15 Latest Digital Marketing Trends for Small Businesses in 2020
By Abdul Basit Humayun | February 17, 2020
If you wish to keep your business competitive, you have to keep up with the rapidly evolving tech and market trends that keep evolving and adapt accordingly.
Going a step further, one can also predict the trends of the future and plan strategy accordingly instead of attempting to catch up with those trends.
This is especially important for new and small entrants looking to compete with giants and make their place in the industry, without the lofty marketing budgets.
For those dreamers out there, here are 15 of the Top Digital Marketing Trends for Small Businesses:
1. Artificial Intelligence
One of the most intriguing and relevant concepts on almost all minds of tech-savvy users is the concept and application of Artificial Intelligence.
What seemed to be a far-fetched novel idea a few years back, now has accessible applications that can be highly beneficial to small businesses.
The marketing spends, and budget allocation are key decisions and areas that AI can help with, as it can aid in more efficient customer segmentation, retargeting and click tracking.
Source: Top AI Trends in Marketing
All of these give small businesses clearer insights into who their customers actually are, how to target them online, plus how much to spend on this effort.
In 2020, we are also expected to see a rise in the natural language processing and generation abilities of AI assistants such as Google Duplex.
These will help to form the foundation for more ‘human’ chatbots that don’t make the other person realize they are conversing with a robot.
Such advanced bots will allow for less dependence on customer support personnel, which are costly for SMB’s and offer real-time, instant customer interaction or marketing messages that are personalized on the fly.
2. Voice Search Integrations
With Voice Search usage rising rapidly in this ear of convenience, more and more users are relying on Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant for their web browsing and tasks.
This fact makes it essential for your product, website, or app to integrate with the Voice Assistant that most of your users already use or all of them.
Hence, this is one of the "digital marketing trends for small business" that has great potential to put your userbase at ease and, thus, promote further engagement.
3. VR and 360-Degree Content
Companies such as Facebook set usage trends for consumers, and to do that; they figure out what the Tech and interests of today are moving towards.
This is why Facebook is heavily invested in and is planning to launch next year their Virtual Reality World- Facebook Horizon that will enable users to ‘explore, play, and create’ in an immersive environment.
One can infer from this that a Virtual Reality Content and Platform was an integral part of their vision when they bought Oculus, the company powering this VR Experience.
That is why tech and new entertainment-centric media businesses need to plan or begin crafting Virtual Reality Experiences that are supported by the Oculus VR platform, to remain future-proof.
Such a library of VR-ready content or applications will then allow businesses to have first-mover advantage when VR Content does become mainstream in their respective sector in 2020.
4. Social Media Management & Automation
With 73% of small businesses investing in social media in 2019, the competition may hence be predicted to be even more intense in 2020.
As more and more businesses come online, competing for the same customers’ attention, the resources required to do so will become even more expensive (in terms of personnel and ad spends).
This is why businesses are seen to be moving towards social media management platforms, such as SocialBu, that can help in saving them time and money.
SocialBu offers fully dynamic automation in Posts Uploading, sourcing Content from RSS, and auto replying to Customer Comments and Queries. The additional value comes from their other features such as Post Recycling, Instagram Stories Scheduling, Team Collaboration and Social Media Monitoring.
Hence, small businesses in 2020 should take full advantage of such platforms to reduce their expenditure and enhance their efficiency on social media websites.
5. Video-format Content
As we already see with the rise of video-centric platforms such as TikTok, we can expect in 2020 that this trend will continue, and so will the demand for such content.
Considering most of such content is viewed on mobile phones, experimenting with 18:9 (Fullscreen Wide for Bezel-free devices) or 9:16 ratio (Vertical-IGTV) can also prove beneficial in boosting engagement on your immersive videos.
Forbes has reported that Instagram and Facebook Live videos keep the audience watching an average of 3x more than the duration of recorded ones.
This is because users are notified of each Live Video starting on their followed pages and the exclusivity promotes their engagement in the Live Chat if their answers get to be answered.
In 2020, hence small businesses should try to experiment with immersive, authentic content by switching up the format of the video content on their platforms and see their audience grow.
6. SERP Prime Position
The Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is one of the most competitive areas that can be found in digital marketing as each brand seeks to get their brand to the top of the search page on any searches.
Previously, this competition was limited to being ranked on a list of websites and their description.
Position 0 (as illustrated below) means that even if your small business isn’t organically the 1st search result, a text snippet will be displayed above your website name, and this will be before any other searched items.
Hence, this position is THE PLACE all small businesses should strive to attain in 2020 so that their website is the first choice for all Google Users and, generally, the only destination for them to make a purchase.
7. Programmatic Advertisements
Advertising Programmatically means to have a system capable of automating the ad-buying and placement process for all websites, apps, and devices.
Such systems allow marketers to purchase their ads and targeted messaging in real-time. AI is one of the ways such a system can be operated.
Source: Programmatic Marketing
Artificial intelligence will automate the ad-buying process so that any small business can target a highly specific audience.
This is done by making the buying process more efficient, analyzing numerous targeting signals to individualize the content, and then targeting the customers instantly.
That’s one way of digital marketing for small businesses that’s sure to help compete more effectively in 2020.
