It doesn’t seem possible that 2019 has all but gone and 2020 is lurking ominously around the corner! I can remember writing a blog for 2019 web design trends (this one – https://vaccodadesign.com/web-development-trends-to-watch-out-for-in-2019/) back in November 2018 as if it was yesterday – where has the time gone!!
Anyway, that time of the year has come once more and this time we take a look at some of the upcoming industry predictions, trends and changes within the digital marketing industry that may surface in 2020 to help you when planning your online marketing strategy into the new year and beyond.
Social Media (as we all know) is a firm staple of the digital marketing world, and just about every business in existence needs it to a lesser or greater degree. In 2020 there are many social media trends that are predicted to take charge, including:
Social media is a goldmine for data and insights that businesses can use to plan and refine their social media strategies. With the launch of so many social listening tools, it’s easy for anyone to access the valuable data and insights these tools offer.
From understanding the impact and effectiveness of a social media campaign, to learning how people perceive your business online, you can gain a lot of useful information from social listening, and that is why it is fast becoming an integral part of many social media strategies.
The first social media platform to achieve ‘ephemeral content’ (short-lived content) was Snapchat – the content that lasted for 24 hours before disappearing gave it an “of the moment” sense of importance and made it feel more exclusive.
Since then, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter now have similar ‘story’ features, and its likely other platforms will follow-suit. For businesses, this is great for “of the moment” engagement, especially for launching new products, sharing important messages and announcements or to just document day-to-day business life. Followers love stories and feeling a sense of inclusion, so give them what they want!
Technology Adoption (AR and VR)
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will become more and more prevalent within social media as users demand better and more engaging experiences – AR and VR can make that happen.
Facebook is already strides ahead in this arena with the introduction of Horizon which is an ever-expanding VR world for users to explore, connect, play games and more. This type of social interaction is considered the next level of social connection and could well be the future of social media.
Whilst VR might still be in its early stages, AR is well ahead with the ability for users to use AR to add digital elements or change the way things look. For example, Instagram uses AR for its many photo filters adding things such a bunny ears or sunglasses to your face, as does Snapchat too.
Augmented Reality is also adopted by bigger brands too. For example, Dulux and Carpetright offer AR tools that projects a paint colour on a wall or a carpet on the floor so you to visualise how it might look.
VR and AR are on the rise and this trend will be further driven by social media platforms’ continuous efforts to add more VR and AR functionalities.
Many business owners don’t or haven’t really considered adding an instant messaging / live chat facility to their website, however Facebook (as an example – there are many instant/live chat applications out there that also offer a Chatbot function) now offers excellent website integration of the popular Facebook messenger platform, allowing your customers to enquire about your products or services directly from Facebook. What’s more, you can automate messaging / replies via the Facebook Messenger Bot [Chatbot]! You may have noticed that we use Facebook messenger on our website, down at the bottom-left of the page!
A new and novel way of marketing is to use DM’s (or Direct Messages) to share information about events, offer discount codes, instant news updates and much more directly to your followers. Sending Direct Messages (but don’t spam your followers) will make your followers feel more appreciated as you are paying individual attention to them.
Over recent years, a new trend has emerged for streaming live video to followers. Not only is the live video “of the moment” but it gives the viewer a sense of being a part of the action as it happens. Live streaming video also gives the potential for surprises or unexpected moments to occur, which further adds to the follower appeal of live streaming video.
You may have noticed brands using social media to sell their products using shoppable posts (basically a ‘buy now’ button that links to the website selling the product). Social commerce is well on the way to becoming a mainstream retail channel and this trend will strengthen further with more and more social networks introducing selling features like shoppable posts, stories and similar.
Just like SEO works by targeting key areas to generate local organic traffic, brands are adopting location-based targeting to reach out and attract audiences from a specific geographic location.
One common way of doing this is to geo-tag posts and stories. By adding a location within your social media content, it’ll attract a local audience. Instagram is one example that gives the option for you to search for posts from nearby places or specific locations, so adding a location within your content will help your visibility in local search results so local people discover your content.
Another platform that offers location-based targeting is Facebook and their sponsored posts. If you ‘boost’ a Facebook post, you can select the locations you want to target, and Facebook will only show your posts to users in your chosen locations.
There are many benefits to location-based targeting on social media, and if leveraged properly you can reap many benefits.
Whilst personalisation has existed for some years now, it is still a relatively new concept when it comes to personalisation and social media. The main aspect where businesses are focusing on personalisation is their delivery of social media ads to audiences.
Personalisation has reached a point where social media platforms understand the type of products you like and will show you ads for similar products from other brands. For example, if you looked at an ad on Instagram, within minutes your feed will begin showing you ads for similar products within your feed. The more you click on these ads, the better understanding Instagram (for example) will understand your online behaviour and preferences, meaning the ads you see will be more personalised to your tastes.
