15 Marketing Strategies You’ll Need for 2020

This year I attended several digital marketing conferences. Three of the more exciting conferences were the State of Search in Dallas, WordCamp St. Louis, Mavericks in Melbourne, Australia.

As much as I think I can learn from Google’s webmaster YouTube videos and blog posts alone, conferences like these show me that there is so much you can learn by focusing and taking extensive notes. Then going back and doing your own research.

Not to mention the connections I make with some of the speakers and other guests.

At the State of Search, there were over 30 workshops. The only downside of the conference was that I wanted to visit them all but, of course, could not, and then to find out the organizers were not recording the sessions. I had to feverishly take copious notes.

At WordCamp US, they recorded most of the presentations. Yah!!

For me, the best way to remember everything I learned those few days is to do my own research, create a blog post and share my notes with you all.

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So let’s get started.

1) Optimize your website for expertise, authority, and trust

@jennyhalasz. Jenny Halasz from JLH Marketing was the keynote and discussed EAT, the acronym for Google’s core guidelines, and BERT.

I also watched a great YouTube video from the guys at Income School that has a great explanation of EAT.

  • E – Expertise and credentials. The E ensures original and complete reporting, a thorough about us page and biography, and
  • A – Authority and Reputation. The A represents the overall quality of your content that includes credentials and reviews.
  • T – Trust and Security. The T stands for the overall website quality and safety.

Principally, Google is fighting back at fake websites, non-authority bloggers, and black hat SEO by declaring war on deceptive websites with poor user experience. As I and others have been saying for years, optimizing your website for Google means optimizing your website for your customers. Keep doing that. Keep creating sites that are interesting and informative and helpful for your customers.

Google cannot measure EAT; it is the result of the ranking factors working, not the factors themselves.

Google cannot measure EAT; it is the result of the ranking factors working, not the factors themselves. Click To Tweet

Some tips for ensuring that your website is EAT worthy:

  • Work to get mentions from social media and links provides authority.
  • Ensure your website is mobile friendly and secure.
  • Reduce your site’s technical errors by checking for broken links, missing images, non-existent pages that send 404 errors.
  • Add reviews and ratings.
  • Create an About Us page and add photos of you and your team with links to their LinkedIn pages.
  • Add a bio to your blog posts to show your authority. It doesn’t have to be full of all your education and credentials but a short summary of who you are and why you can be talking about this.

Finally, BERT. If you want more information on BERT, I recommend watching this YouTube video by Google; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eKVizvYSUQ&feature=youtu.be.

BERT Slides: https://www.slideshare.net/jennyhalasz/your-search-diet-how-not-to-over-eat

More from Google: https://blog.google/products/search/search-language-understanding-bert?sfns=mo

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2) Customer Journeys Will Replace Marketing Funnels

Understand your customer’s journey and create content for each stage. It’s actually the same thing as a funnel but I believe it’s more nuanced and may be easier to map out.

@cgawley. Cameron Gawley, from BuzzShift, spoke on the difference between basic cable viewing and Netflix. The idea is that Netflix shows you the videos that you like. They personalize the experience. His topic was State of Social: Digital Marketing Into The Next Decade

The idea is to personalize your funnel based on where your target market is in your marketing funnel.

  1. Awareness Stage – I’ve never heard of you before.
  2. Consideration Stage – I’ve heard of you.
  3. Conversion Stage – I am buying from you.
  4. Loyalty Stage – I love you.
  5. Advocacy Stage – I love you so much I’ll share.

I’ll be sharing more on this later.

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3) Email Marketing Makes A Comeback

@Send13smtp Chris Lang from KLEAN13.com and SEND13.com, spoke about improving your email marketing using SEO and making sure campaigns show up in the Inbox and not the Promotions or Spam filter.

First, email marketing is NOT dead and it never really went away. For every $1 spent on email marketing, you should expect an ROI of 44%. Be sure that you are continually building your list and segmenting them. You want to be purposeful about sending emails to people based on their interests.

Then, he discussed understanding the difference between Delivery and Deliverability, meaning that just because you send an email, you should not assume it is getting delivered.

“Delivery happens when my email server sends a message. It’s either accepted or not. Then it is sent to spam folder based on:

  • Domain name reputation of the Email Service Provider (ESP)
  • The IP address reputation of the ESP.”

The issue is that you don’t have control over the ESP.

