Digital Marketing 2020: 7 Trends to Adopt or Ditch

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2020 is upon us. As digital marketers, we are getting used to ongoing change in our industry. Thankfully, certain marketing channels and techniques remain strong and ready to boost revenues for the marketers that are willing to do their homework. Here is GRIN’s guide to digital marketing in 2020.

1. Influencer Marketing – ADOPT

For many brands, consumer trust is wavering. Advertising is just noise to potential customers. Salespeople are pushy and selective listeners. 

Influencer marketing, on the other hand, turns the tables on traditional marketing by soliciting third-party, objective endorsements from social media influencers. The future of influencer marketing looks very bright and experts expect it to be a $10 billion industry in 2020.

2. Content Marketing – ADOPT

Good content marketing does two things: it adopts brand storytelling and informs customers. Believe it or not, your customers are not just sitting around waiting for you to tell them what to buy. They have real problems that they want to wrap words around. More importantly, they want to feel empowered in their ability to solve those problems.

The brand that feeds customers with empowering information and engagement will win the day. Incidentally, with the rise in user-generated content and influencer marketing, smart marketers are learning how to combine all three for maximum ROI.

3. Black Hat SEO – DITCH

Search engine optimization – enabling Google’s algorithm to rank your content – is a critical piece of digital marketing. Search Engine Land revealed that, “Organic search traffic accounted for 73 percent of all traffic to business services sites, more than a 20 percent jump from the 51 percent when evaluating organic search across all sites.”

There are two approaches to SEO, white hat and black hat. While white hat SEO leans heavily on creating viral content and earning backlinks from authority websites, black hat SEO tries to “play the house,” as though Google were a Vegas casino. 

Black hat techniques include paid-for backlinks, interlinking blogs from the same brand, keyword stuffing, and more. Ultimately, these techniques might get your site ranking high in the short term, but as visitors click on your page, they bounce after realizing that it wasn’t what they were looking for. Google notes this behavior and penalizes your site in the long term.

So if you’re going to invest time and money into SEO, do it the right way with white hat techniques.

4. Short-Term ROI – DITCH

This category seems overly broad and ambiguous, and that’s because a short-term approach to marketing pervades nearly every digital marketing medium. In the world of SEO, black-hat is a short-term approach. It might help in the short term, but you will pay for it dearly at some point in the future.

We’ve all seen those Facebook and LinkedIn ads or group comments that promise massive sales in short time frames. It is the digital marketing version of the “get rich quick” scheme. The information seems great at first glance, but once you “accept the challenge” and pay this self-declared guru their money, the glitter fades away. You might see a boost initially, but it is short-lived and more expensive than you expected.

Be careful with overly ambitious ad campaigns. These ads can be helpful and even strong revenue boosters, but the real ROI is in your voice, audience targeting, and carefully-crafted messaging. It takes time, experimentation, and ongoing research of your ideal customer.

5. Programmatic Advertising – ADOPT

Paid digital ads work best for marketers that have identified their target audience and actively engages with that audience in their marketing efforts. The difficulty is that these audiences change. They have new problems while your own industry undergoes changes, as well. How do marketers keep up in order to pay less for better results on digital ads?

The answer is programmatic advertising. It uses AI to sense changes in your audience and make the necessary adjustments to follow your prospects as your industry and their needs change over time. Through instantaneous bidding and ideal placement, programmatic advertising keeps digital ads working optimally and is expected to exceed 50% of all ad spending in 2020.

6. Video Marketing – ADOPT

Facebook, Tik Tok, Youtube, and Instagram are all making it easier for marketers and influencers to post engaging videos. Hubspot noted about video marketing in 2019:

They’re not just using it more; they’re using it to greater effect. 83% of marketers now say that video gives them a good ROI, up from 78% twelve months ago…

All signs point to an even bigger year ahead. Firstly, the market is desperate for it! 87% of consumers say they’d like to see more video from brands.


Video is great for tutorials, case studies, showcasing product functionality, user-generated content, and more. So, yes, by all means, do more video in 2020.

7. Chatbots – DITCH

While we did note that many industry thought leaders are praising chatbots into the New Year, the research says otherwise.

Last year, Forbes declared, “It’s time for a reality check. Chatbots are killing customer service. Obliterating it, maybe. If you’re a customer, you probably already know that.”

Earlier in 2019, Forrester released a report noting that while some brands are managing to do chatbots effectively (more or less converting the chatbot into great conversational marketing), Forrester found that… 

Most consumers feel as though chatbots talk in circles and give them the runaround until eventually telling them to call a customer service number – wasting their time and increasing their frustration with the brand.


Chatbots give customers the impression that a real person (or super-intuitive machine) is ready to help them. It sends them in a loop until it ultimately feels like email signup or simply a waste of time. Many irritably withdraw from their online purchase altogether.

So why do marketers salute the chatbot in the face of these dismal numbers? Because it saves time and money. For customers, they simply feel less inclined to go through the same automated chat experience again. It’s time to reform the chatbot or ditch it altogether.

Closing Thoughts

Both marketers and their AI-empowered tools are becoming more emotionally perceptive of customer needs. The trends above that are not succeeding simply cut corners and disrupt the buyer’s journey. In contrast, the trends that continue to succeed are those that empower consumers to find the best solutions with quality information and engagement.

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