Marketing 2020: How Reality Lines Up With Past Predictions


Video and personalization are both big marketing trends for 2020; here’s what else was predicted.

You probably drove yourself to work today, after putting your own dishes in your dishwasher, following a breakfast you cooked yourself. That’s right, those predictions about self-cleaning kitchens and autonomous cars haven’t quite come together just yet. On the other hand, you may have started your day by asking Alexa what the weather is and where your favorite stocks ended yesterday. So … it is happening, just maybe not quite how you thought. It’s the same way in marketing.

Just like you might have anticipated owning a flying car by now, or that technology would somehow make Mondays not a thing anymore, some developments are pretty cool. Others are just a little creepy. The Roomba vacuums your house while you’re at work, but your phone seems to know a little too quickly to suggest a search on African vanilla beans after you and your spouse have a conversation about brewing your own extract. Weird.

When it comes to marketing, there were some predictions made about what trends would be popping in 2020, and what would have faded to the background by now. Here are a few of the anticipated trends, and whether expectations panned out:

The Prediction: Events Would Replace Content. A few years ago, marketing experts imagined that the obsession with content marketing would eventually cause the pendulum to swing the other way, and there would be a focus on live events.

2020 Reality: In short, content is still king. While live events are valuable, content still plays an important role, because digital audiences can be far broader than what a company can reach with a live event. Content marketing budgets are on the rise, with a wide variety of formats and unlimited creative potential for new ways to reach markets.

The Prediction: Marketing Will Increasingly Focus on Personas. Even more than segmentation of audiences or looking at big data sets, the idea was that by 2020, marketing teams would be developing ideas based on a buyer persona that gives them a picture of a real person that purchases from them.

2020 Reality: Spot on. Marketing specialists see consumers not as groups or as data, but as real people. The human aspect of marketing is critical to successfully understanding what your target market wants and needs from your product. Rather than creating messages for females between the ages of 35 and 50, teams are instead developing content for Stacey, a health care professional with school-age kids that tends to favor companies who have green initiatives.

The Prediction: Companies Will Focus More on Retention Than Acquisition. Marketing experts predicted that with better and deeper data on customers, companies would begin focusing less on acquiring new business and, instead, put more energy into extracting more value from existing relationships.

2020 Reality: Yes, turning casual customers into brand advocates through excellent customer experiences is definitely a theme of 2020. Companies know that it costs more to gain new business and they have existing customers there, just ready to be loved at a deeper level.

The Prediction: Facebook and Instagram will be replaced by a better alternative. Some were sure that there was a genius tucked away somewhere, ready to rescue everyone from the curse of current social media options. Twitter was expected to fade into irrelevance.

2020 Reality: Nope. Given the fire that Facebook has come under in recent years, one would have thought that we might have seen its demise. Too big to fail? Maybe, but it’s also so powerful in shaping marketing trends that it’s hard to imagine another platform matching its influence. Instagram also remains a force in social media marketing and Twitter managed to hang on through a lot of doubts.

The Prediction: Company Websites Will Offer a Brand Experience. Marketing would become more than public relations and crafting messages for content. It would become immersive, with customers visiting a site feeling as if they had been treated to a cultivated experience, rather than just making a purchase.

2020 Reality: Companies are seeing that their websites aren’t just a place to sell products or even just to share information about products. Instead, it’s an opportunity to invite visitors and customers into a personalized engagement with the brand. You’ll look for ways to have a meaningful connection with customers during their time on your site and offer ways to continue the conversation.

Part of that reality is learning to speak your customer’s language. You’re not focusing your messages on brand values or product features; instead you’re talking about the needs and wants of your specific buyers. Target audiences are looking to engage with companies that care about the same things they do, and corporate-focused language is fading fast.

The Prediction: Mobile and Video Are the Priority. Companies were expected to develop websites that prioritized mobile engagement by 2020, and a lot of text-based content would make way for video. Customers would change from engaging with brands through written information on a desktop to viewing video on a smart device.

2020 Reality: You know this one is true, because it’s the way you engage with brands yourself. You’re standing in the grocery store aisle, watching a video on a new organic coffee brand. You and your friends have conversations entirely made of GIFs about your new favorite jeans. Video and mobile should be the number one marketing priority for any company that hasn’t already embraced where this trend is landing and likely to stay for a while.

Is your marketing on-trend for 2020, or are you trying to untangle the mess of a prediction gone wrong? If your marketing strategy could use updating for current trends, contact us at SJC Marketing. We know the difference between a fad and a trend, and we are pumped about some ideas to help you capitalize on the best ideas hitting in 2020.

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