The Digital Marketing Trends in 2020: What is the Future of Marketing?

What are the digital marketing trends in 2020? I have been reading several stories and predications which outline few sexy and attractive marketing technologies and tactics such as voice search, micro-influencers, automation and of course AI.

Wonderful, but this all just trendy news we have been collecting for years now. We need to sense the future of marketing and predict upcoming challenges. Living another day is going to be a battle for marketers since the business environment is evolving rapidly.

Where we stand now? the majority of marketers are not considered yet about the future.  According to the most recent figures of 2019, the CMO survey indicated that the majority of marketing leaders are more focused on managing the present.

marketing change in 2020

Marketing is changing… How and Why?

Digital marketing has been evolving during the last 4 years dramatically and some people are not paying attention. The changes have been coming in different waves for almost 10 years between 2010 to 2020, and these changes are not going to settle down easily. It is going to be brutal in the coming years more than any time before. We have been seeing strong indicators of this major shift in digital marketing, yet we have been consuming it slowly or resisting it.

However, I did learn a great fact during my years of leading marketing teams and consulting brands and by speaking to my fellow marketers across different industries and regions. This fact is straightforward and simple; “Management doesn’t care about how you the digital marketing executes; it is all about the results”. Any given CMO at any given day is looking at one thing only; how is the performance doing? Don’t get me started!

What marketers can do while they are becoming the front line for businesses? And as we all know that business is getting competitive and aggressive towards growth. Ahh, growth is the word that you hear day and night everywhere, from big corporates to startups to even vloggers. Growth, growth, growth..

In all honesty, the growth concept is going to fully lead and fuel all the aspects of marketing and will mostly reshape the marketing definition in the near future. With that being said, the question I am trying to resolve here is not only what is the trends that is going to hit soon, but how marketing is changing? What is going on?

1)  Marketing methodology: What’s going on with marketing?

At the beginning I had to do my homework and explore what is top marketing experts are predicting. Dr. Dave Chaffey’s in his latest blog the six big 2020 marketing trends, indicated several major areas including lifecycle marketing, conservational marketing and marketing technology. After exploring Chaffey’s theories, I explored a few more articles by marketing opinion leaders. My conclusion that marketing predictions are mainly focused on technology, platforms and channels. I believe we have been in years of jumping between trendy channels and tools without having a solid vision or understanding the strategic objectives of digital marketing.

With the advantages of data and effective tracking of digital marketing, companies started centralizing the marketing department as the ROI factory. It is becoming aggressive and marketers are shifting from the creative side to the executions side of the corporate with more tasks of sales, customer relationship management and growth.

The complexity of ROI measurements is left to marketers to handle. Gradually, the marketing role is under the fire of making money with less interest in measuring other marketing roles such as brand positioning and visibility. Whether we like it or not, this fact about marketing is going to lead in the future.

I believe in data and performance, but this new role of marketing which is going to dominate more is showing a huge impact on marketers we have been seeing lately such as the intolerance from top management which resulted in a high turnover as they are measuring marketing performance based on ROI mainly.

According to LinkedIn analysis, marketing roles had the highest turnover rate of any job function—an impressive 17%. That’s more than 50% higher than marketingweek survey in 2018, 81% of respondents suggest they are likely to change jobs within 3 years, while 38% of which will do so by the end of this year.

marketing turnover skills

Even CMOs are hardly able to survive more than a year or two. Performance growth, quick catches, short term plans are more important than long term strategy and investing in brand value, quality content and creative campaigns.

Therefore, everyone is under the stress and the marketing is shifting towards improving the present ROI not building a brand that can generate future ROI.  In conclusion, marketing in 2020 and coming years is going to focus on quick wins strategies and the marketing positions will continue to the highest turnover without a stable ground to flourish.

That’s why I am not considered about sexy trends such as micro-influencers, interactive emails, conversational marketing, etc. These are great and attractive methods to implement, but we all know as marketers, that setting up a solid marketing strategy requires a deeper understanding of the consumer before encountering channels and setting up technology.

2)  The change in consumer: Are we ready for Generation Z?

Whether we already or not, marketers in 2020 have to deal with the latest consumer group, Generation Z. Those are turning 18 and entering the workforce and fueling the internet consumer are going to be a whole different story.  According to some of the market estimations, Generation Z will make up 40% of all consumers in 2020. Woho!

What is the impact of this shift? Well, we could have hints about their behavior but that’s is not a clue yet. The reason is simple; You can’t predict the nature of a consumer group that is shaping and will take time to fully mature and shapes its behavior and purchasing habits.

