Illustration for an article on three trends we're selling in 2020
January 17, 2020 by Mark Brownlee

Three trends we’re selling in 2020

Every January brings refreshed excitement about the year ahead – and the marketing world is no different.

Which trends will occupy our strategies for the coming year?

What significant changes will we be talking about at the end of 2020?

What new technology introduced in 2019 will reach its tipping point?

But for all the excitement about new movements taking over the world, there are always trends that never quite catch on.

Here are three trends we are “selling” in 2020.

Don’t get us wrong: These trends aren’t necessarily going away. We just don’t think they’re going to be as big as conventional thinking might suggest (at least not in the year ahead).

The voice device craze

It’s easy to understand why marketers are so keen on the prospect of using voice-operated devices like Amazon’s Echo or the Google Home to reach audiences. Voice devices are, by and large, still pretty new. That means their potential remains largely untapped, allowing savvy marketers a chance to get a jump on the competition.

But voice devices are about more than just a new place to potentially offer advertising. They also have the chance to fundamentally change how audiences interact with brands. Instead of customers asking a simple question and getting a single response (as they currently do on search engines), voice devices offer the opportunity for more dialogue between brand and audiences.

There’s just one problem, though: voice devices don’t, at this point, actually work that well.

A recent report on voice search from market research firm Forrester found that popular voice devices in many cases couldn’t even offer simple answers to basic questions. They were also basically useless for anything related to commerce – even Amazon voice devices do a poor job of allowing users to make purchases from Amazon, the report found.

Does this mean voice devices have no value for marketers? Absolutely not. Voice holds a ton of potential to allow audiences to find information about and interact with your brand.

Why sell? Voice’s potential is still a ways away from being realized. Marketers should adjust their expectations accordingly.

Insincere influencer marketing

It wouldn’t be a stretch to call the 2010s the influencer marketing decade. Brands found a ton of value over the past decade in reaching their audiences through intermediaries who built their reputations independently through social media followings.

As the decade waned, though, the first signs of influencer exhaustion started to show.

Stories started to emerge of “influencer fatigue” as audiences became wiser (and social media platforms became more transparent) about when items and messages were being sold to the highest bidder.

This fatigue reached its peak in 2019, when an Instagram influencer had to defend her decision to post photos of herself after a motorcycle accident – photos which prominently featured a bottle of Smartwater.

Whether or not the accident was “real” is up for debate (a police report of the incident seems to suggest the motorcyclist was in fact injured). The point is this: Influencer marketing has become so prevalent that audiences can now easily spot when influencers are trying to peddle messages and products. This defeats the reason to use influencer marketing (to communicate with people using trusted sources) in the first place.

Now influencer marketing fraud, which features influencers artificially inflating their follower counts to get paid more, has grown into a real issue.

Is influencer marketing dead? No. Of course not.

It just means that brands looking to use influencers need to ensure they’re sincere. Savvy audiences will sniff out anything that isn’t very quickly.

Free web and social media analytics tools

If you’re a digital marketer, you’ve probably used (or worked with someone who used) a free tool such as Google Analytics.

And why not? Google Analytics is great! It’s a relatively easy-to-use tool that gives you a complete picture of how users are interacting with your website. And best of all, it’s free.

The problem is that Google Analytics has a number of drawbacks. For one: The tool samples data, meaning you don’t get a complete picture of everyone who is using your website. For another: The data that Google Analytics collects doesn’t “belong” to you. You just have access to it.

Enter the rise of paid analytics tools.

Increasingly, brands are looking to combat privacy, ownership and data accuracy concerns by investing the money in a paid tool. Products such as Matomo promise users 100 per cent data ownership. It also promises to help brands respect their users’ privacy, a growing concern with the rise of privacy legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union.

Don’t care too much about sampling, data ownership and privacy issues? There will always be a place for free tools such as Google Analytics. For other brands, though, it’s worth examining what paid options might be available.

Conclusion

Don’t allow your brand to fall behind in 2020. By steering clear of trends that are overhyped and underperforming, you can ensure as much of your effort as possible is focused where it should be: On your audience.

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