With the new year quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to take a step back and figure out how you’re going to crush it next year.
In the past year alone, we’ve witnessed the rise of LinkedIn, chatbot marketing taking centre stage, and the growing importance of hyper-targeted advertising. As technology continues to evolve and the digital marketing landscape continues to change, what might have worked in 2019 might not necessarily work for 2020.
To stay ahead of the game, it’s vital that you’re able to keep up with what’s working today when it comes to effective online marketing strategies.
That’s why we reached out to 23 world-class marketing experts and asked them to share their top marketing tips and predictions for the coming year by answering the following questions:
- What up-and-coming tactics or channels are you planning to focus on in 2020?
- What was the biggest marketing lesson you learnt in 2019?
- What’s the number one rule every marketer should follow?
From doubling down on paid advertising to tips on how to master personalization, you’re guaranteed to find expert advice to help you dominate digital marketing in 2020.
Start off the new year on the right foot with the following expert advice:
- Larry Kim – Messenger Marketing Posed to Explode
- Nadya Khoja – Don’t Neglect Your Main Growth Driver
- Jonathan “JC” Chan – Leverage Influencers Wherever You Can
- Sujan Patel – Listen to Your Customers
- Olga Adrienko – Nothing Develops Brand Loyalty Faster Than Education
- Josh Steimle – Going Back to Real Human Interaction
- Neal Schaffer – Don’t Forget the ‘Social’ in Social Media Marketing
- Sally A Illingworth – Stop Trying to Reinvent The Wheel
- Shane Barker – The Rise of the Nano-Influencer
- Ryan Robinson – Pair Long-Form Content With Tactical Videos
- Brittany Berger – Video Remains the King of Content
- Robbie Richards – Focus on Landing Featured Snippets on Google
- Sarah Petersen – Master Your Main Marketing Channel
- Amanda Powell – Email Newsletters Remain a Key Focus
- Kevin Ho – Match Your User’s Intent Wherever Possible
- Devesh Khanal – Boost Content With Facebook Ads
- Ada Chen Rekhi – Customer Experience is the New Marketing
- Udi Ledergor – LinkedIn Continues Its Rise as a Premier Marketing Channel
- Garret Moon – Data Will Be Your Biggest Advantage
- Mitchell Harper – Be The Face Of Your Business
- Nat Eliason – Be Patient With Your Experiments
- Melanie Deziel – Always Put Your Audience First
- Andrea Jones – Customers Crave Personalized Content
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Messenger Marketing Poised to Explode
There are a lot of things we plan to focus on in 2020 relating to chatbots and Messenger marketing. For example, we expect WhatsApp to be available for business messaging. We also expect Google and Apple to serve messaging APIs to marketers.
You should always do your marketing using the same platforms that people engage with every day. That’s why we’re excited about the messaging channel for 2020.
Some marketing channels that bombed in 2019 are Facebook Ads, due to the rising costs; organic reach on social media, since it’s become more competitive than ever before; even email marketing is significantly more competitive due to aggressive spam filters. While still effective, we’re definitely seeing a lower return on investment with these channels.
Conversely, the things we are still excited about include video content, large scale online events, and chatbots and Messenger marketing.
The number one rule that every marketer should follow is to find and clone your marketing unicorns.
Every time a marketer publishes something, such as blog posts, webinars, conference talks, email blasts, infographics, etc., they’re auditioning an idea. Some ideas are catchy and generate a tremendous response, but most fall flat and fail to generate any significant traction.
The idea is to find your unicorn. Do a brutally honest review of your marketing initiatives over the last quarter or the last year, see which campaigns did significantly better than the rest, and focus efforts on replicating similar concepts across different channels.
– Larry Kim, CEO of MobileMonkey
Don’t Neglect Your Main Growth Driver
We are continuing to get smarter with how we double down on existing channels that are working for us. SEO with content is still our biggest traffic driver, but due to a lot of Google’s changes, we are also focusing a bit more time on Adwords and other paid channels moving into the future.
But that doesn’t mean you should get distracted from your main “Growth Driver.”
