Ten Marketing Trends for 2020

My top ten marketing trends for 2020. Do you agree?
1. Content creation –

I have made this number one on my list for 2020 because so many businesses are professionalising the creation of their marketing “content”. With larger companies already on this route, smaller businesses should follow during the coming year.

Larger businesses are hiring armies of in-house specialists to work as content specialists, and I am sure that the strong demand for digital content skills will continue into 2020. The work requires ideas, facts and clear business writing. Video will be part of this story along with blog posting and podcasts.

With everyone publishing so much information, I see two issues. First, audiences are becoming overloaded and may switch off completely. Second, there is a temptation for companies to follow a similar pattern of content to their competitors. That means that the companies who think harder and work more on their creative approach will be the ones whose content stands out. The challenge for many will be to work creatively and still gain approval from their more risk-averse leadership teams.

2. Website design –

Website design goes hand in hand with content. The chief trend in website design is to move from “responsive” (mobile friendly) to “mobile first” in order to maintain search engine ranking. This is the chief factor dictating the current redesign of corporate websites. Websites that are “mobile first” have the text and images arranged in longer columns for scrolling. The challenge I see here is that the size of a smartphone screen is not entirely consistent with the explosive growth we are seeing in content – there is only so much you can see on a small screen! And even smaller screens are coming! We must remember those who are reading their email on a wristwatch! I feel that clarity of message, conciseness and eye-catching graphics will be top priority for digital marketing design in 2020.

3. Sustainability –

We have never been so aware of the environment and the issues around carbon, waste and the natural world under threat. I predict that by the end of 2020 every responsible company will want to present a policy on sustainability.

I believe that in 2020 it will be essential for businesses to show that they are good citizens, worthy of our custom and doing their part to mitigate the climate emergency. Not trying to look after the environment will be viewed as bad practice – as bad as tax evasion and exploiting vulnerable workers.

4. Sales leads –

The strongest asset a professional marketer can have on their CV in 2020 is a proven track record of creating viable sales leads in their business sector. Expect strong competition and higher salaries for these individuals in the coming year.

5. Email marketing –

Email marketing has been the mainstay of leads generation for many businesses during 2019, but will this change? As with other digital content, the issue is that there is too much of it. I would like to see those who send out marketing emails every day starting to reduce this to fewer, more important messages.

On the recipient’s side, we are getting better at protecting ourselves from the deluge of uncontrolled email. Corporate email servers can identify scam messages and filter out the “rubbish” from employees’ inboxes. Remember that recipients may need to request the server to put emails from a new supplier in their in-box – this means that some email remains invisible in the junk file, and effectively adds a new “opt-in” to the acceptance of a marketing message.

6. Privacy Legislation –

GDPR set the rules for email marketing during the last three years. However, more privacy legislation governing cookies, SMS and telemarketing is probably around the corner for Europe, and I judge that UK businesses should still respect this after the UK leaves the EU.

European legislators are particularly concerned about the inappropriate collection of data through cookies. When you view a web page, it triggers a response from the server which sets a cookie on your browser. After this, each subsequent visit to the same website will trigger more cookies and build an overall picture of your browsing activity which is far more detailed than most people realise. Cookies for tracking and profiling consumers must be consensual to comply with law. The regulators are particularly concerned about real time bidding for online display ads where personal data may be shared with advertisers, etc.

Meanwhile we’re seeing a strong trend towards data driven marketing and more powerful analytics. This will be an interesting area to watch in 2020. Privacy complaints are probably set to grow as data analysis becomes more powerful and data scientists discover exactly where the privacy boundaries are going to be.

7. Social Media –

Arguments about personal privacy are bound to continue. Facebook was fined $5 billion for its privacy errors last year. People will be watching for more breaches of trust and more opportunities for large penalties.

Meanwhile as each social platform becomes crowded or loses its shine, smart consumers will abandon older platforms and move on to newer ones that promise something novel and better.

