisors and consultants within their glass walls. Just when you feel secure, the internet drops out from under your feet with the latest rules, algorithm changes, fresh channels, as well as new trends. Here at Relevance we like to keep our finger on the pulse. As a full-service digital agency, we have teams of specialists in every field. Here are their TOP 5-10 key and coveted digital marketing tendencies to bear in mind when you approach your digital marketing strategy for 2020. We have divided these indispensable wayfinders by categories: SEO, PPC, Social Media, Digital PR and Influencer Marketing. But I wouldn’t go holding your breath.
SEO is always in flux, with Google constantly changing the rules. In 2019 Google has changed the search landscape radically again – with a rethink of what ‘search results’ now mean. Long gone are the simple links and descriptions SEOs have come to know back to front… now we have to think much further outside the box. Read on to find out what we think are the major areas you need to focus on.
Trend: Google Real Estate
Being top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) used to be a ‘job done’ once you had your organic SEO in place. Nowadays, it is not, and particularly not for Google! When you look at Google SERPs, or the ranking pages of other search engines, today you will find a kaleidoscope of results.
Ads, maps, Q&As, videos, images, organic listings, reviews, flights, hotels and lots more appear, often above traditional link results.
This means that you can no longer work only on your classic SEO, using creative content and backlinks. You must now work on your overall visibility – the Google ‘real estate’: map listings, video listings (YouTube), image optimisation, PR listings/mentions for branded terms, as well as a whole host of relevant Google Snippets (recipes, hotels, flights, Q&As, people also ask, products, reviews, lists, etc.).
More information can be found on the Google blog here.
For 2020 we are advising our clients to research the SERP page for their major key phrases and work on strategies to be visible there – beyond the traditional search results.
Trend: Google Snippets and Rich Snippets
If you haven’t got into Google Snippets and Rich Snippets, now is the time to do so. Wondering why your organic search visitors have plummeted over the last year? It’s likely to be because your position has dropped on the page – overall.
As mentioned above, even if you were first in the traditional search ranking, you are now underneath a number of other results, in widely differing formats. This is because Google is now populating the search pages with lots of dynamic snippets.
People no longer have to click through to websites to find the information they need – it’s now right there, on Google’s homepage. This info can be for flights, hotels, videos, images, recipes, reviews, FAQs, and much more. It also means that people no longer have to even leave Google to get the information they need.
If Google was once the ‘index’ to the internet, it is pushing towards being the internet itself – a resource that requires no clicks. This is a whole new area of SEO, and it is pivotal in 2020:
-Keyword research is vital to find out what people are searching for
-Competition research is important to find out who else is appearing for these terms
-Classic SEO is also important to make sure you are in the running to be chosen
-But then your code markup/schema is also vital to work on with your developers to ensure you too can appear in these key spots.
CTR for these positions will be lower as people don’t necessarily click through to your website, but branding awareness will increase as you are seen to be helping people solve problems. Conversion rate will also increase as only the most interested people will click through to your website and convert.
For other types of snippets, you can see what Google supports here
Trend: Video in Search
If you haven’t noticed it yet, video is now being pulled from YouTube and from websites, including Vimeo occasionally, and being propelled to the Top of Google above the organic search listings, sitting in a prime piece of Google real estate.
It’s surprising Google took so long to do this. The search engine has had a video tab for many years, but videos were never given such importance in integrated search. If you are not convinced by the importance of this, have a look at some search results in Google and you will see it’s affecting many many searches.
Google is using various pieces of information to decide which videos to feature: the most viewed videos from YouTube, the most relevant YouTube SEO, and even the most relevant SEO on pages that feature the video across the web. It collates this information and decides which videos are most relevant for your search – and then features them at the top of Google above the SEO listings.
Creating good video content around important keyword families and uploading it to YouTube and/or embedding on your website is key in 2020. In addition you could use Google’s YouTube Advertising to promote your video content and increase viewership – a fast track that will likely help you to appear at the top of Google.
