Trevin Shirey from the WebFX Marketing Team sat down with Internet Marketers John Mullins and Jackie Rabedeau to discuss digital marketing in 2020.
Trevin: Hey, everyone. Welcome to our star-studded round table discussion here today. My name is Trevin Shirey and we are looking forward to chatting with you about 2019, the year that was, and also looking ahead to 2020. I’m joined here by John and Jackie, and we’re going to dive into some upcoming digital marketing trends for 2020.
But first, I think you know we’ve got our sweaters on, we’ve busted out the long sleeves. We’re reaching the end of 2019. So before we look ahead to 2020, I thought it’d be interesting to chat a little bit about some digital marketing trends over this past year. So, John, we will start with you.
What was a favorite digital marketing trend, an article that you read, maybe something that really stuck out, over this past year?
John: Sure. So one of the things I think is the most exciting is the rollout of Google’s most recent, large update BERT, because it’s giving the algorithm a wealth of new tools to process language more naturally.
And so that’s giving users a more customized experience, something that is direct for them, something that’s going to give them results, which are more relevant and actionable than ever before. And it’s also a challenge for us, as marketers, to provide content, and information, and resources, which respond to a more natural, linear kind of progression for the user.
And so that’s definitely a challenge, supposed to impact about one in ten of all searches out there. But I think it’s all for the good because it’s going to help us connect resources, services, and companies with the people who need them faster than ever before. So I’m excited for that.
Trevin: Yeah, certainly one that will impact 2020 as well, as we look back, and also look ahead. Jackie, what stood out to you for 2019?
Jackie: Yeah, so I’m going to be a little different. I actually think the entire year of 2019 has been a huge shift in online marketing. I feel like just the entire strategy behind online marketing has really shifted this year away from a lot of the keywords, and just one-off campaigns kind of thing, into shaping the entire user journey.
And online marketers, just in general, have started to have to pivot their strategies to think more about how the user actually interacts across multiple different channels. So that’s been really exciting. I feel like that’s been a huge shift this year, so I’m really excited to see where that takes us into 2020.
Trevin: As we look ahead to 2020, certainly the backbone of anything related to digital marketing is technology. Without technology, we are powerless, as they say. That’s going to inform a lot of new changes and stuff in the digital marketing space. So what do the two of you see? And John, we’ll start with you for this one.
What is the future holding in terms of technology related to digital marketing?
John: Okay, so one of the technologies I’m most excited to see grow in 2020, is voice search. So voice search is already all around us, and a lot of us are using it. We just see voice search taking off in a big way, as users gain more confidence in the ability of search engines and other tools to give them the answers that they need, to help them make decisions.
And so you’re going to see the adoption rates for people using voice search and using voice search to even conduct their business, to go up higher and higher. And it’s going to be particularly important for businesses that do a lot of regional, or local work, where people are looking for products and services that they’re going to follow up on, and take action on.
John: So very important to do two things. First, to learn and how to, or I work with a consultant, get your content optimized and ready for voice search, get the information on your website ready to be useful for the users that are using voice search technology.
And then the second thing is, that a lot of voice search users, they’re going to be running their search on a mobile device as versus a desktop, and we know that’s increasingly important, anyway, to be getting ready for mobile users.
But when you’ve got a mobile user, the fact is they’re far more likely to actually make their conversion or reach out to your company using a phone. They’re likely to call you.
As versus what a lot of us may be more familiar with, and more comfortable with, are form submissions, and other types of conversion actions on the website. So if you don’t have a good process for receiving, qualifying, and taking advantage of leads that comes through phone on your website, even tracking them, and understanding their impact for your campaigns.
The advent of voice search and more and more users depending on their mobile devices to get things done, is a good time for us to reevaluate how we receive, process, and qualify those leads.
Trevin: Ah, very cool. Jackie, what do you think in terms of technology is ahead here for this next year?