8. Business Media –

In my own work, I am particularly interested in the new business models appearing in B2B and technology media. In the technology sectors, publishers are moving closer to IT and component distribution with American businesses leading the way. Indeed publishers’ reader lists are incredibly valuable and publishers have been morphing into marketing businesses for some time. I feel a line has been crossed where many publishers are now primarily marketing or events businesses, where disseminating news and opinion has become a means to the end not the end in itself.  Other publications remain as valued news vehicles and maybe always will be.

9. PR –

PR has changed a little – and I detect more interest in PR for the new decade starting in 2020. The chief change is the arrival of new publications, professional bloggers and influencers.

PR remains a great way to reach out to new audiences. PR content can be placed in third party media, including blog sites and social channels – all these are established routes to the market for most businesses.

10. Personal service –

With the digital world so busy, a handwritten note or a posted brochure can be a great way to attract attention!

How will you reach out to new audiences in 2020? If marketing content and PR are part of your plan, and if you may need a copywriter/PR consultant,  please contact anna.wood@technologypr.co.uk

Content Marketing for leads

Content marketing is a high priority for many businesses, and the proportion of a marketing budget that is typically allocated to content marketing is growing.

It will not surprise you to learn that for technology companies, customer case studies are extremely popular for content marketing. To be effective for content marketing, a story has to be unique and it should not be available anywhere else on the Internet so case studies are ideal.

However, companies can work with other forms of content as well. “How To” articles and guides to best practice are popular too. A new piece of research, presented as a report, can work particularly well, because the information it contains is genuinely valuable to the reader.

While this sounds easy, many businesses are finding it challenging to create enough “content” that is of sufficient quality to be attractive as a content download and many companies are struggling. It requires an editorial approach and a “content strategy”, plus some investment in research and careful writing to create the kind of genuinely worthwhile documents which the website visitor will want to download and view.

It takes more effort than many people realise, but if you compare content marketing with other ways of making new marketing contacts, such as gaining sales leads at a trade show, or staging a marketing campaign with a publisher, you soon realise that if it is to be effective, it is unlikely to be easy or free.

 

Marketing, AI, Big Data and Emotions?

IBM predicts that by 2020 the digital universe will be four times bigger than it is today. I guess much of this will be a direct outcome of the marketing ‘content’ we are creating today.

Hand in hand with this, IBM also predicts that we could see a trend towards “dark social”. This is a phenomenon where people no longer want to share everything about their lives on social media – the greater proportion of conversation on social media now takes place in private within the messaging applications.

I heard this at a great talk by Jeremy Waite, at the Technology for Marketing Show, where he introduced IBM’s latest work with AI and marketing. Another interesting trend, which we are beginning to see – is for the big IT companies, and I am sure Facebook will be one of the first of these, to look for ways to track emotions as well as clicks. While it may seem strange at first, it would really be extremely simple for a company to track emojis and feed the data back into their marketing information.

With these trends evolving, personalised marketing where you approach each contact with the right message at the right time becomes more complex, as there is more data to read. This is a new challenge for marketers, and Big Data and data analytics are likely to become drivers of marketing – working to understand feelings and emotions – especially in the bigger consumer-facing companies.

Rugged tablets shine in the Cloudy show

20160412_161006 (3)Because of the all-pervasive trend towards Cloud Computing, as I looked around the Cloud Expo Europe last week, there was not a great deal of hardware on show, and a number of exhibitors had thought of completely different ways to attract and interact with the show visitors. For example, one company was challenging visitors to a game of crazy golf.

One display which did catch my eye though, was the selection of cool rugged tablets from Tablet Technologies, which had a good position near the entrance to the show.

Tablet Technologies is a UK company manufacturing their own range of rugged Windows and Android tablets. The devices are built to client specs, so can include extra features, such as barcode scanning or GPS, with the showcase product being the NX10 IP65 Ruggedised 8″ Windows Tablet. Looking more closely, these devices have a true quality feel – the ruggedness of a Landrover compared to the lightweight tablets that most of us use. They will be a great asset to people in the toughest and most demanding jobs on the planet- travelling, in warehouses, working out of doors in all weathers.

IT and technology shows fill ExCel

I am beginning to like the ExCel centre – the DLR route through London’s new docklands to Custom House is efficient, and it’s just a short hop from the station platform to the exhibition halls.

