I know what you’re thinking… this is just another over-hyped article on what we can expect from marketing and advertising in 2020! As soon as we started to research this article, and read what some of the online sources were saying, we realised that the industry could do with a frank discussion on what we are seeing trend-wise as we head into 2020 in South Africa.

What follows is a reaction to some of the most popular trends for 2020 and a critical evaluation of its relevance to the South African marketing sector.

The media landscape
According to the We Are Social report published in January 2019, we now have 23 million active social media users – quite a jump from the 18 million users reported in 2018. Looking at these figures, it is clear that the need for effective social media marketing will only increase in the coming year. The same report shows YouTube to now be more popular than Facebook in South Africa, emphasising the importance of video – both short form and long form – across the industry.

Apart from these very obvious and continual trends, we have found a few others that may or may not be of importance to the South African marketing sector.

#1: Conversational marketing
Arguably the most exciting development in the digital marketing sphere over the last few years is the ability to implement feedback-oriented marketing to drive engagement, develop customer loyalty, grow the customer base, and, ultimately, grow revenue.

At Lumico we’ve found that complicated integrations such as artificial intelligence chatbots are more of a long term strategy, seeing as it is not only costly to implement, but that a lot of consumer education is also needed for a successful implementation. That does not mean that conversational marketing is completely off the table, though.

“South African companies can look to easily implementable conversational tools to add to their marketing ecosystem for short term wins while fleshing out their long term conversational strategy,” Daniel Malherbe, founder and director of Lumico, explains. Clever use of your Facebook Messenger inbox with targeted messenger and lead generation campaigns can start that initial conversation with new potential clients.

#2: Consumer privacy
With no definite date on the implementation of the POPI act as of yet, South African marketers are still in a bit of purgatory when it comes to data protection. More and more pressure is exerted from the European Union for their partners, like Facebook and Google, to comply with their GDPR regulations (General Data Protection Regulations), which in turn means that us as marketers in South Africa also need to comply.

Going forward, it is going to become increasingly important to keep customer data safe. This will mean taking drastic measures to keep a clean database, to not share data in any unlawful manner and to always give consumers the option of opting out of communication at any time. “As powerful as a database can be, the responsibility of protecting consumer identities is extremely important. Knowing what you can lawfully do and what not is critical when dealing with your client’s data”, Daniel Malherbe elaborates.

#3: Social shopping
Forbes reports that 72% of Instagram users have purchased products on the app, while 70% of surveyed Pinterest users make use of the platform to find new and interesting products. With stats like these, it is difficult to deny the power of e-commerce.

Currently, with Black Friday fast approaching, it seems like everyone is gearing up to hit online sales on 29 November. At Lumico, we always encourage clients to prepare their e-commerce promotions with their marketing funnels in mind. We’d like to be able to track consumer behaviour at every point, and be able to attribute sales to specific marketing actions.

“We so often get asked if social media ‘works’, and especially if you are running an e-commerce shop, it has become instrumental to use the tools available to attribute your social efforts and provide your client with an insightful ROI report,” states Daniel Malherbe, discussing the importance of adding both e-commerce and analytics to a marketing ecosystem.

#4: Gunning for position zero
Gone are the days where marketers enter complicated bidding wars to ensure the first position on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). The coveted ‘Position Zero’, also known as a featured snippet, aims to directly answer searchers’ questions without needing to click the search result link.

The Position Zero results provide users with a direct answer to a question with, for example, a step-by-step list on how to complete the question. These answers originate from Google’s Knowledge Graph project where Google’s algorithms detect pages that answer searchers’ questions

“Landing on top of the SERP is critical, and being on top means that you are able to increase your CTR and you, of course, occupy more space on the SERP – for free!” Daniel Malherbe further explains. To take advantage of this feature, your content needs to answer the 5Ws – who, what, when, where, why; alternatively invest in how-to content, definitions and comparatives.