Trend: Optimised Website Structure
A topic we’ve always ensured we focused on here at Relevance – but one we feel is often undervalued – is your overall website structure, particularly a highly organised website folder structure.
Improving this will not only help the user to navigate around your website and find the information they need, it also helps Google bots (used by Google to establish its SERPS) to index it more easily, giving your website more visibility.
As Neil Patel, an expert in digital marketing, says: “They increase the navigability of your site, point users to the most relevant information, increase your brand’s reputation, improve user trust, help you dominate SERPs, increase click-through rate, and shorten the conversion funnel.’
An organised website structure also helps reduce bounce rate as people flow easily around your website to consume your content. This is also an important ranking factor
Trend: Mobile First
In 2020 you have to think ‘Mobile First’. Google changed their index to Mobile First on July 1st 2019. Mobile-first indexing means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your website content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. This shift is vital to think about when creating your website design, navigation, structure and on-page content.
It isn’t just Google, it is also users – of course!
Everyone is now on their mobiles most of the time. We know it’s so much easier to check your SEO, UX, content and design on a large desktop computer, but STOP now, pick up your phone and test, test, test. In fact, throw your desktop PC or iMac away and start thinking like your end-user!
‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…’
SEOs (like us!) love to tell you that everything is changing, but one thing remains the same: backlinks are the fuel of SEO and they always have been. Relevance CEO Rumble Romagnoli says: “Up to 2020 I have always said links are 60-70% of the algorithm. I would also say this for followed/non-followed links. I have had many arguments about the importance of both, but they are both important, whatever Google says.” How do you create backlinks? Well, that is another question…
Trend: Long Tail Content Blog
The best way to get some great pertinent content onto Google is via your blog, or news section. It allows you to target people looking for the most obscure, trending, key phrases and topics that you might not be able to use on the rest of your website. You can create hundreds of pages of great content not optimised for your product key phrases, but words people might be using to find out more about you or your industry.
A blog allows you to move quickly and target trending key phrases. In addition, long tail key phrases have less competition, so are easier and more profitable to target. They are also less likely to have Google snippets.
Want to find out potential organic key phrases and topics that might work for your site? Test topics and keywords in your advertising – an area where you can quickly see results. These learnings can then be applied to your organic strategy.
Trend: Branded SEO Using Digital PR
Rumble Romagnoli explains: “I once had the chance to work with a hugely bright SEO guy. He was an SEO genius. When asked to help the National Lottery, who were first for the keyphrase “National Lottery” he said: I will get you second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on. I will cover the entire first page in website links that will come to your company only. They of course hired him. This concept has been hugely important for the last 10 years, and is as important in 2020.”
This does involve some help from the PR team as you will need some very powerful publications to feature your name to reach the first page.
Trend: Watch the Google Patents
If Google takes out a patent, they are probably up to something. Watch that space.
With competition rising on the internet – according to Internet Live Stats, there are 1.74 billion websites on the Internet in 2020 – global digital advertising spending will grow 6% to $656B in 2020 (Statista). In a world of ever-present digital advertising, PPC marketers will need to stay a step ahead in 2020, keeping their focus on adapting to the following trends.
Trend: Really know your Audience (Personas/Segmentation)
It’s an obvious starting point for any marketing strategy, but never before has really knowing your audience been more critical for digital advertising.
In 2020 it will be essential to study your audience, find out what platforms they use and how they use them, and to tailor your message to each audience segment/persona. Advertisers will fall behind and fail to communicate with their audience if they deliver the same message to different targeting segments.
Trend: Cross-Platform Marketing
You need to be thinking about all platforms and all your personas when you create your PPC strategy.
Create your personas
Craft a central message for your promotion
Tailor your message to each persona
Adapt that message for each platform
Target the same persona across all platforms for maximum impact
Sharing your message across multiple platforms to the same audience will increase the likelihood of a sale. The key is balance: be careful not to overexpose your ad to one single audience as this may lead to negative feedback, but some theorists suggest the sweet spot for someone to buy after seeing your ad is between 3-7 times.
