John F. Kennedy famously said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” To the digital marketer, change is not only the law of life but the law of success. It isn’t without a keen eye on the future, and the thoughtful application of forward-thinking strategies that a marketer can address the rapidly-changing needs of the digitally connected customer and stay on top of digital marketing trends.

In the spirit of President Kennedy’s opportunistic words of wisdom, we peer into 2020 and highlight four crucial digital marketing trends that marketers should be thinking about.

Digital Marketing Trend #1: Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing is the model for engaging customers in real-time, capturing their needs, and intuitively connecting them with solutions. Conversational marketing has historically taken the form of live chat or inbound phone support but is quickly moving in the direction of chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML).

In the age of the internet, consumers have accommodated fast-paced living and hectic schedules with instant interactivity and personalization. These behaviors conflict with some of the more traditional marketing channels that unilaterally tell consumers what they need but not necessarily when they need it.

42% of people expect an immediate response (within 5 seconds), and 36% expect a response within 5 minutes.

  — 2019 State of Conversational Marketing

That’s where conversational marketing comes in. Quick and easy communication is a priority for customers regardless of the brand. This fact highlights the need for a useful and reliable conversational marketing tool that enables a team to both automate responses and keep customers happy.

In 2020, we expect to see more and more companies leverage conversational marketing tools, to meet the needs of their customers and keep up with digital marketing trends.

Digital Marketing Trend #2: AI/ML Powered Data Management

For years now, we have been hearing about AI/ML and their social listening and customer insight applications. But with as much data as companies are collecting about potential customers, parsing through relevant info, enriching it, and then packaging the data for sales and marketing teams has become daunting.

As data points multiply (the internet produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day), the rate at which we can process information, identify patterns, interpret digital marketing trends and make sound recommendations will become more difficult. But, these monumental tasks can become more manageable. From lead scoring to persona insights and customer segmentation, AI/ML can help to streamline data consumption and enhance activities across all digital marketing organizations.

Expect to see marketing technologies (martech) incorporate AI/ML into reporting and recommendation functionality as marketers look to understand more about the global market.

Digital Marketing Trend #3: Community Marketing

Community marketing is a way for brands to drive affinity by creating spaces for people to discuss shared interests, answer common questions, and build relationships. Communities have been around forever, so why are they still relevant in 2020?

People are craving community now more than ever. Social media groups, meet-ups, online forums — the world is looking for like-minded individuals they can trust. As marketers, building a robust community that allows people to achieve this objective is not an easy task. With patience, dedication, and a commitment to customer-centricity, community marketing will enable strong bonds and big payoffs for your brand in 2020.

Digital Marketing Trend #4 Consumer Privacy

A lot will be happening around privacy in 2020. Recently enacted European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have reaffirmed the need for businesses to think about privacy when managing details about its customers. So much so that marketers are required to think carefully about how they use cookies when advertising their products.

So how do marketers pivot to address this changing landscape? In order to comply with new regulations, we expect to see an increasing number of marketers prioritize privacy. But more so than just for compliance, we see privacy as the catalyst marketers will use to put customers at the center of everything they do. This will place emphasis on 1st Party Data collection and will refine the list of 3rd Parties qualified to manage the data used to inform strategy and navigate upcoming digital marketing trends.

In addition to rethinking data management, we also expect marketers and martech companies to look for alternatives to the ‘tried and true’ usage of tracking cookies. In 2014, anticipating the ‘crumbling cookie,’ the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) formed a working group of technology experts to rethink data transparency and privacy controls. The product of these discussions has prompted investment into things like advertising IDs (as used across Google and Apple ecosystems) and 3rd Party software solutions that include device-based statistical identification and universal login.

20/20 vision in 2020

Forecasting the industry is all about finding the perfect balance between art and science, but however the wind blows, it’s crucial to keep in mind the digital marketing trends mentioned above.

As marketers ourselves, we are excited to engage these digital marketing trends and unlock opportunities with you in 2020. Based on some of the exciting digital marketing advancements happening around us, it’s safe to say that the future is something we don’t want to miss out on!