Digital Marketing Predictions For 2020

It’s that time of year again so, just like last year and the year before, I’m back at it with another quick list of predictions (read: educated guesses, just like every other article like this you’re going to read this time of year) for the year ahead!

5. Data Privacy Laws are Going to Increase

We knew this was going to happen and now it is. The GDPR was just the beginning and a lot of you that focus only on the US ignored everything. Well, that’s not going to work now. A lot of these new laws, particularly the CCPA, come with provisions that you cannot discriminate against someone for exercising these rights or you’re going to get penalized anyway.

Learn these laws and figure out how to get your business compliant because they’re not going away. If you aren’t sure the best route to go down for your business, it might be time to bring in a professional consulting firm to help you, but just make sure you choose a reputable service.

4. Email Reach is Going to Decrease

This one is a natural extension of the first one. With privacy laws becoming more strict, your email lists are going to shrink. This is a simple fact so get it in your head now, deal with it and then figure out the best way to regrow your lists.

Another fact is this: most people don’t want spam. Mind blowing, I know. Most businesses are sending spam, whether they will admit it or not. Whether or not people are marking you as spam, opting out or just straight up leaving all of your messages as graymail because they can’t be bothered with your business so much to even unsubscribe, your business is probably a spammer at least as far as a portion of your lists are concerned.

Now with these new laws, especially the CCPA, class action lawsuits can be a thing against your business so sending spam to people just isn’t worth it. I mean, it never was before but now it can actually cost you money in the end.

Also, tightening up your multichannel strategy can only help your business. If you’re still out there only or mostly relying on email marketing, you’re barking up the wrong tree because even though email is the channel that delivers really high returns, most people simply just don’t do it right enough to see those returns over channels like paid search, social media & ad network retargeting and SEO.

3. Branding is Crucial

Now that we’ve talked about everything I think is going to shrink for marketers, lets talk about something I think is going to increase in importance – branding. I’ve talked about how important brand building is many times here before so I won’t get into it again but seriously, brand building is what is going to take you to the next level.

If you don’t have a unique identity, you’re just more noise in the ether. I don’t care whether your focus is SEO, Social Media, Email or all of the above, you need a solid brand as the foundation. The algorithms are listening. Google is listening, Facebook is listening and more importantly, your potential customers are listening.

Why should people shop with you? Why should they use your services? What do you stand for? What is important to your business? Answer these questions and you’re halfway there. I mean, it’s not a hard concept to understand. If there are fifteen stores selling the same thing at roughly the same prices, and only one of those stores had an actual name on it, which store would you shop at? Which inspires trust? Which would become the household name?

Be that store – or service or organization.

2. Multichannel is Key

To bring it all around, I’m going to say something that every reputable marketer has been saying for the last five years that some people for one reason or another seem to flat out ignore – if you want success, you CAN NOT rely on just one channel. I don’t care if that channel is SEO, Email, social or something else, if you are building a business one only one channel or the majority of your focus is on one channel, you will fail.

That’s right. I said it and I’ll say it again – focus on only one channel and you will almost certainly fail.

In my entire career, I’ve only found one or two types of businesses that can succeed focusing on one channel – usually those are like stores that sell bulk replacement bolts and parts for industrial machines because if you need that sort of thing, you already know where to get it. Other than that, I’ve never seen one business, whether B2B or B2C, succeed on only one channel. You need to diversify.

Connect all your channels in a way that makes sense – bring ’em in with SEO and Social, gate some quality free content to get them on your email lists, follow up with an email with a coupon or two, retarget them on social and PPC – repeat. It’s really not that hard.

1. Searcher Intent is King

For the biggest lesson in 2020, I’m going to repeat something I’ve said so many times before that people still haven’t gotten in their heads – although I will say people have been a LOT more receptive to it in recent months than when I first started to say this.

This is one of those things that I say in groups of SEOs and when I’m there they go, ‘oh yeah, that’s so true!’ and when I leave they immediate go to their clients or to their jobs and do the same old nonsense because that’s what the clients understand.

Here it is:



Just stop it. All of it. The concept of ‘keywords’ is basically as dated and are rapidly becoming as obsolete as meta tags, in my opinion. If you are out there in 2020 trying to rank first for a keyword, I hate your face and I don’t care who you are.

If Rankbrain wasn’t enough of a slap in the face for you to see what the future of SEO was, we now have BERT and other algorithm updates to process natural speech that they’re probably working on that they just havent announced yet. Does that not tell you that keywords are useless?



Listen to me, seriously listen, if the technical parts of your website are solid, you can safely trash every ‘keyword optimization’ technique you ever learned because if you’re making solid content people who visit your site actually want and would find useful, those precious ‘keywords’ will NATURALLY BE INCLUDED.

Answer questions, write legible things, do what your customers and visitors want and expect to find on your site when they visit. That’s all. It’s not wizardry. I don’t need to dig into Google patents or diagram out ngrams or whatever other ‘super elite rockstar hacking ninja SEO’ gatekeeper crap out there to tell you that. It’s just common sense.

If you are giving your visitors what they want on a good website, of COURSE you’re going to ‘rank real high for magic words’, if that’s still the archaic goal you’re chasing. More importantly, for the rest of us living in this decade, it will do the thing SEO is supposed to actually do: Drive QUALITY traffic to your website.

The Bottom Line

Honestly, none of these things I listed are much different than the plan for 2019 or 2018 because, with the exception of new data privacy laws, the basic marketing rules just don’t change all that much.

Don’t spam, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, let people know who you are and why they should choose you and give the people what they want.

It seems that the more things change, they more they stay the same, don’t it?

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