2020 is almost here, and with the changing of the year comes a variety of exciting marketing challenges to overcome. This isn’t something that marketing professionals should fear. Instead, the changes in the new year should be embraced as opportunities to grow and succeed. Below we’ll discuss consumer trend shifts, marketing challenges, and hurdles to overcome as a business owner or marketing professional in 2020 as well as some pragmatic solutions to these issues. The professionals that learn to adapt will succeed like never before, and those that don’t could risk being left behind or losing a share of their old customers as these market trends continue.
The Great Marketing Challenges of 2020
Below is an overview of the leading challenges that marketers and business owners both face in 2020 and beyond. Consumers are always changing the way they do things, and the businesses that respond best will benefit the most.
Customers are moving from impulse buying to making more calculated and well-researched purchase decisions. This is found especially in younger generations that rely on smartphones for research even when in stores before making a final purchase. Social media is also becoming an important factor in purchasing decisions, and it’s that sort of trend that marketing experts and business owners need to be paying attention to for success.
Keep reading to learn how buyers are making purchases today and what they expect from businesses. It’s this information that will lead to the working marketing strategies in 2020 and beyond.
A Greater Trend Toward Long-Term Purchase Cycles
There are still plenty of impulse buyers that pick up laptops on a whim or upgrade their phones because they see something they like in the store, but these individuals are becoming less common, and that’s mostly because online shopping is becoming more and more common. In fact, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the percent of online retail purchases versus the total purchases made has been going up steadily between 2010 and 2019. Online shopping is a part of life, and with companies like Amazon hitting records, that trend is likely to continue on.
What this means is that consumers aren’t making impulse purchases as often because impulse purchases occur most often when in a store, according to a survey conducted by CreditCards.com. The survey shows that 68% of impulse purchases occur in-store, while 10% of impulse buys happen on a mobile device, and 21% of impulse buys occur on a computer. With people spending more time shopping online, they’re researching their decisions more before making purchases.
Today more customers are following along path toward making purchases. Consumers will spend weeks or even months researching products before deciding on what they want. That means site visitors are less likely than ever to make a purchase then and there.
There are two tricks to making sales that business owners and marketers need to perfect. The first is interacting with customers continuously over the long term through things like YouTube channels, podcasts, and helpful online resource pages, and the second is grabbing the attention of consumers that are near the end of that purchase cycle. Both of these things are possible with the right approach, but making this happen is difficult and is something the modern marketer is going to really have to think about.
Buyers Moving in and out of the Digital World More Fluidly than Ever Before
As everyone gets more comfortable with technology and adult millennials, as well as some Gen Z consumers, begin making more expensive purchases, the way these purchases get made changes. Buyers aren’t just picking the most favorably located products in the store, or asking employees for their recommendations before making a purchase. They’re blending in-person interactions with digital research to make the best purchases.
Before people make purchases, they are checking reviews, specifications, and even demonstration videos of products before buying them in stores. BazaarVoice conducted a study around ROBO (research online buy offline). The research looked at 4.59 million data points from 30 global retailers to determine how buyers make purchasing decisions.
The research shows an approximate 20% year-over-year increase in mobile page views for the websites of the retailers participating in the study. Not only that, but approximately 45% of brick-and-mortar buyers were found to read reviews online before making a purchase in person. Those are both strong indicators that online research and mobile-based research right at the store are being conducted before making a purchase in person.
Not only are buyers researching heavily online before buying in person, but buyers are heading to stores to try on items, touch, and feel products and get a view of the options available before making online purchases as well.
Individuals are getting more comfortable blending in-person and digital research when making purchases, and this introduces real challenges to today’s marketing experts. They need to focus their efforts digitally and in-person to generate the best conversion rates.
The End of Cookies
Cookies are beginning to feel a bit too intrusive for most individuals browsing the internet. In response to user complaints, Google and other search engines are putting more restrictions on how cookies are used and giving browsers more control over who has access to their information
Chrome users are going to be getting more controls that help control what sites have access to their information and which cookies can be used. Chrome is also forcing developers to be more specific about which of their cookies can work across multiple sites, giving Google a direct look at what information is being tracked. Getting this information from developers gives users the ability to cut off multi-site cookies entirely, and only allow single-domain cookies for things like passwords and settings. This Chrome update will be released later in 2020.
Apple is also cracking down on cookies increasingly with new feature releases to its Intelligent Tracking Prevention features on the Safari web browser. These features make third-party cookie tracking increasingly difficult to do, so users are less likely to be tracked outside of the original site that created the cookie.
Firefox is working to give browsers more control over their data and prevent third-party cookies as well through its Enhanced Tracking Protection feature that comes as standard on all new versions of the browser. This feature turns of third-party cookies and allows users to turn on specific third-party cookies manually if they want to.
With so many changes to the major web browsers affecting how cookies are handled, they are likely to be phased out, or at the very least, highly restricted over time. This really puts a damper on re-targeting campaigns marketers are so fond of using today. Over the short-term, cookies are becoming less and less effective. This can be a real problem for business professionals today because it takes away their ability to stick with visitors and to bring them back.
This is a trend that’s going to continue through 2020, and cookies are likely to become less relevant until they’re a dead tool for marketing professionals. Even though that day isn’t here just yet, it’s important to prepare for it now and to learn to reconnect with customers effectively without relying on cookies for re-targeting.
An Increased Reliance on Social Media to Make Purchasing Decisions
Social media started off as a novelty and a tool for looking at the lives of loved ones. Today it’s more than that. Today social media isn’t just used for friends and family to communicate with one another; it’s used for consumers to communicate with business owners. Social media is being leveraged when making purchasing decisions more heavily than ever before.