You can only control what you create, but how do you make sure your emails get seen? Tools like https://gmail.com/postmaster/, built by Google, are helpful “to analyze your email performance and help Gmail route your messages to the right place.”

What you are trying to prevent with Gmail is your emails landing in the Promotions tab. The best way to help with that is to request that your audience whitelist your URL and email. Whitelisting is Google’s primary way of determining the authority and trustworthiness of your emails.

Tools:

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4) The Technical Side of SEO Is Still Important.

@argentmedia – Chris Silver Smith with Argent Media.

There are over 200 Google ranking signals, which were recently updated in May 2019. The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines are what human quality raters use to evaluate websites and Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). They don’t directly affect rankings, but their findings are used to improve Google’s search algorithm.

Chris repeated the earlier comments about Google’s EAT algorithm but took it a bit further with the more technical side of it. He discussed Google’s patent, the Website quality signal generation. In the patent, it’s clear that EAT, as mentioned above, has become key to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

  1. Make sure you have About Us, Contact, Privacy Policy to your websites.
  2. Get listed in quality guides like LinkedIn, Dun & Bradstreet, BBB, and, yes, Yelp.
  3. Remove spam or poor quality backlinks from other websites.
  4. Fix error pages on your website.
  5. Grammar and spelling are essential.
  6. Mobile optimized.
  7. Social cues from sites like Google Maps asking for driving directions, click through from Facebook or LinkedIn.

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5) Google SERPs Will Continue to Change

@StoneTemple, Eric Enge from Perficient Digital. Presentation: Thriving In Google SERP World

The first page of a Google Search Result Page will be changing in 2020. If you haven’t noticed already, the SERPs have made major shifts with Snippets, Local Vendors, 3-Pack Maps, Adwords, then finally, organic results.

Featured snippets will continue to reduce the number of clicks you get from organic results. As you build your content, remember the technical side of your pages.

Some specific techniques to consider:

  • Snippet Recipes
  • Schema
  • Broad Search
  • Voice Search

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6) Deep, Epic, and Specific Content Will Replace Generic Content

As SERPs change and Google demands more authority and experience be represented on your website, your content will require that you dig deep into your topics and create epic level information. Remember the days where you created epic Ebooks? Yeah.. those are gone now. Your blogs should be epic ebook level.

Then, as you build your customer journey it will also determine your content topics, you’ll need to be specific to that customer and where they are in the buying stage.

It will become ever more important to create depth of content on specific topics rather than wide, generic content.

Epic content is the content that rocks a reader’s world. It gives them hope and strengthens the trust they have for you. The problem is that most people who advise you to create epic content write average content.

https://neilpatel.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-writing-epic-content-that-will-go-viral/

How can you do that?

  • Look for vertical opportunities
  • Optimize your YouTube videos
  • Go in-depth with great detail
  • Go long.. more than 1000 words.
  • Add big data then explain it

Need help writing great B2B website content?

Not sure what topics to use for your blog?

Need help creating epic content?

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7) Citations Are Not As Important for Local SEO… Think Prominence

@mbealin, Mark Bealin from SearchLab discussed Local SEO and how citations are not as important as they used to be.

Top tips from SearchLab:

  • Focus on strategy and less on lists. We cannot rely on simple lists like step 1 create citations, step 2 claim your GMB, and step 3 select a category. To build your local SEO strategy, lists are part of a process within a strategy. Thinking strategically about local SEO is more about the long term without an endpoint. It’s about consistent iteration and improvements to your website and your online strategy.
  • Focus on the majors, less on the minors. It is an iteration of processes from Idea to Creation to Outreach to Measurement to Reporting.
  • Local SEO is not a checklist of citations. It used to be that we had a list of citations to correct like Name, Address, Phone (NAP). This is still important but the strategy needs to be about building local links and building them at scale using relevance, proximity, and prominence.

For relevance, it used to be that you set up your NAP citations and your GMB (Google My Business) and that would be it. That is no longer the case and proximity is largely out of our control.

So what will it take in 2020 to improve your local SEO?

Prominence… that is the word for local SEO in 2020.

(The next topic about Google My Business in number 8 explains more about this.)

“Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.”

https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en

Need help creating links? Here is a worksheet.

Link building takes time. When it comes to building prominence, time is a precious commodity. The checklist disappears and strategy that honors time replaces it.

How do you strategically build links?

