There’s no doubt that marketing is an exciting field to be in right now. The digital revolution has led to rapid changes and developments, with major implications for the way that brands strategize campaigns and engage with their customers. And if we’ve learned anything, it’s that it’s hard to predict exactly where we’re going. 

2019 is in our rearview mirror, and we’re fastening our seatbelts as we head forward towards the roaring ‘20s. But we wouldn’t be very good marketers if we weren’t at least on the lookout for various roadblocks and shortcuts that could be changing what we do, how we do it, and what it will all mean for our consumers. Which is why we need a quick gut check on the state of digital marketing and what’s just around the bend.

Here are seven digital marketing trends your marketing team should be prepared for while on interstate 2020. 

1. Augmented and Virtual Reality

You might associate augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) with video games more than marketing, but that’s geared up to change as AR and VR enter the realm of commerce. Both types of technologies lend themselves to more immersive marketing, with shoppers able to experience what products and services might look like and/or do in their own lives before making a purchase. That means more interactive content and more opportunity to produce effective short-form campaigns.

2. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to transform almost every single industry on the planet, marketing included. In 2020 and beyond, expect to see AI disruptions at all stages of the buyer’s journey, from ultra-personalized product and service recommendations to unbelievable improvements in the data-driven marketing automated platforms we’re already using today. The best way to embrace it? Look at all of the ways that AI robots can help your team do their jobs better, instead of the ways they might replace certain functions.

3. Voice Search and Position Zero

Already, 65% of consumers aged 25 to 49 are using voice-enabled devices to conduct searches every single day. That number is expected to grow exponentially in the early years of the coming decade. For brands, that necessitates a new, more personable approach to SEO that prioritizes conversational marketing, which includes optimizing their content for voice search. And now is the time to act: it’s estimated that in 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches

What’s more, since voice search devices pull their answers from position zero (or the “featured snippet,” a term you may be more familiar with), obtaining that ever-coveted search results spot is becoming more relevant to marketers than ever before. What was once a race to the first organic spot on the search results page is now a race to the spot above that.

4. Segmented Data Analysis

Analytics has become a mainstay in marketing over the past decade, and that’s not going to change as we move forward. They’re crucial, as they help us examine which initiatives are working, and which could use a little help. They help identify benchmarks, milestones, and goals we should be striving to accomplish. That aside, the way we look at and interpret data will change. As technological advances set in, we’ll be able to access highly segmented data sets, AI-backed analytics capabilities, and better real-time data dashboards. These functions will help brands tackle their data faster, easier, and more efficiently for more insightful (and more effective) marketing.  

5. Chatbot Takeover

What was once a nifty widget to add to your website is quickly on its way to becoming an absolute necessity for optimized customer service. Chatbots are increasingly becoming key intermediaries on the buyer’s journey, pushing consumers further along the cycle without the need for human intervention. 63% of people are already willing to communicate with brands through chatbots, a number that will likely grow as technology advances and chatbots inch closer and closer to a totally enhanced conversational experience. That’s good news for both marketing and sales teams, as well as their customers.

6. Interactivity

Yes, consumers want to read your content, but more importantly, they want to engage with it. Expect to see a huge surge in the proliferation of interactive content that both entertains and keeps people on the page longer. Games, quizzes, and choose-your-own-adventure type marketing experiences are more fun than many traditional content formats, and they’re also inherently more shareable. As you solidify your 2020 content calendar, be sure to play around with interactivity and give visitors a reason to stick around.

7. Influencer Growth

Think the rise of influencers is a mere trend? Think again. When it comes to trust, 92% of consumers put more weight on peer recommendations than direct advertising, meaning you’d be wise to increase your influencer spending in the year to come. It’s estimated that, as a whole, brand spending on influencer marketing could reach up to $10 billion in 2020, thanks in part to the growing merger of this type of marketing with artificial intelligence and personalization. So if you’re resisting the influencer surge, it might be time to rethink your focus.

Some of these digital marketing trends already have their foot on the gas pedal, while others are just starting to gain traction in the industry. Make sure you stay on top of these evolutions and continue to check out our blog for the best practices for working with these trends in your marketing efforts.