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.

5 Effective Tactics for Marketing Analytics Strategy

From a business manager’s perspective, successful results are achievable if a common objective and key performances are made clear across the organization. Marketing data analytics is one of the core competencies for data-influenced companies and play an effective role in connecting business objectives with consumer behavior’s data.

The main purpose of organizations to create a marketing analytics strategy is all about how to drive smarter questions, which will elicit thoughtful answers using the accessible data. Unfortunately, many stakeholders still tend to see marketing analytics as a way to measure the spending and marketing performance. That’s considered as a limit view of the data analytics capabilities.

The marketing analytics strategy main objective is to maximize the use of data to create a form of data-influenced actions that are aligned with the business objectives and effective on the long-term strategic advantage.

If I could highlight the most important fact about marketing analytics, I would definitely say that the best strategy to follow starts with a sharp focus on the objectives. To get a better understand, let’s start with some common situations.

Reality scenarios…

  • Businesses would say that they know their marketing objectives clearly, But Ehm!.. Not true.
    Once you investigate more with their situation, you will soon discover that those generic needs they have to be analyzed using the data.
  • Structured data and insights are not always ready and available. To build strategy you sometimes need to assist the company with their data aggregation and analytics.
  • Inside companies, the marketing departments are usually under the pressure of proving their performance results or struggling with 60 dense analytic charts and slides which is hard for senior management to understand a fraction of it.

When you are facing such realities, it is about time to start searching for a better understanding of the data role in your organization.

1. Understand the role of data analytics

First, we have to stat the fact that reports, slides, and charts generated by marketing analysts shouldn’t be for the sake of providing results. Results are not the key. When you are facing a gap in your performance, it is about time to start searching for a proper strategy which can help you to move from the phase of looking at results to the phase of understanding why these results are like this.

The toughest lesson I did learn about data that it is not just made of numbers and figures. If you don’t analyze the data properly, you will not be able to get an accurate action. In a data-driven world, a piece of metric can bring a major shift in your consumer journey if you are able to measure it in relation to another metric.

marketing analytics for companies

Describing the business objective as customer-centric doesn’t only require investing more money in product and customer relation while paying less attention to the real-time analytics. Marketing analytics is the playing an essential role in understanding the client behavior and interaction with the brand and the services provided.

Find out the objectives of your marketing analytics strategy and understand the role of it before you try to shift your business into data-influenced.

2. Set the effective KPIs and avoid the metrics delusion

The first questions, while you are navigating your metrics, should be: If I have a higher rate on this metric would it impact the business objectives? Does the higher engagement rate on social media increase the website conversion rate?

The metrics and dimensions should be selected based on the business objectives.

Marketing professionals should translate the business objectives into a set of effective KPIs. Each KPI should be based on a set of relevant metrics and data insights. You have to remember that chasing all metrics will always result in a huge waste of efforts and confusion in your daily or weekly tracking.

What’s the difference between a metric and KPI? KPIs are measurable values that are created by senior managers to achieve business objectives. Metrics are the moving status variables to track a specific business process.

All companies need to track profit is an essential KPI which might include website conversion, orders, monthly active users, and retention. Each KPI could have a strategic value for the organization such as market acquisition and CLV.

Eventually, the number of KPIs might increase from top to bottom when you set your marketing strategy. The CEO might have a set of KPIs which requires marketing to generate multiple additional KPIs. When those numbers grow bigger than your capacity and you find yourself experiencing data overload, then you will need to identify only the relevant metrics.

3. Define the target before you set the KPI

Targets are not easy to set, but once you do have a clear understanding of what are the indicators of success and failure, you will be able to identify your right targets.

Building an enhanced analysis for marketing is all about eliminating the irrelevant matters and focusing on the critical view. See the target clearly before you set a KPI.

By using the forecasting models, past performance, and competitive analysis the targets are easy to distinguish. Don’t set your KPIs without having preassigned targets. In any common situation, the stakeholders would always struggle with understanding the KPIs that doesn’t have a clear target. If you don’t have a target supported by figures, you will end up chasing the impossible.

marketing targets vs metrics

Remember that not all professionals will be happy with assigned targets. It is important to always use the analytics effectively to prove the accuracy of your target figures. Make sure you always assist your targets with industry benchmarks and forecasting indicators.

4. Organize an easy-to-read marketing dashboard

Your marketing dashboard is your home. It should be familiar (uncomplicated), tight and present your main needs. Build a dashboard that takes no longer than minutes to read and include the main KPIs you need to monitor. Use data visualization to illustrate the data correlation effectively.

Marketing dashboard should always have the following features:

  • All-In-One-Monitoring: The marketing dashboard should collect all the required analytics from data sources (GA, SM, SEO, CRM, Email Automation, Paid channels, PM system, Finance, etc.)
  • Visual KPIs Tracking: KPI tracking should be visualized with average rates over a periodical timeline.
  • Outlined Objectives: Define your top factors for tracking marketing activities (campaign tracking, channel tracking,  revenue tracking, engagement metrics, attribution modeling, etc.)
  • Set Data Deviations: Using 3 standard deviations to generate your rates. (According to researchers, 99.7 percent data distribution lie within three standard deviations).
  • Reliability and Accuracy: Your dashboard should have accurate clean data. Connect real-time data and reliable data connections to get an up-to-date view of your marketing activities.
  • Customization and flexibility: Adjust your dashboard according to your strategy and don’t use static settings for timelines and data validation.

marketing dashboard analytics consultant

Finally, you need always to be able to identify your performance top layer accurately and clearly. Marketing dashboard can help you to provide a transparent overview for the business stakeholders and clients and can decrease the amount used for reporting.

5. Get the managers involved with the context

If all the previous strategies fail, then I advise you to try this strategy. It is not an easy one because it’ll demand that you are truly expert in marketing analysis. You might think that senior management and client want data but that’s not accurate. They pretend that data is important for them but at the end, they are only looking at results. That’s how the business world works. 

Therefore, I believe you should focus on telling the story not showing the tables and relations. There are useful ways to get this done by adding some context to your dashboard and extracted reports. List a set of clarifications to the metrics such as: What influenced this metric? why these rates changed? what is the set of actions taken?

Learn how to tell a story instead of reporting data. This will require you to have an effective understanding of the organization and the client motivations. Avoid going outside the track and showing irrelevant metrics or you will lose your case at the first meeting. Remember that you will need few rounds to be able to play this game effectively and expand their knowledge about the analytics. Once they will see the relation “the context” they ask for actions. That’s the time for you to show the actions slides and win the meeting.

It is totally normal that business managers will be always doubting and pushing on the marketing to show more growth. The best approach for marketers is to always have their analytics clean, accurate and telling a story. Showing reports for the sake of flooding the table with many charts will always lead the marketing to an uncertain path while inserting context will lead managers to shift their focus from the numbers to the insights.

Conclusion: If you find yourself stuck with showing your performance in the proper way, try these strategies. If this doesn’t work then take a deep breath and try to understand where is the gap. Marketing analytics strategy is not straightforward practices and it will always require time, testing and flexibility in implementation. Work on each data source and fix your reports one by one. Give it a shout and remember that finding the insights is more important than the data. Finally, if your company is not a data-driven and data-influenced then I believe that you will change it with your tactics.

Please share your ideas and theories via comments or contact me for marketing analytics consulting.

Yasser Ahmad

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.