  1. Build foundational local links from your community like newspapers, community sites, websites from other local businesses, education and government sites, events, and even local social posts.
  2. Start link prospecting. See if you can collaborate with others in your industry or group to share links.
  3. Create link outreach campaigns.
  4. Then measure it.
  5. Finally, create your content using a calendar and content brief. See how to create a content brief from Content Marketing Institute. Don’t forget your customer reviews.
These are links for sponsors in the local Houston WordPress Meetups
More links from a local Chamber of Commerce
Outreach email example courtesy of mbealin

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8) You Need A Complete and Thorough Google My Business (GMB) Account

I provide more details about Google My Business in this post.

Essentially GMB is a free service from Google to list your business profile on Google Maps and Google search.

There are still tons of low hanging fruit in Google My Business (GMB). Since they removed the social aspect of Google, Google+, much of their attention has shifted to GMB. Google wants local marketing on Google to be as simple as possible for local businesses which are good. GMB includes the ability to manage your business profile branding, hours, photos, and even add posts.

In 2018, Moz ran its annual ‘Local Search Ranking Factors Study‘. They found that the #1 ranking factor for ranking in the map pack was your Google My Business Profile. As I mentioned earlier, just having a GMB account is not enough. To stand out, it needs to be spot on and highly optimized.

In 2017, Local SEO Guide checked over 200 factors to find what businesses do to rank locally. The top businesses had reviews that included your keywords. This could be customer reviews from anywhere, not just Google. Then it is those reviews that included the name of the city in it and then if any had responses to them or photos added by the company and even customers. Below is a complete list:

Quick Tip: Take Advantage of What Your Competitors Are Not Doing:

  • Claim your listing. Many businesses have yet to claim their listings and many more don’t realize they have one.
  • Photos. Upload your photos. Research shows that GMB photos are increasingly being used by customers. Therefore Google will be giving them more weight and value over time.
  • Reviews. In 2020, reviews will be central to your company’s visibility and conversions.
  • Ask questions and give answers. Don’t leave it up to your customers to answer another customer’s question. This can lead to inaccurate information. Be sure to answer them yourself. Don’t have any? Ask them yourself.

Q&A. In GMB listings, 91% of questions from prospective buyers have yet to be answered by business owners. Most questions are being answered by other users which is not what most companies would want. Just like Google My Business reviews, Q&As are essentially crowdsourced by real people who ask questions with the expectation the business will answer their questions. The issue is that many business don’t realize that it’s out there so questions go unanswered or worse yet, they answered incorrectly. Learn more about Google’s Q&A section.

google my business qanda factors
  • Posts. I recommend posting any specials you might be having, news, and announcements. Research shows that currently don’t have quite a high impact but I imagine this may change in the near future.
  • Categories. Be sure to update your categories and choose more than one. Most companies only choose one category and are not taking advantage of the option to have more.

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9) PPC Will Need To Be A Key Part of Any Digital Marketing

@wordstream, Navah Hopkins

Even in small amounts, Pay Per Click (PPC) will need to be added to your B2B marketing arsenal. PPC in all forms is always changing and in 2020 it may be the only game to play. It is getting more expensive but as Google starts promoting their own frameworks like Google Leads, Google Shopping, Google My Business, Adwords or paid ads will become more competitive. Organic Search has already become an elusive goal for many industries like plumbers, gyms, and lawyers. I’ve seen it in my own customer’s campaigns. Their paid ads are pushed down away from the top section of a screen in favor of other platforms.

Let’s not mention the mere cost to manage social media campaigns. As social platforms get more sophisticated and harder to create engagement, a well-paid ad that is highly targeted can do wonders.

The downside to organic search is that it takes time to get indexed and really start generating traffic from this source. (If you’re looking for instant gratification, look elsewhere!)

If your customers are on Facebook, FaceBook ads were the way to go because it was new and cheap. Now, the ads are more sophisticated and highly targeted but also competition is driving an increase in cost.

LinkedIn ad costs keep rising as well.

PPC, even for B2B agencies, will need to be part of any marketing budget. It could be a small budget, say $300, or a large one over $10,000 per month, but paying for eyeballs and clicks should, in part, be a goal.

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10) Adwords Text Ads Will Keep Changing

@markirvine99, Mark Irvine

Did you know that 88% of all Google revenue comes from advertising? As Google has been making drastic changes to the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), Adword ads have seen drastic changes as well. The biggest recently was the new, longer text ads. In 2020, it’ll be important to test your PPC ads two at a time and test the whole ad. The issue I’ve learned is that people are testing ads by changing one or two lines and creating multiple versions of them. You can’t get a sense of which ads are working and which are not.

