Often when we hear the word “trends” we tend to think of fleeting fashion moments or fads. But when you think about it, on perhaps a less superficial level, trends lay the groundwork for innovation.

Trends shape the industry landscape they are a part of. And while we are not talking about an earthshattering trend like Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking — a trend so pivotal it laid the foundation for parlaying traditional “menswear” into staple garments in women’s fashion — we’re talking about trends that will shape the digital landscape for the foreseeable future.

As our VP of Strategy, Katie Kelly, puts it, “Trends are the source of innovation and create and shape new needs. They present both challenges and opportunities as they transform the way society and markets function. In our world of digital transformation of marketing, customer touch points, and data democracy, these are key trends we see that are shaping 2020.

1. Audience First Approach

Marketing technology is enabling brands to not only better understand their customer segments but to also use those segments to develop effective audience strategies and grow their customer base. These robust strategies govern who to reach in which channel and with what marketing message. And this isn’t likely to slow down. In 2020, we predict to see continued investment in customer data platforms (CDPs) and audience tools that pull customer behavior data from multiple sources, aggregate it, and make it available to other marketing systems for more refined targeting and messaging.

2. Personalization & Compelling Experiences

Personalization makes online and offline marketing experiences more relevant, more engaging, and more impactful. Now, it can be at scale. Indeed! Personalization tools serve up compelling experiences to predefined segments or through 1-1 user level in emails, ads, offers, and on your site. These tools are necessary to scale the customization of content in an Audience First approach. You just can’t have one without the other.

3. Consumer Data Utilization & Consumer Privacy

Personalization is in a tug-of-war with consumer privacy protections. With improved access to and utilization of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd– party data, brands are moving to data-derived and user-level behavior detail on current or prospective customers. While access to this data has proved beneficial to brands in countless ways, with it comes legal protections. And, frankly, rightfully so.

With the European Union’s GDPR and California’s CCPA, more governments and states are debating their privacy policies. Make sure you are aware of the protections and learn how to work with them.

4. Redefining What Data Means for Your Business

Technology has made data-driven decision-making a reality for businesses and their marketing organizations. In 2019, we brought data visualization to all our clients. Humble brag. With these visualizations, our clients now have access to their data 24/7 which enables them to gain insights faster and empowers them to make informed decisions. What’s more, it leverages rules-based or machine learning applications in marketing optimization. The potential challenge here is getting your staff trained in adopting this new way of looking at and using data.

5. Proliferation of Marketplaces

Marketplaces (and their revenue growth) don’t begin and end with Amazon. Make no mistake, Amazon is a power player. But this year marketplaces across the board will focus on advertising as a means for brands to benefit from the consumer data and content distribution network they are amassing. Meanwhile, Google and Facebook are continuing their developments in seamless search-based shopping, making social shopping a reality with the launch of their own in-platform checkouts.

6. Programmatic & Letting the Data Decide

The success of programmatic ad buying in 2019 is set to drive more digital spending in 2020. With that success will come new players. Players like Amazon will undoubtedly provide new opportunities for advertisers. These opportunities include evolving wholesale marketing teams to have access to transparent and cost-effective marketing technology to spend their advertising budgets more efficiently.

7. Video & Other Content Formats

The results are in: more time spent with video and other forms of immersive content means more potential impact to your marketing efforts. This comes in the form of better conversion, improved brand awareness or product favorability, increased search rankings, and so much more. A revived focus on video and content marketing translates to more affordable options for brands. It is no secret that video production is both time-consuming and expensive. However, with the emergence of new tech, video content can be created at scale.

8. New Generations, New Digital Platforms

TikTok. Twitch. Kik. Keeping up? We don’t need to tell you that new generations are the driving force behind the adoption of new platforms. What once worked for one generation concedes to another to better suit that generation’s digital habits. For example, TikTok’s short-form video content is quickly becoming the new normal for content creators. While these platforms may start with tweens and teens, they’re increasingly adopted by older audiences. Translation: even if your target audience isn’t GenZ or Alpha, you may be feeling their impact shortly.

9. SMS and the Value of Mobile Marketing Strategies

The 2019 holiday shopping season marked an undeniable shift in mobile shopping. Namely, retailers have finally caught up to how consumers use their smartphones to browse and buy. But, are you taking full advantage of mobile’s power with consumers? One thing you can do right now is to create a dedicated SMS program.

We’ve seen huge gains in SMS performance when it is treated as its own marketing channel. These gains have come in the form of engaging customers in new stories or products, generating ecommerce conversion, and driving customers to a physical location. Use 2020 to do more advertising in mobile apps and take advantage of data collection opportunities with mobile ad IDs (MAID).

10. Predictive & Prescriptive Analytics

Advanced analytics that leverage predictive and prescriptive modeling is swiftly becoming the new normal when it comes to looking at your data. Don’t have a data science team of your own? Budgets, am I right?! But don’t let that stop you. Look for pre-built solutions that solve business challenges using data science to take the uncertainty out of your next big decision.

To be honest, no one knows what the future holds. That’s why it’s the future. So, I will leave you with what we know for certain. The art of “selling” has passed. In an indefinite industry that shifts at breakneck speeds, marketers must embrace collaboration, profound transparency, and authentic connections in order to thrive.