Digital Marketing is an ever-changing industry. The technical tactics that work today may not work tomorrow. However, I believe the fundamentals of Marketing are timeless, the ideas that we are appealing to core human needs and desires using clear and compelling messaging haven’t changed in centuries. It’s still possible that what worked in 2018 may not work in 2019 or 2020. Marketing is not something you can set up and leave to run itself. It requires constant work and improvement to keep up with the digital world. 

Here are my top tips for marketing for small to medium businesses in 2020. 

Authentic customer-based marketing is back in vogue   

Marketing is trending back toward authentic customer-based tactics and away from techno babble shiny nonsense. There has been a big focus on AI and Machine Learning and other new breakthroughs which has taken our focus away from what really matters and gotten many people obsessed with technical application. I believe that 2020 will see a further shift back towards acknowledging that whilst the tools are great, understanding your customer is the primary concern and should stay at the heart of all marketing efforts. 

This quote puts it all into perspective: 

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” 

The surprising thing is that this was written by Socrates in 400 BC. 

The best way around this is to figure out exactly what problems you are solving for your customers and focus your messaging on that. Don’t make your message too broad but make sure it’s personalised, for your specific customer. It’s important to target your marketing to the actual people, rather than a group, which is why chatbots are sure to increase in popularity in 2020. 

Mobile devices are increasingly popular 

The trend toward the use of mobile devices will continue, with their computing power constantly increasing. As our phones get faster and more versatile, people are using their PCs and laptops less, in favour of completing more tasks on their phones 

We are becoming more comfortable with Artificial Intelligence  

Over the years, there has been talk about AI taking everyone’s jobs, curing cancer and deleting human existence from the planet. But lately, the conversation has changed. The Gartner Hype Cycle tells us that when new technology arrives we all get a little over excited and optimistic about its potential; we then discover that it wasn’t all it was hyped up to be and get overly pessimistic about it. The final stage is when we realise that the technology is useful but with limitations and so we land in a more balanced place. And while we’re many years from AI moving to general application, it continues to be a helpful tool in a widening variety of ways. 

We’ve already seen what AI can do with chatbots. It can also manage bids, split test ad copy and help design marketing strategies. Despite recent advances, abstract thinking and creativity still needs to come from humans – and it’s set to stay that way for quite some time. 

There’s no need to be afraid of AI. The more we use automation, the better it will become, allowing us to focus more time and energy on other strategies, rather than working on the small details. 

Automation is advancing   

In 2018 we’ve seen great progress in responsive ads, allowing marketers to enter a number of variations, which Google then combined, learning which is best for each potential customer. This is set to continue and increase in its performance in 2020. Smart campaigns are getting smarter and the more these smart formats are used, the faster Google learns. 

Bidding automation is also improving, allowing us to worry less about adjusting bids, so we can focus on ensuring we are sending the right message in our ads and marketing efforts. 

Mobile and Voice search is increasing in importance  

With 74% of millennials saying they’d rather text than talk, mobile and voice search options are becoming vital to any marketing campaign. The optimisation of campaigns for voice and mobile searches are now really important and as products such as Amazon’s Alexa, iPhone’s Siri and Google’s Home begin to make waves, this is a trend which is only going to increase and gain momentum. This is particularly important for optimising SEO. 

Use questions as headings whenever possible. Headings which include questions capitalise on voice search. Most people ask questions when using voice search and more and more are asking questions when doing general searches as well. 

Videos are non-negotiables  

Videos – and in particular, live videos – are now an essential part of any marketing strategy. According to, 78% of us watch online videos every week, while 55% view online videos every day. By 2020, online videos are expected to make up more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic. 

In short, if your company isn’t creating video content, you’re already behind. Video marketing has been an ongoing trend for a while now and will continue to grow for a long time to come. Every year, its reach and use grows, to the point where videos are now seeing more engagement than any other digital content, by a long shot. 

Pay to Play is more important than ever  

The algorithms of the major social media platforms are heading back to the original idea of social media platforms being social – what a great idea! Because of this, the platforms are doing everything they can to ensure users are seeing more updates from their friends and from the people they’re specifically interested in. This makes it harder for businesses to get their content into feeds. 

The best way around this is to pay for advertising, which means you’re basically paying for a slot in a person’s newsfeed. With the constant and varied algorithm changes, paying for advertising on social media platforms is more important than it ever has been before. 

When it all boils down, good content is still king and while having good organic content is important, it needs to be in conjunction with a paid strategy to make sure it is seen. 

Generational Analysis is helping us understand our markets  

Every generation is entirely different to the next. Not only do they buy differently, but they respond differently to marketing campaigns. Millennials are currently the biggest generation on the planet and soon, their spending will be the largest we’ve ever seen. Generational analysis helps us know exactly what they want, how they want it and when they want it. 

Thanks to generational analysis, we know that millennials don’t like to cook and that even though they work less than any of the other generations, they eat out more often and purchase pre-prepared food more than anyone else. Having said this, they’re also very health conscious and eat more vegetables than the other generations. They don’t trust a brand simply because of customer loyalty but are more likely to make a purchase based on a review posted by a complete stranger. If you’re in the restaurant industry, this information in particular is vital, but generational analysis is relevant for every industry. 

We’ve ignored the vastly different needs of the different generations for long enough. Generational Analysis is a must-add to your 2020 marketing toolkit. 

I really hope you exceed all your marketing goals in 2020, that you navigate the maze of understanding your customers first then demystifying the technology second – and in the process, that you grow your business.