Eventually, a scary fact about Gen Z that they are quirkiest, with constant change in their tastes and content consumption. This means that marketers will need to catch up quickly with not only their creativity but also with a solid data infrastructure to be able to attract this segment.

Tip: Gen Z is sensitive to phonies tactics and cheesy styles. Marketers have to shift into more authentic and original ideas to be able convert. Wink wink, social media marketing is going to take a hard turn and the honeymoon years are over. The social media engagement is going to be revolutionized since Gen Z humor is absurdist and less-polite. So, if you don’t get their ways of communication, leave the space for younger marketers who are able to understand.

3)  Marketing management: CMOs vs top management

Back in 2014, Betsy Holden, the senior advisor at McKinsey outlined the major issue of marketing consultant, I found that while they have a lot of great platforms and technology but yet the issue is all about humans. The complexity of technology is double edged.

This leads us to understand a precise point which is, marketing technology is the trend and it is going to impact how we conduct marketing, but it is at the end of the day related to the skills and ability of human skills. Using marketing automation to segment the customer is going enhance the targeting but who sets the roles and design the consumer journey based on strategy and specific objectives.

Marketing automation challenges

In conclusion, while technology is science, using it is a matter of art and this could vary based on human skills. In 2020 and upcoming years, access to  advanced marketing technology will not be a critical concern, but the mind that manages it will be always the matter that will shape the relationship between the presence of marketing technology and its execution.

5)  The change in marketing skills

As we discussed the effect of technology, we have to tie it with data. Eventually, understanding the demand in the market we had to review in the previous points how marketing is moving forward in order for marketers to understand the environment they serve at.

Apparently, all the trends that are rising in the marketing will continue to be affecting the marketers. I have the habit of regularly checking the job descriptions on LinkedIn posted by companies from different regions and different industries. There are few facts that draw my attention which can summarize the change happening in marketing roles.

  • Encrypted titles: There are no standard titles for the majority of marketing jobs. For marketing analyst some companies might call it “Marketing Intelligence Manager” or “Data Analysis Manager”, and several more titles based on the company culture. We have been into that conflict since years ago when it comes to performance titles as some people use the term “PPC” and some call it “Paid search” and some call it “Performance manager” and so on. HR is even borrowing the title “Marketing consultant” for recruiters who are specialized in marketing hiring. I have no idea why they are doing this!! It is a big mess when it comes to titles and the more the platforms and tools we have, the more the titles are diversified. Sometimes it takes a while to understand a title with encrypted title and strange combination of duties. Startups are reinventing the titles of marketing and setting new titles that is nonspecific and more flexible to match their diversified needs.
  • Broader tasks and specific technologies: The description of marketing jobs is getting broader in terms of duties but very specific in the required tech skills. Companies tend to get marketers who fulfill their current needs even if it is a blur and cross-departmental with less aim for specialization. Some of the roles are fully customized due to lack of structured marketing department or instability in their marketing strategy with short-term plans and micromanagement. However, the companies need at the same time to be a superhero in their platforms and technology. The vast growth in the number of marketing clouds and tools is making it harder since every company is looking for candidates who are strong in their tech stack no matter how uncommon it is. Recruiters and their software who are filtering and scanning resumes are sometimes incapable of understanding that major automation platforms are conducting the same functions, and they filter people out because they are only reviewing based on very specific keywords.
  • The demand for data jobs: Everyone is hiring data experts in their team since the data-driven approach is taking over. This trend will continue to rise in 2020 and the coming few years till eventually, things will change. My prediction that this trend will decrease at some point for two reasons. First, the future marketers would adopt data skills and it will become an essential skill the same as any admin or management skills the marketer has to acquire to proceed with his career. This already did happen before when the traditional offline marketers had to learn digital marketing to survive. The same scenario will happen with data analytic skills. It is going to be a must. Second, with the increasing competition business will understand that data is telling what is happening and why it is happening? but the missing part will be what we need to make it happen? I expect in the coming years, creativity jobs will return to rising and take over the top trend of skills demand. We can see a quick hint for that happening already in the below stats.According to Altimeter report of 2019, Data Analysis is considered the highest demand for marketing skills, however, there is a huge rise for skills in video editing and production. This fact outlines how creative skill such as video production is becoming one of the major needs for the marketing industry.