Trend: More SERP Competition + Search Stagnation = Rising Cost-per-Click
With ever-increasing competition for advertising space in the SERPs and stagnation in the number of positions available for advertisers it is clear that costs are going to increase. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to mobile searches and is certainly not the news that digital advertisers want to hear.
With a heavy focus on keeping cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) at profitable levels for a client, advertisers will need to seek new opportunities outside of simply increasing ad spend. Enter Gen Z. A few notable platforms entering the market include: SnapChat, TikTok and Amazon, breaking the mold from the established Social Media and Search Engine platforms in 2020. Focused on display and video content, these platforms offer alternatives for advertisers and could drive down overall CPCs and CPAs whilst also increasing the reach of your messaging.
Without sounding like a broken record, video is the way forward. According to Forbes, an average user will spend 88% more time on a website with video than one without. It is a highly interactive and engaging tool, connecting you and your consumers. Most social platforms also now provide editing features allowing you to make your content more digestible, so it couldn’t be easier!
A great tool still in its infancy is Google’s Bumper Machine, introducing the ability to turn videos shorter than 90 seconds into a selection of six-second bumper ads. This could pave the way for a whole series of video content hitting YouTube and the SERPs in 2020.
Trend: Automation, AI & Machine Learning
In 2020 PPC Strategy becomes more valuable than ever before, as PPC managers experience a shift in role from manual optimisers to technical strategists and automation experts.
For years, we’ve been anticipating great changes to our roles as Google continuously shifts towards automation and machine learning. On the one hand, this presents new challenges to advertisers as Google’s objective is simply to maximise clicks (possibly at the expense of the precision we’ve manually brought to the game over the years). On the other hand, this provides a great opportunity to focus on strategy if we learn to adapt to an automated landscape.
So what are the latest automation changes from 2019 that will influence your campaign strategy in 2020?
Changes to how ‘exact match’ and ‘phrase match’ close variations function, Google’s Auto-apply suggestions, and those pesky ‘expansion audiences’ are some huge game-changers which have taken away significant control from advertisers and created a need to closely monitor the effects of Google’s AI on PPC campaigns.
Yet, Google has also shared some of its machine learning capabilities with advertisers in 2019 through Smart campaigns, Smart shopping campaigns, Dynamic Search Ads, and Automated bidding strategies. These all offer advertisers new ways of testing Google’s AI. Advertisers can also now build their own algorithms, such as in the case of automation layering, to automate time consuming tasks and focus more time on strategy.
Trend: Building Relationships/Connection With the Brand
With rising competition in 2020, the focus will be more than ever on optimising beyond your conversions and keeping customers rather than simply focusing on obtaining new ones. The concept of affinity should be above the objective of awareness. Building a community will be of primary importance – enter the role of retargeting, in the form of engagement, traffic and returning traffic, or shares, as part of an integrated digital marketing communications strategy.
The world of social media is ever-changing. What worked in 2019, may not work in 2020… The platforms like to shake things up for us (and keep digital marketers forever on their toes!) and users develop the way their interact with social platforms too. That’s why it is vital for social media managers to keep their ears to the ground, and eyes glued to their smartphones.
Trends change, algorithms change and what users want from brands continues to change. So, to help you know what to do with your social profiles this year, we’ve pulled out the top trends expected to emerge in 2020… read up and review your strategy. Things may need a little tweaking to keep you current in the roaring twenties!
Trend: Ephemeral Content
Ephemeral content is something that is available only for a short duration and then disappears. Instagram and Snapchat Stories are perfect examples of this type of content. Today, people’s attention spans are short and the way they like to consume content has changed. Hence why Stories are reigning on Instagram and Facebook. They are short, engaging, and hypnotising. Users can spend long periods of time tapping through multiple Stories. Users love to take part in polls, use augmented reality and see low-fi, authentic content from brands. Hootsuite states in their recent report that Stories stickers enhance video performance by 83%, but keep in mind that Facebook recommends using stickers when they “help communicate key information about your brand or product,” but avoiding them if they “contribute to visual clutter.”
