Most companies decide on the size of their marketing budget for the following twelve-month period at the start of each year. The distribution of this money to the various channels and measures that count towards their strategy is even more open in many places. In the digital age, a large percentage of the budget obviously goes on digital marketing. We’ve delved deeper to find out which trends (still) have a clear edge in 2020.

As in almost every digital segment, AI (artificial intelligence) pretty much dominates in marketing. As an underlying technology layer, AI-based applications and machine learning influence the measures themselves as well as the daily business of marketers, from planning and implementation through to execution.

Talking, not typing

Conversational marketing, or voice applications in general, is one of the most discussed AI topics. Brands are increasingly using technology such as chatbots, webchats and messenger services to satisfy customer expectations of instant responses via the channel of their choice. They are also useful for real interaction with customers. By bundling these channels, brands gain deep insights that allow them to adapt more precisely to what their customers want – and to predict these demands even more accurately using AI.

More and more people are also simply directing their questions to Siri, Alexa and Co. instead of typing in a search box. This changed customer behaviour has consequences, not least for SEO optimisation. After all, voice-enabled search is a very different kettle of fish to typed keyword searches. Voice also offers the opportunity to create innovative marketing and brand experiences.

But even simple local chatbot applications can offer users enormous added value. For example, they can provide basic information on events or travel directions and then make it easier for users to find their bearings at the event itself, in terms of content and navigation.

Pictures speak louder than words

However, there is not only an online shift toward voice, but also visual, search. Visual search came into its own in 2019 and remains an exciting part of the product marketing mix in particular in 2020. For instance, customers can search for specific items that they have seen and photographed but know nothing more about in terms of the manufacturer or brand.

Visual communication remains an essential toolbox for marketers, but not just in relation to image-based web searching. Video and interactive content are still a key component of the content marketing mix in 2020.

There will continue to be a strong increase in content that encourages interaction, starting with simple activities such as surveys and quizzes, but also content that uses advanced technology like AR/VR and 360-degree videos.

For personalisation, you need data

Marketers have an enormous range of digital tools and technologies available to them nowadays. But whatever they choose to use, one overarching trend forms the framework for the entire marketing strategy: personalisation is the order of the day. There are several reasons why companies are abandoning a scattergun approach. It is important to keep your head above the proverbial water line in terms of attention in the flood of information constantly engulfing existing and potential customers via all digital channels. And digital native providers in particular have already deeply internalised the personalisation theme and established benchmarks, which means that the bar has been set quite high for other companies.

Personalisation in this context does not mean personally addressing people in emails. Technology such as AI and holistic marketing platforms with intelligent data analysis and use across all channels give marketers deep insights into the individual interests and needs of their target group. Intelligent marketing automation tools are needed to convert these into personalised customer experiences along the entire customer journey – and that is why these technologies and applications are set to continue to grow dynamically in 2020.

The bottom line

In 2020 more than ever, marketers need to get the right content or offer to existing and potential customers at the right time via the best channel at that particular moment. For marketing, regardless of the tools selected, this means having an integrated strategy and implementation across all channels and along the entire customer journey, whether in-store, via telephone hotline or web chat, or on social media or apps.