When something works well, it’s easy for marketing teams to hire more people, try to do a bunch of different things, and test out new shiny channels. But by doing so, you have to pull away focus from what is already working. I’m not suggesting you don’t test new things, but always remember what your main growth engine is, and keep it running smoothly.
Use data to guide your actions, but use empathy to generate your ideas. You need to listen to your customers and empathize with them, but you also need to look at the numbers and be metric driven. It’s not one or the other; it’s both working in tandem.
– Nadya Khoja, Chief Growth Officer at Venngage Infographic Maker
Leverage Influencers Wherever You Can
They say influencer marketing is dead. It’s not. Influencer marketing is still as powerful as it was before — brands are just getting smarter about the kind of influencers they want to work with.
As we move into 2020, one of my primary focuses will be to find more opportunities to collaborate with other influencers. Whether that’s interviewing people for our podcast, writing up more roundup posts like this, or just reaching out and building relationships, time and time again, I’ve seen how collaborating with influencers has driven huge results for us.
Another massive opportunity for us is LinkedIn. Over the past year, we’ve witnessed how powerful LinkedIn can be as a source of traffic, leads, and sales, for both personal and company brands. That’s why I’m very excited to see what I can achieve with LinkedIn in 2020!
At the very end of the day, my number one rule for marketing is to always be providing value. Original, I know, but it’s true! All good marketing stems from having a meaningful connection with your audience, and that all begins with providing value.
– Jonathan “JC” Chan, Head of Marketing at Insane Growth
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Listen to Your Customers
Talk to your customers. Their responses may not always be things you’re able to work into your product or marketing strategy, but at least you’ll be starting with some understanding of what people want from solutions like yours.
– Sujan Patel, Co-founder of Right Inbox
Nothing Develops Brand Loyalty Faster Than Education
One of the biggest challenges we expect to face in the coming year, and one that we will focus heavily on, is to create captivating yet concise and catchy social media content that will resonate with a wide target audience — including those who decide they want to undergo a digital detox session.
On one side of the spectrum, you have people who spend copious amounts of time glued to their phones scrolling various news feeds, yet paradoxically there is an emerging trend of people taking a digital detox and switching off social media altogether.
So, what I believe to be of importance in 2020 is to take into account both these trends when creating content for social media, be it organic or paid.
Paid advertising’s on the rise, and the trend is likely to continue. Companies are spending lots of money on that, and platforms provide them with wider and more elaborate opportunities for placing paid ads.
If you’re not getting into the advertising space now, you’re losing big time, because later, it will be increasingly harder and more expensive to fight for the audience as budgets are shifting towards online from TV and offline ads.
Finally, educational content. There’s no doubt there is a hunger for content that provides people with something they can gain, be it technical skills, training, advice, or inspiration. They want to explore specific techniques that might help them with their product or business.
This was one of the main reasons we launched Global Marketing Day — the world’s first 24-hour live online marketing conference. This multifunctional platform enabled a wider variety of educative content to be shared over the duration of two days across four different major cities: Sydney, London, New York, and San Francisco. By offering a gap in the market – a platform that provided non-stop marketing tips by leading experts, we were able to connect with a wider network.
This is exactly how you build brand loyalty in 2020 — by sharing relevant and useful content from professionals across the world, we tapped into the minds and hearts of people across the globe. Offering them something useful for free demonstrated our commitment to their skilful development.
– Olga Andrienko, Head of Global Marketing at SEMrush
Going Back to Real Human Interaction
Talking to people one on one, face to face is my main goal for 2020. So many people have moved to tech and platforms that it’s opening up an opportunity for old-school, human-to-human interaction. People naturally want to have that human-to-human connection with others; the challenge for me is figuring out how to scale it.
In 2019, I learnt that I can’t do it alone, and I shouldn’t do it alone. If I collaborate with others, I can get 1000x the results, whatever they are. It doesn’t matter what the tactic is — if I involve other people in it, I get way more out of it.
No marketer can be successful without love, by which I mean passion, empathy, and goodwill. You can get everything else right, but if you don’t have love, nobody will care. And you can get everything else wrong, but if you’ve got love, nobody will care if you get it wrong.