If you’re not on Stories daily, we think you should be. According to this recent report by Hootsuite, 62% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories and 64% of marketers have either already incorporated Instagram Stories into their strategies or plan to. Be one of those marketers.
Trend: Instagram Removes Likes
Instagram is one of the largest social networks and any major changes on this platform can have a dramatic effect on the world of social media marketing, for both influencers and businesses. 2019 was a tumultuous one for content creators and brands, with Instagram’s latest changes and algorithm tweaks causing a stir last year. 2020 is set to be no different.
One such major change, already happening for some accounts in Australia, Canada, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand since July and the US since November, was Instagram removing the likes feature for posts. Instagram may soon apply this change globally.
The platform hopes this allows users to be creatively open and free, rather than constricting their content to ensure they gain popularity on social media through likes. Also, the longing for validation is detrimental to people’s mental health. A recent study reported on by the UK national newspaper, The Telegraph, of more than 6,000 children aged 12 to 15 found those who used social media more heavily were more likely to report issues such as depression, anxiety and loneliness.
Many brands and influencers are feeling the pressure with this new announcement, as many wonder how they can easily report on their social efforts with such features being removed.
An alternative view is that it’ll stop consumers judging content with fewer likes and liking what speaks to them, rather than what is popular with other users. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out in 2020 as we may see businesses moving away from influencers and towards traditional social media advertising.
Trend: Social Commerce
2020 could be the year that social commerce really takes off as an increasing number of customers shop on social platforms. Instagram already launched Instagram Shopping for selected brands, giving businesses an immersive storefront for people to discover and explore products as well as a link for purchases. Whilst eCommerce profiles can of course still tag products, for check-out on their website, this new feature speeds up the purchasing process on the app as products are displayed visually on the brands profile (sitting comfortably between the IGTV tab and tagged photos tab on the profile page). Products are displayed in a similar fashion to an eCommerce site, allowing Instagram users to save products (adding these to their wishlist on the saved section on the app), tap for more details of the product and finally, click through to view on website for purchase.
If a user has liked or saved images that include product tags, the user will find these products listed in their wishlist under ‘saved posts’ or ‘liked posts’, reminding users of the products which hopefully results in further purchases. Exploring the Instagram Shopping tab on a favoured brand will also group together any previous products that have featured in previous posts of the brand you’ve liked, allowing the user to browse products they’ve been attracted to.
Facebook’s family of applications already offers tools for customer care and community management so that all marketing funnel activity — from product discovery to post-purchase customer care — can happen on social media. And TikTok recently opened the door to social commerce with beta tests that let influencers embed social commerce links in videos on the app.
Trend: Video Content and TikTok will Dominate
TikTok hit 1.5 billion downloads in 2019. That growth was fueled by its increasing popularity with Generation Z, aggressive marketing campaigns, and the company’s investment in geographic expansion. Expect TikTok to grow even more in 2020 as marketers figure out how to make the most of this platform to connect with their younger target audience. You could say the short video format is what’s making this platform reign, as video content is extremely engaging and will soon dominate social media, a clear winner over all other types of content.
For example, according to Sprout Social, on Instagram videos receive 38% more engagement than image posts and 2.1x the amount of comments. Since 81% of marketers agree that engagement is the most important metric of social media success, it’s no surprise than many of us want to figure out how to improve these numbers.
Whether it is short-form videos like those popular on TikTok or Stories or long-form content on YouTube, videos are the future of social media content. According to a Cisco study, by 2022, 82% of all online content will be video content. This clearly shows how important it is to start utilising video content to stay relevant in the social media domain. If you’re not currently creating videos, it is time that you include it in your content strategy. In the near future, videos will dominate social media and anyone who doesn’t realise that will need to spend time catching up.
In less than a decade, influencer marketing has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Constantly evolving, this exciting marketing strategy has become one of the preferred strategies to launch campaigns.
