As a marketer, it’s very important for us to stay at the top of our competition, and keep abreast of the latest marketing automation trends.
Here’s the good news: we’ve done the research, and put together a comprehensive list of marketing automation trends for 2020.
All you have to do is to check out this list and think about how you can incorporate these trends into your 2020 marketing strategy.
The sooner you adopt these trends and start using them to fine-tune your marketing strategy, the more advantage you’ll have on your competitors.
Top 7 Marketing Automation Trends
1. Marketers will focus on giving their customers an omnichannel experience
For those who aren’t aware of what the term “omnichannel” means, it simply refers to integrating your customer’s shopping experience across multiple channels and devices.
Say you have a lead who wants to buy a new software tool. This person might…
- Do a Google search and arrive at your website.
- Head over to your Facebook page to look at your recent updates.
- Email you or send you a message on live chat, enquiring about your tool’s functionality.
Regardless of which channel your lead uses, or what device they’re using, the goal is to provide them with a seamless, consistent experience across all devices and channels.
Now, omnichannel marketing has always been crucial, but it will become even more important to businesses moving forward.
By ensuring that all of your channels are consistent and well-integrated, you’re reducing friction and boosting your chances of closing the sale.
Plus: statistics show that businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to a business that doesn’t, so making omnichannel marketing your priority is well worth your effort.
Now, if you’re wondering what has omnichannel marketing got to do with automation, the answer is… everything.
As Michael Brenner puts it, omnichannel requires “pluralized engagement with customers and clients’, and the only way for businesses to supply their customers with relevant, up-to-date and accurate information is to rely on automation.
More specifically marketing automation enables businesses to “analyze key access points for consumers”, and deliver information to them in a timely, relevant manner.
Unfortunately, as you might already know, omnichannel marketing isn’t that straightforward.
While the average marketer already understands the importance of omnichannel marketing, they still struggle with creating an omnichannel experience for their customers.
According to a study by Rakuten Marketing and CMO Club, the main challenges that marketers are facing in this area include:
- Lack of resources and investments required to succeed
- Lack of analytical and technical resources to make sense of data
- Difficulty integrating data
- Lack of communication between marketing agencies and/or vendors
- Lack of C-suite buy-in to the value of omnichannel
- Siloed organizational structure
That said, we expect that marketers will be better equipped to make the leap in 2020. Driving this change is none other than the evolution of CRM systems.
In the past, CRM systems were simply platforms that businesses used to keep track of customer data, but they’ve now become so much more than that.
CRM systems today are extraordinarily powerful; in fact, there are plenty of CRM systems that are essentially full-blown marketing technology stacks.
These days, it’s not uncommon to find CRM systems that come with:
- Analytics and data visualizations solutions
- Help desks and chat widgets
- Content management systems
- Email marketing functionality
Because businesses are now taking care of all your marketing within a single CRM software (instead of switching between multiple tools), it’s easy for them to track their interactions with their customers on different platforms.
2. Automated email campaigns will become more interactive
Automated email campaigns have become every marketer’s bread and butter.
Pretty much every business understands the importance of email marketing and is utilizing automated campaigns to nurture their leads.
So, what’s the next frontier when it comes to email marketing?
In 2020, we foresee that marketers will focus on fine-tuning their automated campaigns and making them more engaging and interactive.
Some ways you can do this include:
- Moving banners
- Animated GIFs
- CSS Animation
Some marketers are hesitant to incorporate interactive elements into their email campaigns due to a high technical barrier to entry. For small email teams, interactive emails may seem out of reach. But there are simple ways to “start small,” like changing button colors, incorporating hover effects, and highlighting images with pop-over motions.
If you’re not sure how to get started, one easy way is to incorporate video into your email campaigns. While embedding live video into an email isn’t well-supported, a great alternative is linking a static screenshot or thumbnail or your video to a landing page where visitors can watch the full clip.
Justine Jordan, CMO at Help Scout and former VP of Marketing at Litmus, says that Litmus recently tested out this strategy to great success.
