5 Changes in Digital Strategy for 2020: Planning your Digital Strategy

keyword intent

digital media and traditional mediaDigital marketing strategy for 2020 is different; partly due to changes in technology, partly due to changes in consumer habits, and partly due to platform changes. As the year ends, it seems like the perfect time to consider how these changes impact your digital marketing strategy.

1. Search intent signals

How many times a day do you search online? 20? 30? 100?

If you’re like most of us, you use the internet many times a day for everything from shopping, to research, to just plain curiosity. To do the search, we enter keywords (actually more like keyword phrases or entire questions) into the search box. And, we expect Google (or Yahoo or Bing) to give us the exact information we’re looking for in one of the first search results (SERPs).

This requires Google to extrapolate from our keywords to what we wanted–using intent signals to informs results. Google tries to determine between 3 types of intent (see below):

keyword intent
Image courtesy of Wordstream

To deliver optimal results, Google uses everything it knows about you from prior searches, emails (yes, Google does look at emails sent and received through Gmail), and what’s in your cookies. Now, this may seem a little “big brotherish”, but it helps Google deliver what you need. If you’d rather forgo getting better results in favor of increased privacy, use DuckDuckGo, as this search engine doesn’t collect personal data.

From the marketer’s perspective, determining intent is key to showing up in the right results. Some marketers prefer to go broad with as many general keywords as possible, while others focus on intent words that signal where a buyer is in the process so they can deliver the right content for the right stage in the buying process. This is especially important when using paid advertising as the user’s intent (reflected in the words used in their search) helps bring qualified buyers to your site while other words that suggest prurient interest may cost you money when unqualified buyers click.

Determining intent is further complicated when users employ devices like Alexa and other voice-activated devices to search. That’s because people speak using different words than they type. Researchers predict that 50% of all searches will occur using a voice-activated device in 2020. That’s a massive increase in use that demands a critical rethinking of your keyword strategy. For instance, you need to make your keywords really long, which means there’s now a difference between “give me a recipe for something” and “show me where I can find something”.

Thus, building your keyword strategy to consider user intent and using these signals to increase returns is a critical challenge in today’s marketplace.

2. Artificial intelligence/ Machine learning

Continuing a trend that’s been around for a while, machine learning is helping marketers increase yields from everything from email to mobile marketing efforts.

Persado, one of the growing list of companies offering machine learning, provides case studies like the one below that show how firms increase return on investments through metrics.

In one case, Air Canada tested 32 versions of an email to hit on just the right tone and emotional content needed to drive returns employing Persado’s vast database of conversational tags that drive action.digital marketing strategy for 2020
Across all companies, Persado brags of a 41% conversion lift using their emotional words and AI together.

But, AI isn’t limited to match messaging to actions that move the needle. According to Forbes, AI has a host of uses for digital marketers. For instance, AI can improve the user’s experience, allowing actions like virtually trying-on items or getting nearly instantaneous customer support. Many of the interactions you have with businesses online are actually fueled by AI, not human interactions. Chatbots are becoming all the rage.

Thus, AI fits with consumer’s increased use of interactive content versus static content, which is also trending for 2020.

Speaking of interactive content, it’s the new video content in that it’s gobbling up consumer attention like crazy. Games, VR, quizzes, polls, just about anything you can think of that involves visitors is golden when it comes to digital marketing strategy in 2020.

This interactive content supports other elements of your digital marketing and SEO by encouraging:

  • longer visits to your page
  • increased sharing
  • retention — consumers are more likely to retain your messaging if they engage with it

3. Shopping ads as part of a digital marketing strategy for 2020

One of the most exciting changes in the Google Ads platform is shopping ads like the one below.


shopping ads

Notice, I type in “red shoes” and, there at the top of my SERPs are a host of ads for red shoes. Because these ads show up at the top of SERPs and because of their large and visual, they get a lot of eyeballs. And, consumers are just a click or two away from buying the perfect product without even visiting the webpage first.

For most firms, using shopping ads really amps performance.

In a couple of experiments, WordStream compared traditional digital ads with shopping ads and the shopping ads outperformed (by a serious amount) when it came to CPC, ROAS, Conversion rate and Value/ conversion. So, shopping ads are some serious business.

4. Featured snippets

You’ve probably noticed featured snippets showing up at the top of your search results. For instance, the one below is the featured snippet you’d see if my post turned up in your results.serps

Usually, it’s just the first result (or maybe 2) that shows up along with their featured snippet. There’s even a new name for this result — position 0, which is much, much better than position 1, which is held by the first text link. Interestingly, position 0 might not be the same as the content in link position 1, but lower in the SERPs.

Again, their size and visual component make them stand out, further increasing the amount of traffic driven to your site based on showing up in the first position in SERPs.

5. “People also ask” add to your digital marketing strategy for 2020

Another change you might have seen in your SERPs recently is the section on “PEOPLE ALSO ASK”. This section contains a series of tabs for alternate ways of constructing your query or refining it to give you, the user, better results. Check out this section for the query “digital marketing for 2020”.

digital marketing strategy for 2020
Not only does this section provide incredible value to users (which is why Google added them in the first place), but they’re great for business SEO.

Now, there’s another section of the SERPs to draw the attention of users; providing another option for businesses who want to capture attention (and visits) from users. Note that these are organic search results, so they’re totally controlled by your SEO strategy, not how much money you have to spend on ads.

Each tab contains 1 or 2 options for sites that address the particular related question asked. And, each contains the snippet for that page, making page snippets ever more important.

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