The year 2019 has been a whirlwind in terms of growth in the digital space. The number of internet users has gone up to a number that was previously unprecedented - from 483 million users in the year 2018, India has now crossed half a billion internet users at a whopping 566 million. This means brands and companies have a whole new audience to market to and multiple innovative ways to do so!
Here are 7 digital marketing trends for 2020 that we expect will see the most traction:
While user growth has slowed down across most key markets, India has shown no such trend. This is a direct result of easy accessibility to mobile internet and cheaper smartphones with the advent of Jio. This has consequently led to the huge influx of new social apps in digital markets, like TikTok, Helo, Sharechat, Vigo, Bigo, Firework and some more in the pipeline.
The year 2020 will likely see a rise of even more such apps as these have proved to be a hit with new data users, having tapped into vernacular content and the interests of people in smaller towns. And since a large chunk of internet users from rural India - 251 million to be precise - have contributed to the growth in the total number of Indian internet users this year, 2020 can expect to see a higher demand for social apps that cater to this demographic.
It also doesn’t hurt that these media conglomerates have figured out a key factor in driving growth - offering social apps with access to entertainment like short-videos, gaming and live-streaming. 2019 has already seen these newer social apps climb the rankings on Google’s Android PlayStore, with TikTok ranking number one, and Helo at a close second. Facebook currently holds the third position, which may indicate that the dominance the Facebook family of apps has had may see a negative impact.
On that note, with so many first-time internet users, the rise of a lot of social platforms have seen their tremendous growth simply because they offer their content and services in vernacular. Language-driven services have had such an impact this year, that even Amazon and Flipkart are planning to get on this bandwagon soon to catch up with new age players like niki.ai, bulbul tv and Shop101. With a higher demand for vernacular content online, brands across segments will be forced to explore and deliver too if they want to see bigger growth. Storytelling is an impactful way to engage and connect with customers, and when done in a native tongue, the outcome is very personal and unique. This is evident in the thumbstopper format that Facebook offers, which intends to tell a story without sound, in order to capture the essence of a story and be able to tell it to speakers of any language.
Featured below are the thumbstopper videos we did in collaboration with Malabar Gold to promote their ‘Men in Platinum’ collection. The campaign dismantles stereotypical gender roles and highlights the fact that men are at their best when they are in their element. With an overall reach of 13 lakh views across Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, the brand’s Facebook page witnessed a 450% increase in user engagement proving that relatability is a language in itself.
Speaking about breaking language barriers, Swiggy recently ran a campaign titled #SwiggyStarhunt - a platform for delivery partners to showcase their talent by uploading videos on popular video-sharing app TikTok. These videos come under the categories of acting, dancing, singing and musical instruments. Since the campaign was targeted at delivery partners, we created a robust social media strategy in 11 languages to grab their attention and encourage them to participate in the event. The campaign resulted in an outpour of uploads onto the video-sharing app, with a whopping 44+ million organic views, reaching a pan-Indian audience and giving Swiggy the uplift it deserved. #SwiggyStarhunt is also a testament to the fact that leveraging new social media platforms like TikTok, along with the relatability of vernacular content, is a great way to connect with consumers.
4G has taken India’s markets by storm, and Indian service providers are eager to capitalize on this moment to drive user and customer engagement. Augmented Reality can be used in a multitude of ways, changing experiences across different sectors, be it retail, live events, museums, real estate, education or automobile.
Facebook introduced Spark AR this year for the general public, which allows users on Facebook and Instagram to create filters and upload them online. Other users can then save these and apply them to their stories. Facebook has been seeing a lot of success with the launch of this product and this will probably ‘spark’ AR trends even more. Google had already rolled out Google Lens which is an image recognition technology that uses the point and shoot feature to show fitting search results. These two giants have showcased the diversity in the use of AR and how successful it can be when implemented right, driven by function.
VR will also start to pick up more as we enter 2020, but since VR devices are still too expensive for the Indian market, it is unlikely that it will pick up at the same pace as AR will.
E-commerce is the way of the future, and with search interaction having increased, leading companies will find voice a profitable technology to drive sales and revenue. This has already been evidenced in the huge investment Amazon has put into Alexa and Google into Google Home and its Google Assistant. Businesses will see voice user interface as an innovative tool that enables faster, more efficient customer engagement as voice commands surround every sphere of life, driving purchases, payments and more. Voice ordering, already a popular phenomenon in the US, will start picking up in India as well. Brands are also tying up with new-age start-ups like niki.ai to engage with the next billion internet users. These AI powered start-ups build user experiences that are not just intuitive but also in a language that the customers in the Tier II and III cities are comfortable in, making it easy for them to place orders using voice commands.
Looking for a few tips on voice search marketing? Here’s our tell-all guide:
It’s quality over quantity, always. Which is why many brands are now wanting to capitalize on their first-party data, instead of opting for second and third-party data. First-party data allows for exact, valuable insights into a customer’s direct engagement with the brand, whether it’s their individual interests, which ads they engage with, or how much time they spend on the brand’s website. This information is unfiltered, specific, and relevant, which helps to build an audience profile that is an exact match with the product or service in question. It is also cost-effective, as it’s free, and is lawful and transparent. Nike is one such company which has already announced that they will be selling only directly going forward.
Artificial intelligence fits into this equation as it can prove to be extremely beneficial in sifting through these data sets, which for a team of actual people, can be daunting. AI could uncover insights that could have been missed otherwise, identify critical data and trends, and all at unmatched speed with extreme accuracy. Thus, AI and first-party data may hand-in-hand serve to drive more personalized communication soon.
Social media platforms have seen quite a few changes this year, which were a little surprising for everyone. At one end, there are platforms like TikTok and Sharechat, which incentivized influencers, and at the other end, Instagram rolled out an update that removed the like count. The Advertising Standards Council of India has also announced that they are framing new guidelines and rules in a bid to protect consumer interests, which will include influencer marketing under its purview. With the aim to curb forms of misleading information, the reach influencers have, the kind of information they put out, and the engagement brands have with influencers may all change in 2020.
It is commonly believed that as the world became increasingly digital over the years, physical stores began to see less engagement. But this doesn’t hold true for brands that rely heavily on location, like hotels, restaurants, and auto dealerships. For such brands, online to offline attribution is extremely relevant and useful, as this metric helps brands to trace and identify which online ads can be attributed to driving in-store foot traffic.
While Google Store Visits is already live and being used across brands, other platforms will also start leveraging location data, combined with first party and CRM data, to showcase what results digital is driving for retailers and offline stores. This can be a game changer for traditional brands that did not have digital as a key aspect of their marketing campaigns. The start of the next decade will likely see a lot of brands who are not yet using digital come online to use this tool to engage with customers better and drive sales insightfully.
Store visit ads were an integral part of our campaign with retailers like Malabar Gold, Khadims and Specsmakers. We leverage a mix of Google products using detailed demographic targetting as well as geo-fence the retail stores. The ads used online to offline attribution data to measure the increase in footfall to their stores. The below case study of Malabar Gold showcases how thousands of shoppers were targetted and tracked, for the recent Brides of India campaign.
All that being said, the trends predicted show a range of exciting opportunities to be used for growth. We at Social Beat are definitely eager to see what the start of the new decade has in store for the digital marketing sector and are excited to grow with it, scaling new heights.
This article was originally published in The Economic Times Brand Equity.