– Josh Steimle, 7 Systems of Influence
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Don’t Forget the ‘Social’ in Social Media Marketing
2020 is all about graduating from using social media to primarily promote website content. It’s clear that the algorithms on every social network work in your favor when you are posting images and videos. We all know this, but it’s time to make a fundamental shift in how we engage social media users in newer content mediums while still meeting our marketing objectives. This also includes leveraging more user-generated content as our primary content for brands that generate sufficient word-of-mouth.
For example, 2019 was when I realized the staying power Pinterest has, and I actually renewed my interest in the platform because of that.
Everything you do HAS to be data-driven and objective-driven. Period. Stop wasting your time otherwise.
Stop Trying To Reinvent The Wheel
Research and case studies are certainly a key focus for me in the coming year, mostly because I want to develop better standards to address the content marketing conundrum — but also because the number of alleged social media and digital experts in the world doesn’t correlate with the results people are actually getting.
So I’d like to try silence the money-grabbing bullsh*it artists from the conversation by understanding the individual roles and interdependence of probability, timing, mathematics, manipulation, and emotion when it comes to achieving meaningful results that actually add value to both the consumer and the business.
The skill set required to be an effective marketer today is far more multifaceted and complex than it has traditionally been! Technology and its consequences, such as social media, continue to completely change the game, and as such, we’ve seen an incredible power shift:
Traditionally, marketing penetration was driven by budget, but now the marketing consumption preferences of consumers is leading the way for penetration capability and costs. I’m fortunate to be working with professionals in the marketing industry from multiple angles, and the most valuable conclusion I’ve established this year is that most marketing professionals and experts have been outpaced by changing consumer behaviors — and a lot of money is being blatantly wasted.
The funny thing is that there are more self-proclaimed marketing experts than there have ever been in the history of marketing, but a trivial percentage actually have half of an idea how to keep pace with and navigate the new ways in which consumers are exposed to, interact with, and perceive marketing assets.
Marketers should never forget the consumer they are marketing to is a human.
Particularly, as we continue to see a dilution of consumer attention, and we’re becoming increasingly subject to anonymous algorithm writers, many marketers get nervous because they aren’t achieving the results they previously would. So they seek out shortcut tactics in an effort to perform in the short term for themselves, their clients, and their bosses.
These shortcut tactics tend to tarnish the perceived value of whatever is being marketed and interrupt the momentum already established because such individuals end up getting stuck in a situation that hinders their ability to actually recall what got them this far.
The marketing tactics that worked in the past won’t particularly work now, but the fundamentals of human psychology haven’t biologically changed.
So many will rely on paid marketing to try and “solve” the problem, but even paid won’t save you if you don’t actually know how to effectively market to your target persona(s). It’s important to note that consumers are more informed than they’ve ever been before, and as such, the buying process has completely changed.
As a marketer, your best bet is to develop a holistic marketing strategy that enables the brand to tap into multiple stages of the buying process, so that massive value is provided to the target audience and there is a clear demonstration that the brand is the “right choice” for the consumer.
– Sally A Illingworth, Marketing & Influence Strategist
The Rise of the Nano-Influencer
I think videos are going to be the future of content, and I will focus more on that, as it is still a very small part of my current strategy and I plan to invest more time into creating and posting content on my YouTube channel. Apart from that, I also plan to continue hosting my podcasts, as I have seen a good response to it from my audience.
The rise of videos is the biggest marketing trend that I will focus on, and I think other marketers should also.
I learned that influencer marketing has not yet reached its peak and is continuously evolving with different microtrends. One such trend is the rise of nano-influencers and how businesses are working with several smaller influencers rather than one or two bigger ones. A lot of businesses now have a whole network of influencers working for them. And the best part is that their content does not look overly promotional. So, I guess the evolution of influencer marketing is what exceeded my expectations last year.
However, finding the right influencers and collaborating with them in a smooth and efficient manner still remains a challenge for most of my clients. And, that is where they seek my help.
The number one rule of marketing is and will always be “know your customers.” Any type of marketing initiative you want to execute should be based on thorough consumer research. You need to know who you’re targeting to effectively determine how to target them.