According to a recent study by the ODM Group, 74% of consumers depend on social media in one way or another when making purchasing decisions. Social reliance on making purchases isn’t just more popular than ever; it’s also a growing trend according to a Sumo Heavy study that’s been revisited by talking with 1,046 people. The updated responses show that 58% of users are influenced by social media when making product purchases compared to 45% in 2016. This shows that more people are beginning to depend on talking about products on social media before making purchasing decisions.
Word-of-mouth has always been a popular way to learn about new products, and a trusted resource for savvy shoppers and social media is just an extension of that for the modern age.
Instead of a negative, this can be an opportunity to be embraced. As consumers lean more heavily on social media, the brands that start interacting on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even Snapchat will enjoy greater brand loyalty, improved levels of trust, and greater sales figures. The trick is learning how to leverage these platforms in the right way, and that’s going to be challenging for many business professionals today.
Overcoming the Challenges of Marketing in 2020
As demonstrated above, customers are changing the way they make purchases. They’re taking longer to make buying decisions. They’re looking up information online even while standing in physical store locations. Cookies are being regulated to death, and social media is a key tool in the buying process today for many consumers. These changes create serious problems for the modern marketer, but they can be overcome. Below are the most practical ways to excel at marketing in 2020 and beyond.
Build or Tap into a Recurring Audience
One of the most effective methods to sell products today is to generate a returning audience of visitors. With buyers taking more time to make purchases than ever before, it’s not enough to grab the attention of an individual one time to generate a sale. It’s more effective to bring that person back again and again until they eventually decide to make a purchase.
YouTube channels and podcasts are both excellent examples of this strategy in place. Authorities in these spaces build an audience that keeps coming back week after week. Some of that audience will make one or more purchases from those authorities over time. Marketers should be looking into making their own YouTube channels, podcasts, or even useful reference pages that individuals will return to.
If they can’t effectively create these channels themselves, they should be advertising on the channels of other influencers repeatedly to make those sales effectively. The best marketers today are using a hybrid approach where they advertise to the audiences of these influencers while also establishing their own platforms in the process.
Cultivate More Efficient Re-Targeting Campaigns
Over time as more and more consumers spend additional time researching products online and hopping between different websites before making a final purchase, retargeting becomes more important. The problem is that re-targeting can be expensive when the focus of a marketer’s campaign is placed on consumers that won’t convert. This is why careful research must be conducted to determine which customers are the most likely to make a purchase. Once a marketing professional has that data, they can construct re-targeting campaigns that will bring the most valuable customers back, while avoiding most of the low-quality visitors.
Most effective marketers today are relying heavily on re-targeting to achieve sales more reliably, but they must begin preparing for a time when re-targeting will be much more difficult, if not impossible. There is a trend toward eliminating cookies, which will transform the way marketing occurs.
Learn to Market without Cookies
If cookies get banned outright, or even limited in how they can be used, it’s going to be more important than ever for marketing experts to change the way they do things. They will have to stop relying on information provided by these cookies and focus on making more engaging and reliable content.
Websites and ads that are more engaging by using videos, offering more value, or by being entertaining are already performing better than ads that just rely on retargeting to get the job done. This trend is going to become more extreme in the future.
It’s up to marketers and site owners to learn how to engage more effectively than ever before and to learn to draw customers back on their own. This could be by forming email lists more carefully and talking to visitors through those, or it could be by putting more emphasis on quality content and creating resources that users will come back to again and again.
Learn to Measure Cross-Channel Conversions Effectively
A prime marketing skill for marketers to cultivate and to make use of in 2020 is the ability to measure cross-channel conversion rates. Being a marketer in the new year means blending technology and in-person shopping more than ever before. The chances are good that a business’s marketing efforts aren’t going to be on anyone’s digital platform if that business is to be successful in the new year.
The ultimate goal of the modern marketer should be to effectively track how any given customer flows through the different marketing channels and finally to the end purchase. In other words, the marketer needs to watch to see how customers come from social media to the company blog, to the store landing page and how many make a purchase.
They also need to be able to track how customers go from looking at an ad to either going to a local store or make a call that results in a purchase.
However, there are tools for tracking all of these things, even the number of people visiting a given geographic store location (footfall attribution). It can take some time to get all the proper measurement tools in place and configured properly, and even longer to spot the important patterns that are going to start teaching marketing professionals the most effective solutions for attracting customers to make those valuable purchases.
Transform Passive Social Media Accounts into Active Marketing Tools
Social media isn’t just a place to post funny pictures or to update customers about the renovations happening at a company’s store. Social media is a place to engage, to demonstrate product value in a genuine way, and to win over new customers on a massive scale.
Businesses need to learn how to leverage social media to make sales because more and more customers are heading to Facebook to Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram in order to make their purchasing decisions. The right marketing experts are putting all their efforts into maximizing social media; others are being left behind by this very important trend.
What this really means is putting more effort into interacting with customers, providing useful answers to common questions, and showcasing cool products right on the platforms that customers are viewing most.
The brands that learn to talk with customers like real people, and connect on a more individual level are the companies that will make the most sales through social channels. Putting up advertisements on social is also important, but ad spend won’t convert to increased sales unless a genuine and engaging approach is taken toward social media marketing in the new year.
Conclusion: Marketing Must Be Precise
Marketers can no more advertise to the masses without strategy and metrics and be profitable. Today running profitable campaigns is all about precise pinpointed advertising, gathering data and reading patterns from it, and engaging with customers through helpful and interactive content and genuine social interactions. Learning to operate in these ways is paramount for professional marketers in 2020 as well as business owners that want to do their own marketing.