As part of an Email Client Market Share campaign, Litmus analyzed15 billion email opens to see where subscribers read emails, then put together a video and infographic to summarize the findings.
They also sent an email to their subscribers promoting the infographic, which included a static screenshot of the video in the email.
Once readers clicked through, they would be able to watch the video and view the infographic on the Litmus blog. The video starts with a brief overview of the infographic, then continues into a demo of how to use Litmus products to perform your own email client market share analysis.
The results? The video was viewed around 570 times, with viewers watching 64% of the clip-on average.
This translates into more than 18 hours of content (including product promotion) being viewed – not too shabby, huh? You can read the entire interview with Justine and learn more about using video and email together on the Wistia blog.
3. Predictive lead scoring will become the norm
When it comes to lead scoring, many B2B companies are still relying on manual lead scoring (ie calling up leads and asking them qualifying questions).
That said, in 2020, we predict that companies will increasingly shift to using predictive lead scoring to streamline the process.
Here’s the thing: manual lead scoring is an outdated method, and it’s a waste of time.
Instead of getting your sales reps to painstakingly call every lead and ask them a standard set of questions, you can simply use technology to get the job done.
If you’re currently using the best marketing automation software, there’s a high chance that your software already comes with a predictive lead scoring feature built-in.
Here’s how this works:
Predictive lead scoring takes into account various factors (such as demographics and personal information, behavioral data, and social information) to assign a score to each lead that enters your system.
This score tells you how high quality your lead is (and how likely they are to convert into a paying customer). This way, your sales reps can focus their efforts on serving hotter leads, instead of wasting all their time talking to cold leads who may or may not convert.
For those who aren’t using marketing automation software, there are also standalone lead scoring tools that you can use to take care of this step.
Ideally speaking, your automation or lead scoring software should be able to score your leads based on their urgency (not just their behaviors).
Maria Pergolino, the CMO of Anaplan, says that urgency scoring is critical to understanding whether your leads are getting ready to purchase.
For instance: if someone used to visit your website once a week, but now visits it every other day, this is a good indicator that they’re getting ready to buy.
If possible, you’ll want to filter out these leads, and have your sales reps attend to them ASAP!
4. ChatBots will proliferate the web
In 2018, we saw many companies jump on the chatbots bandwagon.
Facebook chatbots, in particular, were a huge hit. These are easy to set up (no coding required!) and can help businesses in all industries take care of their customer service needs.
Moving ahead, we predict that chatbots will become even more popular and that even more companies will use chatbots to complement their marketing automation efforts.
Michael Peggs, the founder of Marccx Media, agrees, saying that chatbots are a key component of marketing automation and that companies should use these bots to “intelligently automate (their) customer service”.
5. Marketers will use chatbots to close more deals
On the same topic of chatbots: on top of our prediction that chatbots will grow in popularity, we’re also predicting a shift to more sophisticated chatbots.
In 2018, chatbots were still a new and novel concept, and most companies that did experiment with chatbots built bots that were pretty basic and straightforward.
These bots are able to provide information to users and/or answer basic questions, but that’s about it.
Now, as businesses are becoming more familiar (and comfortable!) with chatbots, they’ll start moving towards building more sophisticated bots that utilize the power of AI to recommend products and close deals.
If you’re wondering how this translates to real life, in retail, many companies are already using chatbots to provide information and recommend products to their customers.
H&M, for example, uses a bot to help customers build the perfect outfit:
It’s not hard to imagine how B2B businesses might make use of this technology.
For instance, say you own an SEO keyword research tool, and you’ve built a chatbot to help you generate more leads.
If your chatbot identifies that they’re speaking to a first-time user, it might serve up common FAQs to let your user learn more about your tool.
If it seems that it’s engaging a returning user, on the other hand, it could offer an extended trial or a product demo in order to move this user further down the funnel.
6. Automation has to build trust with customers
2018 was the year of data breaches and moving into 2020, customer skepticism is at an all-time high.
Bearing this in mind, the goal in 2020 is to build trust with our consumers. However, most businesses are still too salesy when communicating with their customers; as a result, they come across as self-promotional and non-genuine.