– Shane Barker, Digital Strategist, Brand and Influencer Consultant
Pair Long-Form Content With Tactical Videos
Something that’s worked really well for me this year is the pairing of highly tactical YouTube videos with long-form written content. I’ve started to see a really strong correlation between my most successful long-form articles rising in organic search rankings shortly after embedding a well-produced, genuinely helpful YouTube video I’ve made on the same topic. I’ll be doubling down on that as we head into the new year!
My biggest marketing lesson this year is that it’s dangerous to rely upon a small number of content pieces to drive the majority of your revenue.
After seeing some volatility in my organic search rankings for a couple of key articles on competitive keyword phrases this summer, it really forced me into coming up with more clear plans for diversifying both my revenue streams and my traffic sources. I’m now publishing and promoting new content at a quicker pace than ever before, and a few months into this new implementation, I’m starting to see the impact of that paying off in a meaningful way.
My one piece of advice is to never lose touch with who your audience really is.
The moment you begin chasing random keyword opportunities or affiliate-aligned campaigns, you start to stray away from delivering truly beneficial content (and solutions) to your audience. While selling is without a doubt a natural part of every marketing handoff, marketers themselves can’t afford to forget that their job is to deliver value first. When you forget that, your competitors will step in to seize the opportunity.
– Ryan Robinson, Blogger and Content Marketing Consultant
Video Remains the King of Content
I plan on focusing more on video next year. It’s not necessarily new, but it’s still underused in the audience I’m trying to reach. And as rare as it is, a good video that’s both educational and engaging is even rarer. Given my focus on and experience with brand voice, I see a great opportunity for me to stand out in that medium. I’m less about following popular trends and more about finding me-shaped gaps in the market.
2019 proved to me that not every piece of content needs to be SEO-focused. In the past, almost everything I published publicly on a blog was an in-depth, SEO-friendly blog post. And while that’s great for attracting new audiences, this year I tried to balance that more with shorter, more bottom-of-funnel pieces to nurture my existing audience. I already had that content (for example, in email nurture sequences), but making it publicly findable helped more than I thought it would.
Spend as much time using a piece of content as you do creating it.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend a whole day promoting a piece of content as soon as it goes live, but it does mean you don’t forget about it once you hit publish. It means you go back and update and optimize it quarterly, use it in future campaigns, and remix and repurpose it when you can.
– Brittany Berger, Content Marketing Consultant
Focus on Landing Featured Snippets on Google
Not necessarily an up-and-coming tactic, but something that is becoming more and more important is optimising for a shifting SERP — specifically, structuring content to win more featured snippet placements.
We find opportunities for this with our process:
- Use Ahrefs to filter out all the articles we rank for in positions 1-2 that have a snippet, but we don’t show in it.
- Analyse current snippet and model their approach.
- Tackle optimisation in batches of 5-10, pending on the size of the site.
This simple process has allowed us to steal 40-50% of the snippets with top-ranking articles. While this might not seem like that much, across a large subset of content, this can add up to a lot of extra eyeballs and traffic.
Something that’s really clicked with me this year is focusing on analyzing traffic and click data instead of volume when performing keyword research.
I used to focus way too much on search volume. But, with so many new elements emerging in the SERPs, there are now a lot more zero-click SERPs. So, I’ve made the mistake of targeting terms that look like they get a lot of searches but don’t actually drive much traffic, at least compared to other targets.
With SEO becoming more important than ever, it’s essential that you align your entire keyword/content strategy with your site monetisation model. You want to make sure your content is exactly the kind of thing that person was looking for when they use that search term.
For example, if you monetise mainly from ad revenue, you will likely prioritise top-funnel terms that have higher search volume and can drive more eyeballs to your ads. If you’re an affiliate site, you’ll use modifiers to filter the terms with more investigational intent — modifiers like “best,” “vs,” “alternatives,” etc.
One way to scale this approach is to perform your keyword research at a subfolder level. I wrote a huge guide on this here.
– Robbie Richards, Author of robbierichards.com
Master Your Main Marketing Channel
Find your silver bullet. The fastest-growing companies of our era started with doubling down on one main marketing channel, mastering it, and scaling it before broadening.
Glossier started with influencer marketing on social. Dollar Shave Club started with viral-style videos on paid social. Companies like Onnit and Four Sigmatic started with podcast advertising. The focus channel can act as a silver bullet because it enables other channels as well.
