Digital marketing is at the epicentre of every brand’s 2020 digital plan. Eight industry experts share their predictions for the next 12 months…
2019 has come to a close and, with the benefit of reflection, we can see the last 12 months saw many new introductions and positive changes to the digital space for digital marketing agencies and brand marketing teams alike. The launch of TikTok, a surprise social media hit, has been hailed one of the fastest growing platforms in the world thanks to early adopters across the UK, and SEO professionals have been faced with Google’s roll out of mobile-first indexing.
Looking ahead, there are new digital trends on the horizon for 2020 bringing change to the industry. SEO specialists will face new challenges thanks to growing new trends such as video UX and both video and voice search being hailed at the forefront of organic search for the coming year.
Digital marketing agency, Hit Search, asked eight contributors from a number of different areas of the industry, including agencies, in-house marketers, SEOs and freelancers, for their predictions on how they think digital - including SEO, content marketing and influencer marketing - will change or progress in 2020, and what tactics they predict B2B and B2C brands will utilise to achieve their objectives.
1) Hannah Corbett, Operations Manager at Hit Search
“In 2020, organic search will not necessarily equal traffic”
In 2020, organic search will have to take a deep breath and finally admit that it’s no longer the powerful traffic-driving medium that it once was.
In recent years, the noose has tightened on organic search as a traffic-driving channel. Through the prioritisation of paid listings, a growing number of in-SERP features, the culling of keyword and search volume data and the rise of no-click searches in user behavior (to name just a few) – it’s becoming more and more difficult to drive any kind of significant, valuable traffic via organic.
Whilst for many SEOs this feels a terrifying prospect, it doesn’t mark the end of driving value through organic search. Instead, marketers will have to start thinking about what else organic can offer aside from traffic, and what other ways that organic as a platform can help connect organisations with their target audiences.
Gone are the days of just having “an SEO strategy” in order to drive traffic and revenue online; that’s no longer a given. For 2020, it’s about thinking of digital much more generally and redefining the role that organic may (or may not) play in achieving the end goal – be that traffic, engagement, awareness, revenue, or anything else.
2) Stephen Reilly, Freelance Digital Marketing Consultant
“The rise of clever voice search advertising”
With 2020 fast approaching, there are many important Paid Media trends we need to watch out for:
Amazon Echo and Google Home devices now form the bulk of IoT (Internet of Things) devices in many homes and despite many of these being sold at a loss, it asks the question whether it’s time they finally made a profit for their manufacturers? Combining this with the data both companies hold, there’s an opportunity for advertisers to target their audio ads directly towards their target market and further optimise voice search ad targeting.
Similarly, if we delve a little deeper into Amazon paid ads, with Facebook and Google Ads now reaching saturation in many markets, Amazon is probably the best opportunity for advertisers to reach untapped audiences (it’s the fastest growing platform – I think!)
Looking ahead at the audience data available, ever tighter audience definitions allow advertisers to target extremely niche industries. I think there is a need for smart data analysis and management to nail the target audience segments, though.
3) Nik Speller, Head of Client Services at Influencer
“Instagram should give brands the ability to define the quantity of an influencer’s true, engaged audience”
The next step for Instagram should be to take a serious look at follower numbers and give brands the ability to see an influencers’ active following, as opposed to just a very large number, built up over time, which may have little relevance or bearing on the audience an influencer actually engages with.
4) Emily Lucy Rajch, Content Creator & Social Media Manager at PureGym
“Creating Tiktok content will create an even more visually creative movement for social media”
I believe TikTok will become a huge social trend for not only Gen Z but create acceptance for creativity among Millennials and even Gen X. The fact that so many people are seeing quick growth and large exposure on TikTok will mean a lot of micro-influencers who have been kept under the 100k- 200k followers mark by Instagram's capped reach/algorithm will move over to focusing on creating Tiktok content, which will create an even more visually creative movement for social media. Lots of hungry creatives are finally seeing results for their work organically.
Instagram, for the last year, has pushed for brands and influencers to focus on engagement as the most important statistic when looking for what's working well, which has created a platform full of the same style of content. People are scared to post something new or different from what they think their audience wants to see in case it flops, so removing likes could actually help this problem. But this is a little too late with TikTok now on their heels, a platform where you can't get away with photoshop!
5) Michael James Field, SEO Lead at Sykes Cottages
“Google will continue their focus on mobile performance”
Next year I suspect Google to continue their push on delivering different types of results for different markets. We've seen this already in hotels and vacation rentals within the UK, where Google now displays properties within its engine. It's also very likely Google will continue their focus on mobile performance from websites. This has been emphasised by speed performance being a core topic in 2019. With that in mind, I'd expect them to look at having a 100% Google mobile index by the end of 2020.
6) Patrick Hathaway, Director at Sitebulb
“Voice search has the potential to cut out search engines completely”
Voice search is so obviously an upward trend that this barely seems like a prediction, so I'll flip it into a concern, instead. As an SEO, we rely on users going onto a search engine and considering the results they are served. Voice search has the potential to cut out this consideration phase completely.
I'll give you an example. I have two young kids, utterly obsessed with Harry Potter. I decided to buy the first Harry Potter book on audio book. I searched Google, found it on Audible, purchased it, then connected and streamed it via Amazon Echo. A few weeks later, literally as the first book finished, my eldest son (7) shouts out 'Alexa, play Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.' Within seconds she'd found it and asked if we wanted to buy it through Audible. Without a second thought, both boys shouted out 'yes', and Alexa did not need asking twice...the story was playing a few seconds later.
It was entirely frictionless and an absurdly easy way to spend money! But at no point did anyone return to a search engine to find the second book. As this younger generation grow up completely at home with making purchasing decisions without ever going to a search engine, we're going to have to find other ways to get in on the act.
7) Ryan Scollon, Freelance SEO & PPC Consultant
“The advanced segmentation of audiences will be key in 2020”
A big trend of 2020 that industry experts should be preparing for is the advanced segmentation of audiences, specifically for ad platforms like Google Ads and Social.
We already have a strong range of options here but as we welcome further strands of technology into our lives, it’s using its abilities to learn our habits and interests, such as our likes and dislikes. The information it’s receiving is super powerful and will lead us into the next stage of being able to develop highly targeted and personalised campaigns. In 2019, we have already seen Google release an update to Google Ads that allows you to combine audiences, making it a much more useful feature - so this is one to watch in 2020.
8) Faizan Ali, SEO Specialist at WP Beginner
“Tailoring content for voice search is key”
Content needs to be tailored for voice searches and smart devices. It is expected that by 2020 almost 50% of web searches will be voice searches. And the latest algorithm update by Google suggests that SEOs will have to get a better understanding of NLP (Natural Language Processing) and semantics. Voice searches will take over in the coming years and the search algorithms will give preference to the content that optimizes for LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords and NLP, so it’s best to get ahead of the curve over the next 12 months.
Get in touch to discuss how Hit Search can help your business flourish in 2020!