Social Media Communities
Whilst social media communities / groups aren’t new, they have sky-rocketed in popularity over recent years and are now more popular than ever before.
Facebook Groups is a great example of social media communities. These groups can be formed based on an interest, hobby, a community or just about anything else where people can come together and engage in a meaningful way. Brands can also use social media communities to launch
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The biggest online tool for marketing your business and making it visible to your audience is to have a well-planned SEO strategy implemented and managed on your website. Over recent years, SEO has become ever-more refined and streamlined, and nowadays it forms a necessary and essential part of businesses marketing strategies.
This isn’t anything new, however mobile-first websites are becoming more and more important if you want to succeed with SEO. Google announced their intentions to go mobile-first back in 2015 and since then it has become a necessity to ensure your website is as mobile-friendly as possible. Everything is important here, from load-speed (VERY important) to the design, user experience and delivery of content (is it easy to navigate and find what you are looking for). Since more and more people are using their smartphones as their primary source for browsing the internet and keep in mind that the higher you are in the Google mobile page index, the more prominent your page will be.
High Quality Content
As the saying goes “Content Is King” and this has been the case for quite some time now and continues to remain the same. More than ever creating high quality content is an essential element of effective SEO strategies. Users want content that is relevant, helpful, answers their questions and is timely. Google tends to reward great content with higher search engine rankings. People head to search engines with questions – your web page needs to deliver the answers they are looking for.
Exceptional User Experience
Gone are the days where you could get away with a website that just about does the job. Once upon a time your website customers would be happy to put up with a less than user-friendly website but now things are different. It’s proven that users will leave a website if it hasn’t loaded within a few seconds, and this is a very important factor when it comes down to SEO, so much so, that just a 1 second delay in page load time can result in customers leaving your website in favour of your faster loading competitor.
Once your website load speed is improved, you must focus in other areas; the design of your website needs to be clean and concise; images need to be compressed and resized for optimal performance; navigation should be logical and easy to understand and using jargon or words that are unfamiliar to your audience is a big no-no too. Whilst being creative or different with your website might seem like a good idea, put yourself in the shoes of your website visitors; would they understand what you mean straight away? If not, they will exit your website and go elsewhere, and this can have a negative impact on your search rankings.
Content Length Also Matters
Further up we have already discussed the importance of good quality content, but equally as important is the length of content published too. Websites that contain blog sections with longer, high-quality content will nearly always get more visibility as articles or content with 2,000 or more words will attract more readers than articles or content with fewer words.
It’s not just about word count though, the content must be cohesive and give the answers to users’ questions in detail, also be able to address closely related questions too. As far as SEO goes, the more time users spend on your website or web pages, the more likely it is that Google will reward those pages with more traffic.
Aim to publish high-quality content regularly so that your website always remains fresh in the eyes of Google.
With the growing use of mobile devices and home voice assistants (such as Amazon Alexa and similar) voice searches are rapidly becoming more popular with internet users. Knowing how to optimise your website for voice search can help you generate more organic traffic. Voice Searches affect SEO considerably as search is focused around ‘asking’ a question rather than typing in search queries; as such, search terms have become more conversational and targeted. Ways to optimise for voice search include:
- Using natural language within your content and optimisation instead overly keyword-structured based optimisation. More elaborate, natural sounding long-tail keywords containing more words within the user [voice] search query is the right way to go about this. In essence, think about how a user would ask a question, rather than what that same user might type in to search for something.
- Try to avoid being too technical. Whilst content is an integral part of SEO, copywriters can sometimes end up writing things that aren’t particularly easy to grasp by the average person. Google tends to pay more attention to content that can be easily understood by the masses rather than the overtly technical.
- Listing your business online is also important, especially so for local businesses. Taking into account that wearable tech such as smart watches have limited display sizes and smartphones using voice assistants aren’t always able show you as many results as a desktop Google search for example, smart phones and other smart devices tend to show business [directory] listings first, since they understand that a user is trying to find companies with local intent.
- We have discussed how important an exceptional user experience is for SEO, and the same applies for voice search. A well-optimised website that has optimised and resized images, minified code, secured with an SSL (HTTPS) and uses a content delivery network will go a long way to helping you succeed in the world of voice search.
Local SEO Is Important
SEO will always be the main driver for the online success of any business, and this is also incredibly important for businesses that want to gain visibility locally, within the areas they operate. This is where a well-maintained Google My Business profile helps, but there are other considerations to take into account too. You must ensure your website is well targeted geographically to the areas you operate (and want to be found) within, a solid backlink profile that Google deems ‘locally authoritative’ is essential and all the traditional SEO practices are in-place on your website. If you fancy having a go yourself, why not check out our SEO Basics blog which provides some great hints and tips to help you establish your website SEO. We also wrote another blog that describes the 11 best on-page SEO practices for beginners too!
We have many other blogs available covering SEO (and lots of other topics) to help you as well – check them out here: https://vaccodadesign.com/blog/