As Michael Leander, founder of Markedu, puts it: “The best-automated campaigns are the ones where customers don’t realize they’re automated, and marketers who are proficient at crafting these campaigns will excel in 2020.”
So, how do you build a relationship with your consumers and get them to trust you?
First, take a long, hard look at the marketing collateral you’re putting out, and ask yourself: are you being too salesy? If so, ramp it down a notch.
On top of that, take a look at your automated campaigns as well, and consider how you can make them more personal.
Delving a little deeper into this:
If a subscriber receives an email from you, and it’s obvious that it’s an automated message, they’ll automatically discount the email and/or distrust it.
After all, they’re simply one out of thousands who are receiving the email. Why should they give it the time of day?
If a subscriber receives an email that’s tailored to them and looks as though it’s sent specifically to them (or to a smaller group), then it’s a different story. We have a few tips on user onboarding emails that you can use to craft such tailored and high-converting emails.
Now, this subscriber will appreciate that you took the time to personalize the email to them, and they’ll be more likely to read your email and entertain your offer.
Bearing this in mind, here are a few tips that you can use to “humanize” your email marketing automation, and have it build trust:
First, inject some “human error” into automated email sequences by purposely missing out on a key component of your email.
For instance, you can trigger an email to your consumers that’s missing a link, and then schedule a follow-up email that includes that link.
On top of that, be sure to use a highly conversational tone – you won’t be able to build rapport with your subscribers if you’re too stuffy and robotic.
Here’s a negative example:
“This scheduling tool is proven to bring ROI to companies, and as such, it will definitely be a huge asset to your company. Companies with 10-50 employees save 104 hours per month on average – this gives them 343% ROI.”
And a positive example:
“Now, I know that you need to justify spending on ToolName to your CFO – but don’t worry, you can easily get them on board by telling them how much ROI you’ll generate with our tool.
We’ve got plenty of small-sized companies (between 10-50 employees!) like you using ToolName, and these guys save 104 per month on average. This gives them a whopping 343% ROI – no one can argue with that! ;)”
7. Marketers will double-down on A/B testing
A/B testing, as a practice, is nothing new – but the way we conduct A/B tests has evolved significantly in the past few years.
For one thing, A/B testing used to be a nice-to-have, not a must-have.
While marketers knew it was good to do A/B testing in theory, but they didn’t spend a ton of time on it, or make it a priority.
In 2018, however, we’ve seen a shift towards results-driven marketing, and marketers are now increasingly defining and tracking key metrics, and analyzing the data they have on hand.
A/B testing is also more widely practiced than ever, with marketers understanding that it’s important to conduct A/B tests rather than to just go with whatever feels right.
So, moving on to 2020, we’re predicting that marketers will move towards conducting more rigorous, high-quality significant tests.
What do we mean by this?
Well, marketers who are new to A/B testing generally make one or more of the following mistakes:
- Stopping tests early (and concluding, prematurely, that one variant has won).
- Changing multiple variables within a single A/B test.
- Comparing different time periods within a single A/B test.
- Not running the A/B test for long enough.
- Changing parameters or variables in the middle of their test.
But A/B testing is becoming more of “established” science, and marketers are increasingly becoming acquainted with A/B testing best practices.
So, in 2020, we foresee that marketers will run more high-quality A/B tests, and come away with more accurate, statistically sound data and insights.
If one of your goals in 2020 is to conduct better A/B tests, check out Neil Patel’s A/B testing calculator.
The marketing landscape changes rapidly every year, but here’s one constant: we get access to more technology and tools each year.
Now, it’s easy to fall back into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality…
But if you want to generate more leads and revenue for your company, you’ll have to make use of new technology. No ifs, and, or buts.
So, now that we’ve entered 2020, make it a point to embrace new technology and tactics, and to keep pushing for better results.
Or, as Steve Jobs famously said: stay hungry, stay foolish.
Here’s to supercharging your marketing campaigns, and taking them to the next level!