Marketing Skills trends 2020

Conclusion: While the marketing trends in 2020 are going to bring some heads-up of hot new channels and interesting tactics we need to adopt, there are many crucial facts is happening in the background and we need to dig deeper in order to be prepared. The business environment and technology are going to reshape the industry as well as marketing skills. If you have a further opinion, please share so we can enhance this discussion.

How a Marketing Analytics Consultant Can Solve Your Business Problems

In a data-first world, the marketing analytics is now becoming the process of connecting marketing function with the business intelligence. The demand for specialized marketing analytics consultant is becoming essential to bridge the gaps in marketing data and to extract business insights.

The main question in every business -from a small start-up to a well-established organization- will always be: Do we get the most accurate informed-decision/actions our of our data?

Reality scenarios:

  • The market research is telling you that the region you are targeting is highly profitable. All figures and surveys are providing very positive indications. You launched a campaign for few months but the campaign results are very poor. Where do you need to search for the problem? The common conclusions are: The market research is not accurate, the product offering is not competitive enough, the brand is new in the market and you need to allocate more budget for awareness. Any or all of this could be the reason but how you can get sure which one has the biggest impact?
  • You hired the best creative team or agency which provide you with great visuals and UX. Yet, the conversion is still low and you are you are losing a lot of money on advertising. How can you indicate the problem? Is it the creatives you need to change or the performance team that is not managing the budget allocation properly?
  • Your sales team are commonly reporting that the marketing team is not driving quality leads while your marketing team is telling that the sales department are not performing effectively. How can you find out which team of the two is underperforming?
  • You have so many analytic tools and each one of them has its reports. You are not sure how to combine and simplify all this amount of data and report the right insights to your management. All this data is still not getting you anywhere when your CEO asks about the actions required to increase ROI.

marketing analytics metrics consulting yasser ahamd

With all these issues a business can either go wrong and lose money or define the problem, raise flags and take an effective decision. Holding many meetings and listening to different opinions from the team is not what companies need to survive in such evolving situations. Numbers, technology, market trends and consumer habits are changing and you have to move faster.

How can a marketing analytics consultant shift the way you are looking at your data?

Bringing data to the core of your decision-making process doesn’t only require technology and advanced automation platforms. A tool can give you the real-time figures but creating a relation between data and extracting an action is the biggest problem for any organization.

One of the major challenges CMOs face: finding professionals who can not just analyze data but most importantly to extract the critical insights. Data analysts are qualified to analyze the data but the marketing teams are always in need of a consultant with experience in both analytics and marketing strategy. Here I would love to share some of the main functions of the marketing analytics consultants and how it can help the stakeholders to solve business problems.

Function #1: Building an effective marketing analytics strategy

Starting with the strategy, consultants can always organize the marketing analytics process by building an effective strategy based on their findings. Establishing a custom analytics plan would provide efficient outcomes and controllable workflow.

  • Research the data sources and define what the marketing need to design a more effective process to collect, analyze and extract insights and patterns.
  • Evaluate all structured and unstructured data sources and define what is the best Martech and analytic platforms required
  • Identify the gaps in the digital marketing strategy and areas for improvement
  • Develop a marketing analytics strategy based on the business objectives
  • Establish a best practice approach for reporting and insights from your analytics

Tip: Google analytics reports and Facebook insights are not customize designed tools that are built to answer questions. Each business shouldn’t rely on extracting the built-in reports and develop his own customized insights. The process of reporting should start with a business question such as; how we are improving our ROI? The reports are meant to provide answers and indications and not just metrics. 

For more information about marketing analytics strategy, read the article: 5 Effective Tactics for Marketing Analytics Strategy.

Function #2: Marketing analytics consultant can fix the gaps in your data insights

Are you collecting the data you need at right timeframe and at the right volume? Getting overwhelmed with the vast amount of data availability is a mistake.

It doesn’t matter if you have access to all data sources, while it matters the most to have an effective scope. A professional marketing analytics consultant can help you to build the right strategy where data are meant to answer the business questions. Finding the metrics which define the action is a process where you a consultant can help to connect the dots. The analytics consultant can cover the following functions:

  • Analyze all the reports and indicate the gaps in the data (metrics required, data correlations, dashboard structure, reporting automation process, and timeframes)
  • Set the business objectives for reports (consumer behavior metrics, brand awareness metrics, performance metrics, transactional and ROI metrics)
  • Apply the analytical models required for client lifetime value, retention and forecasting
  • Help the team to extract and create stories using the data visualization and deliver a high level of relevancy
  • Determine the most effective marketing strategies and defining the performance gaps which can help in managing the marketing budget more efficiently

Tip: Insights are more important than data. Choose a professional consultant who can help you to stop chasing all the metrics and organize your reports.

