We obviously can’t report on everything that happened in the world of digital marketing in 2019, but there are a few things that stood out to us. The biggest shift we’ve seen? The swift movement toward meaningful content. Customers want to have real conversations with companies, not just be bombarded with products, ads, and links.
Brands like Patagonia — who have recently changed their mission statement to “We’re in business to save our home planet” — have geared marketing efforts towards activism, politics, and other topics that humanize them. In 2019, we saw more brands being vocal about world issues and, in turn, sparking conversations between people really take off. Social media, SEO, email, and ads all experienced shifts this year — here’s what stood out to us.
Stories saw a huge increase this past year, with over 500 million people using Instagram Stories each day! In 2019, users wanted to see raw, unedited versions of photos and videos. Consider the rise of TikTok, where we saw a shift from professionally produced videos to amateur content. That’s not to say the content is bad now — it means that it’s much more humanized and seemingly authentic. Along with users producing more amateur content, brands turned to user-generated content, micro-influencers, and partnerships versus “traditional” digital ads.
Toward the end of the year, Google’s BERT algorithm started to put more emphasis on real content that’s valuable and relevant. Things like keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and non-optimized web pages now really hurt your website’s ranking and aren’t going to get you the results you expect. “Now, more than ever, companies are going to have to stop treating SEO as a condiment that they just add on to their digital strategy, and instead treat it as a key ingredient of their business plan,” Ryan Jones, SEO Group Director of Publicis Sapient, said.
Email is still the king when it comes to ROI — for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $32 (DMA, 2018). As more companies are catching on to the email marketing trend, subscribers have been more and more turned off by scammy campaigns. In March 2019, spam messages accounted for 56% of global email traffic. Nobody likes getting spam, so connection—not just direct sales—is the true winner in email marketing now and going into 2020.
Beginning August 19, Facebook’s mobile newsfeed ad space shifted from 2:3 to 4:5, which resulted in only 3 lines of preview/primary text shown. Why the change? Experts like Susan Wenograd believe if an advertiser is going to interrupt a user’s primary reason for being on a platform, the message needs to be focused, concise, and adaptable. Paid social accounted for the second-highest share of advertisers’ budgets (18%), followed by display advertising (16%). Ad spend on Instagram, in particular, is going up. But one study, recapped on Search Engine Journal, finds the increase in spending on Instagram ads is not a result of advertisers spending less on other social media ads.
Here at Cosmitto, we’ve been on the “let’s provide relevant content” train for some time now, and we’re genuinely excited to see this shift carry over into 2020!