While we’re on the topic of targeting and analyzing targeting signals via AI, its also important to discuss what the human side of the marketing team can do to personalize their message.
According to a survey by Epsilon, 90% of customers from 18-64 state that they find personalization appealing, and 80% say they are even more likely to do business with the company that offers personalization.
On digital media, small businesses can personalize their content by always keeping in mind their target users and setting up systems to cater to their individual needs.
One of these mechanisms can be the post-click landing page platform that can be full of persuasive elements, personalized offers, or dynamic content to boost your conversion rates.
Such content and conversion optimization are essential for your small business to compete in 2020 with other companies that have other such advanced practices in place.
9. Influencer Marketing
The online equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing, influencer marketing leverages your brand’s partnerships with community leaders and activists to broadcast your message to a large audience.
Although this can also be achieved via conventional marketing, influencers are less costly than traditional means while bringing a sense of credibility and relatability.
This is because their audiences already have trust and a certain emotional linkage invested with them that they might not have with your businesses.
That is the reason this industry is projected to reach $10 Billion by 2020 but one vital note for small businesses is remembering to choose their influencers carefully. your brand and as such, marketing managers have to be wary in putting their money behind the ambassador that best reflects their brand identity.
One wrong message, post, or video might bring backlash onto your brand and as such, marketing managers have to be wary in putting their money behind the ambassador that best reflects their brand identity.
10. Social Media Stories
Already in 2019, most digitally active brands have hopped onto the Stories bandwagon with each of their target audience’s preferred social media platforms: Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.
This timeline exhibits how each of those platforms followed Snapchat by following the Story format and sets the base for why they are so crucial for small businesses.
Stories are so effective because on each platform; they are the first item on the landing pages (Feeds) of every Social Media app with halos circling them until they are seen, auto-playing one after another.
These mechanisms form the foundation for a common phenomenon in the Social Media User: Fear of Missing Out.
Daily/Routine interesting content from brands keeps the users in waiting and has them checking back to the App for the content from certain uploaders.
This makes Stories a highly viable, cost-effective feature to leverage when considering brand positioning and digital marketing for small businesses.
11. Long-Form Content
Storytelling has cut across time and generations by retaining its popularity and piquing the interest of humans since the dawn of time.
Nowadays, the medium and format might have changed, but Story is still King.
As this infographic displays, the appreciation for written digital content has been steadily increasing in the past number of years across a select audience.
While competing for seconds of attention on platforms such as Vine, Instagram, and now TikTok won’t be the right choice for many brands, the written content is one avenue that most can take in the pursuit of engagement.
This can be practiced in the form of publishing blogs, research posts, or e-books/whitepapers at a consistent rate.
Working hard and putting in the hours to produce such quality content is surely one lucrative opportunity to exploit in 2020.
12. Augmented Reality Tech
According to Gartner, 70% of businesses will experiment with immersive technologies such as AR by 2022, and as such, small businesses should be ready to develop their teams and products for this medium.
VR is flashy and gets the most media coverage, but AR is the more practical and implementable medium for marketing and is even predicted to outrun VR in the long-run.
Apps such as ModiFace (shown below) apply AR to visualize the products on the faces of individuals, allowing women and men to see how any product would appear and then compare it with others.
13. User-Generated Content (UGC)
Similar in nature to influencer marketing, User-Generated Content is also gaining relevance due to many of the same reasons.
The principle of trusting fellow consumers more than the advertising brand is at play here, too, and is why customer testimonials are so important in gaining credibility with users.
Brands such as GoPro have built the whole of their brands’ social media handles on the back of User Generated Content, as visible on their YouTube Page.
This allows them to market their product’s abilities without portraying bias, leverage customer trust, and get hold of organic content without paying a dime, all potent keys to success for small businesses in 2020.
One of the relatively harder-to-imagine trends on this list, neuromarketing, is one of the most promising and awe-inducing trends expected to be seen in 2020.
For most of us that have never heard of this term before, neuromarketing is a technique that relies on the measuring of a subject’s brain activity to ascertain exactly which of the content they find most engaging.
Accordingly, marketing messages and mediums are decided that will produce specific reactions in the brain that are associated with impulse buying or routine purchasing.
It sounds scary, but in the hands of a small business, it can be a very powerful tool to market products digitally in 2020.
15. 5G Technology
Considering our increasing usage of our smartphones and the utter dependence on them, one must look forward and predict what comes next in the mobile cycle.
2020 is the year when digital marketing for small businesses can drastically change in certain regions as it is the year 5G will come to the mainstream and affect the marketing landscape in a significant way.
5G has the potential to introduce billions of new customers from rural areas to the Internet due to its widespread reach, while also more efficiently and reliably forming the new benchmark for existing internet users.
With an expected 100x increase in the number of devices connected by the Internet, one can only predict a huge shift, and market opportunity coming alongside 5G in 2020.
Now that you’re more aware of cutting-edge technologies, such as neuromarketing or 5G, alongside being reminded of the ongoing importance of concepts such as Social Media Automation, Stories and Personalization, you’re ready to go out and conquer 2020.
Be sure to prepare for and apply one of these digital marketing trends for small businesses and tell us how it worked out.