For example, content marketing enables customer retention and success (educating customers about the benefits of your product), organic search, affiliate marketing (as your company is more visible to potential affiliates), PR, and paid social. The trick is to own the channel. If you can be the best in the industry on one channel and use that channel to fuel other marketing efforts, it’s difficult not to get ahead.
– Sarah Peterson, VP of Marketing at Unsettle Consulting
Email Newsletters Remain a Key Focus
For 2020 (and the end of 2019), we’re focusing on building our relationship with our customers through our newsletter DM Insider. Newsletters have been a growing trend that continue to demand attention as the newest marketing strategy.
This also follows our long-standing belief that “email isn’t dead.” In fact, email is doing better than ever, but you have to know how to talk to your customers, and providing them insight into industry news and trends every week will only strengthen the bond with your list.
So far, we’ve seen great results from DM Insider, and we plan on hunkering down and making this a real focus moving into the new year. We want our email to provide the most relevant and updated information to marketers, so they get real value out of it.
We also hope that based on the value we’re providing, we become the go-to source for all things marketing related. Basically, we want our customers to come in every Monday morning and scroll to find DM Insider in their inbox, so we can continue to build a relationship with our customers week after week.
– Amanda Powell, Director of Marketing at DigitalMarketer
Match Your User’s Intent Wherever Possible
There are two big opportunities that we’re focused on for 2020. The first is creating long-tail SEO content due to the fact that Google’s new updates are making it easier and easier for people to find specific content online.
The second is going deeper into email segmentation. We’ve found that by segmenting generic newsletter subscribers by pageviews (for instance, visiting a URL containing “fitness”), we’ve been able to retroactively create targeted lists allowing us to send more emails to fewer people, delivering much higher open and click-through-rates.
My biggest lesson this year was realizing the power behind personalizing your call-to-action.
For example, we previously used to ask people if they “want some marketing tips?” when they visited our blog. It worked, but it was very generic. Halfway through the year, we changed each prompt to be specific to the page each user was on instead. For instance, the new message might read “want some tips on growing your Instagram following?” if a user is on an article about Instagram.
This small change resulted in a 46% increase in responses and 2000+ new messages for our sales team to manage each month.
Marketers have a tendency to create content that feels like it’s coming out of a megaphone broadcasting to a million people. The best marketing is casual, conversational, and has the feeling like you’re just speaking to a friend.
To me, always keeping a single person in mind when you’re creating content is key.
– Kevin Ho, VP Marketing at Wishpond
Boost Content With Facebook Ads
We’re doubling down on SEO with really specific content targeted at medium and long-tail keywords. As per our pain point SEO and content ideation articles, those convert extremely well, the traffic is evergreen, and this tactic doesn’t seem to be at risk of being outdated anytime soon.
This year, we learnt that Facebook ads can work really well for promoting content and generating short-term traffic. Yes, you need to have a budget, but it doesn’t need to be much (< $1000/m), and it can get you a good surge of initial traffic from highly targeted personas while SEO takes its time to kick in.
Every marketer needs to know that one channel that works very well is worth far more than many channels that kind of work, so spend your time looking for that one channel.
– Devesh Khanal, Co-founder of Grow and Convert
Customer Experience is the New Marketing
It’s important to continue to relentlessly focus on customer satisfaction and providing great experiences. Every single customer can be an advocate, and there’s a huge opportunity to leverage this through customer dialogue, personalization, and micro-storytelling.
My one big marketing rule is: Never rest easy.
Channels degrade, audiences lose interest, and new competition and information crop up all the time. You should never get complacent with your existing channels, and keep questioning and testing your assumptions all the time.
– Ada Chen Rekhi, Founder and COO of Notejoy
LinkedIn Continues Its Rise as a Premier Marketing Channel
My team will be focusing on category creation and positioning us as the de facto category leader. More than just finding a pre-existing niche to compete in, it’s far better to create that niche yourself.
I expect LinkedIn to continue to be a huge channel for us (we target sales leaders who essentially live on LinkedIn), and adding even more tactics like events, digital ads, and out-of-home advertising to the marketing mix will be hugely beneficial for us.