Jackie: Yeah, so I think, sort of along the same lines, is artificial intelligence and really using that in your online marketing strategies. So artificial intelligence really came to Google about five years ago.
We’ve seen a huge shift just in the last five years, from keyword stuffing, SEO wise, all the way to, today, you really need to understand your user a lot better, and what they’re looking for, and when they’re looking for it. So I think it’s really interesting just how much SEO has evolved in the past five years.
Where it’s going tomorrow, web marketers are going to have to use all of that good artificial intelligence data to really understand user intent and deliver messaging on their websites in a new sort of way.
Trevin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John: Yeah, we’re seeing, with all of that additional information, that Google and other search engines are getting on their users. We’re seeing an increasingly customized search experience.
So any given two different people may search for the same thing, and get a different combination of search results, images, video, resources, quick answers, voice search responses, what have you. And so no two people are going to be getting exactly the same results.
Trevin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John: Which also means that in our digital marketing strategies, we’ve got to understand that our users have different ways of learning about us, different ways of making decisions, they’re going to be served different materials.
And if we don’t have a diversified marketing strategy, that is going to include elements of rich media, great images, infographics, video, what have you, as well as optimized content for voice search, and some of those quick answer positions, our search engine strategy is going to fall behind.
We’re going to lose performance and lose out on traffic, and a lot of those really rich engagements that come from when users interact with that type of media.
And then similarly, users are just expecting the web to respond to them. They’re expecting websites to know that they’ve been there before. They’re expecting us to do some fundamental things like welcome them back to the website, maybe recognize their location and offer them something particular, a particular promotion, a particular offer.
Remind them if something has been left in their cart, and isn’t done. Or if they’ve been midway through some type of process and now we can remember them, and invite them to finish it.
Those types of experiences help users to feel comfortable on our websites, to feel that the website is alive, is responsive, and it sets up the expectation that the company I’m going to deal with is likewise going to remember me, work with my information, and help me take the next action that I need to do to get where I’m going.
So those types of customizations, both in search and on websites, are just a reality, and we’ve got to respond to them, and give you just what they need.
Trevin: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. You got a good point, Jackie, of how quickly things change.
Even looking at five years ago, which is not that long of a time period, it’s been amazing the advances in AI, and understanding user intent, and using technology to kind of combine all of those things, and create, ultimately, different and improved user experiences across the web.
So as we look into the future here, talk about 2020, we’ve hit on technology, and I think, no conversation about 2020 in digital marketing would be complete without touching on an old friend. And that old friend would be Google. So as Google continues to innovate, it’s rapidly changing digital marketing as you both know. But Jackie…
What in particular is Google working on that is going to change the digital marketing landscape here next year?
Jackie: Yeah, so I mean Google’s been always releasing just really crazy algorithm updates and just really messing with us. But this year they actually released an update called BERT, which John mentioned earlier, and BERT is really just their natural language processing update.
So over the last five years, Google has been really gathering a lot of information from their AI update, that happened five years ago. And think of BERT as they are putting that in action. So they’ve been understanding how the users are interacting in the search results pages.
When somebody does a search, what do they click on in the search result? And Google’s just been gathering that information, as well as when somebody goes to a page, are they finding it useful? How are they refining their search, after they’ve already searched, to get better answers?
So Google has just been sitting there and watching what people have been doing for the past five years. And BERT is now this natural language processing algorithm update that is really just putting that all in action.
So what I’m most excited about with BERT is that it’s really forcing us as online marketers to deliver better content. So in the last five years, we’ve been able to just kind of copy what’s already out there, and just kind of change it all a different way.
And what you’re seeing now, when you do almost any search, is you’re seeing 10 different results basically saying the same thing, optimized in a different way. And I think what BERT is really doing for us, is it’s really making us, as marketers, have to think more creatively and deliver a little bit more unique content.
So I think what’s going to happen in 2020, is the search results are just, in general, going to get more interesting, not only with what’s showing up there, but what the content on the web pages are.
