2020 Marketing Projections: What You Need To Know Now To Be Competitive

To succeed this year, use these 2020 Marketing Projections.

These forecasts are based on the major 2019 disruptions to the marketing playing field.

3 key factors changed marketing in 2019:

  • Seismic Marketing Shift resulting from the convergence of voice-first, marketing AI and content saturation.
  • RIP Customer Journey for both consumer and business purchasing reflecting the change in customer behavior.
  • Uncertain Global Economic Environment causing businesses to reduce investment and look for internal efficiencies.

Together the marketing implications of these changes lay the foundation for your 2020 plans and beyond.

Bottom line:
Marketing must evolve to meet these new and rapidly changing challenges.

The good news:
These 2020 Marketing Projections are grounded in fundamental marketing principles. (Hat tip: Chris Marr)

By integrating these forecasts into your marketing, you’ll attract an audience, convert prospects into customers, and keep them happy while building business value to yield profitable revenues.

Marketing Projections Table of Contents (aka: TL;DR)

  1. Amazon continues to eat the business world and beyond
  2. Businesses must know their audience and understand their customers’ buying behavior better
  3. An owned, addressable audience becomes essential
  4. Content saturation continues to diminish marketers’ ability to attract new audiences
  5. Companies will need to take responsibility for data across their organization
  6. AI will become a more salient element of marketing and related MarTech
  7. Voice-first technology requires a place at the marketing table
  8. Digital communications continue to evolve requiring a seamless omni-channel approach
  9. The skills marketers need continue to shift requiring training, career development and new jobs
  10. Generational changes will have a greater impact on marketing
  11. Branding will enjoy renewed importance but must support societal goals
  12. Pressure to show measurable marketing results in financial terms continues to increase
  13. Marketing will get better integrated across the organization to increase efficiency
  14. Search will require increased marketing resources to stay visible
  15. Businesses will focus on customer on-boarding to improve results
  16. Businesses will allocate more resources to increase customer retention
  17. Marketing continues to use social media to meet specific objectives but must show measurable results
  18. The need for real life community and events continues to grow
  19. Businesses will face increased government regulation
  20. Globalization increasingly influences business plans


2020 Marketing Projections: 20 Forecasts To Be Competitive


1. Amazon continues to eat the business world and beyond

While building a mega house file containing deep customer data including purchase intent and sales history, Amazon has changed how customers shop.

In addition, Amazon has and continues to disrupt a variety of business categories including:

  • Commerce. Beyond being the 800 pound gorilla of online commerce and providing ecommerce functionality to other retailers, Amazon owns Whole Foods and has retail stores in the US. Amazon also offers a Prime credit card (via Chase).
  • Technological platforms and services. AWS (aka: Amazon Web Services) powers many digital companies. Also Amazon has developed technology-driven products like the Kindle and Alexa.
  • Content. In addition to being the granddaddy of ratings and reviews sites, Amazon owns Audible, Kindle, GoodReads and IMDB. As a result, Amazon acts like social media and a search engine. Like a media entity, it generates revenue selling advertising.
  • Subscription services including Prime, Kindle, Audible and IMDB.
  • Distribution services. In the US, Amazon competes with FedEx and UPS. (Note: This has recently received media attention due to above average worker injuries.)


2. Businesses must know their audience and understand their customers’ buying behavior better

To serve your audience and customers effectively in this dynamic environment, you need first-hand information to appreciate the “why” behind their buying decisions.

This is particularly important because both B2C and B2B customers have done most of their purchase research online before marketers are aware of their buying intent.

So as purchase habits continue to change and evolve,  don’t rely on data and spreadsheets. Instead, talk with your audience and customers.

The marketing reality:
The purchase cycle in terms of a defined process no longer exists.
Click To Tweet


For consumer purchases, free shipping and “one-click buying” have eliminated the B2C buying process. Instead consumers can wait until they get the merchandise before deciding if they want it because returns are free! (Note: About 1/3 of  Prime  Members buy at least weekly from Amazon, twice as many as US  online shoppers!) (NPR)

By contrast, business purchase decisions require buying team consensus across 6 purchase functions. Often, the process involves an overwhelming amount of content and contradictory information. (Gartner, 2019)

(Note: Both Forrester and Gartner have shown the B2B buying process as a spaghetti jumble.)