An experiment that’s paid off really well for us in 2019 has been video marketing. Video, including live video, has worked phenomenally well for us, especially on LinkedIn. We’ve seen a ton of engagement, comments, and responses to our quirky content videos.
I always try to remember that being different is better than being better.
It’s really difficult to be a lot better at what everyone else in your space is already doing. You have to be 10 times better to really stand out. 20% better simply won’t cut through the noise. It’s usually wiser to go in a completely different direction and just be different. That makes you, by definition, a leader at whatever you’re doing.
– Udi Ledergor, CMO at Gong.io
Data Will Be Your Biggest Advantage
In many ways, the channels and tactics we use in 2020 are going to be very similar to 2019. I think the primary difference will come in how we use them.
Most brands now cover the gamut in terms of channels and tactics they are using, so I think it is going to be more and more difficult for them to distinguish themselves on channel alone. My prediction is that you will see marketing teams going deeper with key channels rather than adding more.
As marketing budgets tighten (and they will), the channels that bring the most bang for the buck will win.
In 2019, organic social took a huge hit in terms of effectiveness for B2B brands, and I think that will continue. As a marketer myself, I learned the value of segmentation and commuting specific messages to specific customer types based on their buying journey. In other words, target messaging vs. broad brand messages. Doing this will require companies to collect and organize a lot of data, but the ones who do will have a major advantage over their peers.
Be The Face Of Your Business
Marketing trends and fads will come and go. You know what never goes out of style? Helping your market before you ask for the sale. Being the face of your business can give you massive leverage, especially if you’re competing in a “sea of sameness” in which your business and offerings are almost indistinguishable from those of your competitors.
Since the early 2000s, I’ve been the face of every business I’ve launched, including Insane Growth. Why? Well, people buy from people. It’s much easier to earn trust, add value, and build a relationship when your business has a face to it — think about Steve Jobs with Apple, Richard Branson with Virgin, or Sarah Blakey with Spanx.
These entrepreneurs knew that humans buy with emotion first and logic second. And the easiest way to appeal to the emotional side of someone’s brain is to tell your story. To be real. To communicate the passion you have for your products, services, and market as a human being.
– Mitchell Harper, CEO and Founder of Insane Growth
Be Patient With Your Experiments
My biggest realization this year was how much patience you need when it comes to marketing.
SEO typically takes 6+ months to really get ROI positive, which I knew, but I didn’t fully get till this year how patient you have to be with ads as well.
We’d started ads experiments in the past and then cancelled them prematurely, but now that we’re really investing in figuring out ads over 3+ months, we’re starting to see much better results.
So that’s the big lesson: patience! Everything good takes time.
– Nat Eliason, CEO & Founder of Growth Machine
Always Put Your Audience First
Too many marketers forget to put the audience’s needs, desires, habits, language and preferences at the center of their strategy and tactics. Your audience should be at the center of all your marketing; your marketing is ultimately for them, more than it is for you.
Before launching a new campaign, creating a piece of content, embracing a new tactic, or otherwise engaging with your audience, ask yourself if what you’re doing is in their best interest. If it’s not, adapt the strategy or the tactic to put the audience back at the center, where they belong.
– Melanie Deziel, Founder of StoryFuel
Customers Crave Personalized Content
I’m planning on working on more live video and things that aren’t scalable next year. Consumers are craving more personalized content, and I think giving that as much as possible is what will set me apart.
A lot of changes happened in 2019, so my biggest lesson is to test, test, and keep testing! I work in the world of social media, and there are so many things that are out of your control. What could have worked last year may not work in the next.
That’s why it’s so important that marketers listen to their consumers! As marketers, sometimes we want to do cool things or try tactics because we think they’re cool. But as long as we always listen to our consumers, we will succeed!
– Andréa Jones, Social Media Strategist
As technology and digital marketing continues to evolve, modern marketers need to be able to keep up if they want any hope of having their brand stay relevant. These days marketers need to not only know how to sell a product, but they also need to know how to tell engaging stories, delight their customers and keep them coming back.
As we enter the new year, make sure that you prepare yourself by taking in all the marketing tips outlined by our experts above.
What’s your biggest focus next year? What does good marketing look like to you? Let us know in the comments below!