​The year 2019 has been more exciting than predicted for marketing, and things are expected to be even more exciting ahead. The marketing landscape has always been inspirational, with constant changes in buyer expectations, market dynamics and user behaviour, and 2020 is not going to be an exception. Hence, it would be best to get ready for what's coming to make sure you bring your A-game to the new year. Below are some of the top emerging trends for 2020 that can potentially enhance your marketing plan and strategy.

Cross-Channel Marketing

Cross-Channel Marketing will not only be an option but a mandatory element for all marketing plans. If the current marketing plan of your business confines itself to only one or just a few channels, you will need to revamp it soon. 2020 is going to be the year of cross-channel marketing, which involves managing your brand's exposure across websites, mobile apps, social media, email, offline and word-of-mouth recommendations. In simple words, we will have to understand our target audience, deliver the message to where they are and also make sure that the message conveyed, integrated and consistent across all those channels.

Data Security and Customer Privacy will be critical

The last few years have repeatedly witnessed privacy faux-pas by majors like Google and Facebook, and some other significant data breaches. These security breaches, coupled with the implementation of the GDPR, make customers more aware of data security and privacy. If you've paid little attention to them recently, it's the right time to beef up. You can't escape the penalty for flouting GDPR, but even worse, if you don't prioritise their data security, you can lose your customers’ trust and confidence.

Automation, AI and Chatbots will reign strong

While automation, AI and chatbots have been around for quite some time, they remain on the 2020 agenda and will be accepted more widely. They have been tested by many brands over the past few years, but we will now see Automation, AI and chatbots becoming part of the strategic agenda, as these technologies enable brands to scale faster, as well as manage prospecting and customer engagement better. The reason why you should consider unlocking the potential of AI and chatbots (if you haven't done it already!) is that conversational marketing is emerging as the winner today. We all need to bring our customers to the forefront and look at solutions that help us connect with them through contextual conversations. Though, of course, we will need AI-powered chatbots that are smart enough.

AR and VR will be more real than ever before

Like automation, AR and VR do not need to be introduced, but their impact will increase in the coming year. If you don't have these tools on your agenda, it's an excellent time to explore them now. With most brands already looking to offer AR and VR experience, it will be the edge for the brands that deliver it better first. L'Oreal's acquisition of Modiface, a leading AR beauty company, validates that innovative brands are already heading in this direction now.

Shoppable Posts on Social Media will be a norm

Rather than just leveraging these platforms for promotion, 2020 will bring up a new trend of selling on them via shoppable posts. Brands are using Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest to promote their e-commerce store and will look at investing more in shoppable posts. This feature has multiple advantages for brands as it drives brand sales and makes ROI analysis easy. At the same time, it helps customers by making the shopping journey simpler, as they can shop directly from the social media post they like, whether it be from both the brand and the influencer's page, unlocking a new direct sales channel for businesses.

Video Content will take centre stage

Customers love the interaction, and hence video content will take the cake in the coming year. If you step into your customer's shoes, you'll probably understand why watching a video is much more engaging than reading a 500-word content piece about your product or brand. Moreover, video content is more sharable, which makes it highly useful from the brand propagation perspective. So, you'd better include videos on your website and have a video marketing plan & budget chalked out right away.

Hyper-Targeted Marketing will come to the forefront

This new year's marketing approach will be about getting smarter. Get hyper-targeted while reaching out to the potential customers by identifying a target customer and delivering extremely relevant communications at the right time, and in critical places. This includes setting up systems and processes to collect data and build a buyer persona, segmenting consumers based on factors such as preferences demographics and activity history, in addition to investing in information-based localised and retargeting strategies.

Conventional SEO will become Next-Gen SEO

SEO in 2020 will be a lot different from what it is right now. The change will not be a drastic one, but Next-gen SEO will be a consolidated strategy that will couple the traditional tactics with innovative ideas such as Search Rank 0, Voice search, Map search and Image search. Mobile-friendly SEO will become increasingly critical, because you cannot miss out on the micro-moments that only come within this platform. SEO will be important than ever before but rather than just focusing on rankings for search engine searches; one needs to now think of a more inclusive all-channel approach.

Customer Retention and Satisfaction will take priority

While marketing has mostly been about promoting and branding, the focus will shift towards customer retention and satisfaction. And if a brand fails to align with this changing mindset, it will continue to invest marketing budgets in generating one-time paying customers only. Customer attraction and engagement will involve forming an emotional connection with the buyers and go beyond mere excellence in products and services, which will lead brands to prioritise exceptional customer experiences above everything else.

Marketing Ecosystem and Vendor Consolidation in Mar-Tech Space

Marketing today, like any other business function, uses a lot of different systems and technologies to deliver, track and report on different parts of the plan, which has led to the development of Mar-Tech space. Without the right technological backbone, data and analytics cannot be used to gain the useful insights that drive accurate marketing decisions. We've seen various consolidations between marketing tools and vendors over the past couple of years, such as Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft, and Adobe acquisitions, that almost produce an ecosystem of tools which talk and integrate seamlessly. The trend will continue and will only accelerate as we get into 2020.

More trends will become apparent as we head into 2020, but this is the place to start. Now is the time to get your Marketing Plan 2020-Ready!

If you have read this far, it would be nice to hear your views on Marketing Trends in 2020. So, please drop a line or comment below.