3. An owned, addressable audience becomes essential

You need an owned home media base including your website, blog and email list as a defense against changing media algorithms and emerging new platforms. (BTW—Chris Brogan has advocated this for years.)

The gold at the heart of your owned media is your addressable audience consisting of individuals who give you permission to contact them and keep their information.Click To Tweet


When building Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, laser-focused on email address acquisition as his leading indicator of success.

To ensure your list remains viable and fresh:
Provide consistent content in the form of a weekly newsletter, blog post, webinar, video and/or podcast. This builds a reader habit so recipients look forward to receiving and reading your communications.

Don’t believe this Northwestern research?
Amy Landino attributes her promise to show up for her audience and actually doing so as the factor that helped her  build her AmyTV brand to 350+ thousand YouTube viewers.

Going forward, you need owned media, content and related data to respond to the Seismic Marketing Shift.


4. Content saturation continues to diminish marketers’ ability to attract new audiences.

In 2014, Mark Schaefer first coined the term Content Shock to explain how the amount of information available continued exceeded people’s ability to consume it. 

Content Shock

In 2018, BuzzSumos’s Content Trends Report underscored the reality of Content Shock:
While the volume of content published continues to increase, new topics quickly get saturated. In addition to declining pageviews, median social shares decreased to 4 and most articles had no backlinks. (Here’s a fuller analysis of Content Saturation.)

Graphic illustration of why content shock is real- Chart by BuzzSumo

As this trend continues, content shock has given way to content saturation further reducing results. This requires changes to content marketing, social media and/or digital advertising. Additionally, it increases the need for owned media and improved related connected content.

Need further proof of content saturation?
Organic Facebook posts yielded 0.026% median engagement compared 0.015% for paid posts based on analysis of 30 days worth of brand posts on Facebook in 2019 (Trust Insights).

Despite new communications tools that allow people (especially marketers) to churn out more and more information in different formats. To succeed, figure out how to break-through the noise to attract audience attention.


5. Companies will need to take responsibility for data across their organization

Consumers share more personal information with businesses than they realize. This includes businesses that they may not realize have access to their data (i.e. AWS). 

People don’t read the lengthy terms and conditions that govern a wide range of products and services. As a result, most consumers surrender their right to their information with little or no compensation or awareness. In reality, it’s good only until the public or government decides it’s not. Then you’ve lost your customers’ trust!

Spoiler alert:
This practice isn’t new.

Credit card companies, other financial institutions and direct marketers have collected, used and shared customer information for years.

So what’s changed?

  • Depth and personal nature of information tracked and collected, often beyond or without consumers’ knowledge. 
  • Lack of data security and questionable use of this data (i.e. Cambridge Analytica) 
  • Increased fake and/or inaccurate news and/or other information. This results in a mind-boggling $50 to $150 billion in advertising fraud and $78 billion in losses associated with fake news!(Hat tip: Katie Martell)

Spoiler alert:
Currently, California and Ireland passed data-related laws. 


6. AI will become a more salient element of marketing and related MarTech

Marketing AI will move from digital advertising on Facebook and Google into modeling and projecting customer behavior in real time.

Adding to the complexity of these changes is the increasingly shorter cycles of technology innovation. These iterations often go unnoticed during the early phases since they must reach 95% to 99% accuracy before the public accepts a new technology.

Your biggest challenge:
37% of companies have deployed some form of AI. (Gartner 2019)
Click To Tweet


So, in you haven’t implemented AI, your competitors probably have. Further, with the right AI tools, they can get actionable insights into your marketing strategies and plans.

But, to implement Marketing AI requires:

  • Improved clean, quality data across the organization, not siloed based on department need. This supports the case for integrated marketing across the business. (See Marketing Projection #13.)
  • Leadership support for organization-wide data improvement and related AI adoption and implementation.
  • Ability to append external data, especially buyer intent.

Is It AI?


MAICON 2020 Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference


7. Voice-first technology requires a place at the marketing table.

With 70+% of US adults using voice-first technology, voice findability across devices is a must have for marketing success. Click To Tweet

Voice search places increased importance on audience context including when they ask their device a question. This also increases the need to appear for “Near Me” searches, especially since they imply buyer intent.

Growth of Near Me Now searches

Further voice-enabled devices generally respond to full English sentences with only one answer that often lacks branding.