Trevin: John, what stands out to you in terms of what Google’s been working on, and how it’s going to impact us here heading into the next year?
John: So I think what Google is pushing, what they’d like to see from us because it’s what their users are asking them for, is greater and greater production of video content. We want to almost conceptually shift. We’ve always kind of seen video as may be nice to have, but it’s prevalence now, and also the ease with which we can make video, really make it a time, in 2020, when we’ve got to make video a core part of our strategy.
We’ve got to be thinking about it as this is a main channel to reach our users. Certainly, video has been used for many years, but maybe it’s always felt that it is for these large brands, these big national brands, large production budgets to do something big and fancy and that we don’t really see it that way at all.
Video is just a way to communicate. It’s a way to get across a message and actually the simpler your video is, in some ways even the more stripped-down it is, the easier it is to produce, the more natural it’s going to feel for your users, the more useful you can make it.
And so you actually don’t need big production values, or a huge budget, to start taking advantage of video. But what we can’t do, what we shouldn’t do anymore, is ignore video, or say it’s something that somebody else is doing, it’s something that we do once in a while, or oh, we’ll try it.
We’re really recommending that folks and companies make video a core part of their strategy. Take it seriously. Look at it in terms of how is this a part of my work? How am I going to reach these users? How am I going to define success? What part of my journey am I reaching them at?
And then produce these things, and produce them regularly. And produce them at a small scale to begin with, but plan to scale your video strategy so that you’re really a part of the conversation, in a way that is useful and relevant, and so that Google, and others, can find you and serve you. They want to serve up new and useful video content all the time.
And well if they can’t find it from us, they’ll just find it from a competing site and give it to them there. So that’s what I have to say about that, I think that’s where we should be.
Trevin: Great points on Google, everybody’s favorite tech giant out there. So I want to now transition to my and our collective personal favorite technology company, WebFX.
Trevin: So certainly we’ve got a lot of great things in the works heading into 2020. You guys touched on some of the new things that we’ll be working on for clients in terms of digital marketing.
So does anything else stand out to you that WebFX has up our collective sleeves here as we head into 2020?
Trevin: Jackie, let’s start with you.
Jackie: Yeah, so we have a lot of really exciting things coming just as a company. One of the things I’m most excited about is our MarketingCloudFX software. We’re actually going to be completely relaunching the MarketingCloudFX Platform.
And MarketingCloudFX is a proprietary software that we developed internally to just kind of help give us some extra insights beyond what’s available with some of the tools out there. So I’m really excited because we’re going to be completely revamping the software, updating some of the core tools, like CompetitorSpyFX and LeadManagerFX, to just help deliver for clients.
There’s also going to be a couple of new tools that use artificial intelligence to help guide the content marketing strategies for our clients.
So I’m really excited to dig into those a little bit further. We’re also going to be releasing a brand new tool that really helps some of the smaller to mid-size businesses that we have here, really understand the user journey a lot better, which we’ve talked about is going to be so important here for 2020.
So it’s really going to help the businesses understand the user journey from the second the user enters their website all the way until they become a sale. So I’m really excited for those.
Trevin: Yeah, I love hearing the stories from different clients, and people on the team here, about how MarketingCloudFX is being used.
The tools are certainly the same across the entire platform, but the different ways that people are tracking campaigns both online and offline using the platform, the different ways that people are diving into AI and a lot of the other trends that were discussed today.
Well, that wraps up our discussion here today. And thanks again, John. Thanks again, Jackie, for joining us. It was very insightful. I was already very eager to head into 2020, but aside from opening my gifts, I now have something else to look forward to here in the coming months as we get closer and closer to next year. So thanks again for joining us here today.
If you’re looking for a digital marketing partner and want to work with amazing, smart people like these, feel free to reach out to us on our website, www.webfx.com, or give us a call and we’d be happy to go over some of these new trends and anything else out there that can help your business grow using the web here in 2020.
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