5 Changes in Digital Marketing Strategy for 2020

Digital marketing strategy for 2020 is different; partly due to changes in technology, partly due to changes in consumer habits, and partly due to platform changes. As the year ends, it seems like the perfect time to consider how these changes impact your digital marketing strategy.

1. Search intent signals

How many times a day do you search online? 20? 30? 50?

Now imagine how many times a day someone searches for something online. How many times is that? Millions? Billions?

The entire success of the internet relies on the ability of search engines, like Google, Yahoo, and DuckDuckgo, to priorities all the billions of pages of online content to give you exactly what you searched for with the top results representing the closest match based on your search.

Try it now.

Search for anything in any way you want; using a computer, mobile, or a voice-activated assistant like Google Home.

Find what you were looking for?

Most likely you did and you chose one of the first links presented to you by your preferred search engine (or, at least that’s what you would have done), had you made a choice.

The role of a search engine is to translate the words entered (keywords) into intent–what information were you looking for to answer your query.

Why intent matters

Since the days of the first search engine, marketers have tried to game the system (call SEO or search engine optimization) so their content appeared at the top of search results (SERPs). That’s because we all know users choose links based on where they appear in the SERPs.

In an analysis of 5 MILLION queries on Google, findings support the impact of SEO on SERPs.

How intent changed recently

One of the biggest changes in digital marketing strategy for 2020 is understanding intent now comes from voice rather than text search. Think about it. More users employ Siri or Alexa or Google via voice commands each year. A recent study shows up to 50% of searches will use voice in 2020. And, we don’t talk the way we type. Here are some major differences (according to Forbes):

2. New results pages

The last 3 of these bullets reflect changes that don’t necessarily reflect changes to voice search, but changes to the way Google ranks content in determining SERPs as well as the information displayed when the link shows up in search. Here’s what Google displays when the link for this page shows up in search:

Note the prominence of the featured snippet and how the keywords used in the post are highlighted. The image also appears. Google made this change to give users a preview of the content before they clicked. While this may bring more visitors to your site because they see you have the answer they’re looking for, it also means they might get everything they need without having to click on the link, which isn’t good for the website.

In addition, Google and other search engines now use long-tails rather than single keywords, so your SEO strategy should, as well. With more and more data available on users, some search engines have upped their games by using what they know about you, including other searches, locational information, and, at least for Google, the content of your emails to find search results that better match your intent. While this may sound creepy from a privacy standpoint, hence the rise of DuckDuckGo (which doesn’t capture personal information) but it’s also a great tool for users as it gives them results that more closely match what they were searching.

3. Advertising options

New ad types now greet users. For instance, product ads get top billing on SERPs. Check them out below:

Although not strictly ads, new local results highlight local businesses and get top billing in SERPs. These results are linked to Google local, powered by Google My Business. After a relatively easy registration process, local businesses show up when users search via computer or mobile within a proscribed area of your business. Notice the enhanced information about the business displayed below the map, including ratings, physical address, and hours of operation.

A nice aspect of these local results is they’re linked with Google Maps so users get directions with a single click or choose to visit the website if they want more information about the business.

Showing up in local search isn’t simply a matter of registering with Google My Business, but is a function of doing SEO well. Sites with the highest scores for website SEO, show up first in the local results.

4. Artificial intelligence and natural language processing

The explosion of AI combined with NLP starts today and grows more impactful in 2020 and is just one example of how data impacts marketing strategy. Companies use these technologies to craft content that drives action based on a deeper understanding of customers, such as in the example below where Air Canada changed the tone of emails to significantly increase results.

Other examples of AI include targeting, optimizing, and forecasting based on increased access to data.

5. The explosion of tools

Every year it seems more tools for digital marketing emerge and digital marketing strategy for 2020 requires marketers to master an increasing number of options. Gone are the days of handing off data analysis, design, and UX to specialists who require days or weeks to offer solutions. Today’s marketer needs skills that cross these functional areas so they can implement solutions in real-time. Sure, some tasks require a specialist, but routine, day-to-day activities rely on the marketer’s ability.

Knowing how to use tools is only the start, however. For marketers, success requires using tools effectively, knowing which tools perform best for certain tasks, and employing the right tool for the situation.

Here’s an example of tools designed for different stages in the marketing funnel:

Digital marketing strategy for 2020

Digital marketing strategy is a moving target, requiring marketers to continue learning and update their strategy rather than relying on what’s worked in the past. Maybe the digital marketing strategy for 2020 doesn’t reflect massive changes to the search algorithm as in years past, but other massive changes impact the success of your digital marketing strategy.

In this post, we discussed 5 of these massive changes. Of course, we could have mentioned many more factors impacting the success of a digital marketing strategy for 2020.

Here are just a few to consider:

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