Because Alexa, Siri or Google does the talking!



8. Digital communications continue to evolve requiring a seamless omni-channel approach.

Since prospects and customers use voice, text, email, media, messaging apps, chat and social media to communicate with your business, they expect you to be present and available on their timetable.

Over the past few years, chatbots have given rise to Conversational Marketing. In the process, bots help businesses respond 24/7 to visitors while improving sales efficiency. (Hat tip: Drift’s David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt).

Drift Conversion Breakdown

At the same time, messaging apps continue to expand their user bases.

2.52 billion people worldwide, or 87.1% of smartphone users, used a mobile messaging app at least once per month in 2019 according to eMarketer.  Click To Tweet


Mobile Messaging App Users Worldwide

As digital communications evolve, they create new customer touchpoints that require businesses to become omni-channel.

Because consumers expect a seamless brand experience regardless of where, when or how they contact your company.

In addition to using multiple forms of communications consumers expect brands to:

  • Maintain the conversation across marketing, sales, ecommerce, customer service and other departments.
  • Know who they are,  based on the information they share. Further, they expect personalized experience accordingly. These are often based on AI-powered technologies. (See Marketing Projection 6.)


9. The skills marketers need continue to shift requiring training, career development and new jobs

To meet evolving platforms and devices as well as the ever-increasing MarTech landscape, marketers need new and different skills to do their jobs well.

Senior marketers’ top challenges reveal an underlying need for new skills. Often this “know how” doesn’t currently exist within the organization and may be difficult to find. (Digital Marketing Institute)

Top Marketing Challenges

82% of senior marketers agreed that their organization must invest more in staff training and development.Click To Tweet


4 of the top digital marketing job skills also may be considered technology job skills.

  • Data analysis and software expertise (41%)
  • UX design (36%)
  • Coding and development (29%)
  • Program and/or project management (28%)

Most Desired DIgital Marketing Skills

To improve their marketers’ skills, businesses will need to invest in the necessary training, While most companies use external options, this need can also translate to consulting, freelance and training opportunities, at least in the short term.

How Marketing Training Is Provided


10. Generational changes will have a greater impact on marketing

With the aging of the population, marketers must adapt their content, communications and promotions to meet the needs of younger generations.

In particular focus on Millennials and Generation Z who are entering their high-purchase years as Boomers continue to age with reduced purchase needs.

Generation and Age in the US

So, tailor your marketing to meet different generations’ perspectives on how they:

  • Consume content and communications across devices and platforms.
  • Use technology and devices by need and locations.
  • Determine purchase priorities and tradeoffs as well as life choices, and careers.
  • Use of different currency options (including mobile) as well as the amount of disposable income available for spending.
  • Willingness to share personal and/or buying information.



11. Branding will enjoy renewed importance but must support societal goals

While some marketers may argue that branding never went away, it often gets short changed especially in smaller businesses.

Despite creating an intangible business asset, it’s difficult to show direct, measurable results for branding efforts.

But brands create and maintain customer trust, especially in a low trust environment.

Active Employee Voices 

That said, developing and consistently using your brand across your business and marketing channels enhances how it is perceived. This includes digital, offline and real life assets, entities and people. In turn, this makes your business appear larger and more professional.

Need proof?
Despite declining in-person shopping experiences, Authentic Brands Group bought the Barneys brand for $271.4 million in bankruptcy. Since they believed the abstract value of the Barneys brand will remain important. (New York Time article, 10/15/2019)

Further, to attract and retain millennials and Gen Z as customers, brands must stand for a higher social purpose.

Consumer Response to Purpose-Driven Companies


12. Pressure to show measurable marketing results in financial terms continues to increase


2 out of 3 CMOs can’t show financial results (CMO Survey)Click To Tweet

While this number seems surprising, once you consider that many businesses don’t have clean, quality data across their organization (See Marketing Projection 6), it’s makes sense that marketers may lack key information.

While marketing promotions and responses can be measured, more comprehensive information to assess product and customer profitability as well as other financial indicators either doesn’t exist or isn’t available to marketing..

As a result, improved cross-organizational analytics and metrics will be needed along with improved data. This includes related systems and employees who possess the skills to handle and analyze this information.

In addition:
Increased pressure on marketing profitability will cause more businesses to assess how to reuse and re-envision their existing marketing and content. Trust Insights analysis showed that republishing increased in 2019.