According to Linqia, 66% of marketers ran more than three campaigns last year, with 42% now using influencer marketing as an ongoing strategy. 2020 will be a big year, filled with opportunities to partner with online creators, reaching more targeted and niche audiences. At Relevance, our influencer marketing experts have predicted the 5 following trends for the coming year:
Trend: Quality Engagement
Comment pods, super likes, and Instagram bots are being put aside. Instagram has become much more savvy towards automation services, meaning that fake engagement will become much less accepted. Influencers and brands are now prioritising true relationships with their followers.
Trend: Powerful Targeting
An increasing number of content creators are jumping on the influencer trend, making it ever harder to stand out. The world of Instagram creators has become oversaturated, forcing them to find their unique point of difference. This means we will likely see more ultra-niche influencer accounts in 2020. If you take a look at @watchanish, social influencer of 1.7M followers on Instagram, you will see that the content he shares mainly revolves around luxury watches.
Trend: Real Content
Followers are looking for real, relatable influencers to connect with, expecting these influencers to share their honest lives. This means that natural, less edited and more spontaneous content will be favoured.
Trend: Collaborations and Partnerships
According to the 7 rules of advertising, potential customers need to see a product or service 7 times before purchasing it. Brands will work on building audience trust and promoting the best possible version of themselves by forging more personalised relationships with influencers when launching campaigns.
Trend: Relatability and Relationships
Nano and micro-influencers will be on the rise, with smaller influencers seen as more likely to have an intimate relationship with their followers. The number of likes will not be prioritised anymore. Real connections and engagement will be valued highly. Real influence will be the game changer in 2020.
Today’s generation favours diversity in their consumption of news. Formats have multiplied, platforms as well and the relationship people have with news and PR has changed in this era of fake news. It’s important to make sure your PR is being noticed, picked up, trusted and that your brand is being seen and talked about. While traditional PR is still one of the main ways to share your news with the world, some of the methods need to be reviewed. Think outside of the box, and think about the current environment you’re working in.
Trend: Make Your PR More Visual
Traditional PR, when distributed online is more likely get picked up and go viral when the message is short and visual.
Create a short video with your news. You can easily download a short video from Shutterstock or from Pexels to give your message a more captivating angle. Share the video and a quote. Add your contact details and a URL. And send. Keep it short.
Trend: Link Your News to Real News
As journalists receive a huge amount of PR these days, if yours can be related to an actual piece of news, make sure to bring that angle forward (within reason – make sure you’re not making up connections a journalist wouldn’t believe). This can give the journalist a new twist to an already existing viral story.
For example: Our client St Tropez House rents luxury villas in St Tropez. When the town of St Tropez decided that some of the very well-known existing beach clubs had to close down because they were in a now protected area, we sent out a PR with an infographic about it, explaining to the world’s media how this was going to impact tourism for the upcoming season, which clubs were staying and which were going.
A journalist from the UK national, The Telegraph, picked up the story to look at how the real estate business (rental and purchase) was going to be impacted by such regulations.
Trend: Diversify Your Content
Make sure the article you send for an advertorial or a sponsored post is worth a read with data/infographics, great imagery, video, podcast – diversify your content.
In any case, make sure your video has captions, as many people don’t have the sound on their devices when looking at them.
Trend: Don’t Look for Quantity but Quality
As journalists get many PRs, if they’re not the first to pick it up, then their editors often don’t want the story as it’s being published elsewhere.
Get to know the journalists you’re pitching to, and offer them exclusivity. You’ll gain in the long run in the quality of the content they’ll produce and what you can provide for your clients.
Power up Your 2020 Digital Strategy
There’s no question that 2020 will see a raft of new and exciting ways for digital marketers to reach their target market. Video content, Google Real Estate, and quality over quantity are all set to dominate digital campaigns this year. As always, expect constant change, constant movement and new concepts, technology and marketing ideas to emerge. It can be a bewildering landscape, but hopefully, the tips and information you’ve read from me and my team today have given you a taste of what you should be focusing on. As the experts in these areas, we are learning, adapting and testing in these areas every day, so we can deliver the best possible results for our clients. Helping them to navigate in areas where they don’t have a map. If you need guidance like this, and a team to power up your digital marketing strategy for 2020, then contact the digital marketing experts at Relevance today