Function #3: Marketing analytics consultant is an outside eye

There are several issues in organizations that prevent management from solving problems. Among the top issues are the common one; themselves. In many business cases, the way the senior management identifying the is the problems is not accurate and that’s why they need an outside eye (different perspective).

  • Consultants often work with many different companies and may have faced the same problem you are struggling with in the past and tested multiple solutions for it. They can provide a perspective based on what they’ve experienced and provided more insights into what is working and what is not.
  • An analytics consultant can bring in a more innovative solution and marketing technology ideas and advice which is suitable for your business which can save can cut the cost for budget and the resources required to implement a change in the department.
  • The consultants’ task is to define the gaps and highlight the performance issues which can resolve the conflicts between internal teams. This can solve several issues between different team members and defining the most relevant KPI. Understanding not just the performance of the channels but also the performance of the team members and roles.
  • A professional consultant can help you to understand the critical gaps in your marketing performance and raise the flags for urgent matters as well as drawing attention to milestone wins.

Tip: Each organization might be full of certain rules and policies that can prevent internal teams from implementing major changes. An outside expert can help you to push the change and implement new tactics in a shorter timeframe. 

Function #4: Covering the knowledge gap for your team

One of the key roles for marketing analytics consultant is to cover your team’s knowledge. The consultant can save you time and budget required for an extensive amount of training or additional full-time talents by training your team and providing the right approach for data analytics.

  • A professional marketing analytics consultant can help to structure your marketing team and identifying the knowledge and resources required. In some cases, a consultant can help you to avoid new hiring by implementing automation tools or delivering a sufficient analysis on regular basis.
  • The team can benefit from the consultant experience and enhance their skills as well as avoiding longer time in technical troubleshooting and research.

marketing analytics consulting

In conclusion: CMOs say just 42% of marketing decisions are made using analytics. Eventually, CMOs still report that they are still struggling with analytics. While the marketing technology and cloud solutions are providing advanced capabilities in combining offline and online data, the lack of talents who are experienced in both data analytics and marketing is a challenge.

A specialized consultant who has the knowledge of data analytics tactics and marketing initiatives can drive the marketing department towards the business goals. Putting all the wide collection of data (media, paid advertising, organic, social media, digital marketing, mobile marketing, customer relationship management and email marketing) into an insightful pattern can shift any business into a real customer-centric company.

How Agencies Should Sell Digital Marketing Strategy to Clients

Digital marketing agencies know the pain of submitting digital marketing strategy proposals, RFPs and vying for new clients. That process is both time-consuming due to the extensive research and often ineffective, especially when the resulting contracts do not lead to long-term business deals. I consider selling digital marketing strategy to clients as one of the best ways to foster a long-term, equitable relationship.

According to Agency Spotter, more than 120,000 ad agencies exist in the U.S. market today. Digital marketers feel that in the recent past, the industry has become increasingly competitive. If your business model depends solely on one-off projects like web development or social media marketing, your agency won’t be able to compete without a stream of recurring revenue.

The key to for digital agencies is recurring revenue and the ability to provide ongoing services to existing clients. Again and again, agencies that provide digital marketing strategy or SEO services to clients survive and thrive in this competitive environment. Because, as it turns out, becoming a strategic partner for your clients comes with a number of considerable benefits and above all digital marketing ROI.

Why most of the clients won’t consider the importance of the digital strategy you are offering?

I’ve heard many agencies bragging about the fact that clients won’t pay for strategy. But that’s just one side of the issue.

The picture is incomplete! There are several critical mistakes the agencies not paying attention to:

  • I believe that when agencies have given the opportunity to put a strategist in front of a client, they only use their strategists to retro-justify an idea that the creative team has already fallen in love with. Sadly, many of those ideas have no strategic rationale, and the strategy end up as just another ‘sales pitch’. No client wants to pay for that.
  • The strategists should not focus only on justifying a broader ‘channel mix’ for the client’s marketing, or the existing competencies of the agency, or justifies activities that help the agency win new clients and awards. Putting the agency consideration first would always decrease the value of the strategy outputs for the client.
  • Agencies get caught in the trap of being production houses and “yes men” to their clients. And in turn, clients treat them like a production house. Agencies should always avoid getting stuck in that position by adding value to the business. Agencies should work on changing the perception of being project-based to strategy-based. Digital marketing strategy requires looking beyond your client’s entire marketing scope and investigate in business core, sales process, CRM management, automation, and tools in order to find ways to leverage the strategy into a solid revenue case.