Content Republishing


13. Marketing will get better integrated across the business to increase operational efficiency

Due to increased pressure to improve profit margins businesses will need to tear down organizational silos and integrate marketing where relevant. To provide personalized, omni-channel customer experiences requires better customer knowledge and an integrated, cross-business team approach. (See Marketing Projections 2 and 5.)

To succeed, c-suite leadership support for these changes is needed.

Changing customer purchase processes will increase the need for better marketing integration, especially for sales enablement, customer on-boarding and retention.


14. Search will require increased marketing resources to stay visible

Increased platforms and devices combined with dynamic algorithms provide consumers with more options to find the products and services they want and need.

Concurrently, “No Click” searches and competition for high buyer intent terms will increase. As a result, the fully loaded cost of search advertising will increase while click-throughs may falloff.

While search options currently include the following, expect them to change:

  • Text search (like Google, Bing and Others)
  • Mobile search
  • Voice search, especially “Near Me” searches
  • Photos (notably Google)
  • Videos (such as YouTube)
  • Search-like sites such as Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor and others.

To keep your businesses, brand and products findable wherever, whenever and/or however potential buyers or purchase influencers look, continue to invest in specialists, technology and paid offerings. But don’t expect overnight success, search success takes diligent on-going work over time.

Beyond the basics of optimizing for search:
Assess how your website, blog, other digital entities, and related content and information are structured, organized and maintained around core topics to make them as findable as possible.

And where appropriate post video content on YouTube, since it’s the second largest search engine after Google.


15. Businesses will focus on customer on-boarding to improve results

With increasing marketing costs and pressures to show results in financial terms, businesses will improve customer on-boarding and related service to reduce returns and one time purchases. This will require better cross-organization teamwork and integration to provide seamless customer experiences. (See Marketing Projection #13.)

“Regardless of where your business operates, what industry you work in, or the size of your operation, you are likely losing approximately 20% to 70% of your newly acquired customers in the first 100 days of the relationship.” according to Joey Coleman, author of Never Lose Another Sale Again.

Even worse:

While 80% of businesses say they deliver a “superior customer experience,” customers say only 8% of businesses really do!Click To Tweet

YIKES—After investing budget and time to acquire a new customer, you find out that they’re just not that into you!

Realize that your end-user and buyer may not be the same person. So they have different needs and objectives. As a result, your post-sales follow through must satisfy both of them or your offering may not get used.

To accomplish this:

  • Thank new customers to make them feel good about their purchase decision. Provide the content and support they need to use your products and services. If they don’t, they won’t buy again or renew their contract.
  • Get feedback from new customers and end-users. Surface their problems and solve them quickly.
  • Know how long your customers need to use your product or service before they’re sold. During this initial period, help newbies get up to speed using your product or service to meet their needs.


16. Businesses will allocate more resources to increase customer retention

To increase profitability, businesses will expand customer retention marketing because a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits between 25% and 95%.

Because the biggest cost associated with new customers is the media and related marketing to acquire them.

The lifetime value of a loyal customer can be greater than 10 times the value of the first purchase according to Joey Coleman.Click To Tweet


While many marketers believe they’ve acquired a customer, McKinsey’s Loyalty Loop doesn’t start until after customers experience you business post-purchase.

McKinsey'l Layalty Loop

Beyond upselling and cross-selling existing customers, improved customer retention requires better and more consistent communications. Offer non-promotional consistent content, provide customer communities, and find opportunities to delight your customers like remembering these important occasions.

Don’t wait until your customer needs more product or ends their service agreement to promote your offering. For example, print magazines start their renewal process about 6 months before a subscription expires.


17. Businesses continue to use social media to meet specific objectives, but must show measurable results.

While social media remains integral to marketing plans, consumers define social media more broadly than just the top platforms. (Check Trust Insights Analysis of Talkwalker data in the word cloud below.)

Many top social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, have experienced a net loss of members. But, due to their relative size, they remain top social media platforms. 

By contrast:
The sites with the biggest net member gain include YouTube and Private Communities like Discord, Slack and Twitch.

Net Change in Social Media Search Volumes

Given recent Facebook issues around data and fake advertising, expect problems to arise with other high profile social media sites. As a result, your brand association, influencers and/or advertising on social media may cause PR and other problems.

