Every year, there’s some development in consumer behavior and the digital environment that affects the effectiveness of running marketing strategies. Changes could involve anything from significant Google algorithm updates to newly-published expert opinions on the best SMS software.

To succeed, marketers need to evolve in line with these changes. They need to constantly evaluate the relevance of their strategies and tweak their campaigns to keep up with recent marketing trends. Otherwise, they risk getting left behind by their competitors.

The year 2020 brings in a slew of discoveries and developments in business. But these 8 essential marketing trends, in particular, could make or break your campaign this year:

1) Adopting Text Messaging & SMS Software

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Despite the growing concern that instant messaging has made SMS obsolete, businesses are increasingly relying on text messaging as an effective means of communication. Its value is driven by the constant proximity of people to their mobile phones, which leads to the most impressive engagement rates amongst all marketing channels. In fact, SMS enjoys a response rate that’s over 200% higher than phone calls, email, and Facebook.

In response, specialized SMS software and SMS-capable omnichannel marketing software have become not only more advanced, but also more accessible for the average marketer. Nobody is claiming that SMS will replace email, but it can definitely serve as the perfect complementary platform. Today’s businesses need to learn how to take advantage of the unique qualities of the text message, and use it to foster a feeling of closeness in their customers.

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2) Enhancing Marketing Automation

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Marketing automation has become a fundamental requirement, especially among ecommerce businesses. That’s because automated workflows allow for more timely communications that help customers along the buyer’s journey, and do so with very little human intervention.

Today, marketing automation remains just as valuable, if not more so. However, with customer journeys are becoming less linear, businesses now need to be more insightful when developing their workflows. Additionally, marketers need to design workflows to involve all channels relevant to their audiences. Through omnichannel marketing automation workflows, you’re better able to nurture your customers. That, in turn, leads to an exceptional brand reputation as well as better sales.

3) Deepening Data Dependence

Insights-driven marketing is nothing new. For years now, marketers have been developing strategies based on insights gathered from data analysis. However, recent advances in marketing software allows for an even deeper understanding of your consumers.

To compete in today’s data-driven business environment, marketers need to go beyond user-provided information. You need to use appropriate technology to gather data on all customer interactions and have the necessary skills to pinpoint actionable information.

It is only through deeper data analysis that you can gain a thorough understanding of your customer profile. Doing so allows you to craft personalized messages that convert at a remarkable rate. Additionally, it allows you to foster a better customer experience and develop the most appropriate products and services.

4) Amplifying AI Technologies

As data gathering becomes more advanced, artificial intelligence becomes even more valuable. Behind the scenes, AI has greatly affected the way businesses consume data. Machine learning, for example, is now available to assist marketers in anticipating their customers’ next move or even to predict purchasing patterns.

Additionally, AI now plays a pivotal role in customer-facing technologies. As businesses recognize the value in conversational marketing, chatbots are becoming increasingly essential. Today, chatbots are no longer limited to support functions alone. Businesses now rely on these technologies to enhance the overall customer experience.

5) Broadening Content

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Content has always been king. But the type of content that’s most effective for marketing is ever-changing. While blogs are still essential to content marketing, companies now need to be present in different platforms where they can entertain, educate, inspire, and spark conversations.

Considering consumers’ preference for short-lived content, companies should capitalize on the growing reach of social media platforms like Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories, where at least three million advertisers are already present.

Business should also ramp up video marketing efforts since 84% of consumers now say that watching a brand’s video has convinced them to avail of products and services. Aligned with that, 80% of marketers also say that video content directly contributes to sales.

6) Exploring AR & VR Possibilities

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Advances in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have made these technologies more accessible to the average consumer. In fact, AR and VR experiences can already be accessed through mobile devices. Given that smartphone penetration is over 80% around the world, it’s no wonder businesses have begun to explore AR and VR for marketing.

Today, innovative marketers use AR and VR to enhance the trial experience. But the possibilities for marketing are practically limitless. Whether it’s to augment the customer experience or simply to generate hype, augmented and virtual reality technologies are expected to play larger roles in marketing in the future.

7) Adjusting to Privacy Developments

GDPR and other privacy regulations have greatly impacted the way digital marketing is done. Add to that the decreasing utility of cookies, and marketers are left to scramble for ways to assure their customers of privacy and security without compromising their ability to gather and analyze data.

As browser-based tracking and digital fingerprinting becomes more and more outmoded, businesses need to start considering alternative ways to actively collect data from their customers.That might involve the development of new identity management processes aided by platforms developed for this specific purpose.

8) Adapting to Changing Search Behavior

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In 2018, a Forbes contributor predicted that 50% of online searches will be done by voice by 2020. He wasn’t wrong. In fact, according to Microsoft’s 2019 Voice Report, 72% of American consumers already use voice search. This change is driven by drastic improvements in voice search accuracy as well as the availability of capable devices. Among the top drivers of voice search behavior are Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Today’s marketers need to adapt to this new search behavior. That might mean SEO is no longer about reaching the top of SERPs but actually providing content with clear intent and context. Beyond SEO, this shift in behavior will change the way online content is consumed in general. So, it is a crucial time to re-evaluate your content strategy to not just adapt to this change but to capitalize on it.

Some of these trends—most especially SMS software adoption and marketing automation—have been growing over the past few years. But now is the time when adopting these trends is most critical. Every forward-thinking business should look at these trends as opportunities to get a leg up on their competition, enhance their relationships with their customers, and make their brand even more relevant to their target audience.

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