Today, ExCel was the busiest I have ever seen.

The spaces within ExCel are vast and cavernous, they house a number of individual halls of all sizes. On previous visits, ExCel had always seemed to be providing too much capacity for the shows and crowds it attracted, and even with a few hundred people around, you could still feel a bit lonely there.

Today, with some of London’s biggest technology trade shows all in full swing, ExCel came to life. The Data Centre World, Cloud Expo Europe, Cloud Security Expo and the new baby exhibition Smart IOT London filled one end of the centre, while at the other end, Railtex, InfraRail, ARLA and CITE (Civil Infrastructure and Technology Exhibition) were all buzzing with people. Thinking about visitor numbers, the first four shows alone probably attracted over 12,000 people.

 

Integrated PR and Marketing

Good PR and marketing should help to generate sales. They help a company to find new sales prospects, and help the sales conversion process in numerous ways. However, this can be easier in smaller technology firms than in larger businesses. In small firms, very often the same individual is responsible for directing sales and marketing, whilst in larger companies, the roles are split between large sales forces and marketing departments with a number of specialists, all working in a more complex corporate hierarchy. In technical businesses, it may also be the case that technical product management will take the lead in PR and marketing.

This means that it can be far easier to align marketing, PR and sales in a small company, and respond tactically to market events, because the strategy is simply decided by one person. In slightly larger organisations,  good integration can depend on the personalities and how well the sales and marketing people are aligned as a team. The largest businesses will use formal structures and leadership to ensure that sales and marketing are working in tandem.

PR and marketing messages

A marketing plan, PR plan and sales campaign should all be geared to helping and supporting the sales effort needed to achieve a company’s financial goals, and all should be promoting the same messages about the company and its products or services.

Besides the obvious product features and USPs, your brand, reputation, credibility, track record, technical expertise, accreditations, support services and future outlook can all be factors in winning a sale in a competitive situation. This means that your PR and marketing messages should focus on those areas where they can make the greatest positive impact on sales. It can be an interesting exercise to conduct an internal workshop to brainstorm marketing messages and listen to suggestions from all parts of the business.

Technology vendors – PR to target SMEs

Targeting PR campaigns to SMEs is not easy, yet this is a market that some of  my technology clients are aiming for. SMEs are the companies that typically have any number of people up to about 200.

Thinking about PR and media for this audience, it is difficult to find a media channel that reaches them all, because they  include so many different kinds of companies. They could be retailers, manufacturers, service providers, professional services, or providers of food, drink or hospitality, and they have very little in common except that they are businesses that fit a certain size bracket.

I believe that to conduct a successful promotion, you need to know your customers better than this. There will be groups of customers in different sectors and some may stand out as being more attractive than others. It’s also likely that the clients in different sectors may use your products or services in varying ways, and for different reasons. So it may be helpful to break that SME sector down into vertical markets which will have their own trade media, exhibitions, newsletters and forums.

It can be a very interesting exercise to conduct a Straw Poll and see what media, magazines and websites the customers actually read, and where they would look for new suppliers. There’s a lifestyle factor too. For example, people who travel a lot by car may listen to radio, and people who travel by air may prefer to use laptops and tablet computers and of course, online news services and discussion groups that go to particular groups are great for reaching particular sectors.

 

 

Exports, languages and PR overseas

Online communications are rapidly making the world feel smaller, but Marketing should still think “local”. When it comes to selling in countries where English is not the first language, sometimes it is a good idea to  prepare the PR material in the local language.

You may say: “Everyone understands English, so we can promote our company in English,” and of course, often technical terms are universal worldwide. However this is a little lazy. Making the effort to communicate in the local language can make a great difference. Most editors speak English, of course, but they don’t have time to translate the material we provide. Anything that makes their life easier will help your PR campaign.

With a little effort, it is always possible to find individuals who can translate technical marketing information into other languages. There may be a small cost, but in my opinion, the cost is extremely small in the wider context of selling overseas, which usually involves a lot of expensive travelling. Translating key press releases into local languages is a simple step that every company should consider if they are serious about their exports to the regions where English is not the first language.