How to sell the digital marketing strategy to your client?

  • Clients will only be willing to pay for strategy when the agencies show they’re willing to make strategic recommendations that don’t advance their own agenda first. Avoid the strategy that only serves your resources capacity and sales targets. The client would be only considering his business objectives, not your package.
  • Investiagte into their business objectives, structure, and process. Not all clients understand the real value of digital marketing and how it can increase the efficiency of sales and customer support. Highlight the impact of the digital marketing strategy on real-time analytics that can benefit the decision makers.
  • Business leaders are always interested in scalable tactics while expanding in local and global markets. Focus on building a strategy that is reliable for different markets and easily implemented in multilingual and multichannel environment.
  • Speak the language of numbers. Without numbers on future revenue forecasting, business ROI and advertising ROAS, your strategy will not have cost-effective benefits for business owners. The digital strategy is an investment decision for businessmen and they take the decision based on that.
  • Going from “Why” to “How” is what makes the strategy solid. Convincing your clients about the success potential of digital marketing is only the first step while providing an actionable plan with progressive KPIs is the whole point.
  • Dig deeper into the client’s business, understand the challenges, speak their terms and learn their methodology. The digital strategy should be spotting the right approach and providing real solutions to their problems.
  • Be realistic and avoid the generic details such as the importance of content marketing or the infographics about the rise of mobile marketing, we all know this stuff. Your strategy should focus on the situation and not a graphic book with fancy charts. You will have approximate 30-40 minutes to convince the business managers, so hit the point directly.

If you have a question or need to contribute with your thoughts, I will be glad to listen and discuss.

The Rise of Digital Marketing Consultants

Why are the digital marketing consultants becoming important for businesses?

Companies with established in-house digital teams may be too deep in the weeds to realize where their weakness lies. It might be the lack of improving the marketing technology or moving around the strategy gaps instead of taking intensive actions and rebuilding their approach.

Consequently, they risk losing opportunities in market share to competitors and they might as well become very systematic instead of working on creative solutions.

Digital marketing consultants are playing a different role than in-house teams and digital agencies.

While in-house teams and agencies can help businesses to execute and track the digital marketing plan, the consultants can always provide the best help in building an effective strategy and provide enhanced researches on the gaps and recommended technology and platforms.

marketing strategy consultants

Companies who regularly recruit outside digital consultant to spot marketing inefficiencies and improve their marker strategy are usually getting a sufficient process and results.

Everyone is looking for more improvements in their digital marketing results and ROI. While some companies solely rely on a combination of tactics, there is always a big potential to discover new tactics in more strategic and cost-effective ways.

The digital consultant is playing a big role in indicating the best tactics and advising on the ideal approach for implementation and measurements that are suitable for your organization, consumer, and marketplace. Not convinced?

Digital consultants and business objectives

digital marketing consultantsLet’s imagine how many struggles you are facing with sales performance due to poor quality of leads, the number of competitors that are going for more bold approaches with their digital marketing budget and tactics, the insufficient metrics and hazy results you are receiving from the digital agencies and in-house teams, the inconsistency of your digital marketing campaigns, and the poor results of your digital advertising efforts.

The digital marketing consultancy firm is the candidate which you hire to overlook and build enhanced solutions for such difficulties.

Their main role is to connect the business objectives with the digital marketing practices and provide the right metrics for performances’ tracking.

The rise of digital marketing consultants

According to the Freelancing in America: 2016 Survey, the annual report conducted by the Freelancers Union and Upwork, freelancers now make up a whopping 35% of the US workforce and contribute around $1 trillion to the U.S. economy annually.

While in most of the international markets digital marketing consultants are not so common, in the US market the number of independent consultants is increasing rapidly.

The majority of big brands and startups are looking for consultants to advise on the best approach for digital marketing strategy and cutting the costs of paid advertising.

Why do people want to hire Independent consultants?

According to the feedback from several recruiters and freelance websites, the majority of business owners are relying on digital marketing to grow their business profitability and market share.

While there are plenty of digital marketers who can create and manage their SEO and social media, the results are usually disappointing and the competition is growing harder.

Business owners are actively searching for solution providers who are expert in the market to advise on strategy and conversion metrics. Counterintuitively, even an expensive freelance marketing consultant can save money and decrease the costs of ineffective campaigns and paid advertising.

While the hourly fee could be higher than a regular agency, good consultants create more value than they charge. And because companies only retain them for a few hours each week or month, they reduce the overhead cost.