Visit Mark’s post about Google Ad changes: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/08/22/new-expanded-text-ads

Courtesy of WordStream; https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/08/22/new-expanded-text-ads

As an example below, what you put in your H1 and H2 descriptions will be consistent but don’t rely on your H3 or H4 descriptions showing across the board.

adwords new form example

The H1 and H2 ads need to be independent statements and stay away from conjoiner words.

The H3 and H4 lines within the ads are not for mobile users.

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11) Structured Data Will Continue To Grow In Importance

@schemapp, Martha van Berkel, CEO Schema App

Not that it isn’t already important or has been around a while. Structured data is an underutilized tool but it is a tool that is growing in the digital marketing world. It’s understandable why it’s not used a lot because even for me it’s confusing. I get databases.

I get naming conventions. I get structure and organizations. But structured data code still confuses me.

There are several types of data conditions that you will want to use it. These are called recipes.

Structured data is primarily used for search and voice. It is the tool that connects your data and tells a story and allows the search engines to understand what you are about. When a website has schema markup in place, users can see in the SERPs what a website is all about, where they are, what they do, how much stuff costs, plus plenty of other stuff. Some people have taken to calling schema markup “your virtual business card.”

So what is structured data?

Schema markup is code you put into your website to add context to its content for non-human readers (i.e. Google). It gives Google information in a consistent way that is easier for it to process, which in turn allows Google to serve this content to its users in search results.

There are several types of Schema extensions for various types of businesses and purposes like automotive, health and life, Internet of Things, bibliography, and finance. In addition to recipe schema markup, there are many hundreds of schema markup options, however, some of the most commonly used examples include:

  • Organization & Local Business
  • Even schema markup
  • Ecommerce products
  • Articles
  • How To
  • FAQs

Tips When Adding Schema:

  • mainEntity of a page should be added as the primary topic.
  • Don’t put the same schema on the same page. For example, the Organization Schema, should only be added to your About Us page.

Schema Resources & Plugins

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12) Google’s User Experience (UX) Will Remain A High Priority for Conversions and Rankings

@beanstalkim, Mary and Dave Davies

Google needs you to enjoy your experience on its platform. To keep you on your platform, they are changing their user experience. As they improve their design, they want you to also improve your website.

So what are some of the features you should look into when making adjustments to your website? None of what I list below is new.

For 2020, it’s important to review your website’s content again as this list definitely factors in your search rankings.

  • Page speed. As always, your website’s speed a large factor in UX. Research shows that if a website loads 1 – 3 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 32%. 3-5 seconds and it jumps to 90%! Over 6 seconds and it’s at 106%. Check your page’s website speed.
  • Engaging Images. Any images you add to your website needs to reflect the quality of your business. It’s good to note that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and in reverse, only 80% of the text on most pages is never read or skipped.
  • Security. Encrypting your website is part of a bigger program to secure your customer’s information and privacy.
  • Titles and Descriptions. You should be testing and adjusting your titles and descriptions on a regular basis. These meta tags are what get your users to click on your website. Make sure that the tags match the content of your website.
  • Navigation is always about providing a clear path. Ask yourself where are you taking your users and why.
  • Digestible content. When creating your content, pages, posts, get to the point. Don’t dilly, dally around the concepts with cute phrases or lengthy stories. People came to your website for answers. Give it to them using chunks, easily digestible information.
  • Bold key points. Highlighting information makes it easier to find key points
  • Clean consistent formatting. Using similar fonts and line-heights and colors makes it easier for your users to read and understand and digest your pages.
  • Check for broken links. It’s a bad user experience to have broken links. For a split second it’s annoying, then the other second it’s frustrating.

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13) Useful Content is King.

It’s the old, well kind of old, adage that content is king. The old concept that we needed to create content, any content for the sake of content, is outdated. For 2020, we need to create content that is helpful and engaging.

Is that not an overused word, engaging? I think so.

What is engaging content? It means that you need to replace paragraphs of text with solutions. It means that you should add lists, tables, graphs, references, links to outside sources and not focus so much on keywords.

With schema markup and your useful content, Google and your users will thank you.

Learn how to write great B2B website content.

