2020 On the Horizon

2020 Vision – Digital Marketing Trends to Look For

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Last week, we looked back on the year 2019 in social media marketing. This week, we look ahead with what we hope will be 2020 vision for what the new year holds! Sorry – we couldn’t resist making this cheesy reference, but it’s the only time in history the chance will come along – for which you’re perhaps glad. While we can expect some existing trends to continue and become even more prominent, others will involve a need to develop greater strategic skills to keep your business competitive. And then there’ll be the true game-changers that will definitely let you know the future is here to stay. Spoiler alert – it involves Google!

In fact, the coming year is so critical, we’ve expanded our forecast to include website design, and major developments in search and SEO.

The Generational Divide in Social Media Platforms

Not so long ago, social media was considered solely the realm of young people. Now, as almost everyone is comfortable online, a much wider range of generations regularly use at least one platform. As a result of this development, the choice of platforms will continue to be even more pronounced by generational preferences. Facebook is now considered the realm of the 50-plus crowd, with millennials and Generation Z flocking to Instagram. Generation Z, in particular, has embraced relative newcomer TikTok with a level of enthusiasm that’s already made its mark on popular culture.

Look for other start-up social media platforms to pursue the teen and young adult market – which will be helped by all those teens and young adults seeking an alternative to Facebook. And so far, it seems that video-based platforms like TikTok dominate. What does this mean for businesses? It will be more important than ever in 2020 to know your target demographic and make sure you use the right social media platforms to reach them – and if that demographic is young, start getting proficient in video storytelling (or hire an agency that is).

We’re trying to find a smooth segue, because this development goes hand-in-hand with the predominance of mobile as the preferred means of accessing the internet. According to Statista, mobile accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide. In the third quarter of 2019, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 51.51 percent of global website traffic, consistently hovering around the 50 percent mark since the beginning of 2017.

TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are all mobile-only platforms – an important fact to consider in creating ads and messaging for their ever-increasing number of users. Yes, Instagram can be accessed on desktop computers to view, like and comment on posts (as well as posting using a scheduling platform, such as Buffer or Hootsuite), but being able to make full use of Instagram can only be done on mobile. We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves to re-emphasize that websites now need to be designed for mobile first, not desktop.

Visual Search is Taking Off

The introduction of Google Lens (this was our earlier spoiler alert) is launching a new era in search. Backlinko reports that Google Lens has already been used 1 billion times. It utilizes your phone’s camera, computer vision and augmented reality (AR) to overlay information and content onto your physical surroundings as you scan an area – bringing information and interactivity to life. Pinterest Lens is a similar visual discovery tool. Click on the links for the full story about each, from the source.

“People want to search with images,” the Backlinko article states. “Once you start using it, you’ll quickly notice that visual search is super helpful for shopping, directions, identifying landmarks, local business reviews, translation, recipes, nutrition information, lots more.”

Closely related, many digital marketing experts named shoppable social media posts – which allow people to make purchases directly instead of having to leave and navigate to the browser – as a major trend since the launch of Instagram Checkout in 2019. As noted by Matt Ellis, writing for 99designs, “Shoppable social media posts just make sense. At least 54% of people on social media use it to research product purchases. The goal is to create less steps for your shoppers, not more, so selling directly on social media decreases the chances of sales abandonment.”

Voice Search – Voices Will Carry Further

With a smart speaker in almost every home, voice searches will continue to gain importance. Writing for Business 2 Community, Neil Wood-Mitchell notes that 55% of households are expected to own smart speaker devices by 2022. “… therefore, optimizing your content for voice search needs to be a priority in 2020.”

Our November 18, 2018 blog post – “What is Voice Search and How Will it Impact SEO?” – covers a good deal of this ground, which has grown even more since that time!

SEO, Google’s BERT, Featured Snippets and You

Google has done it again! As Danny Goodwin writes for Search Engine Journal, “In 2019, the launch of Google’s new BERT algorithm got a lot of attention. Naturally, every SEO professional wants to learn how to optimize for BERT.”

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is a neural network-based technique for natural language processing pre-training. In plain English, it’s used to help Google better discern the context of words in search queries. That is, BERT gives Google Search a more human-like comprehension of what you’re looking for when you enter a query or question – enabling it to provide more accurate results. So if you’re still thinking in terms of individual keywords, it’s time to join us in the second decade of the 21st century.

The take-home message: Website content will have to be written to user intent rather than just strings of keywords a user might enter hoping that at least one will produce the desired result. SEO has entered the era of user-focused optimization.

Now about those Featured Snippets – you know, that Mr. Smarty Pants result that appears all nicely boxed and positioned above the number one organic result on Google Search. Obviously, it’s no longer enough to optimize your content so that it achieves top position in organic results. Also known as Position 0, Featured Snippets have become the ultimate SEO prize – and are likely to remain so until Google comes up with something even more challenging to pursue.

Until then, Alex Membrillo – Founder and CEO of Cardinal – offers this advice:

“To take advantage of this feature and drive more clicks to your website, you need to provide clear answers to commonly asked questions on your website. Featured Snippets ae evaluated and boosted to the top depending on their quality, which Google has a way of determining. Don’t take this trend lightly, as 54.68% of clicks from Google originate from Featured Snippets – proving that they drive more than half of search engine clicks.”

The Dawn of the California Consumer Privacy Act

While this isn’t a trend, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which goes into effect on January 1, 2020 will have permanent, far-reaching effects on companies that do business in California. The CCPA creates new consumer rights relating to the access to, deletion of, and sharing of personal information that is collected by businesses. It is similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – which took effect on May 25, 2018 – currently the benchmark for online privacy.

The CCPA gives California residents the right to learn what data companies collect about them. It also lets Californians ask companies to delete their data and not to sell it. According to a report by CNET, regulations used to enforce the law are still being finalized. However, companies inside and outside of California are working to become compliant so that they can continue to do business there.

We are devoting next week’s blog post to this important regulation, so be sure to join us to learn more!

Make it a Very Good Year

The challenges of 2020 can be outstanding opportunities for your brand or business to achieve even greater success! Virtual Stacks Systems is here to help you explore ways to improve your website traffic, leads and conversions! In addition to social media marketing, we offer PPC advertising, website design and redesign, SEO marketing, review management services, social media marketing, video production and much more!

Contact us today to get started in making 2020 an epic year!


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