For the short term, continue to use social media. But carefully manage your investment in both organic and paid to avoid wasting resources.

  • Remain visible and active to support organic posting and build community.
  • Use paid social for specific tactics and to find digital twins. But monitor results to minimize cost.
  • Implement monitoring to respond to key issues and be competitive.


Social Media World 2020

Discover how to improve your social media marketing at Social Media Marketing World 2020, March 1-3, 2020 in San Diego, CA.

Rub shoulders with the biggest names and brands in social media.

Don’t miss the industry’s largest conference. Whether you attend in person or Virtually, you’ll want to get your ticket early and save.



18. The need for real life community and events continues to grow

Despite increased forms of communication, social media and devices, people feel increasingly isolated.

So we crave real life experiences. As a result, IRL, location-based experiences are expected to grow to a $12 billion dollar industry by 2023 (Quartz).

For millennials in particular, acquiring experiences trumps acquiring physical goods (Harris Interactive-Eventbrite):

  • 69% of millennials believe attending events makes them feel more connected to other people, the community, and the world. Further, attending a live event with family and friends deepens those relationships.
  • 78% of millennials would spend money on an experience or event over buying something physical as shown by the rise of the sharing economy.

What does this mean for your business?
Find ways to create real life events and interactions to engage your target audience and build relationships with your prospects and customers.

andy crestodina

Use your office or retail location to host local or not-for-profit events. For example: Andy Crestodina’s Orbit Media hosts monthly Wine & Web events in Chicago with guests and presentations.


Also, participate in online communities like Twitter Chats and take them offline. For example, Dennis Shaio built a community of Bay Area Content Marketers consisting of over 600 members.



19. Businesses will face increased government regulation.

Given the data laws in California and Ireland, assume other government and regulatory agencies will require businesses to increase data security and provide data privacy (See Marketing Projection 5.)

While this will have the biggest impact on technology powered giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, your business may still be responsible for the data and/or related services you use and/or offer to your audience and customers. (See Marketing Projection 1.)

Beyond governmental requirements, the public and/or interest groups may realize the value of their personal information and expect better compensation beyond  free use of your services and/or platforms.

Further, increased use of monetary options such as mobile apps may attract regulators since financial instruments fall under countries’ sovereign rights.

on a local basis, US, ecommerce sellers have largely avoided the issue of sales taxes (at least until now). As states look for new sources of income, taxing online commerce is an easy target since this creates parity between online and offline merchants.


20. Globalization increasingly influences business

In 2019, economic and political markets across the globe experienced various forms of uncertainty.

Partially attributable to heightened political partisanship, many major business-oriented political treaties were modified or annulled. This caused not only global businesses, but also, local farmers to rethink their plans for 2020 and beyond. As a result it’s had an impact on global markets for raw materials to finished goods.

Additionally, expect fake news and information to continue to sway and polarize public opinion. In turn, businesses will have related issues and costs.

Further, increased focus on global warming and other social issues will require businesses to meet changing customer and governmental requirements.

As new countries and populations become more affluent and become an increasingly important buying segments, global economics will evolve to met changing consumer demands.


2020 Marketing Projections Conclusions

Regardless of your business focus, understand that these 20 marketing projections are grounded in fundamental marketing principles.

More importantly, these 2020 Marketing Projections respond to 2019 business changes, notably:

  • The Seismic Marketing Shift,
  • The end of the customer journey as we knew it, and
  • Continued global economic uncertainty.

Additionally, these recommendations take into consideration the increased pressure to show marketing results in financial terms and improve operational efficiencies. This requires you to be selective with your marketing investments while stretching your existing budgets and headcount.

Further, you will have to deal with evolving new technologies, platforms and devices at ever-increasing speeds of change. In turn, this creates the need for new as well as more specialized marketing skills and approaches.

Despite these dynamics, you will have to do the best with the business you have now!

This includes your customer base, employees and management as well as your history, competitive set, suppliers and distributors and government forces.

To succeed this year,
Assess your business’s marketing and financial position based on the latest actual results.

Because, despite best intentions, your 2020 goals and budget may be based on out-of-date information and unrealistic expectations.

Remember–no one has perfect knowledge. And that includes Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.

So use these 20 Marketing Projections For 2020 and the related information to improve your plans.

Please let me know what your projections and why in the comments below.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


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