People generally find lots to complain about in January!

Certainly in Ireland, daylight hours are limited and we can expect lots of Atlantic storms to make their way to our shores.  The Christmas hangover has well and truly established itself and our social media feeds are cluttered with every type of health and fitness fad you can imagine.

Call me strange but I love this time of year!

Its a great opportunity to wipe the slate clean and establish a new set of goals and objectives for our agency.  As we get ready for the new 20s decade (It still seems weird to call it the 20s without flashbacks ti the roaring 1920s…), I’m pretty excited for what’s around the corner.

In particular, our digital marketing industry is always subject to change so one of the annual traditions we have around here is our yearly predictions for what’s to come on the marketing front.  (see past predictions for 2018 and 2019) and it’s a chance for us to analyze past trends, anticipate the future of our crazy industry and – if we’re on point – prepare accordingly.

Sometimes we’re way off and other times, we hit the nail right on the head. Before we jump into the predictions for 2020, let’s take a look at how we did in 2019:

#1: Google Searches Resulting in “Zero Clicks” Will Increase (Again)

We start off with an easy win. There is no doubt the number of “Zero Click” searches will rise again in 2020, just as it has in each of the last three years. In case you need a refresher, a “Zero Click” search is one that results in zero websites receiving a visit via a click-through on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Rand wrote a great data-backed post over on his SparkToro blog, but here’s all you need to know:


Make no mistake, this is not fun news for digital marketers. What it means is that companies and marketers need to address what’s clearly happening – Google becoming more of a competitor to all of us – rather than hoping it goes away. As you’ll see later in the post, the idea of “Zero Click” searches will once again be a theme in 2020.

#2: On-SERP SEO Becomes a Term and a Tactic

It’s a bit of a challenge to find clear data on this one, but there is enough circumstantial evidence to suggest we were on the right track with the prediction and deserve partial marks.

Afterall, one of the ways to combat the issue of Google actively lowering the number of referrals the SERPs send is to do better on-SERP SEO.

Also consider these findings from a 2019 Google ranking factors report, also conducted by Rand and the SparkToro team:


The #1 and #3 trends are an even stronger indication that brands and marketers maybe should have been worrying about on-SERP SEO in 2019.

#3: Growth of the “Micro-Influencer”

Last year, we also predicted that marketers would be more critical when analysing the potential ROI from Influencer Marketing campaigns and in line with this there would be a trend to utilise  lesser known influencers who are a closer fit to the brand’s target audience.  Considering that Kylie Jenner topped the highest paid instagrammer list in 2019, charging in excess of one million USD for a single social post its not surprising that marketers are opting for a more affordable option in this space!

That been said, having run a number of Influencer Marketing campaigns for our client’s last year we have noticed a steady increase in costs for micro influencers as they become more aware of the “worth” of their influence and reach.


#4: Marketers Realize the Importance of Optimizing Content for Voice Search

voice-searchIn 2019, we wrote a post about how voice search will change the digital marketing landscape. Is that enough evidence for us to take a win? Given that one of Google’s major algorithm updates in 2019 – BERT, was mainly focused on NLP and voice search, we think its fair to assume that marketers are more aware of the importance of ensuring their content is optimised to appear in voice related searches.

#5: Video Content Grows in Popularity (Again)

We certainly had conviction in last year’s predictions, because we also blogged about video marketing in 2019. If that isn’t enough, consider these two stats:

  • According to HubSpot, 81% of businesses used video as a marketing tool in 2019, which was up from 63% over the last year
  • Cisco study found that by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic – 15 times higher than it was in 2017

In my book its important to practice what you preach and our agency went all in on video last year.  In case you missed our Christmas Santa campaign, here is a quick reminder…


So overall, it looks like most of our predictions for last year came though but what does 2020 have in store?

#1: Zero-Click Searches Are Going to Continue to Take Over

If you saw this repeat prediction coming, you’ve been paying attention. Unfortunately for marketers, ad and organic clicks are steadily on the decline and we’re going to keep a close eye on this one over the course of the next year.

Over the next 12 months, we’re expecting marketers to focus on optimizing their web content on Google’s own properties (YouTube, Maps, Images, Knowledge Panels, etc) in an attempt to offset any negative impact to their traffic.

#2: It’s Time to Consider Other Communication Channels (Besides Email) As Key Conversion Points

We’re not saying email is going extinct though! So don’t take this prediction to mean that you can stop cleaning and optimizing your lists.

Rather, the communication avenues have become so much more diverse in recent years that marketers and companies will need to leverage alternative channels in order to keep a competitive edge.

We’re expecting to see a lot more brands connect and engage with customers through solutions like chatbots, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Let’s see how this helps companies make meaningful relationships and drive engagement with their audiences.

#3: Software Vendors WIll Focus on Customer Data Compliance

With the increasing international demand for stronger personal data protection and well-known regulations like GDPR and CCPA, marketing software vendors will focus on compliance as a primary service.

Marketing teams, IT departments, as well as customers, will rely heavily on their tech vendors to adapt to the changing regulatory landscape. Subsequently, those vendors who don’t tout compliance as a prime service, will no-doubt lose market share.

gdpr-image#4: Influencer Marketing Will Continue to Soar

Even though micro-influencer’s are understanding their worth and may have slightly increased their costs, brands will still engage with them over the super-influencer’s, but focus efforts on finding the right “fit” for their brand.

Although on the surface, this prediction is sounding a lot like the one we made last year, the big difference is on data led discovery to find these smaller niche Influencers and validate that they are in fact reaching your target audience.  We have been working with Rand Fishkin on a beta release of his new Influencer Marketing platform called sparktoro and we are incredibly excited about the power of this platform to analyse influencer audiences – Watch this space!

Considering that over 90% trust other consumer recommendations along with this prediction that influencer marketing spend could reach $10 billion this year, we think we’ll be scoring ourselves pretty high for this one next year.

#5: Alternate Search Engines (NOT Bing or Yahoo) Will Come Out of the Woodwork

We’re not going as far as saying that alternate search engines will start competing with Google; Google will still continue to be the juggernaut it is. However, given the impact of zero-click effects (see #1 above) and the increasing concern over data privacy, privacy-focused search engines might have room to carve out a niche in 2020.

DuckDuckGo is one example of this and they’ve catered to privacy-minded searchers with their tagline “the search engine that doesn’t track you” because “search engines don’t need to track users to make money.”

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out among marketers and consumers in the New Year.

#6: Amazon overtakes Google and Facebook as the world’s leading advertising platform!

I couldn’t resist adding in a final prediction!  OK maybe its a stretch for this to happen by the end of 2020 but all the signs are there that amazon are quickly closing the gap on their rivals in the advertising space.  According to eMarketer, Amazon advertising revenues are foretasted to grow by over 30% in 2020 to a whopping 13 billion USD which accounts for almost 10% of the world’s digital advertising spend – Say that aloud and it starts to sink in.

The big difference between Amazon and Google or Facebook is intent. If someone is on amazon and clicks on an ad they are already in shopping mode!

Google is obviously the 1,000 lb gorilla when it comes to search but when someone searches on Google they may still be in research mode – when they perform the same search on amazon they are ready to buy.  If you are a retailer take note – You should be listing (and advertising) your products on Amazon even if you have an all singing all dancing ecommerce enabled website.

And that concludes the predictions for 2020! All of us at WSI are looking forward to what the New Year brings and we definitely plan on keeping a close eye on our predictions as well as the game-changing innovations that lay ahead.

Do you need a marketing plan for 2020?