How many words are needed for a blog post or web page?

Blog topics for your next B2B blog post

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14. Privacy and Tracking

Katherine White from Kanopi Studios

Next year will be the year of privacy in the U.S. In 2019 it was about European privacy as we saw in influx in cookie notices and ridiculous emails with new terms and conditions. Understanding how to manage your customer’s privacy will be the next best thing in 2020 after our security upgrades in 2019.

The CCPA, short for the California Consumer Privacy Act, gives residents of the Golden State the right to learn what data companies collect about them. It also lets Californians ask companies to delete their data and not to sell it.

https://www.cnet.com/news/ccpa-everything-you-want-to-know-about-californias-new-privacy-law/

California’s privacy law that begins January 1, 2020, and soon Texas will follow that will for sure require more stringent policies regarding your customer’s data and how you manage it.

Once California passes a law, other states tend to consider following suit. California is the country’s largest market with nearly 40 million residents, and carries a lot of weight. Already, nine other states are considering similar laws, and Maine and Nevada have already passed narrower versions of privacy legislation.

https://www.cnet.com/news/ccpa-everything-you-want-to-know-about-californias-new-privacy-law/

But how can we as digital marketers provide a unique experience while still respecting our customer privacy? How can we learn without being creepy?

Katherine White gave a great presentation at WordCamp US in San Diego’s where she gave some ideas on how to do this.

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15) UX Will Matter More Than Ever

Olesya Boreyko: ROI of UX, How to Assign Money Value to Your Designs

In her presentation at WordCamp US, she explained the $300 Million button. The famous example of how User Interface (UX), the color and placement of 2 simple buttons helped a company increase sales to $300M. The story is how new customers did not like the idea of having to create an account to view products and regular users did not like the login form because there was no way to save your password or username.

Example of the form that was costing a company $300 Million per year.

After the UX people realized the situation, they changed ‘Register’ to ‘Continue’ to make it clear that customers can shop without an account. By changing this 1 word, they saw a 45% increase in purchases, 1-month increase by $15M, and then by 1 year $300M in sales.

In 2020, with millions of websites competing for the attention of billions of users, it becomes extraordinarily important to make sure your website’s design fulfills your company’s marketing goals congruently with the overall goals.

As you work on your company’s website, ask yourself at each stage of the build, “What is my website’s purpose and how can I get my users to accomplish that goal?” There might be an easy or small step (subscribe) or a giant leap (purchase) or there might be individual goals per page. Either way, where you place a button, the text on that button, the color of that button is important. You might not get it right the first time but iteration is key to any digital marketing strategy. Test and Record and Iterate your designs.

For 2020, UX has a challenge. Page builders make it super easy to build complicated websites without know code. Right at our fingertips we can add animation, change the color of the section’s background or add parallax features (you know that cool feature that allows you to scroll but the image stays put).

That gives us the rub in UX for 2020, why you do something will be more important than what you do. Back in the early days of the internet, we had spinning logos, blinking email icons, and a crazy amount of colors all on a single page. I see that we are heading back to that time and user interface design will be correcting that. For each design element, we need to ask if it adds value to the web page, the whole site, and, ultimately, the company.

Why you do something will be more important than what you do. Click To Tweet

Here are some UX design changes coming in 2020.

As we enter the next decade, reeling toward an unknown but optimistic future in technology, I can see digital marketing continually improving its role in marketing. It’s already core to any marketing strategy but I can see DM improving the user experience as we, as users, learn more who to trust, how much of our privacy we covet, and what technology is important.

I want to close with Salvador Dali’s message that you can never be assured perfection. The same holds true to digital marketing and your website. It’s a never-ending pursuit. You are never done.

Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.”

Salvador Dali

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Christina Hawkins

Since 1999, Christina has been designing and building exceptional websites. With many years of experience in creating thousands of websites, she understands the need for continuing education in her field and, therefore, is constantly learning and teaching others about internet marketing and digital processes. Christina has honed her digital marketing and graphic design skills so that she can help B2B industries get their message out to their target audience in the right way. In addition to her ability as a digital marketer, Christina serves as a coach and mentor with WPElevation to other digital marketing freelancers, helping them grow their businesses. She is a sponsor and co-leader of Houston's WordPress Meetup. Recently, she spear-headed the next Houston WordCamp 2020 as its coordinator after a 10 year hiatus and became the Houston Interactive Marketing Association Director of Technology.

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